Big Island Vacation, Episode III: Trivia Edition

As my friend Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) usually does it, here’s a disclaimer: this is not a perfume-related post. But you know what? If you read my “perfume” posts and are still around, I would bet that this one can’t be that much less interesting/useful.

This trip to Hawaii was quite educational, and I do not use it as a euphemism for something unpleasant. Quite literally, I learned many new and interesting trivia bits and had interesting experiences, mostly food-related, which now I plan to share with you.

Did you know that…

  • Between 1790 and 1870, sandalwood was a major part of Hawaii’s agricultural industry1. Too bad it’s not any more – it would have been interesting to compare it to sandalwood from other areas.
  • In the 1960s, Hawaii was responsible for 80% of the world’s pineapple. Today, Hawaii produces only 2% of the world’s pineapple. But 90% of the world’s macadamia nuts are still produced there [1].

Big Island Macadamia Nuts

  • Peaberry coffee (oval, pea-shaped coffee beans) is not a special coffee variety but rather a rare (about 5%) mutation produced by regular coffee trees.
  • Roasted coffee beans are bigger than green ones [2].

Big Island Roasted Coffee

  • Passion fruit is a vine.

Passion Fruit

  • Strawberry guava is considered the most invasive plant in Hawaii [3].

Big Island Strawberry Guava

  • Left not picked, a tea bush can grow higher than the tallest person.
  • Both green and black tea are grown on the same bush but, counter-intuitively, green tea is “cooked” (leaves are heated in a special appliance, shown below, to stop the oxidation), while black – isn’t [4].

Big Island Tea Roasting Machine

During this trip I’ve seen for the first time:

  • Tea flowers and tea seeds: you can propagate tea by either cuttings or seeds [4]. Tea flowers look beautiful both in rain and on a sunny day.
  • Growing vanilla: it looks like green beans!

Big Island Vanilla

  • Cinnamon tree: I didn’t realize before that it’s made from the bark is harvested from a live tree [4].

Big Island Sinnamon Tree

We experienced:

  • Mead from local honey infused with local tea: it tastes great on a hot day.

Big Island Tea Infused Mead

  • Chinese tea ceremony during which I smelled strong floral scent of one of the black teas: it wasn’t an imaginary or pretend-I-know-what-you-mean scent as it happens sometimes with wine tasting but it actually smelled of flowers [4].

Big Island Chinese Tea Ceremony

  • Freshly baked homemade scones with passion fruit curd: we were treated to these in the end of the tea ceremony, and they were so tasty that I started contemplating making them at home.

Scone and passion fruit curd

  • Hot and sunny mornings, perfect tropical rains and the most beautiful sunsets – and all that within an hour-drive distance

 

1 Source https://www.to-hawaii.com/agriculture.php

2 From our visit to Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation that offers free coffee farm tours lead by enthusiastic staff members, sampling of coffee and other products in their shop, as well as inexpensive nature walks.

3 Wikipedia

4 From the private tour in Onomea Tea Company – three-hour event that included the tour and tea ceremony. It was probably the best experience of this type in my life, so I would highly recommend it.

 

Images: my own

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A Postcard from Undina: Happy Rainy Thanksgiving!

I know that for many people rain isn’t something pleasant or desirable. But here, in California, after several years of serious drought, rain is always welcome. But even more so today: it brought us a beautiful Thanksgiving gift of “Good” Air Quality Index – after a week of fluctuations between “Unhealthy” and “Very Unhealthy” because of the devastating and the deadliest in California history Camp Fire that is still ruining our beautiful state (it’s 75% contained as of now).

I’m thankful for the rain. I’m thankful that my loved ones are alive and safe this holiday. I’m thankful I have people with whom I will be celebrating this holiday that hasn’t been mine when I grew up but which I grew to appreciate over years living in the U.S.

 

Happy Rainy Thanksgiving 2018

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!

Image: my own taken earlier today

Big Island Vacation, Episode II: Perfume Testing

Usually I try not to bring with me new samples for testing on a vacation. The idea is not to influence my first impression one way or the other as well as not to change my usual testing routine. But Regime des Fleurs arrived not long before we were to leave, and it was a Hawaii-themed collection, so I took it as a sign.

 

Regime Des Fleurs Oahu Collection Samples

 

Look at this official photo for the collection! These bottles bring to mind some exotic drinks taken out of the fridge a minute ago. Obviously,  perfumes were just made for a tropical vacation, right?!

Wrong! Regime des Fleurs’ Oahu Collection perfumes not only smelled chemically artificial in Big Island’s environment (Wrong island?) but also they had absolutely no tenacity in hot and humid weather. I was so disappointed that I didn’t write down any specific impressions from my testing: I had no intentions even to mention these perfumes on the blog.

But then I decided to do a write-up on them for my Second Sunday Samples post, so I had to test them again.

Suddenly, in our California warm Fall these perfumes behaved completely differently. I think that, similar to my experience with Selva Do Brazil by Parfums Berdoues that I mentioned in the previous post, these perfumes project the idea of Hawaii rather than are intended to be used there. I ended up being too busy and missed the intended posting schedule but not to waste the efforts, I transformed my quick impressions into the second episode of my vacation series.

Five perfumes in this collection are Shells, Falls, Vines, Waves and Leis.

 

Hawaii waves

 

The least favorite out of the five tested were Waves (crushed herbs, beachside buds, ti leaf, saltwater, ocean froth, lava rock, sea minerals, mango wood) and Falls (tropical spices, hapu’u tree ferns, rushing water, green mist, wet jungle moss, monkeypod bark, manoa red clay).

Waves, to my nose, in the opening smell as toothpaste. It settles down quickly and becomes just not too interesting: some aromatic herbs and something aquatic. Not a fan.

 

Hawaii fall

 

Falls, while not producing any immediate negative associations, just does nothing for me. Testing it I’m pressed to define what I smell and why I dislike it but I do.

So, as much as I like both ocean and waterfalls, these two perfumes were a miss.

Out of all, Leis (butterfly ginger lily, pua kini kini, frangipani, tuberose, jasmine sambac, black salt, ambergris) had the most theoretically recognizable notes and one unfamiliar but very intriguing – pua kini kini (Perfume Flower Tree).

While Leis is a quite pleasant light fruity floral perfume, it doesn’t showcase any of the declared notes (which might be not a bad thing for me when it comes to tuberose) and doesn’t satisfy my curiosity about pua kini kini.

 

Hawaii Vines

 

In Vines (healing herbs, overripe citrus, indigenous fig, stephanotis leaf, ambrette seed, forest musks) I don’t recognize fig (indigenous or not), can confirm some herbs (not sure about the “healing” part) and probably musk (“forest”?!), but beyond that I can’t say much: I’m not familiar with the rest of ingredients and not sure I have any reference points for describing what I smell. But the composition is rather pleasant; I liked it the most and could see myself wearing this perfume once in a while.

Shells (Li hing, liliko’i, teak resin, macadamia seed, sandalwood, vanilla oleoresin), probably the most abstract inspiration image for perfume, was the biggest surprise when worn in cooler weather. I was upset though that I couldn’t smell passion fruit (liliko’i), not even because I especially love this note in perfumes (I would have gone with Arielle Shoshana perfume if I did) but because that scent is very distinct and I know it really well, which I can’t say about too many notes. But as an abstract idea of that part of Hawaii ecosystem Shells is pleasant enough to try – if you come across this brand.

 

Regime Des Fleurs Oahu Collection Samples

 

All-in-all, while I liked two perfumes from the collection, I’m opposed to the idea of perfumes that are designed for both “body and environment.” On more than one occasion I used an ambiance spray as a personal perfume but those were bought as such – room sprays – and were priced accordingly. $125 for a 100 ml bottle of summer cologne is not that outrageous, if you like the scent, but as room spray it seems a little too aspirational. But bottles are attractive, and colored juice looks playful (and reminds me the new Mugler Cologne collection), so I do not feel completely dismissive towards Oahu Collection.

As for samples, I got them free of charge (not as a blogger: the brand had offered them to NST’s readers in the comment to the announcement of this line release), so I shouldn’t look that horse in the mouth. But as a blogger I still want to comment that, in my opinion, both for the price they charge for the “Sampling Flight” ($25, credited towards a full bottle purchase) and to make justice to their perfumes, they should look into switching to spray format (even if with the same 1 ml volume): dabbed, these perfumes do not either project much or live long.

 

Images: All but the first official image – my own

Big Island Vacation, Episode I: Perfumes

Until recently I thought that Maui was my favorite island, so over the last many years that was our most frequent vacation destination. But this year we decided we wanted a change and, after a short hesitation, booked our trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. Just in case you were wondering, we hesitated because of the recent volcano eruption but then decided it would be fine. Luckily for us, many others were less adventurous, so … OK, I won’t say that we had the whole island to ourselves but it was much less crowded than it could have been.

Hawaii Big Island

We managed to pack a lot into six days we spent there, and I plan to cover some of the highlights in the next several posts. But I want to start with the most appropriate topic for this blog: perfumes.

Over years of going to Hawaii I collected a wardrobe of perfumes that I always bring with me.

The only full bottle of perfume that has ever traveled with me anywhere is Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder. I bring it with me to every tropical vacation (Big Island, Kauai and Maui). This time though I used it less often than I normally do because we shared the condo with our friends, and I couldn’t do my usual ritual of walking to the fridge (where I keep Bronze Goddess when in Hawaii), spraying it all over my body and putting on my clothes after that. But it still got several generous applications during the trip and enjoyed it every time.

Hawaii Big Island Perfumes

My “vacation in a bottle” perfume – Ginger Ciao by Yosh – was as great on actual vacation as I remembered. Tiare by Ormonde Jayne and I have rekindled our friendship after a recent cooling-off, and both Tiare and its sister Frangipani felt wonderfully appropriate for the place.

Unexpectedly, I came to the realization that I should stop bringing to Hawaii Bombay Bling! by Neela Vermeire Creations. For years I thought it was a very good fit and kept being slightly disappointed: it didn’t smell as great as I remembered and usually would disappear too quickly from my skin. This trip we stayed in for dinner more often than went out, so I got to wear Bombay Bling! in a well air-conditioned room. Under these circumstances, with little heat or humidity involved, this perfume bloomed wonderfully, and I could still smell it in my hair throughout the night. So, while I still love it, no more Hawaii vacations for Bombay Bling!

Neela Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling!

L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Traversee du Bosphore and Byredo’s Pulp both are perfumes that I wear only in hot and humid weather, and these both were predictably good though I would prefer to spray them more liberally, which I couldn’t do this time: since the Island is called “Big” not for nothing, and it takes a couple of hours one way to get almost anywhere besides the close-by beach, we often voted for going somewhere in one car. And while it allowed us to spend more time in each other’s company, I had to be mindful of having four people in closed quarters for hours – so I was very discreet with my perfume application.

One more perfume that has proved absolutely not suited for the tropical weather was Selva Do Brazil by Parfums Berdoues. I brought my ScentBird decant of it with me thinking it would be just perfect there. It smelled very nice indeed… all 15 minutes that I could smell it either on me or on my vSO. I guess, Selva Do Brazi is one of those perfumes that are great to convey the idea of tropics rather than to be used there. Though, with hindsight, maybe it wasn’t that bad considering long car rides… Nah, probably still no.

I also did some testing of new for me perfumes, but I’ll probably leave it for the next post.

Hawaii Big Island Sunset

Do you have any perfumes that you always use for something particular – an event, place or something along these lines?

Images: my own

Healing Bite

Biting your lips is one of the common causes of chapped lips. As well cold weather is. It’s never cold where I live, and I do not bite my lips. Nevertheless, I constantly have a feeling that my lips are dry. I’m not sure of the real to imagined ratio of this problem, but since it feels real, for the last many-many years I’ve been using one product or other to keep my lips moist.

I am more or less covered during the day (you might say, literally) since I wear lipstick and do not mind re-applying. But at night it became a hassle: I’d put on some lip product before going to bed and then would wake up a couple of times during the night to use it again.

Up until 7 month ago I’ve never heard about the BITE Beauty brand. And then either as a GWP or a birthday gift from Sephora I got a set with mini lipstick, lip crayon and a dime-size double-packette of lip scrub and lip balm. Both make-up items did not work for my skin tone, so I quickly re-homed them with a friend, but I kept treatment samples for “maybe one day…”

“One day” occurred soon when I misplaced the regular tube from the night stand. Since it was late, I didn’t feel like sending the search and rescue expedition downstairs, so I just applied some from the sample and went to bed.

When I woke up early next morning, one of the first conscious thoughts was: “My lips still feel not dry… Wow.”

Next I did what I often do with perfumes when I fall in love with them: I bought a full product even before I finished the sample.

Bite Agave Lip Balm

From the brand’s site:

It’s handmade with natural and organic ingredients, including agave nectar, shea butter and Madagascan vanilla CO2 extract, to help deeply hydrate. And, its nurturing base, made with lanolin and beeswax, helps seal in moisture.

Agave Lip Balm is just amazing. In six months I’ve been using it I had to re-apply it during the night just a couple of times but usually I just use it once before going to bed. It doesn’t feel greasy or sticky. It is not shiny, but lips do not look completely naked. Agave Lip Balm has a very faint vanilla scent. At $18 for a regular tube, it is the most expensive lip balm I’ve used so far, but I think it’s worth it. I’m on the second tube now (it lasts for 3-4 months of nightly use), and I plan to get the next one before the current one is done.

If only I could find something like that for hands…

Image: My own

Tom Ford Vert de Fleur

I really dislike the man. Well, at least his public persona, though I would be extremely surprised if he happened to be in RL a nice guy and the last boy scout. Nevertheless, I like perfumes that this brand creates.

I drew the line and refused to condone two most recent juvenile naming games, though I wasn’t offended enough to completely boycott the brand. But other than these two cases, I tend to like Tom Ford’s creations and still get excited with each new release.

Whenever I see a release of series of perfumes, from any brand, my first thought is that while working on the next perfume, the stakeholders couldn’t agree on which mod to choose and decided to go with several to ensure they didn’t make a mistake and covered all the bases. Of course, I’m not being completely serious, but I’m protesting against the avalanche of new releases.

All that didn’t prevent me from trying four perfumes in Les Extraits Vert series soon after it was released in 2016. Vert Boheme, Vert d’Encense, Vert de Fleur and Vert des Bois were all not bad at first sniff, so I got samples (tricking a couple of SAs in different stores), planned to test them properly and completely forgot about them for a while.

Recently it felt like green perfume days, so I went through the samples and found my favorite.

 

Tom Ford Vert de Fleur

 

Vert de Fleur starts with the most beautiful green accord – crisp, slightly bitter, slightly floral. Had it stayed in that phase for at least 20-30 minutes, I would have been telling you about a new bottle in my collection. But it doesn’t last settling into sweeter floral with undetectable to my nose individual notes – still very pleasant and refined but not as spectacular as I find it in the opening.

For a while I kept thinking of what other perfume I was reminded while wearing it, until suddenly I realized that it was very similar to my favorite Chanel No 19 but less austere than the EdT version… Think of No 19 EdP on a summer vacation on the Amalfi Coast.

Vert de Fleur is one of those perfumes that I like while I’m testing it but every time I ask myself whether I think I’d wear it often should I get it, my answer doesn’t sound convincing to me. So, for now I plan to see if I can finish the sample.

The other three perfumes in the line will probably get one more skin appearance and then will be passed on (if I can persuade myself to part with them: for some reason Tom Ford’s samples appeal to me even when perfume itself doesn’t). But if you were to try only one perfume from the series, try … all of them: unless you dislike the man even stronger than I do or avoid green perfumes altogether, most likely, one of the four will work for you.

Have you tried any of the perfumes in this series? Did you like any?

 

Image: my own

… and I’ll be there…

A month ago Twitter’s meme “What 5 items would someone put in a salt circle to summon you?” got viral when J.K. Rowling answered it.

 Summonning JK Rowling

 

In other answers there were perfumes (that’s how I learned about it – from somebody’s mentioning it on the NST’s daily threads), books, snacks and a LOT of cats.

So of course I started playing this game in my head. My first thought was: “Rusty!” But then I realized that, first, Rusty wouldn’t sit still in any circle with or without other objects, and second, Rusty alone would be enough to summon me.

 

Rusty in a Circle

 

But since I still wanted to play this game, I decided to count Rusty out and go with inanimate objects. So, what would be a set of five things to summon me? I don’t think it would be a surprise to anyone who reads this blog that Climat by Lancôme would be the first thing to go on the list. The next one would be probably that quirky blue Hello Sailor lipstick by Lipstick Queen and The Fifth Element – one of my all-time favorite movies. Now, when we took care of my mind and my look, let’s attend to my body: dark chocolate lava cake and a cup of cappuccino. Yeah, looks about right: put these five together, and I’ll be there.

 

 Summonning Undina

 

What should I put in a circle to summon you?

 

Images: the salt circle from here; DVD cover – don’t remember; the rest – my own.