ULG Saturday Question: Shall We?

Since I came to blogging from forums preceded by chats, out of all possible types of blog content, weekly free-form discussions always seemed the most attractive to me. But when I started my blog, Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) was already doing Monday Question series, and since the circle of my readers was mostly a small sub-circle of hers, it would have been strange to start a similar feature here. Over the 5 years, Birgit ran it 222 times, collecting on average 66 comments per question (ranging from 4 on her very first one to 169 comments on the pick of her blogging venture).

Almost two years after the last Monday Question on Olfactoria’s Travels, Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies) picked up the idea and successfully ran Saturday Question series for another 2.5 years, which translates in 132 posts with 103 comments on average (min 26/max 241).

With the same idea behind the two series, Portia’s implementation – a live chat/dialog between participants, often not involving the host, had an even stronger appeal to me. But, again, why would I try to compete with a place that many of my virtual friends and readers and I myself frequent? But when Portia announced the closing of the hospitable virtual APJ saloon, I decided finally to give it a try.

So, the question in the title is not the one I’m going to ask as the first question of the Saturday Question series on Undina’s Looking Glass. I am trying it, and by your participating in it or not you’ll let me know how the water in that river on the third time is.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

I know that whoever participates in these posts does that not for any tangible prizes, but to honor the tradition and celebrate the pilot episode of the series, if the post gets 50 comments (I’m being reasonable), there will be a prize: a random draw for a $25 (or equivalent in pounds or euro) gift certificate to a decanter service of your choice.

Saturday Question #1:

Do You Know How Big Your Collection is?

Forget decants, minis, samples and even travel bottles. We’re talking big. I mean, full bottles. Not asking you to divulge the actual number of those bottles (unless you want to, of course), the question is: are you aware of that number? Do you know how many bottles you have?

My Answer

Since, as many of you know, I track my perfumes in the database, at any moment I could tell you exactly how many bottles of any kind, decants or samples I have (though, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I can easily locate all of them). But knowing that most of my readers do not have a formal filing system, I tried to guess first and only then checked.

If not to count some “stray” bottles that joined my collection not by my choice (novelty-type gifts or relatives’ cast-offs I couldn’t refuse) or almost empty pre-rabbit-hole bottles that I never plan to finish but keep for sentimental reasons, my estimation was not that far off: I guessed my full bottle collection to be just 7% smaller than it actually is. But even if I were 100% correct, it still would have been a number that does not make any practical sense. And yet, I don’t think I’ll stop completely any time soon.

 

Do You Know How Big Your Collection Is?

Rusty the Cat: On Food and Treats

I’m not sure if this post will become the first in the series. It may, since I like series, Rusty is a tireless provider of amusement in my life, and, in general, Internet runs on cats. But I won’t promise any regularity since these posts require pictures, which, in their turn, require good lighting, which is not easy to catch with my crazy work hours that do not promise to be much better this year, despite all my attempts. But we’ll see.

* * *

I’ve heard of the cats who can leave half-full bowl and come back to it later or refuse to eat something. Rusty isn’t one of those cats: any food stays in his bowl for two minutes or less. He inhales* whatever we put there and wants more. All his life he gets cat food, but I’m not sure he understands the difference. For him all food is food, but for some strange reason we refuse to share with him as much of our food as he’d like us to. So, he resorts to begging or … I can’t even say “stealing” since he doesn’t try to do it covertly – prying it from us.

 

Rusty asking for Treats

 

Since we feed him canned food, mostly pâtés, I was worrying that he didn’t get to chew anything, and his teeth weren’t being cleaned. The only things that he normally chews on are tiny treats I give him as a bribe or a reward for taking pictures for my blog or as incentive to do a trick (he does those for treats). But those tiny things take him a second or two. I hear: “crunch-crunch” – and he’s done.

 

Rusty eats a Treat

 

Friends recommended special dental treats that were supposed to be good for cats. I must say that those are quite expensive treats (approx. 50 c per treat). But what won’t we do for our feline friends, right? These treats are much larger than usual “one bite” cat treats: they are about a size of a wine bottle cork (see the picture below). But they are relatively soft and easy “bitable,” so one would expect a cat to spend some time biting smaller pieces off of it allowing enzymes in it to work on plaques to improve cat’s oral hygiene.

 

Treat for Rusty and Wine Cork

 

Rrright… When I gave it to Rusty for the first time, he was extremely excited: he got it from me, spent a couple of seconds re-arranging it in his mouth, after which, with a visible effort, he… just swallowed it whole. I was watching him in terror thinking what to do if he starts choking. Even though he was fine, I didn’t have the courage to repeat the experiment. But since I still wanted to get some health benefits for Rusty from the treats I bought, I started feeding them to him while holding them in my fist and allowing Rusty to take a smaller bites of it, preferably with his molars.

You should have seen the expression on my cat’s face when I started doing that! He couldn’t understand what I wanted from him, and why he couldn’t just gulp the thing, but “food is food,” so in a while he learned what I wanted him to do – even though he still clearly thought his human had some issues. The disadvantage of this method, though, was that in his enthusiasm Rusty could not always distinguish the treat from my fingers…

 

Treats for Rusty

 

You can understand my excitement when last Christmas Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle), in addition to wonderful gifts for me (and not only of the perfumed kind), sent some treats for Rusty (picture above). Being much longer and denser, those looked like something that Rusty would definitely have to chew on. (sigh) Nope. I’ll give him that: he didn’t swallow it in one piece. But he quickly bit it in half – and then swallowed. I was petrified: the way he was swallowing it, I was sure it wouldn’t go through, and I’d have to rescue my cat from suffocating. To my relief and amazement, he was fine. But that was the last time I experimented with making him to bite something off: I cut or tear smaller pieces before giving it to him. He doesn’t mind.

 

Treats for Rusty and Wine Cork

 

* As I was writing this post, I got curious about different synonyms for “eating quickly” and in my search came across a discussion in the WordReference forum in 2007 where a number of people, especially from the U.K., claimed they’d never heard the verb “to inhale” to be used in that meaning, even jokingly. I was surprised because for me it was something given. I asked my vSO, and he reminded me from where it came into our lexicon:

Ross: I’m just saying, if you can’t eat by yourself, how do you expect to have a baby by yourself?
Rachel: I can too eat by myself!
Ross: When have you ever?
Rachel: When certain people leave the table and I am not finished!
Ross: Well, certain other people take 2 hours to eat a bowl of soup!
Rachel: Oh, please, you inhale your food!
Ross: I grew up with Monica. If you didn’t eat fast, you didn’t eat!

Friends, Episode 8.03, 2001

Out of many synonyms suggested on that forum, I really liked the idiom “to wolf down” and thought that in our household it could be transformed into “to cat down,” as in “He catted down his lunch and hurried back to the office.”

What phrases or idioms do you use for “eat fast”?

 

Rusty asking for MORE Treats

 

Images: treats – my own; all pictures of Rusty – from our wonderful cat sitters

Paying it Forward: (in) Puredistance Gold

This post is a part of a joint mini project, a.k.a. giveaway, held by Undina (Undina’s Looking Glass), Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume), Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) and Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies) – see details at the bottom of the post.

* * *

In this age of advertising in social networks and working through influencers, vloggers and instagrammers (ha! MS Word’s spell checker knows the former but objects to the latter while Firefox browser’s spell checker doesn’t think any of the three terms are grammatically correct), it is hard to justify spending marketing resources on a handful of “old school” bloggers with quirky blogging styles and limited outreach via followers or organic search.

Most brands stopped doing that silently. Some were quite vocal about it (I will not name names now, but will mention that even years later I still hold a grudge – not for the decision not to provide free samples itself but rather for the publicly provided “justification” for that decision, but I digress). And a very few keep doing that through the years for whatever reasons – be that gratitude for the role perfumistas in general or particular individuals played once in popularizing niche perfumery or the brand; or out of sentimental feelings towards the “dying art” of blogging; or even pragmatical calculation that people who spend hundreds, sometimes thousands dollars per year on their hobby and who “talk” to others with the same predisposition might be a better target audience for a “free sample” than an average perfume counter visitor. I don’t know the reasoning, but I know that those brands are still out there.

 

 

Puredistance is one of such brands that – as long as I remember, even before I started blogging – was extremely friendly and generous with bloggers, and not just with press release samples that would promote their newest perfume but with acknowledgement of bloggers contribution to spreading good word about the brand, their time in communications and some unexpected surprises for the brand’s milestones.

Late last year Puredistance sent me a travel spray of their newest perfume Puredistance Gold. As always, no strings attached.

I tied and I liked Puredistance Gold, which made me happy and thankful to the brand for bringing me joy that holiday season. And at the same time, I felt bad because there was no story or topic in my head that I could use for a post, and since I don’t do regular reviews, it meant I wouldn’t be able to make my tiniest input into promoting this perfume to the World.

 

Puredistance Gold

 

And then I thought that even if I were to review this perfume, in my opinion, it wouldn’t be enough because while it is like that for many good perfumes, for Puredistance Gold it is particularly true: to fully appreciate it, one needs to wear it. Even if I were to tell you that it’s great, since the only place where you could test it would be a niche shop with dozens of other perfumes that compete for your attention, you’ll spray it on paper, sniff and, most likely, move to the next bottle.

And that’s how the idea of this joint mini project came to live. We, several bloggers who were lucky to get some preview samples from Puredistance, decided to share what we got – just to make sure it reaches more people who might otherwise never try it.

* * *

Puredistance Gold Sample(s) Giveaway

One ~ 1.5ml handmade sample of Puredistance Gold is offered in a giveaway on each blog for a reader from the specific geographical region:

Undina’s Looking Glass (this blog) – the US and Canada

Chemist in the Bottle – Europe (without the UK)

Bonkers about Perfume – the UK

Australian Perfume Junkies – Australia

 

While you’re invited and encouraged to comment on any/all of the participating blogs, to be entered into the draw you should leave comment on “your” region’s blog following the instructions given there.

If you are in the US or Canada and wish to enter the giveaway, all you need to do on this blog is to state in your comment “I live in [country]. That’s it. The draw on this blog will close on February 23rd. You know all the disclaimers, etc.

Regardless of whether you participate in my draw or not, I would love to know: Have you tried any of Puredistance perfumes? Do you have favorite ones? Are there any you haven’t tried yet but want to?

 

Images: my own

Second Sunday Samples: Jo Malone Vetiver & Golden Vanilla

Years pass, I come across many new brands and new perfumes from old favorites, but it seems that Jo Malone (brand, not the person) still manages to produce, among the avalanche of new releases, something that attracts my attention.

Unfortunately, my attention span shrank recently, so unless I come to the store right when a new offering takes the central stage on the stand, I might completely miss it.

I remembered from reading an announcement on NST that new Jo Malone would be released. I even remembered that it was supposed to be vanilla. On my first visit to the store I looked around, tried reading multiple labels – and didn’t succeed. Since I couldn’t remember the name (and for whatever reason it’s almost impossible to get Internet connection from inside our Nordstrom store), I just left without even asking.

The next time I got to the store, I couldn’t spot anything new … and I couldn’t remember the name again. But I told myself it would be silly to go away without trying. So, I surprised the SA agreeing that I needed his help (you could see in his body language that he was already half-way turning away fully expecting my polite “I’m just browsing”). I said: “You are supposed to have a new vanilla perfume, but I seem not to be able to notice it.” He immediately resolved the mystery: Vetiver & Golden Vanilla is released in the Cologne Intense collection – I wasn’t even looking there.

The SA complimented me on being adventurous because I wasn’t afraid to try the Intense Collection, which “most women avoid.” Really? I was surprised: out of all the brands that ventures in the unisex perfume territory Jo Malone seemed like the one that leans more feminine. But since he works there, he might know better (or not), I’m not familiar with “civilian’s” tastes.

 

Jo Malone Vetiver and Golden Vanilla

 

Neither brand’s site nor Fragrantica are too generous with the notes: cardamom, grapefruit tea accord, vetiver bourbon and vanilla bourbon. Perfumer (according to NST): Mathilde Bijaoui, who previously created for Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka.

To my nose, Vetiver & Golden Vanilla is all about vetiver. I don’t think I can smell cardamom, and vanilla is surprising in this composition: it’s much less sweet than you might expect both from the material and from the brand. But it’s not a bad thing, don’t read it as a criticism. It creates an interesting “adult” composition that keeps your mind far away from the cupcake territory. On my skin perfume has moderate to good projection and moderate tenacity (and I’d expect it to be even better if sprayed from a bottle instead of a small sample).

Since I like vetiver in perfumes, Vetiver & Golden Vanilla smells good to me but, unlike most of Jo Malone main collection’s offerings, it is not the one that everybody will either like or stay indifferent: I expect some people to actively dislike it or (virtually waving Hi to that SA) feel that it’s too masculine. But if you enjoy vetiver (and especially if you, as I, like but get tired of Hermes’s Vetiver Tonka), give Vetiver & Golden Vanilla a try: if not a bottle, it might be worth a 10 ml decant space in your collection.

I’m thinking that I still don’t have a single bottle from the Cologne Intense collection… I could probably take a closer look at one of those 50 ml black bottles (I’m glad Jo Malone finally moved away from 100 ml only, but I wish they’ve done them in 30 ml black bottles – I still remember how great the Dark Amber & Ginger Lily 30 ml bottle looked).

 

Images: from the brand’s site (my sample vial looked not interesting to warrant bribing Rusty; if I end up buying a bottle, I’ll find a reason to publish a picture of Rusty with it)

The (Last?) Two Queens

Lipstick Queen is one of my favorite lipstick brands. It isn’t the only brand that I wear but it’s one that is heavily represented in my lipstick wardrobe and on my blog. I won’t reveal the total number of tubes from the brand, but I’ll say that there are at least three shades that I bought repeatedly, some even more than twice.

I’m not sure what attracts me in these lipsticks the most: I like their names, I enjoy strange colors, and their formula (especially the one they use for their sheer lipsticks) works great for my lips. So, whenever I would come across the next release, I’d get curious and often end up buying it, even though my lipsticks collection is running over the space I designated to it, similar to my perfumes wardrobe.

 

 

I have a bad feeling that I might need to start looking for another favorite. First, at some point, I suddenly realized that I haven’t heard for a while about any new quirky names/collections from the brand. Then there was a slew of their products on sale at different outlets (I took advantage of some of those). Then I noticed prices going back up for several of those lipsticks that I keep an eye on planning to replenish once the lipstick in use is done. And then I went to the Lipstick Queen brand’s site to discover that it shrank to a couple of pages: no online shopping, no information about the new and existing products – just a store finder. It looks like the company that bought Lipstick Queen in 2011 lost interest in the brand soon after the original owner had left it in 2017.

I decided to tell you about two lipsticks I added to my collection last – while those are still available, if anyone wants to play.

 

Lipstick Queen Queen Bee Lip Treatment

 

I saw some sites calling Lipstick Queen’s Queen Bee a “lip treatment.” I’m not sure: I bought it as a lipstick, but as well I can imagine that I’m “treating” my lips because it doesn’t provide too much color anyway. As much as I love the idea of a golden lipstick (and have probably a couple more tubes from different brands to attest to that), my skin is too fair for it to wear on its own other than for those hot days when a real lipstick would feel too heavy, but one would like to add some shimmer to lips. Hawaii is a perfect place to wear Queen Bee (and to take a picture of it). Otherwise, it goes well on matte colored lipstick if I want to brighten it a little.

 

Lipstick Queen Queen Bee Lip Treatment Swatch

 

If to borrow terminology from photography, while Queen Bee is a like a warm filter that can be applied to one’s lips, Ice Queen is a cool filter. It also provides shimmer but it’s rather silver-toned. Most likely, I’m influenced by the name and packaging, but with the same sheer coverage I still consider Ice Queen a winter lipstick. Counterintuitively, my lips and complexion “tolerate” this cold shimmer on its own better than the golden one. But I still wear it mostly over darker colors to add festive stardust to my lips during the holidays season.

 

Lipstick Queen Ice Queen

 

Poppy King, the creator of Lipstick Queen, was planning her comeback with her third lipstick company and a new line Femme De Poppy. Last year she launched it at Barney’s… It doesn’t look like the new owner, Saks, picked it up. Today the new brand’s site is even less informative than the Lipstick Queen’s one. But I signed up for the updates and look forward to trying whatever Ms. King comes up with next. I’m really rooting for her not only because she created those great lipsticks that both work well for me and amuse me (wearable blue, green, black lipsticks named Hello Sailor, Frog Prince and Black Lace Rabbit with well thought-through packaging), but also I feel like I can relate to her: we’re almost the same age, she has fair skin, and she gets her inspiration from her kitty cat Meowsy. On the other hand, unlike her, I’m absolutely not entrepreneurial. I’ve just ordered and plan to read her first book (not an affiliated link) – Lessons of a Lipstick Queen: Finding and Developing the Great Idea That Can Change Your Life – not that I plan to change my life but I’m curious.

 

Rusty and Lipstick Queen 3 Minis

Images: my own

On Cloud Nine

It’s my blog’s ninth anniversary. As always, let’s do some stories and some perfumes (and probably some cat’s pictures).

* * *

I’m not a big drinker. My conundrum is: while I love the “taste” component of drinking, I do not enjoy being inebriated. Probably, it’s a control issue. But whatever the reason be, the fact is that I like drinking but hate feeling drunk. Despite all the cultural stereotypes, I do not ever drink vodka. Unless it’s a special occasion or a wine tasting trip, my usual drinking is limited to a glass of wine or a cocktail on the weekends.

Last year was very stressful at work (mostly due to the deadlines, not people-related, which is better, as far as work stresses go), so I found myself having a little wine (less than a glass) late in the evening 3-4 times a week. In this case, what I usually don’t like about alcohol would rather help me: I’d relax and fall asleep easier. But I knew that I didn’t really need those extra glass or two per week and could easily give them up.

That was before I got sick in December and had to take antibiotics that categorically couldn’t be combined with any alcohol (as in not just being less effective but being poisonous). So, I had to stop drinking. Period. I had a break between two courses around Christmas, so I had some wine for that celebration, but on the New Year Eve all I had was a sip of champagne at 12. That was my soberest New Year celebration in several decades! And it was hard: I wanted my glass of wine. Or two.

 

Barrels with wine

 

So, it’s fair to say that drinking was on my mind as I was thinking about the blog’s anniversary.

There are many beverages represented in perfumery, and I might do another post to cover some of them in future, but today I want to talk about what I missed the most in the last month – wine.

Sparkling wine/champagne/prosecco is usually associated with special events or leisure time. My favorite moment with this drink is the first couple of sips. So, when it’s just two of us, it feels almost wrong to open an expensive bottle: I rarely enjoy drinking more than a glass of champagne, and it doesn’t keep well. But when it comes to perfumes featuring this note, none of the two I want to mention will break the bank.

Antica Farmacista is a brand that is known for their ambient products – candles, diffusers and room sprays. From time to time they produce “Home and body” sprays that, as it’s clear from the name, can be used for either (last year I finally found an almost perfect Daphne scent done by the brand). Prosecco was their last year’s limited-edition scent. It’s light and sparkling, and it fits the name perfectly. While I still plan to finish the sample I’ve got, I think that as a diffuser or a candle scent or even as body products it should be even better. And they all are still available, so give it a sniff if you come across it.

Champagne de Bois from Sonoma Scent Studio was getting so much love when I was just starting the descend into the rabbit hole of niche perfumery. I stopped hearing (reading) much about it long before Laurie Erikson decided to move away from the business. And it’s a pity because it is a very good perfume, and I think that having a chance to try it, many more people would enjoy wearing it. My biggest complaint with many of SSS’s perfumes was… their concentration. In my opinion, the way they were created, they should have been used as extraits of the past – dabbed, not sprayed. And for spraying there should have been a much less concentrated version. Recently I was diluting some of the SSS’s perfumes with perfumer alcohol and using them like that. Champagne de Bois, in my opinion, is one of such perfumes. But otherwise, if dabbed or sprayed after being diluted, it is gorgeous. In my head I classified Champagne de Bois as a “winter champagne”: it’s sparkling and festive but not refreshing. I wonder if its formula stays the same under new ownership (I plan to check it out soon).

 

Sonoma Scent Studio Champagne de Bois

 

If you prefer something sweeter, may I interest you in Tokay wine?

Tom Ford Champaca Absolute is one of my favorite perfumes for the last 8 years. I’m not sure how Fragrantica comes up with their notes lists (and usually I do not question them), but Tokay (Tokajii) wine note isn’t in their pyramid, even though it was mentioned in the perfume’s description from the start, and TF’s website still lists it. Champaca Absolute is a big floral perfume that balances well between light and darkness. Similar to those versatile pieces in one’s wardrobe that can be dressed up or down, Champaca Absolute, applied with a lighter hand or sprayed with an abundance, would perfectly fit a business function or a big party. Exactly like Tokay wine would.

While I enjoy both champagne and white wine, having a choice between [expectedly] good white or good red wine, nine out of ten times I’d go for red (by the way, with [presumably] bad wines, I choose the opposite, because, as a rule, white cheap/bad wine is more drinkable than red one).

 

Les Liquides Imaginaires Bello Rabelo

 

Les Liquides Imaginaires was one of the brands that I’ve discovered on my own: before seeing and trying them for the first time at Barney’s, I’ve never read anything about their perfumes and had no expectations. Bello Rabelo was probably the most spontaneous purchases I’ve ever made. But I was in a good company (another perfumista who had left Perfume blogosphere since), I was buying this perfume rather for my vSO than myself (and he liked it, though he’s much less discriminatory against perfumes in general on account of allergy-induced stuffed nose), and I was “due” to buy something from the store (there are only that many times I feel comfortable trying perfumes/asking for samples without buying something when the store has the same SAs over years). Luckily, both my vSO and I still like it. Bello Rabelo is not phenomenal or groundbreaking, but I find it quite original – at least I don’t have anything like it in my collection. Different sources cite slightly different notes, but they all rotate around dried fruits, vanilla, benzoin and wood. I can equally imagine either a “red wine” (Fragrantica) or a “porto accord” (brand’s site) note in Bello Rabelo, and whatever it is, it smells good. And same as wine, it is quite gender neutral.

 

Rusty and Bello Rabelo

 

And now I’ll get a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and return to my cloud nine. It’s your turn.

Are you a wine drinker? What is your favorite wine? Do you have any of the favorite perfumes that either officially include champagne/wine/port/etc. or remind you of one of these drinks?

Also, if you’d like to be entered into a draw for a 5 ml decant of (one of your choice) Champagne de Bois (“new stock”), Champaca Absolute or Bello Rabelo, just state your choice in the comment. Otherwise, I’ll assume “DNEM.”

 

Images: my own