mollyringle: (sea reflecting moon)

On the Facebook fragrance forum I like to browse (one of the only things I still use Facebook for anymore), someone recently asked: what are everyone's favorite nature (i.e., non-perfume) scents?

My answers off the top of my head:

Petrichor! (Rain on ground, especially warm ground that has been dry a while.)

Fresh cut grass but also certain varieties of grass and/or moss and/or other ground cover--I've never quite placed what it is, but certain grassy fields smell so sweet and warm. A coumarin scent, I believe; reminiscent of how the plant sweet woodruff smells. Sometimes forest floors have this scent too, or something similar, which makes me suspect it's moss.

The shores of Puget Sound: basically a seawater smell, but less wind-whipped and wild; quieter, and more mixed with rocks and evergreen trees and a hint of wood smoke from cabins.

Mint growing wild.

A summer night--no idea what the smell is, other than a hot earth cooling down for the evening.

What are yours?
mollyringle: (parfumerie)

It’s been easy for everyone to bemoan how much 2016 sucked. I don’t need to rehash the more traumatizing parts of the news for you.

Instead I’m going to write a post of things that were good in 2016. For me, at least.

Of my novel-writing projects:
Immortal’s Spring was released in June, and wrapped up my Persephone-myth-based trilogy. By that time I had also finished writing The Goblins of Bellwater, about which you’ll hear more soon, and started writing (rewriting, actually) Boy in Eyeliner, a guy/guy love story in modern day with many a nod to '80s new wave music and fashion. I just finished a complete first draft of that and will be hitting up some beta readers to critique it in a couple of weeks here. I have been completely loving it, proving that immersing myself in a creative project I genuinely dig is the way to save my sanity.

Of music:
The Monkees released a new album, and it was awesome. Yes, I was as surprised about that whole sentence as you are. Such a treat for us lifelong Monkees fans.
A few other groups I’ve discovered this year and adore (not to say they all have new albums this year, just new to me): Bleachers, Børns, Nicole Atkins, Julian Casablancas, Temples.

Of TV:
Grantchester has been a British-murder-mystery delight.
New Girl is appealingly funny so far.
Gilmore Girls ran their revival (discussed in an earlier post).
I’ve watched the first episode of Call the Midwife and am much inspired and will watch more.
New Sherlock underway, hurrah!

Of skin products:
My fussy, sensitive skin is actually liking the routine I give it now, with many of these products being ones I first tried in 2016. None of them cost ridiculous amounts, either, which is good because I’m also fussy about not spending too much on products:
Wash morning and night with CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser (and wash really well, but with fingertips only, no washcloth or other harsh scrubbing)
In morning: simple rosewater as toner (I like the food-grade Cortas brand; comes in cute glass drink bottle, and you can in fact put some in your drinks or cooking too if you want), and follow up with a little bit of Toulon Cellular Defense Face Moisturizer.
In evening: I usually don’t bother with toner, and put on some Oz Natural Super Youth Retinol Moisturizer.
Special treatment for the aging eyes: I like the movie-star trick of dabbing a tiny bit of petroleum jelly around my eyes, morning and night. Also, DON’T RUB YOUR EYES. Yeah, it feels good, but you drag the skin around and cause more wrinkling, bagginess, and discoloration over time. Crow’s feet from smiling, though: I embrace those.

Of perfumes:
Some tried in 2016 that I loved:

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel: a “Dad’s aftershave” kind of scent, nice and cheap too, but especially fresh and bracing. Hint of powdery violet in the mix as well.

Agent Provocateur: also nice and cheap. Considering I usually only LIKE rose scents, not love them, I’m surprised how much this has grabbed me. Musky, elegant, reminiscent of red lipstick; reminds me of something Satine in Moulin Rouge might wear.

Gres Cabochard: yet another that’s inexpensive. Handy that way. A lot of similarity to Robert Piguet Bandit (which I also love), in that it’s a strange but captivating green-plus-leather blend. Bad-ass in an old-fashioned way.

Etat Libre d’Orange The Afternoon of a Faun: “vegetal” is a good word for this one. It almost smells like celery sometimes, but in a sweet and earthy way, thanks to the immortelle and other notes. It lingers and stays warm and alluring, and is decidedly unique.

Tauervillle Incense Flash: this is a big YES for those of us who like smoky incense scents. With a suggestion of campfire in this one. Beautiful.

Profumum Roma Audace: vetiver done smooth. Warm and green like an overgrown humid summer riverside.

Solstice Scents Sycamore Chai: warm slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream, drying down to a lovely and non-cloying marshmallow-vanilla.

Solstice Scents Maplewood Inn: sweet mug of chai with a fire burning in the hearth and freshly split pine logs next to it.

Papillon Salome: makes me think of Colette’s stories: a woman's apartment dedicated to shameless sensual luxury; cigarettes and long-slept-in bedsheets, but also fresh pretty flowers brought in daily, and the nicest of soaps in the bath.

...and I'll stop there. For now.

mollyringle: (perfume ad)
In fragrance-loving forums, a common game is to post a photo of someone--perhaps a celebrity, perhaps a selfie or friend of a forum member--and ask everyone to scent them; that is, choose a perfume for them based on what they look like.

Now, very few people are going to care about this, but for my own entertainment, I'm going to do this with the main characters of my Greek mythology series (Persephone's Orchard and its sequels). Even if you haven't read it, you likely know the gods from other sources. (There's this writer named Homer, and this other one named Riordan, and...anyway.) Mind you, in ancient times, none of these perfumes were available and people would actually have been wearing scents made from herbs and spices and the like. Apparently the Minoans used ingredients like mint, coriander, and fennel for the purpose, for example. But we'll ignore anachronism and use modern scents anyway.

Caveat: I can of course only assign scents that I have personally smelled. So that limits things. But feel free to suggest others if you have ideas.

I'll stick to the Greek god names and not use the characters' reincarnated names, just to avoid spoilers and confusion. So:

Hades: Black by Comme des Garçons. A clever idea for perfume, and one that makes me think "god of the Underworld": they based it on things black in color--tar, pepper, incense, smoke, licorice, etc. At first I found it strange, but the spice mix grew on me to the degree that I came around to finding this scent comforting and sexy. And definitely dark and masculine.

Persephone: A few possibilities come to mind. One is Melograno Selvatico by I Profumi di Firenze, because its name translates to "woody pomegranate," though to my nose it's mostly a clean fruity-floral that isn't particularly pomegranate-ish. Another is Féminité du Bois by Serge Lutens, a lovely natural feminine skin scent with the suggestion of forest, fruits, and flowers behind it. And another is L'Ombre dans L'Eau by Diptyque: a simple but melancholy rose and blackcurrant--because gardens and a "shadow in the water" do sound rather kidnapping-myth, right?

Hermes: Conveniently, there is a perfume house called Hermès already, so naturally I think of their scents for our dear trickster. There are lots to choose from, but the ones I like best (for him and for me) are the urbane and super-sexy Bel Ami, or the somewhat more rugged Rocabar.

Hekate: Got to go with beautiful mysterious incense on this one. There are lots of awesome incense scents, but the one that makes me think of Hekate is L'Artisan's Passage d'Enfer. It has the cool dank stone of a cathedral (or an Underworld), a lightweight frankincense, and a contemplative and elusive quality throughout.

Dionysos: Ideally something wine-scented, of course. But that actually isn't easy to find in the perfume world, or at least I'm coming up mostly blank on it. So I'll look instead at Dionysos' rock-star-party-god aspect and scent him in the naughty-sweaty Eau d'Hermès. As someone on one of those fragrance forums said, it's suggestive of Jim Morrison's leather pants, so that's pretty Dionysian.

Aphrodite: Ah, now this is difficult. My instinct says she's got a huge perfume collection, so she can smell enticing in a thousand different ways. In my books I do say at one point that her reincarnated self smells of a smoky vanilla perfume, and one that fits the bill for that is Smell Bent's Incensed. But yeah. I think, you name a sexy scent, she can smell like it.

Poseidon and Amphitrite: Oltre by Laura Tonatto. This perfume smells like ocean in a very real-life and non-perfume kind of way: salt on chilly stones, seaweed, kelp, wind-torn scrubby pines on the shore, the whole deal. It may actually give the impression of too cold an ocean, more like our Washington state beaches than the Mediterranean, but until I visit the Mediterranean and smell it firsthand, this idea will have to stand in.

That will do for now. And, of course, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has perfumes for all kinds of deities, including several of the above. I just haven't tried them yet. 
mollyringle: (Scotland - hills and thistles)
You guys! I found a natural deodorant that actually works. If I sound surprised, it's because I've only tried certain widely distributed natural deodorants (let's just call it Bob's of Vermont) that did *not* work.

I don't mind using ordinary deodorants/anti-perspirants like Degree or Old Spice--in fact, I love Old Spice's tongue-in-cheek marketing, and their scents are often pretty much unisex. However, lately I didn't like how those type of products left my armpits feeling like they'd been caked with Turtle Wax. And sometimes I still smelled sweaty despite the layer of wax.

So, going on web reviews and my general love of surfing Etsy, I tried Fat and the Moon's Deodorant Cream. Hallelujah! It works! And considering it's been 90 degrees here in Seattle, and we do not have air conditioning, the stuff has been put to the test for reals. I do not smell sweaty, even the next morning, yet I don't feel caked-and-waxed at all either. The cream smells nice--bracing herbal natural oils like bergamot and tea tree--but not strong; it wouldn't combat your chosen perfume. And it soaks into skin readily and doesn't seem to leave any marks on clothes. So once again: hallelujah!

By the way, when I ordered it I also bought some of their Lip and Cheek Stain. It's similarly lovely-scented (rose geranium), and feels fabulous on the lips, with just a subtle amount of color. Haven't tried it on cheeks yet. But from these two products I'm confident in saying these folks create great products.
mollyringle: (parfumerie)

I'm still me, which means I'm still sampling absurdly large numbers of perfumes, even though I haven't posted about it here much. Therefore we're past due for such a post, right? Here goes!

Of the absurdly large assortment, these are the ones I've especially enjoyed:

Bel Ami by Hermes: I've been adoring it for over a year, and what can one say? Swoon at first application, and every application since. Manly, sexy, and leathery, but in the most elegant and refined way, a leather polished with citrus and spice, and enough fresh herbs that it feels as outdoorsy as it does indoorsy. Personally I think it can go anywhere and be worn by either sex, and I give it full marks.

Vanilla Pipe Tobacco by Solstice Scents: Oh goodness, yum. Matches its name perfectly; sweet, rich, earthy. Almost the way the house smells when sticky buns or cinnamon bread is baking (not in the cinnamon sense, but in the rest of the scent mix). Lovely almost-caramel-ish lickability to it. Solstice Scents is a small perfume house that has several yummy scents you can order samples of. Some of the others I also liked were Fires in the Night (smoke and spices), Manor (vanilla and woods), High Desert (sagebrush, of course), and White Fox (frosty vanilla and cedar).

She Came to Stay by Timothy Han: Comfy and sexy both. Has a resinous-sweet top that reminds me of a high-quality root beer, but with an earthiness and a playful spiciness dancing through it. I'd say most people would call it more masculine than unisex, but I'd be happy to wear it too, as I am with Bel Ami, for example. In fact, it's kind of like Bel Ami's fougere sibling, the oakmossy-herbal side highlighted more than the leathery-spicy spotlight of Bel Ami. And still enough its own thing that I might need more.

L'Air du Desert Marocain by Tauer Perfumes: This has become one of my Holy Grail scents. Oh baby, that's a good amber! Love the labdanum (a.k.a. cistus or rockrose) accord in particular--it's one of the truest impressions of a rockrose shrub I've yet encountered in perfume, and that's a smell I adore. It mingles with incense and dry Moroccon spices, then dries down into the best part yet: a beautiful resinous sweetness that lingers days (nay, weeks) on sweaters and seatbelt shoulder harnesses. Plenty of bang for buck.

Sienne L'Hiver by Eau d'Italie: Despite its winter description, I get some lovely fresh flowers at the opening, almost rose-like. But it soon settles into chilly, smoky, olive tree with salt air, even a hint of dill pickle, among the leaves and flowers. Sounds bizarre, I know, but the effect turns out beautiful. Has an elegant expensive feel, like a Chanel, but I think its chemistry works better on me than most of the Chanel line does.

L'Ombre Dans L'Eau by Diptyque: Black currant and rose and fresh water, in a leafy and cool and mysterious way. As its name suggests, this is the overgrown part of the garden, in the shadows. Quite lovely. As to EDP vs. EDT: EDP is sharper and greener at first, like a broken stem oozing sap, while EDT is a touch more fruit/floral while still being a green perfume. I bought the EDP, though both worked well on me.

Bois d'Ascese by Naomi Goodsir: Smoky smoky. So smoky that at first I thought, "Barbeque sauce on a motorcycle jacket." It settles to a more pleasant smokiness, but I still wouldn't have said incense, despite its name. Much more like bonfire or campfire, although with kind of a desert mystique to it--or Scotch whisky, as Luckyscent suggests. A hard one to approach, but attractive, and with each wearing it has come around to charming me more and some days making me a little bit obsessed with it.

Norell (vintage; Norell Perfumes): There's an oakmossiness to it, and overall a delicious vintage green-floral quality. Makes me think of a moor full of blooming heather and English ladies in those crazy but somehow flattering hats. Later it develops a good powdery (but not too powdery) iris note. I feel pretty, oh so pretty...

And I'll stop there. I hope I've enabled some fragrance spending in the world by this update.

mollyringle: (parfumerie)
Just to clear the air, so to speak (ha, ha, ha)...

I think there's a misconception out there that we perfume geeks are the kind of people who spritz ourselves with loud fragrance head to toe, knocking passersby unconscious with our high levels of scent. Those people do exist, but we are not *those* people. We usually wear subtle amounts, which you have to be hugging us, or at least leaning over our shoulder at the desk, to notice. And more to the point, we wear it because *we* love the scents--not so much to attract others (though earning compliments is always a plus). My husband, for one, is not a scent hound and hardly notices the differences between all my perfumes. It's probably best that way, as it's easier for me to dabble and not worry about bothering his nose.

But I don't know, maybe I'm mistaken and have warped my own sense of smell in all my perfume toying. Those of you who've met me in real life can tell me: do I waft fragrance like a Macy's cosmetics counter? Or do you barely notice it on me?
mollyringle: (parfumerie)
In the company of my lovely young cousin Sally ("young" for me now includes people in their 20s), I recently procured a bunch of samples from Blackbird Apothecary here in Seattle. Following are my notes upon them all, should you be curious.

Montale White Aoud: When I see "aoud" (or "oud" as it's often spelled), I expect spices and exotic woodsiness. Therefore upon spraying this one on, without having read anything about the notes, I went, "Whoa! Rose! Didn't expect that." It is however a Halloweenish, exotic rose--some eerie darkness and plenty of spiciness under it. Reminds me of something Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab would create. Am not sure yet I'd go for a full bottle, but I'm enjoying wearing the sample.

Montale Full Incense: Yep, full Catholic-mass incense. Almost identical to Comme des Garçons Incense Avignon--I even put them each on, one on each arm, and tried them side by side, and still could barely tell a difference. Which is to say, I love them both and will probably have to decide which one to get a full bottle of, one of these days. I do get the feeling Full Incense lasts longer and has more "throw," while Avignon costs less (accordingly, perhaps). It's a tough choice.

Comme des Garçons Play Green: Supposedly it's got all kinds of "green" notes such as basil, lime, juniper, and more, but I get almost totally spearmint and vetiver. And it's a pretty good mix actually. The vetiver doesn't go that strange burnt-firework-smoke place on me that vetiver sometimes does; the mint keeps it in check and makes it fresh. Meanwhile, the vetiver does deepen and darken the mint enough that it's more mysterious and interesting than simply "summer and gum." Really good for when I'm in a mint mood.

Blood Concept AB: Hmm. There's a freshness throughout which is interesting and appealing. At the beginning I caught a decent apricot-like smell, and later on hints of an incense-like smell, both of which were surprising. But overall I couldn't shake the cool/metallic note that dominated, and made me think I'd probably not wear this on a regular basis. 

Comme des Garçons Incense Ouarzazate: From its notes and description I ought to love it, but...I don't. It doesn't come across as authentic enough. It reminds me of things like those berry-scented cheap incenses that don't actually smell like berries, or "sandalwood"-scented soaps that don't actually smell like sandalwood. If your chemistry mixes with it better than mine, I can see how it'd be mystical and exotic, but it isn't mixing with mine. I do love Incense Avignon, though, and want to try the others in the Incense series to see how they compare.

Comme des Garçons Red Sequoia: An initial blast of hairspray and Sharpie marker settles into rather pleasant fresh-cut woods. But the cosmetic sweetness sticks around too much for me, making it feel false rather than natural. I do love my cedar scents, but on this I'll pass.

Meanwhile, I also obtained these two from L'Occitane's online site:

L'Occitane Cedar (labelled Cèdre de l'Atlas on the bottle): As befits its very green-dyed juice, this scent is as green as cedar can be and still be called cedar. It's like the whole living tree, boughs and all, with some of the surrounding green forest too, rather than the dry wood chips or pencil shavings you may expect from a cedar. It reminds me almost of Diptyque Philosykos, another full-tree perfume, though that one is the full fig tree experience while this is the full cedar tree. In any case, I love cedar whether dry or green, and this is a lovely perfume. Easy to wear for either men or women, and fresh while still being woody and sexy.

L'Occitane Labdanum (Labdanum de Seville, on the bottle): I love the rockrose/cistus shrub's scent, which is called labdanum in the perfume world, and I had to buy this after smelling a friend's bottle of it. It doesn't actually resemble the shrub too closely, but it *feels* similar to the scent wafting off a rockrose's sticky leaves: resinous, warm, dry, and sweet, all in an attractive balance. As with the other L'Occitane scents I've smelled so far, it's very approachable and wearable, not too crazy or daring. But it's pretty enough that people have complimented me while I'm wearing it. A keeper.

Gross.

Sep. 11th, 2012 05:22 pm
mollyringle: (parfumerie)
Grossest smell of entire week: I hosed out the yard waste cart today. Here in Seattle we get to throw food scraps into the yard waste as well, and we haven't cleaned our bin all summer, so you can imagine the grossness. There was this *sludge* formed at the bottom, which gave off noxious gases as I hosed it out and dumped it on the garden. The cart and the whole yard smelled like the stinkiest of garbage trucks.

So--scent therapy. After burying the sludge in dirt, I threw handfuls of fragrant plants into the yard waste cart: rosemary, lavender, thyme, sweet woodruff. Put my clothes in the wash and had a shower with lemon, bergamot, and grapefruit essential oils sprinkled in the tub, and peppermint soap to wash up with. May have to follow up with a spritz of something clean like L'Eau de L'Artisan.

So. Yes. May your day not involve anything as gross.
mollyringle: (parfumerie)
I have waaaay too many perfume samples around, yo. Obviously it's been too long since I've done a giveaway. So here goes--

SEVEN little samples to one lucky recipient! I chose a springy floral list for you today. The winner gets:

Serge Lutens, Vitriol d'Oeillet: clove, carnation, wallflower, lily, ylang-ylang
Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, Fleur de Comores: blackcurrant, passionfruit, leafy green, vanilla, orange blossom, jasmine, ambergris, vetiver, musk
Odori, Iris: star anise, heliotrope flowers, Madagascar ylang ylang, iris from Florence, Oriental amber, Bourbon vanilla
Aroma M, Geisha Violet: violet, lilac, lotus, chocolate
I Profumi di Firenze, Florentia 22 (Pesca e Fiori): white peach blossom, lilac, Florentine purple iris
Rancé, Joséphine: orris, black currant, galbanum, violet leaf, cloves, white peach, jasmine, hyacinth, ylang-ylang, amber, sandalwood, bourbon vanilla and white musk
Rancé, Triomphe: mandarin, Calabrian lemon, violet leaves, apple, Bulgarian rose, jasmine, Florentine iris, sandalwood, cedar, musk, vanilla

(Clearly iris from Florence is the only iris worth smelling. Well, la-di-da.)

These are all little sample vials around 1 ml or slightly bigger. To enter, leave a comment on this post and make sure I have a way to contact you if you win. I'll choose a winner in two weeks by random number generator. To simplify my life, US entrants only, please! (My apologies to the rest of the world--but if you're in Europe, you can get most of these perfumes without difficulty, since they're largely French or Italian.)

Thanks and good luck!
mollyringle: (chocolate)
CHOCOLATE:

Ghirardelli Sea Salt Soiree squares: Amazingly, addictively good. Just the right amount of crunch from tiny salt crystals and crushed toasty almonds. Overtones of Heath Bar, only way easier to chew.

Chuao Chocolatier, Coffee & Anise bar: Finely ground espresso and star anise in a 60% cacao bar. Dark and subtle and delicious. The anise is fairly subtle, especially next to a strong flavor like espresso. I am still not deeply keen on black licorice, but I've learned to love fennel and anise. They're gentler. Will try some of Chuao's other nontraditional flavors, but only for a rare treat, given the price.

PERFUME:

Bois d'Ombrie (by Eau d'Italie): This was a "love at first sniff" scent for me, and several months later I still swoon over it. I'd call it super-old-fashioned-masculine in a sense, in that I could see Rex Harrison or some other strong-yet-refined English guy from the mid-20th-century wearing it. Leather, tobacco, and cognac are the notes I mostly get (though I might've guessed brandy, being not as familiar with cognac), with a good base of wood--smells like a cabinet in which our gentleman would keep his liquor and pipe tobacco. I hadn't noticed the iris that others mention, but now that it's pointed out, I see how it's under there, softening the whole effect just a tad. And though I'm a slip of a 21st-century American woman, I love wearing it. Mmmm.

Fire From Heaven (by CB I Hate Perfume): Wish I got woods, incense, or even patchouli. Instead what dominates for me is burning paper. A bit TOO fiery. I much prefer Burning Leaves (also by CB I Hate Perfume) for a purely-smoke accord.

A few samples I've found lovely but need to spend more time with in order to write a proper review: L'Artisan Mure et Musc (blackberry and a totally '80s clean musk), Hermes Rocabar (sexy manly orange), and Shiseido Murasaki (fresh, soft, classy green--not unlike Chanel No 19).

PRODUCE:

Organic Opal apples: They're lemon-yellow on the outside, the usual apple-whitish on the inside. Good crunch. Quite sweet with a hint of melon or pear flavor. Very juicy too, though perhaps not quite as juicy as a Honeycrisp. Recommended!
mollyringle: (parfumerie)
I've been accumulating cute little perfume samples at a zealous rate this past year. Knows Perfume has been holding these once-a-month classes on a given fragrance note, where as part of the experience you get a bag of samples containing that note, and, well, I can't resist that. But naturally only *some* of the fragrances work well enough on my skin that I want to hoard them. The rest I feel inclined to share with the world, so as to let them find a perfect home and spread the gospel of scent, etc. etc. Why am I still talking? Without further yapping, here are the five, yes, FIVE scents I am giving away this time:

The Dormouse, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: four teas, light herbs, peony.

Scent, Costume National: amber, jasmine tea, mother of pearl hibiscus, woods.

Sandalo e The, Bois 1920: jasmine, Bulgarian rose, sandalwood, tea leaves.

Malabah, Penhaligon's: lemon, Earl Grey tea, cilantro, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, rose, orris, sweet amber, sandalwood, musk.

Fire and Cream, Strange Invisible Perfumes: orange, orange blossom (neroli), tuberose, frankincense, white lavender, vetiver, sandalwood, patchouli. (Not a tea scent, but tossed in for variety.)


All are in the usual 1 ml sample vials, though concentration varies. (I believe BPAL and Strange Invisible are oils, or at least higher concentration, while the others are EDTs or perhaps EDPs.) Comment on this post to enter the drawing. Winner gets all five vials, naturally. I'll pick a winner by random number generator in one week. I'm dreadfully sorry, but I'm restricting it again to US entrants. Going to the post office and dealing with customs forms took more time than I can usually spare, whereas I can weigh and stamp US mail from home.

Thanks and good luck!
mollyringle: (perfume ad)
Last month we spent some vacation time at my in-laws' house, which is a new, clean, dry, prefab dwelling in central California. When we got back, our 1940s Seattle house smelled old and musty in a striking way that I usually don't notice. It wasn't an altogether bad smell--it mostly reminded me of secondhand record stores and vintage movie theaters. Still, I had to wonder, is that the smell that hits everyone in the nose when they enter our house?

However, yesterday we returned from a weekend at my parents' vacation house across Puget Sound, a 1960s kit house (cabin, even) coated inside and out with smoke, sand, marine air, fir needles, dog hair, and probably 324 kinds of mildew or mold. (Really, it's charming, and the location is possibly my favorite on Earth, but such is the state of the interior air quality there.) When we came home after that, my nose found with pleasant surprise that our house smelled crisp and clean and fresh.

The difference is possibly due in part to the length of time our house was unoccupied--ten days in the first case, only a day and a half in the second. Being unlived-in and having the thermostat turned down and the windows shut probably contributes to a disused smell of its own. But I can't help thinking the main part of the difference lies in the air we got acclimated to in each case while we were away--arid and new on the one hand, damp and quaintly crumbling on the other. I guess our house's smell lies somewhere in between, and it's likely that whoever enters it will smell mainly the difference between our house and what they personally are used to.

This just goes to show that those designing perfumes, or studying olfactory science, have a heck of a lot of subjectivity to factor into their calculations. I wish them the best of luck.
mollyringle: (parfumerie)
You'd be far out of the loop indeed if you haven't noticed that I love perfumes--or rather, I love the ones that work on me, but really I'm interested in sampling any. Chances are you've also noticed my frequent mentions of knows perfume, the small but awesome new shop that opened last year in my neck of Seattle. Thanks to that shop, my 2010 perfume sampling rate spiked dramatically upward to possibly an all-time high. My rate of finding new scents that do work on me, and which I do love, most certainly hit an all-time high.

Thus, for the first time ever, I am composing a list of...
Best Perfumes I Discovered Last Year,
in no particular order, since favorites change based upon mood, season, and other variables.

1. Tea for Two, L'Artisan Parfumeur. Notes listed by perfumer: smoky tea, bergamot, cinnamon, ginger, honey, vanilla.
What I get: leather and tobacco on top of a sweet, creamy chai tea, with some spice biscotti on the side. The smokiness never gets sharp, thanks to that honey and vanilla wrapped around it. It's dark and smoky and leathery, but I can't help loving it because it's so darn sweet. Amazing in cold weather, but I sure didn't mind wearing it in summer either.

2. Dee, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. (Scroll down to the D's.) Notes listed by perfumer: soft English leather, rosewood and tonka with a hint of incense, parchment and soft woods.
What I get: mostly smooth cedar, with some root-beer-like sweetness (must be the tonka), and a bit of spicy smoke (must be the incense). It's a soothing and subtle fragrance, but it's also strangely hot--as in sexy. (Must be the leather...) Androgynous, too. Despite its masculine description (it's named after alchemist of old, John Dee), I'd say man or woman could wear this. I know *I* reach for it a lot.

3. Koko Haze, Mbeze. Notes listed by perfumer: coconut, toasted hazelnut, mango tea and sweet orange.
What I get: coconut, absolutely, in a way that evokes both a warm palm-tree-dotted beach and a tasty macaroon fresh from the oven. I'm surprised how well this works on me, and how delicious it is. Coconut lovers shall swoon--and I don't usually even count myself among the coconut lovers. Perfect for summer, of course, but also comforting in mid-winter when you just want to dream of summer. Again, not something I usually find myself doing, but if summer smells like this, I'm happy to dream of it.

4. One, Smell Bent. (No link listed because it was a limited edition and is now--*sob*--gone! Except I do still have a bottle or two...) Notes listed by perfumer: cardamom, aging paperbacks, dark vanilla, dry wood, sweet musk.
What I get: cardamom, baby! Yes, I suppose the gentle smell of old paperbacks and woods, and the sweetness of vanilla and some kind of musk, are back there too. But cardamom on its own is a rich and complex scent, and it dominates this fragrance, and owns it in a mouth-watering way. Alas, it had to be a limited edition. Please, perfumers of the world, explore the cardamom note more!

5. Philosykos, Diptyque. Notes listed by perfumer: fig tree (leaves, green fruit, milky sap, and bark), and white cedar.
What I get: fig trees, yes, but in a rich and detailed way--the green juices of the leaves and stems, the wood, the soil, a hint of the beach and of coconut sunscreen. Fruitiest in its opening notes, then it ripens into a perfect woodsy-green-fresh blend, and finally lingers on a gorgeous cedar base. I never expected to love this so much, not being generally a fruit-fragrance fan. But it's like a summer vacation on a Greek island--or what I imagine that would be like, having, sadly, never been on one. Exotic yet comfortable. A winner well deserving of its popularity.
(Honorable mention: for a similar but lighter and less expensive scent, try Buddha's Fig by Infusion Organique.)

6. Cedarwood Tea, CB I Hate Perfume. Notes listed by perfumer: Himalayan & Moroccan cedars, black Indian Tea, incense.
What I get: I adore cedar, so trying this one was a no-brainer. But it's a different cedar than the usual shaved-wood smell that most fragrances capture. This is a fresh, living variety of cedar, like you're standing in an actual forest. I detect no incense, but the tea brings a slightly citrusy, lavender-like accord to the mix, making it especially clean. Apparently the perfumer originally designed this scent as a wardrobe spray, to keep clothes fresh, and indeed it would be great as that--"clean" and "fresh" are two of the words that repeatedly come to mind with it. But a clean, fresh forest, not a clean, fresh sheet of fabric softener. It's another limited edition, so find it while you can.

7. New Haarlem, Bond No. 9. Notes listed by perfumer: bergamot, cedarwood, coffee, vanilla, patchouli, lavender.
What I get: Makes me think of a Saturday morning--coffee, brunch treats like pain au chocolat or cinnamon French toast, a hint of manliness like my husband's shaving cream and/or deodorant, even a suggestion of newspaper ink. It also puts me in mind of an airport concourse, in a good way: the coffee and food and new-magazine scents, along with the clean, cologne-doused travelers wandering through. It's strong--only takes a drop or two to keep me pleasantly scented for the majority of the day (so just buy a sample vial off eBay; it'll last you a while)--but it's an approachable and comfy scent for me. In short, New Haarlem carries that mix of "cozy yet exciting" that I adore finding in a perfume. Smells great on me and would be fabulous on a man too.

8. Incensed, Smell Bent. Notes listed by perfumer: Omani frankincense, Kenyan myrrh, vanilla-soaked woods.
What I get: It's reminiscent of church incense, especially in the first hour or so of wearing, and I love the mystical spiciness of it. The mix gradually dries down to basically a rich vanilla, which makes me think of baking cookies or something--but they'd still be mystical cookies. This scent comes in both a fragrance oil and a spray variety. I got the oil, and it is indeed strong. A little dab will do ya. Good deal at around $20 for the bottle, though. That's practically free, in the perfume world.
(Honorable mention: for a somewhat similar blend of exotic woodsiness and vanilla, try Sands of Morocco by Infusion Organique.)

9. Owl solid perfume, Patch NYC. Notes listed by perfumer: sandalwood, tobacco, vetiver.
What I get: I'm fully on board with their marketing description--a twilight forest, mysterious, elusive. This scent is mellow enough to wear to sleep, but mystical enough to wear for Halloween. Earthy with a hint of green. Very well blended. Comes in a candle form too.

10. Elixir, Penhaligon's. Notes listed by perfumer: eucalyptus, cardamom, orange blossom absolute, white cedar, red Turkish rose absolute, Egyptian jasmine absolute, cinnamon leaves, mace, rosewood, benzoin, tonka beans, vanilla, incense, red sandalwood, guaicum wood.
What I get: That was quite the list of notes, huh? No wonder it took me several wears to get a proper feel for this fragrance. It kept shifting on me, like an alluring but opaque fog, seldom letting me settle on any one note. What I finally came away with, however, is church incense in a delicate, ethereal kind of way. I picture an ancient cathedral in a beautiful Italian city, tolling its bells for Mass on a misty Christmas Eve, and (when I'm wearing Elixir) can envision myself as the elegant wool-wrapped Italian woman walking home beneath the old city walls. Oh, I don't know. I still have a hard time figuring it out. But I keep wanting to smell it again, so clearly Olivia Giacobetti--the perfumer, who also designed Tea for Two and Philosykos--did something right. Again. I love her.

So. If you've read this far, you must like perfumes too. Thus, please let me know if you'd like samples of one or two of the above scents, and I will do my best to hook you up. Limited time offer! Scents I *can't* share: Koko Haze (can't see how I'd get the roll-on oil decanted into something else), New Haarlem (only have a small sample myself), and Elixir (same). Otherwise, go ahead and ask. I am standing by with sample spray vials ready to fill.
mollyringle: (parfumerie)
I accumulated a lot of perfume samples in 2010, and I'd like to begin 2011 by thinning them a bit (to make room for more). Thus, giveaway time!

This is a set of three limited edition scents by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (BPAL). Our lucky winner will receive:

5-ml bottle of Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah. BPAL's description: Holy hyssop, red apple, massoia bark, and pomegranate with eight different types of honey that represent the sweetness of life and new beginnings.

1-ml vial ("imp") of Green Party. I can't find an official description, but it was an election-season scent, and it's, naturally, in the green family of fragrances.

1-ml vial (imp) of Leipreachan. Again, can't find an official description, but it's Irish-Springy green, basically. The folks on this forum review it if you're interested.

To enter to win, comment here. All nationalities welcome. I'll choose a winner in one week, on Monday, Jan. 10, by random number generator.

Shout-out time: I wouldn't have any of these samples, or any of my others for that matter, if it weren't for the fabulous shop knows perfume, the opening of which was one of my happiest points of last year. Hurray for perfume addicts!
mollyringle: (parfumerie)
Perfume giveaway is back! (And the masses cheered.)

At the end of December I might well write up a "Best perfumes I tried this year" list instead of the usual "Best movies I saw this year" list. For one thing, we've mostly watched comedy TV shows on DVD lately and not seen that many films. For another, I have sampled a lot of scents, thanks almost entirely to knows perfume opening in my 'hood back in spring. And, as such, I now have a bunch of samples around that I might possibly be persuaded to part with.

Today I have selected two, and our lucky winner will get them both:

Prima Ballerina by Strange Invisible Perfumes. Bright notes of Greek sage and organic lime animate a satiny bouquet of Egyptian and Turkish roses. Poised on an enchanting stage of botanical musk, this lithe composition executes a perfect tour jeté with the exhilarating grace of a true classic. (Description from the Strange Invisible website.)

Thé Pour Un Été by L'Artisan Parfumeur. An invitation to a far-away land, a moment of tranquility in an exotic oasis, the fragrance is as refreshing as a glass of iced green tea infused with jasmine and mint. Delicate and versatile, this is a scent for all seasons, a tender reminder of the happy days of summer. Notes: lemon, bergamot, mint, jasmine, green tea. (Description from L'Artisan's site.)

Both come in little 1ml vials, about half full after my sampling them.

To enter to win, comment here. Entrants may live anywhere in the world. I'll do the drawing by random number generator in one week (Thursday, Nov. 18). Good luck!
mollyringle: (parfumerie)
My copies of Summer Term arrived, all glossy and beautiful! And the ebook version is now exploding onto the e-reading screens of the world too, via Kindle and other formats.

Also, I recently discovered a very cool site that helps you support indie bookstores. It's called Indiebound, and from it you can order practically any book (including mine) and have it sent to an independent store near you for pick-up. Give it a try!

And now for today's perfume review: New Haarlem, by Bond No. 9...

Yum! Delicious! Last time I was chatting with the proprietor of Knows Perfume in Seattle, I mentioned liking the smell of coffee but not always having luck with it in fragrances. She pivoted, pulled a sample of New Haarlem from her cupboards, and handed it to me. And from first sniff, it's pretty much been a "yum!" for me.

One time years ago, at Garden Botanika, I mixed my own perfume spray from their available fragrance oils. I used coffee, vanilla musk, and mint, and I think that was all. I was no pro at it, but I must say the resulting mix smelled pretty good. Well, New Haarlem smells like my early attempt done ten times better--that is, done right, by professionals.

It's interesting to see that it's such a difficult scent for some people to wear. It's strong, yes--only takes a drop or two to keep me pleasantly scented for the majority of the day--but it's an approachable and comfy scent for me. Makes me think of a Saturday morning: coffee, brunch treats like pain au chocolat or cinnamon French toast, a hint of manliness like my husband's shaving cream and/or deodorant, even a suggestion of newspaper ink. It also puts me in mind of an airport concourse, in a good way: the coffee and food and new-magazine scents, along with the clean-and-cologne-doused travelers wandering through. In short, New Haarlem carries that mix of "cozy yet exciting" that I adore finding in a perfume. Smells great on me and would be fabulous on a man too. Keeper!
mollyringle: (parfumerie)
Thanks to a Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab launch party at Knows Perfume last night, today I smell divinely of the fragrance Dee:

John Dee: master of science, alchemy and magic, Hermetic philosopher in the schools of Rosicrucian Christian Mysticism and Platonic-Pythagorean doctrine, and Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer, advisor, cryptologist and spy. With Edward Kelly, he created a field of study and work in Angelic Evocation, and isolated the Angelic language: Enochian. His scent is soft English leather, rosewood and tonka with a hint of incense, parchment and soft woods.

I get mostly smooth cedar, with some root-beer-like sweetness (must be the tonka), and a bit of spicy smoke that is likely the incense. It's a soothing and subtle fragrance, but it's also strangely hot. As in sexy. (Must be the leather...) Androgynous, too--despite having that masculine description, I'd say man or woman (or angel) could wear this.

The runner-up for the scents I sampled last night was the impressively and unpronounceably named Szepasszony:

The Fair Lady, Winter Witch, White Maiden of the Storm. Szepasszony is a Hungarian demoness that appears as a stunningly beautiful woman with long, silver-white hair and a blinding white dress. She revels in storms, particularly when hail rains down on her. Water dripping down eaves into a puddle is an invitation for her to cause mischief: she uses the puddle as a magickal tool for casting her wicked spells. It is considered foolhardy to step into a circle of short grass ringed by taller grasses, as those mark the circles where the Fair Lady dances. A chilly, tempestuous whirlwind of clear, airy notes, slashing rain, and a thin undercurrent of white flowers.

Having no idea that I was supposed to picturing an evil whirlwind witch, I got an impression of lovely fresh air, smelling of grass, ocean, and flowers.

Differences between description and actual experience don't matter, though, for it cannot be denied that BPAL writes some of the most alluring ad copy on the planet. And now I can go sniff a bunch of their scents any day, for free, in my own neighborhood! Have I mentioned I need Knows Perfume to flourish and never, ever leave?
mollyringle: (parfumerie)
At my godsend shop, knows perfume, I recently got a little card with three free samples from the perfumers at Infusion Organique. And, wonder of wonders, the scents are all lovely and wearable--and affordable and organic on top of that.

The three scents I tried and my reviews...

Buddha's Fig: Top notes: fig leaf, green nuances (including rose geranium and lemongrass); middle: hyacinth, iris, fig; bottom: woods, amber. To my nose, this is almost exactly like Diptyque's divine Philosykos--a green, fresh fig tree, not fruity or cloying at all. The main differences are that I detect more of an ocean-air feel in Buddha's Fig, and it's lighter on the whole, vanishing after a few hours. Philosykos lingers longer with its bottom cedar note, and I do love me some cedar. But the side of me that likes fresh, green scents still gives Buddha's Fig a thumbs up.

Indochine: Top notes: kumquat accord, pink grapefruit, sparkling peach, waterlily, dewberry, freesia; middle: kumquat accord, jasmine, muguet, rose, mimosa, orange flower; bottom: vanilla, precious woods, ylang-ylang, musk complex. I wouldn't have any idea what a kumquat smelled like, but my general impression of this scent is "citrusy and exotic," and despite all those flowers listed, more spicy than floral. In fact, it smelled a lot to me like Bigelow's Lemon Lift tea. Go figure! Pleasant, though.

Sands of Morocco: Top notes: tangy lemon zests; middle: delicate lily of the valley, sweet rose blossoms, ylang-ylang; bottom: creamy french vanilla, exotic musk, sensual sandalwood, warm oakmoss. Now, the side of me that likes warm, spicy scents adores this one. I'm wearing it today, and it's developing into a sexy, exciting, slightly mystical vanilla, saved from being over-sweet by the sandalwood and spice. And I do get a spice undercurrent, despite not seeing any actual spices in the list of notes. Delicious!

Well done, Infusion Organique. And thank you, knows perfume!
mollyringle: (parfumerie)
You know you've missed my perfume reviews. Luckily for us all, Knows Perfume, purveyor of uncommon scents, has opened up shop in my neighborhood. So, having gone in there a couple of times now, and sat around sniffing dozens of intriguing bottles and flasks with the proprietor (Christen) and other customers, I have been sent home with some free samples to enjoy.

And today's is one I love, love, love. It's L'Artisan's Tea for Two, and here's its description from the L'Artisan webpage:

The curling steam of smoky Lapsang Souchong hides mouthwatering spices of cinnamon, ginger and anise. Lightly sweetened by honey and vanilla, the fragrance is fiery and warm, provocative and mysterious. Deliciously spicy!
Notes: smoky tea, bergamot, cinnamon, ginger, honey, vanilla
Perfumer: Olivia Giacobetti

Now, having tried Lapsang Souchong, I can rule it out as a regular drink for me. I don't like my tea tasting like smoked gouda, thanks. But this fragrance--yum! Not a single moment of unpleasantness in several hours' wearing so far. I get leather and tobacco on top of a sweet, creamy chai tea, with maybe some spice biscotti on the side. The smokiness never gets sharp, thanks to that honey and vanilla wrapped around it. I keep inhaling deeply through my shirt where I dabbed the sample, seeking any hint of anything wrong, but nope--it keeps telling me, "Yes, I'm dark and smoky and leathery, and you can't help loving me because I'm so darn sweet." I want to curl up with this scent and snog it.

And I have several more to sample in the days to come, which may prove just as awesome in their own ways. Never leave me, Knows Perfume!

Now, there were earlier samples that didn't go so well, but you know I had fun examining them via nostril all the same. Here are my reviews of those:

333 by Tallulah Jane: Okay, I can rule out chamomile as a major note. I liked the grassy lavender in the background, but the chamomile put me in mind of having a stomachache and brewing up a medicinal herbal tea. That won't do...

Route du Vétiver by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier: Reading the list of notes in it, I see why I liked the top notes. I tend to go for blackcurrant, which is apparently in it. But the heart had, for my weird nose, a smell of sparkler or firecracker smoke, of all things. A bit too odd! That leather-ish drydown was nice, though.

Eau pour le Jeune Homme by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier: Pleasant enough, but on me it went straight to orange-flavored candy and stayed there. Presumably on actual males (or other females) it's more masculine.

Mimosa pour Moi by L'Artisan: Quite pretty. It reminded me a lot of Crabtree & Evelyn's Sonoma Valley, so as such it made me think of wisteria more than mimosa. Lovely soft scent, good staying power--but somehow not me. Too purely floral, perhaps.

But I'll let you know how those others go! Having found my potential holy grail on the dark and spicy side of the tea spectrum, maybe I'll find my one true love on the light side too: something in the green/jasmine/lemon category, fit for a summer day...

So, how are you all? What have you loved to sniff lately?
mollyringle: (chocolate)
One of my new rules for happier living is:
Try to cook something every day that makes the house smell good. This can encompass a lot of things, from chili to bread to cookies to (if you want the simple option) popcorn. Today I chose Lazy Irish Beer Bread.

I used this recipe, which I've shared before as an inclusion in my best recipes of the year. You can use pretty much any type of beer, and any type of flour instead of self-rising, as long as you add 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bread tip: letting the dough rise for a little while on the counter, though not strictly necessary, makes a tastier finished product.

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