Undina’s Advent CaTendar 2022 – Week 2

The second week of my daily Instagram‘ posts for the Advent CaTendar – a count up to Rusty’s 14th birthday on Christmas Eve. Plus some “extras” that weren’t published there.

More photos are coming next week. Also, eventually, I’ll be back with more perfume-related content. Promise.

 

Images: my own

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Saturday Question: Do You Like Pine/Fir Note In Perfumes?

After decades of living in the US, I got used to decorating a Christmas Tree earlier in December (instead of the last couple of days of the month to celebrate New Year, as it was customary in my childhood). But since this year I needed some serious holiday cheering, I broke my record and decorated that tree a week ago! I love it, but since it’s an artificial tree (albeit very naturalistic), it doesn’t smell. Perfume to the rescue!

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #143:

Do You Like Pine/Fir Note In Perfumes?

If yes, what are your favorites? Do you wear them only around winter holidays, or are they in a regular rotation?

A bonus question: Have you decorated a tree this year?

My Answer

I do not actively seek out perfumes with this note. But if I think about it, I generally enjoy pine/fir scent and have at least several favorite fragrances with these prominent notes.

  1. Annick Goutal Nuit Etoilee
  2. Ineke Idyllwild
  3. Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles

I wear Fille en Aiguilles only in December and January, and the other two fit my summer evening the same as the winter holiday season.

How about you?

 

Do You Like Pine/Fir Note In Perfumes?

Undina’s Advent CaTendar 2022 – Week 1

As promised, here’s a round-up of pictures I posted daily for my Instagram‘s Advent CaTendar and a couple of additional photos to keep it interesting for those of you who have already “liked” those that were published on IG first.

The first few days, Rusty was very interested in our three calendars – Whittard of Chelsea tea calendar, Bonne Maman preserves calendar and Cult Beauty beauty calendar, so I managed to snap several photos.

Those of you who had followed me for a while saw probably that dog toy/Rusty’s bed. But since he often spends time on it, I can’t stop taking pictures: he looks so funny camouflaged there.

A friend of mine who makes amazing things from wood (it’s his hobby) wanted to use Rusty as a model to prove that the bowl he made for another friend (whose cat has outgrown the previous bowl, in which said cat liked to sit) was large enough. We spent some time trying to persuade Rusty to cooperate, but in the end, he got tired of us and just sat in the bowl, allowing us to take all the photos we wished.

When we decorate a Christmas Tree, Rusty loves spending time under it on the tree skirt. This year he wasn’t thrilled (or was he?) when we left a cord on top, and we quickly corrected the oversight.

Come over next week for more insights into Rusty’s daily “activities.”

 

Images: my own

Saturday Question: Are You Doing Any Advent Calendars This Year?

December, huh?

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #142:

Are You Doing Any Advent Calendars This Year?

Not necessarily perfume ones (but share if it is). How about food, drinks, jewelry, beauty or any other possible kind out there? Did you buy any or make them yourself?

 

My Answer

A month ago, I decided that instead of getting a Christmas or New Year gift, I wanted to enjoy every day in December. It was before my self-imposed “no-buy,” so I got three Advent Calendars.

A beauty Advent Calendar from Cult Beauty. More beauty products I probably need as much as I need more perfumes. But it seemed like an excellent set of products (I glanced, though now I hardly remember what this one had since I was choosing between 4 or 5 others). And when I was buying it, they offered a GWP that was more expensive than the calendar, and I just couldn’t resist. I’m sure I’ll be sharing some of the products with family and friends.

I wanted to get a tea calendar. But the one that I was curious about, in addition to being very expensive, contained just 1 tea bag per day, which didn’t work for me because I wanted to share it with my vSO. Then I considered a calendar with loose-leaf tea, but the amount of tea for each day was enough for just 8 oz, which is also not enough for sharing. An Advent Calendar from Whittard of Chelsea won me because it was intended for two, and I have a soft spot for the brand because I discovered it first when visiting London and, since then, bought two of their herbal/fruit teas several times.

The third one is Bonne Maman Preserves Advent Calendar. I tried before a couple of fruit spreads from this brand. So, I thought it would be a chance to try multiple different spreads to choose which I like.

I couldn’t even imagine how much I would enjoy opening those calendars! The anticipation! The discovery! The feeling of surprise! I realize that all this comes from the novelty of the experience: the only Advent Calendar I’ve ever had was the one I created myself last year for perfumes to wear in December. And though it was also fun, opening a calendar created by someone else brings me even more joy. My vSO also admitted that he liked our opening ceremony with these calendars.

I didn’t do anything perfume-related this year, but I’ll wear perfumes I love, and I’m thinking about reusing the Cult Beauty box next year for the perfume Advent Calendar.

Advent Calendars

How about you?

 

Are You Doing Any Advent Calendars This Year?

Undina’s Advent CaTendar 2022

Since Rusty is our Christmas cat, we celebrate his birthday on December 24th. This is the third year in a row that I do an Advent CaTendar in my Instagram as a count to that day.

I’m not sure if all of my readers have an Instagram account or follow me there, so I decided that this year on my blog I’ll be posting once a week a round-up of all the photos from IG (and probably a couple more – just to make it more interesting).

once a weekRusty checked my Advent Calendars (tea, marmalade and beauty) and was slightly disappointed… until I started opening them. (A photo proof is coming – watch this space.)

Sunday Self-care, Episode 10: A Woman In The LED Mask (And Other “Tools Of The Trade”)

Until recently, Clarisonic, an electric facial cleansing brush, was the only skincare appliance I’ve ever tried. Long before it became common knowledge, I figured out that washing my face with that brush produced the opposite of the desired effect: it was causing me to break out (and no, I didn’t forget to either clean or replace the brush head). I ditched the device and at least one unused replacement brush and never looked back.

But by the end of the first year of the “new normal,” after looking for many hours in the mirror and watching enough beauty influencers on YouTube, I got curious.

NuFACE Trinity, a device that “tones, lifts, and contours the facial muscles while also reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” was the first one I bought in the series of gizmos that, as I learned, have been created in recent years.

Rusty and NuFace Trinity

I’ve been using NuFACE Trinity quite frequently (though not 5 times per week, as recommended). After I bought it, I came across explanations (from the sources I trust) that face muscles are among a few that don’t require exercising: not only do they not get weaker with age, but extra muscle movements contribute to setting wrinkles rather than improving their appearance. And yet… I don’t know how or why it happened, and I cannot offer an explanation, but NuFACE has helped my jawline: it looks better.

Some people reported that they experienced some pinching or stinging, but for me, it has never been bad enough to notice. One thing I did not like was using the conducting gel: applying it by hand is messy, wasteful of product and quite cumbersome. For each part of the face you plan to massage, you need to put away the device (either turning it off or keeping it running), apply the gel, then wash your hands, use the device and repeat for the next area. But I found a way around it: I’m using a small pod to dispense the gel into and a brush to apply it to my face.

I know that the effect is temporary (and they do not promise otherwise), but I like this device: it seems well-made and is easy and pleasant to use. So, I will keep using it.

The next came Dr Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro, a “wrinkle-reducing and acne-fighting […] FDA cleared […] device” with “100 LED lights in red mode and 62 LED lights in blue mode that work together to help boost collagen production, improve skin density, smooth wrinkles, diminish discoloration, and clear acne for a clear, younger-looking complexion.”

I had some doubts… But I read multiple articles about the legitimacy of LED therapy for improving skin conditions. And then, my favorite YouTube dermatologists from the Doctorly channel voiced their support for this type of device. So, I went for it (in the photo below, I persuaded my vSO to try it too).

Dr Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro

I’ve been using DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro mask for almost two years. It takes just 3 minutes per day. Clearly, it is not too long, but the issue is that you’re supposed to use it after you clean your face. Which makes it slightly inconvenient for my mornings: being a night owl, I try to sleep up until I absolutely must get up for the morning meetings. So, it’s very unlikely that I have an extra 5 minutes in the morning for this ritual. And in the evening, it’s also not that straightforward: I need to wash my face, lay down with the mask, and then get up and continue with the evening skincare routine. It’s a little bit cumbersome. The device has straps that theoretically allow wear while standing, but they are amazingly poorly constructed and keep unfastening. So, if I do not want to risk breaking that quite expensive mask, doing it in a horizontal position is the safest bet. I see that the brand has probably realized the poor design decision with the straps because they changed them slightly compared to those I have. But still, those are too flimsy for the expensive device they are selling. The second complaint I have is the absence of the battery indicator. You never know when it’s time to charge it. So, periodically, after I had done all the dances finding time for it and cleaning my face, the mask would turn off in a minute instead of 3. Very annoying. If my electric toothbrush, which is also annoyingly expensive (but not even close to the price of the mask), can warn me that the battery is running low before there is not enough charge to function properly, that mask could have done it as well. And now, two years after the purchase, I noticed that it doesn’t keep the charge longer than for 2-3 applications.

 

 

But after all the grievances I collected and vengefully shared with you, does DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro work? I do not use it every day (for the above-stated reasons), but on average, I find time for it about 4 times per week. I cannot say that I see the effect. I cannot say that I do not see the effect. My skin does look better, so I could assume that it works. But since this mask is not the only tool or product I use daily, I wouldn’t be able to attribute all the improvements to any of them. But I’ll probably keep using the mask – just in case. But when it dies, I don’t think my next one will be from the same brand.

Rusty and GloPro

 

The most recent tool I got was a Facial Microneedling Tool from GloPro. I wasn’t even considering it until the last December when a department where I work decided to reward the employees with a gift. It wasn’t a gift card or some allowance. Instead, there was a link to a special rewards store where one could choose what they wanted from the offered selection. As I’ve seen before with that type of portal for employees, the value of provided rewards is very “uneven”: it might be a $50 headset, $90 designer perfume, or a $300 dish set. Prices aren’t shown – I just checked some of the offerings in regular stores. But regardless of the price, one can choose just 1 item. I usually struggle with those gifts because it’s hard to choose something I like or need, and I would hate to get something that would be just sitting and gathering dust. So, after going through the complete catalog back and forth several times, I finally realized that I wanted absolutely nothing. I sighed, went through it again and found that microneedling device.

Just in case you’re not familiar with this type of device (I wasn’t), you roll it over your skin, the head of the tool has tiny needles, and it vibrates. As it creates tiny traumas in the skin, it supposedly stimulates the skin to boost collagen production and improves products’ absorption. It is not painful while you do it.

I think my skin is too sensitive: the next day after I use the GloPro tool, I find red dots or even longer marks here and there on my face and neck. It’s not too bad or painful, maybe like a slight irritation (my crow’s feet are especially sensitive), it doesn’t happen every time, and it goes away in a day or two, but since those couple of days are not the most pleasant for my eyes, I tend to skip using the tool. The recommended frequency is 3 times per week. I manage to do it once a week (if that). Same as with the mask, I have no idea how effective the Facial Microneedling Tool is. But I’ll use it for a while.

Rusty and GloPro

Have you used any of these devices or any other tools?

 

Images: my own

Saturday Question: Have You Ever Done Perfume “No-Buy”?

With the [Early] Black Friday [Day/Week/Month] happening this year, I thought we could talk about not buying something for a change.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #141:

Have You Ever Done Perfume “No-Buy”?

If yes, was it a complete halt on any perfume-related spending? For how long? Were you tempted to break it, or were you firm in your decision? Did you strictly stick to it, or did you have any “relapses”? Has it affected your interest in perfume in general or perfume-related activities, such as reading blogs, participating in SOTD discussions, etc.?

My Answer

Until now, I’ve never done “no-buy.” My perfume acquisitions slowed down compared to previous years, and I haven’t exceeded a self-imposed perfume budget in the last several years. But I was buying some new perfumes and recently a lot of samples.

Starting this December, I’m doing my first “no-buy.” I won’t discuss the reasons (nothing too dramatic, everybody is healthy), but I will temporarily refrain from buying perfumes to wear (i.e., travel/full bottles or decants). Since it is a perfume blog, and I plan to keep it going, I will probably keep a small budget for samples and postage for swaps. But until the underlying practical reasons are resolved, my current collection should be more than enough to enjoy all aspects of my hobby – wearing, writing about and discussing perfumes.

 

How about you?

 

Have You Ever Done Perfume “No-Buy”?

Saturday Question: What Are You Thankful For Perfume-wise?

I realize that many of my friends and loyal readers live outside of the US and thus either celebrate their own Thanksgiving on a different date or do not celebrate it at all. I grew up not even knowing about that holiday: somehow, it wasn’t a part of pop culture or a well-known fact about a foreign country. But Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite holidays since I moved to the US. So, with the upcoming week being Thanksgiving week here, I want to somehow connect this Saturday Question to the topic of being thankful.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #140:

What Are You Thankful For Perfume-wise?

It can be very precise or completely generic, something that has happened recently or in general – as long as you consider it a positive thing.

My Answer

There are many things that I could mention, but I do not want to hog all the possible answers, so I’ll keep it short – and then join you in the comments section. You could do the same: name one or two most relevant points and concur with others’ comments.

  • I’m thankful to all of the perfumistas who shared, swapped or just gifted me with samples and decants: it allowed me to try many more perfumes than I would have been able to try otherwise.
  • I’m thankful that Covid-19 strand that I had did not impair my sense of smell: not counting possible serious health complications, that was my worst fear.

 

How about you?

What Are You Thankful For Perfume-wise?

Saturday Question: Do You Test Perfumes Released 3+ Years Ago?

I’m traveling this long weekend without my laptop, so let’s see how well mobile publishing works.

* * *

Do you remember how pre-Covid we used to complain about a huge number of new brands and new releases? I’m not sure what’s the situation now, but when I went to the Luckyscent website to buy… tea as a gift to my friend, I discovered that I didn’t know most of the brands I saw on the front page. People must be sampling those perfumes (since I don’t expect them blind buying them). But what about older releases? All those thousands of new perfumes released per year 3-5 years ago??

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #139:

Do You Test Perfumes Released 3+ Years Ago?

If you buy or swap samples, do you try perfumes that were released years ago but you haven’t tried them yet? Or do you go for the latest ones leaving behind all those that you haven’t tried when they were released?

My Answer

As I was choosing my free samples with a purchase, I went for 4 most recent releases. These weren’t new brands for me, but perfumes were all from this year. It made me think: am I not taking a part in encouraging brands to keep releasing new perfumes to keep us interested?

In my defense, this year, I did test the majority of perfumes from the past years that I was interested in (and even some that I wasn’t). But I know that I accepted that I’m missing on many perfumes, and after a while the only way I’ll try them will be if I come across them at a store.

 

How about you?

 

Do You Test Perfumes Released 3+ Years Ago?

Saturday Question: Do You Like Gunpowder Note In Perfumes?

Remember, remember
the 5th of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.

This nursery rhyme stuck in my head and kept turning on and on, so I decided to turn it into the SQ.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #138:

Do You Like Gunpowder Note In Perfumes?

Do you know any perfumes with this note? Do you like it? Do you like the smell of gunpowder?

My Answer

If it weren’t for my database, I wouldn’t have remembered that I smelled any perfumes with a gunpowder note, and I didn’t care for two of them – BeauFort London 1805 and L’Artisan Parfumeur Amour Nocturne. Not because of that note. The third one I like – Jul et Mad Stairway to Heaven. Not because of that note. I don’t think I can smell it in that perfume.

I’m lucky: my only association with gunpowder is from visits to a shooting range. So, I like the scent of freshly burnt gunpowder. Not sure though, that I would want to wear it in any discernible quantity.

 

How about you?

 

Do You Like Gunpowder Note In Perfumes?