Maui Vacation: Perfumes, Flora & Fauna, Food and Perfumes

What perfume are you wearing? It smells great!” – I asked a flight attendant on my way to Maui. He seemed pleased by the question and told me that it was a custom blend made for him “by this great lady from Oakland.” He also told me that it was a very potent and tenacious perfume oil (“because it’s all-natural, you know“) that required only a tiny drop of it (he wore it on the neck below the collar line) to last for many hours – to that I can attest: I kept smelling it every time he would walk by. Later he brought me a note with the perfumer’s name and phone number. The scent was beautiful amber – completely wrong for Hawaii but perfect for the chilly flight.

We landed and the summery tropical atmosphere took my mind off ambers and fall on the calendar. As we were driving to the resort where we rented a condo, my vSO drew my attention to the words on a dashboard of our car and asked if I thought it was a sign.

Seek Cat

We followed the instructions but this time (unlike the previous Hawaiian vacation) our residence didn’t come with a ginger cat and the only feline we encountered during our vacation was scrawny black cat hunting a lizard.

 

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Choosing the right time to go to Hawaii is always a balancing game for me: I love swimming in warm ocean so if we go too late it might start cooling off (back to the temperature that most other people consider good for swimming) but if we go while water is still perfect by my standards, the weather is too hot for anything else but swimming in mornings and evenings. Last year I didn’t get to swim as much as I wanted to so this year we decided to err on the side of caution. We succeeded so to speak: we went a week earlier than we usually do; water was great but hot humidity kept us inside most of the time that we didn’t spend swimming or snorkeling. I still can’t complain: we’ve got to read, watch some shows from Netflix and just relax. And a view from our condo was very picturesque.

Maui 2014 Kaanapali Alii

Maui is my favorite island: its flora is more tropical than volcanic Big Island’s but at the same time it’s more developed than Kauai. The downside of the larger tourist population is a much poorer selection of tropical fruit at the local markets. But don’t worry: we didn’t go hungry. Or thirsty.

 

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Even though we didn’t move around the island much we got enough of the true Hawaiian flavor – tropical plants and fish, ocean sunsets, tropical penguins… Yeah, I also had to do a double take when I saw them first at Hyatt’s lobby pond. But they didn’t look psychotic so after some deliberation we decided not to look further for zebra, lion and hippo.

 

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Usually when I travel I do not take any perfume bottles bigger than 10 ml. But I make an exception for my vacations in Hawaii: I always bring my 50 ml bottle of Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess. It has previously traveled with me to Big Island and Kauai and this year it came to Maui. I think I gave a hotel maid a good story about “those crazy tourists” by putting the bottle in the fridge (I noticed that the box was rotated after her visit so she was clearly surprised to see it there). It felt extremely pleasant and refreshing to spray it all over my body after taking a shower.

 

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I hope you didn’t think that I brought just one perfume for the whole week on Maui. It was a single full bottle. But in addition to that I packed some travel bottles, decants and samples. As I usually do for vacations, I didn’t bring any new scents for testing – just those that I previously wore or at least tested and thought they would be nice on a tropical island.

Do you want to know how many perfumes I had with me on Maui this year? Take a guess in your comment (without reading responses from others). As a prize for the closest guess without going over I offer a small bottle of the custom blended oil perfume, with the story of discovering which I started this post. After coming back from the trip I contacted the perfumer who makes it and we’re trying to work out the ordering process (it is a very small company). I don’t have it yet so I have no idea if I like it on my skin but I thought that the story itself and the joy of smelling it during the flight were worth ordering two bottles – one for me and one as a prize for this guessing game. If there is more than one right answer I’ll let Rusty to pick a winner. The game is on until I publish the revealing post.

Maui 2014: Perfumes

 

Images: my own; new header is created from a gift picture I got from Asali (The Sounds of Scent) right after my first swim in the ocean. If you haven’t done it yet, check out her blog for wonderful illustrations to her evocative perfume reviews.

 

A reminder: you still have until 11:59PM PST on September 29, 2014 to enter into the draw and/or participate in the poll for this month’s statistics in hajusuuri’s guest post Make Way for hajusuuri – Perfume Shopping in Boston

If Johana by Keiko Mecheri were a shoe…

 

Being parfumistas we accept that most perfumes are unisex and even those that lean towards masculine or feminine designation might be worn by any gender. The same way there are no strict rules as to which genre of perfumes should be worn in which environment or on which occasion (breathing conditions permitting).

It might be a nice contrast to put on, let’s say, a vintage Vol de Nuit extrait while wearing jeans and sneakers and running mundane errands or to use some faint and subtle skin scent with a statement evening gown. But we often think of perfumes in terms of the occasion, something like:  office-friendly, night out, beach walk or my best friend’s wedding. I thought about that while trying to classify my recent favorite – Johana by Keiko Mecheri.

It’s not an elegant and graceful Dior New Look 1947 ready for an evening in symphony (even though Luckyscent describes Johana as “elegant perfume” – I disagree).

Dior New Look and Shoes

But, on the other hand, neither it is a carefree and relaxed Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess on a tropical vacation.

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess and Shoes

Following the idea above, to describe how I see it, I pared Johana with shoes. This perfume is more than just comfortable casual loafers but rather fun and playful (well, as far as “playful” goes for my clothes) Mary Jane shoes. Johana is a dramatic but at the same time airy perfume. It doesn’t make a shocking statement but keeps grabbing my attention as I wear it.

Keiko Mecheri Johana and Shoes

When I was planning my visit to MinNY last Fall I had no intention to test Keiko Mecheri line. Did I have any particular reason? Not really, it’s not one of the lines I’m boycotting. Other than MinNY having plethora of other brands to which I normally have no access, there is that strange feeling that there are too many perfumes in the line – and until then I haven’t tried a single one.

How did it happen that after I’ve tested a dozen of Xerjoff‘s, all available Mona di Orio‘s, as many as I could Miller Harris‘ and many other perfumes I ended up leaving with Amour de Palazzo on the wrist and a single sample of Johana in my bag? It must have been fate!

In several month I went through a couple of samples, liked the perfume more and more, went to MinNY site hoping to buy it, panicked since not only they didn’t have it in stock any longer but I also couldn’t find it on the brand’s website – I thought it was some kind of an unannounced limited editions or promptly discontinued perfume. So when I saw a partial bottle of Johana sold in one of the FB perfume-related groups I immediately grabbed it. It’s available again from MinNY and Luckyscent (it’s still not mentioned on the official website!) but I’m glad I got it.

Rusty and Johana

Johana by Keiko Mecheri – created in 2012, notes include Japanese chrysanthemum, galbanum, rose, wisteria, iris, cocoa, patchouly, incense, vanilla and sandalwood. I love most of these notes in perfumes. In Johana I cannot smell any of these! But I really enjoy this perfume even without being able to deconstruct it. Or maybe because of it?

If you want a real review, I liked very much Brian’s take on it (be patient, it takes a while for this site to load – I don’t know what widgets they use there but each time it’s a pain…)

 

Images: my own

My Blog’s First Anniversary

Most of you are probably familiar with, I’m positive a well-studied and explained, phenomenon of the time going faster as you get older. I wasn’t curious enough to look for those explanations so at some point I came up with the one that seemed logical and left it at that.

In our earlier years time is very discrete and structured: we always know which grade we are in, what semester (or quarter as it was in the country where I went to school) it is and when we’ll have the next break. Our years are distinctive in terms of classes, class-mates and teachers. And each year constitutes a significant part of our self-aware life.

As we get older, finish our education and start working full-time, our lives become more unified,  “continuous” and provide much less range poles for memory to measure against. Also a year becomes smaller and smaller relative to life lived. Small kids might improve that situation for their parents for a while but it’s still not the same and it goes away as they grow up.

First BlogoversaryI didn’t know that at the time, but starting my blog a year ago served as an antidote to that acceleration tendency (probably just a temporary one but still). My life became much more structured. I’m constantly aware of not only a month (“Is it time for a monthly stats post?”) but also dates and days of the week (“I haven’t posted since the last Tuesday” or “I’m reading a six-days-old post – Is it still Ok to comment?”).

This first year was veeery looong and really good for me. I published much more posts than I planned I would. I found much more blogo-friends than I hoped I would. And I discovered much more great perfumes than I thought I would.

I’m thankful to all my friends, supporters and enablers influencers.

Suzanne, lyu, Vanessa, Michael, Ines, Victoria, Ari, Diana, Joanne, Tara, Olga, Elisa, Thomas, Lavanya, Carol, Laurie, Meg, Krista, Asali and Christos – thank you. For reading, commenting, writing inspiring reviews and sharing perfumes. I appreciate every token of your support and value your friendship.

And now a special spotlight on my perfume godmothers:

Five Bottles

Natalie of Another Perfume Blog: as far as I know she was the first one to report on upcoming Chanel No 19 Poudre release. She kept publishing updates and impressions the topic and it resulted in My First Unsniffed Purchase. (UPD: APB is closed now)

Dee of beauty on the outside: after I won a drawing for a decant of Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess perfume on her blog, I liked it so much that I bought the last bottle at the store and then brought it with me on the trip to Hawaii – how often do you haul a FB to a vacation? (if you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at the Bronze Goddess’ picture from that trip, I think she looked great).

Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels: she described Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche in such a way that I just had to try it! (well, Birgit does it a lot). I got a sample (thanks to Carrie), tried it and fell in love. So now finally I have a colored Annick Goutal’s bottle in my collection.

Tarleisio of The Alembicated Genie: her beautiful writing resulted in not one but two new bottles in my collection: Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan and DSH Vert pour Madame. If you haven’t read The Incomparable Khadine and Vertesimilituda yet I dare you to do so and see if you can resist the urge to try these perfumes if you haven’t tried them yet or re-try if you have.

Mals86 of The Muse in Wooden Shoes: here I told the story about my bottle of Puredistance Antonia and what role Mals played in it.

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What else did this year of blogging give me? A complete realization of how great the climate where I live is.

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Images: my own

New Year Resolutions, Part I: 2011 Round Up

New Year resolutions… Crowds in gyms and dance classes usually subside by mid-February allowing regulars to go back to their normal routines. Healthier eating habits get buried under stress of a “holiday-less” life and kitchen catch-all drawers stay in their natural state that makes finding any useful thing we put in there at some point an adventure.

In the beginning of 2011 I decided to see at least one of my New Year resolutions through. The resolution was: I will wear one of my favorite perfumes at least two times a week. By that time I’d created already a database to hold information about perfumes in my collection. So all I needed to add was a diary part where I could record my perfumes usage.

I’m proud to report that in all twelve months of 2011 I followed my NY resolution and gave perfumes in my permanent collection the attention they deserve. In addition to that, my numbers collecting provided me with a lot of interesting though probably not that useful data points which I’d shared with my readers in the Quick stats section of my monthly reports.

I was very curious to see the numbers for the whole year. So, here they are.

Quick 2011 stats:

* Different perfumes worn/tested: 376 (303 tested for the first time and 73 previously tested – see the chart by month) from 110 brands;

2011 statistics: perfumes worn by month* Perfumes I wore just once: 191;

* My Top 10 Brands (perfume house I wore/tested most often): see the chart, click on it for a full size;

My Top 10 Brands in 2011

* My Top 10 Perfumes (those that I wore the most often):

Perfume

Times Worn

№19 EdT by Chanel

16

Heure Exquise by Annick Goutal

13

Tiare by Ormonde Jayne

12

№19 Poudre by Chanel

10

Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder

9

Iris Poudre by Frederic Malle

9

Une Rose Vermeille by Tauer Perfumes

9

Antonia by Puredistance

8

Jeux de Peau by Serge Lutens

8

Ta’if by Ormonde Jayne

8

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Coming up in the next couple of days New Year Resolutions, Part II: Perfumed resolutions for 2012.

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Images: my own

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See also year end posts and Top N lists for 2011 from the friendly blogs:

Another Perfume Blog: Best Perfumes of 2011: A Joint Blogging Event

beauty on the outside: Highlights from 2011

EauMG: Best of 2011 – Perfume Blogging Event

eyeliner on a cat: Best Fragrances of 2011

From Top to Bottom: My 2011

Muse in Wooden Shoes: 2011: The Year’s Fragrance Releases in Review

Olfactoria’s Travels: The Best Of 2011 – My Favorite Perfumes Of The Year

Perfume in Progress: Some thoughts as the year ends

Persolaise – A Perfumer’s Blog: The Best Perfumes Of 2011 & Thoughts On Independence

Pieces of paper, squiggy lines: My Favorite Fragrant discoveries of 2011

Scent of the Day: My Favorites of 2011

Scents of Self: Forgotten Fragrances of 2011

The Alembicated Genie: Best of the Best 2011 – Perfumes and Perfumers and Best of the Best 2011 – Worn and Adored

The Candy Perfume Boy: The Candy Perfume Boy’s Best Picks of 2011

The Non-Blonde: 2011 In Perfume- Delights & Rants

Scents of My Hawaii Vacation

What did my Hawaii vacation smelled of? It smelled of freshly mowed grass on a golf course next to our condo; of papayas, mangos and dragon fruits we were eating for breakfast; of a night ocean breeze and sun-heated seaweed as we walked along beaches; of orchids (including the one that smelled like chocolate!), plumerias and other tropical flowers, of greenery wet with rain and of dusty lava fields – as we hiked in the volcano park; of 100% Kona coffee and white Hawaiian honey we tried at different coffee farms. But since it is not a travel blog I should probably write about more important stuff – perfumes.

Hapuna beach parkFor this week-long trip I decided to be “minimalistic”: one full bottle, one mini, one travel spray and two sample vials. I’ve voted against any new perfume testing not to skew the first impression by the unusual heat, humidity and … by being on a vacation.

You know how when you’re flying any airline they start the boarding with the first/business class passengers, then members of their super-duper-exclusive clubs, then… During this trip United has overdone itself: I couldn’t imagine there were so many special privileged categories. It felt like there were more passengers labeled one way or the other than “regular” ones.

My vSO and I have many small rituals and traditions when we travel together. One of the newest rituals is sharing Voyage d’Hermes scent for the flight. We use it from a mini bottle (dabbed, not sprayed) so it’s very light and not offensive to those around us but if we lean close we can get a whiff of it from each other. So my flight was scented by Voyage d’Hermes and, on a several occasions, by my neighbor‘s very strongly perfumed but luckily short-lived B&B Works’ Orange Ginger lotion (I didn’t ask, I recognized the scent).

Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder

Bronze Goddess with dragon< fruit>s

Bronze Goddess is such a beautiful perfume! Never too much, never too annoying but always summer-y, bright and perky. Just right for a perfect day in tropics. Being “pigmentally” challenged (©Olfactoria’s Travels – please read her very enticing and nicely illustrated review of Bronze Goddess), the closest I could ever get to being a bronze goddess is to smell like one. I did.

Speaking of [not] tanning. I know that summer is over for most of my blogo-friends, but I still want to mention three products with sunscreen by which I swear (links aren’t affiliate, just for the illustration purposes): Aveeno Continuous Protection Sunblock Spray for body – very easy to apply, not greasy, with a subtle scent (for a sunblock), doesn’t leave white residue; Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 55 PA+++ for face (for swimming or hiking) – absorbs well, doesn’t leave shine or residue, doesn’t clog pores (I have a sensitive skin); and Shiseido Urban Environment UV Protection Cream SPF 35 PA+++ for face (for less engaging activities) – the similar characteristics as for the face cream above but with less SPF and not being water-resistant, it’s really lightweight.

As I promised to my new perfume friend Tiare by Ormonde Jayne, I took her with me on my tropical vacation. In the evenings when an ocean breeze would put out a day heat, all dressed-up for dinner I would adorn myself with Tiare. I truly enjoyed her company. I think it is a perfect perfume for a tropical night out. It feels so right in place on the open terrace under the moonless starry sky, surrounded by palm trees and the sound of the invisible ocean just a hundred steps in front of you. And a slick travel spray will fit even into the smallest purse. Read real reviews for Ormonde Jayne’s Tiare at Olfactoria’s Travels and Bonkers about Perfume.

Two samples that I brought with me to Hawaii were Frangipani by Ormonde Jayne and Black Orchid by Tom Ford. I wore Frangipani one night and I was surprised that I liked it much less than I remembered. It was still nice but something was wrong. When I came home and checked my notes, I found out that I liked Frangipani a lot in winter (ok, that was a Californian winter), on cool but sunny days. So for whatever reasons a tropical flower-based perfume doesn’t work for me in tropics – go figure. On the other hand, Black Orchid about behavior of which in a hot weather I had my reservations was just wonderful. I do not know if I should partially attribute that success to the place I was visiting at the moment, so – just in case you ever decide to reproduce the experiment to a tee – I give you all the details.

Mauka Coffee FarmMauka Coffee FarmMauka Coffee Farm

If you ever travel to Big Island I full-heartedly recommend visiting Mauka Meadows Coffee Farm. I’m a coffee fan but not a connoisseur so I cannot tell if their coffee is really good though I liked it enough to buy some coffee to bring home. But it’s not the coffee that made the place special for me. It’s their garden. Their own website doesn’t do them justice! They have beautiful well-kept grounds – a coffee farm surrounded by a very organic fusion of a tropical-themed Japanese garden and a fruit orchard. This area of the island is very wet, so it’s not too hot and it rains there often in the afternoons. The first nice touch was a selection of umbrellas to borrow in a shed  on the parking lot. As you walk through the gardens, down to the main pavilion, you can not only enjoy the view but also you can sample fruits from the trees along your path. We ate very ripe and flavorful small red guavas right off the tree. Also, for the first time in my life, I tried fresh macadamia nuts (there was a special cracker placed next to nut trees). I’m glad I do not have an easy access to those nuts: it would have been an awful temptation.

Mauka Coffee FarmWhen you reach the foot of the hill you are greeted with a sample of their coffee. You can sit (either under the roof of the open pavilion or, if weather permits, outside at one of the lawn tables) and enjoy the tranquility of the view – a water pool flowing to the horizon and meditation music. There is no pressure to buy anything but if you want they offer three types of coffee in a variety of sizes and local honey. A minivan is ready to take you back up to the parking lot (unless you choose – as we did – to walk back through the garden). The first time we came there just by chance when we couldn’t find the coffee farm recommended on Yelp. But it was so peaceful and so beautiful that in a couple of days I just had to go there again. That was when I wore Black Orchid and it completed the wonderful experience.

Hawaii - Paradise on EarthIf anybody still had any doubts, here’s the proof that Hawaii is a Paradise on Earth: more than once we observed the commensalism, peaceful coexistence of local cats, birds, and mongooses (click on the image to see two mongooses eating/drinking from cats’ bowls).

The trip, as great as it was, wouldn’t be complete without some interesting new perfumed experience, right? So for those who are still reading, I want to announce that in the upcoming week I plan to publish an addendum to my vacation story to share with you my unexpected perfumed encounter. Stay tuned!

As always, feel free to post a link to your blog’s post(s) related to the topic.

Images: my own

Catch of the Day: By Kilian, Diptyque, Ineke and others…

Kilian Hennessy

Kilian Hennessy at SF Saks, 5/7/11

No-no, I didn’t catch Kilian Hennessy (the creator of Kilian Parfums) though I met him last Saturday at Saks Fifth Avenue during the join basenotes-NST San Francisco Spring Sniff event.

It was a private group presentation in the overcrowded by us small room on the second floor of Saks. We were strange visitors for that place but the service was very courteous (which I cannot say about the Hermes boutique we visited earlier that day where one of the SAs almost shoved us aside saying that she needed to make a sale!). Those of us who came earlier got chairs the rest had to stand (most didn’t mind). Champaign was served and then, after a short announcement by the very beautiful Marketing Director of the brand (I’m not sure I remembered her title correctly), there he was – Kilian himself.
Dive in to keep reading…