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

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

Entertaining Statistics: 2019 Year Round-up

2019 was crazy busy at work. I hope not to repeat it this year. Most likely because of all the stress, I had more health issues than usually. I hope not to repeat that either. But I got to travel much more than I usually do, both for work and pleasure, including a visit to London during which I had a chance to spend some time with Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) and Tara (A Bottled Rose), as well as visit all the usual places that this perfume Mecca offers. I hope to keep this trend up in 2020. So, I’d say that the difference between all the great experiences I had last year and any negatives is still positive. 2019 wasn’t a bad year for me.

But let’s look at the last year perfume numbers.

In 2019, compared to 2018, I wore slightly less different perfumes (190 vs. 196) from significantly more brands (91 vs. 79) on less occasions (351 vs. 372). It means that I wore perfumes not every day. Partially, it was because there were some days when I didn’t want to risk associating how I felt with any of perfumes I love. Also, on some days, while working from home, I would test several new perfumes instead of wearing one.

Since I tend to wear favorite perfumes from my collection, the same seven brands stayed on my Top 10 Brands chart, changing places, for the last 8 years that I’ve been keeping detailed records. Between any 2 years usually only 2 brands fall out from/appear on the list. New contenders this year were Houbigant Paris (because of the new favorite Summer Iris and one more perfume, about which I’ll write soon) and Tauer Perfumes (no special reason, just felt like wearing 3 of my favorite perfumes).

 

My Perfume Stats Year 2019

 

Top three perfumes that I wore the most often during 2019 – two of my all-time favorites, same as top perfumes from 2018, Ormonde Jayne Ta’if (9 occasions) and Lancôme Climat (8) and a new favorite Houbigant Quelques Fleurs Royal Collection Privee (8). I see a pattern here with wearing more often perfumes newly added to my collection (in 2018 it was Chanel Bois des Iles).

Despite all the hurdles describing which I started this post, I managed to do enough testing: 272 perfumes (vs. 380 in 2018) from 128 brands (vs. 139). Out of 272 perfumes tested, only 107 were new to me: the rest was either repeated testing of older samples or comparison testing between new samples and either older samples or perfumes I own. These numbers do not include my London sniffing sessions since most of perfumes that I tried there had never made it to skin.

I’ve done once, I think, “The Best N New Perfumes of the Year” post. But this year, even had I wanted to do that, I wouldn’t have been able to: out of just 16 new releases that I managed to try in 2019 (Sixteen! It’s almost a quarter of what has been released just in 4 days of 2020!), there were only 5 that I liked and 3 that were not spectacular but not bad. I think, you’ll agree that Top/Best 5 (or even 8) perfumes of 2019 sounds somewhat pathetic. But I’ll mentions those 5 here: Bengale Rouge by Papillon Artisan Perfumes, Puredistance Gold, Paris – Riviera by Chanel, Mon Boudoir by Houbigant and I am not a flower by Floraiku.

In the 2018 Year Round-up post for the first time I started counting pictures of Rusty that I used in my posts during the year. I decided to continue this tradition. In 2019 I used 39 pictures of Rusty, which was significantly fewer than in the previous year (51), but I managed to publish just 29 posts (vs. 48), so the ratio of picture to posts is much higher.

 

Rusty in a Bowl

 

Images: My own

Orange Cats in My Life – Part XI: They didn’t get away after all (and Happy New Year!)

With two recent Postcards and many previous posts about Rusty, I didn’t plan to write anything else this year. But a couple of days ago I got a new comment on my post Orange Cats in My Life – Part V: The Ones That Got Away from 5 years ago. For those who didn’t follow the link to check it out: in that pre-new year post (December 31st, 2014) I told about several cat-themed items that I had my eye on but for different reasons missed out on.

The commenter who found that post all these years later, asked me if I was still looking for those cat boots. I answered “No.”

I’m not looking for either the artwork or boots that I featured in that post. Not because I lost interest or hope, but because I’ve already found and bought both. It took me several years, but I was persistent, and it paid off (well, of course, it was I who had to pay for them but nevertheless).

You could see more detailed pictures in the original post, but on the postcard below you might notice a fragment of the Govinder’s lithograph, The Shining Sinners, that hangs over my fireplace. Since it wasn’t a planned post, I didn’t have enough time to bribe Rusty into posing with my boots, so you’ll have to trust me that they look exactly like on the picture in the linked post.

By now I know that not all wishes might come true; not everything depends on us and our resolve to fulfill what we wish for; and wishing for something material and then getting it is, probably, the simplest and easiest to achieve. But still, I think it’s a little symbolic, so I’d like to use it as a metaphor for the New Year wishes to you, my friends and readers, and to myself.

Welcoming year 2020, while wishing for health, prosperity and peace on a big scale, let’s think of something small(er) that we personally have control over and make that wish to realize by persisting and staying determined to get what we want.

Happy New Year to all of us!

Rusty and Xmas Tree and The Shining Sinners

A Postcard from Undina: Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday, Rusty!

I love Christmas.

Even if I were religious, this day (December 24th) wouldn’t have meant anything to me since my potential denomination would have been Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and they celebrate this holiday in the beginning of January. But I’m not religious, and before I moved to the U.S., Christmas wasn’t really celebrated in my native country (it has changed now). Since I live here now, and many people around me celebrate it, I embraced it. But Christmas for me is more of a social event than anything else.

I love Christmas, and usually I’m “all in” with decorations, gifts to co-workers and other festivities.

This year I was so busy at work trying to meet a crazy deadline that I could barely spare some time for decorating the office (but I had to do it since without me it wouldn’t have been done at all). And then I got sick, so decorating our house, either inside or outside, had to be sacrificed to just living through that. I feel better now, so we put up a Christmas tree, but that’s all I managed to do this year. I plan to write a “Thank you” note to those neighbors in our area who decorated their houses (with a large number of Chinese and Indian households around a decorated house is rather an exception – that’s why I feel especially bad for not doing it this year myself).

Merry Christmas to all my readers who celebrate this holiday. May it be filled with joy, piece and happiness.

 

Rusty and Chrismas Tree and Gifts

 

One more reason why I like Christmas is because this is the day when we celebrate Rusty’s birthday. Today he turned 11. He’s such a wonderful companion, and I hope that he’ll be healthy, hungry and happy cat for many-many Christmases to come.

A Postcard from Undina: Happy Hanukkah 2019!

I’m the third generation in our family who is not religious, any religion, though potentially I had two options from my parents.

Many years ago, my Grandma send me money for my birthday. She had extremely limited means, and we all kept telling her that she didn’t need to give us gifts, but she insisted, and since she couldn’t leave her apartment any longer to buy us something, for more important events she would send me and her other grandchildren a check.

I was standing firm on my feet by then, and I needed money much less than she did, so I wanted to buy something special, something to remember her by. So, I bought a menorah (hanukkiah). As I said, she wasn’t religious, so the menorah I got wasn’t a traditional one: Michael Aram, one of my favorite designers, made it as an olive branch.

Hanukkah is the only Jewish holiday that I kind of celebrate: for eight nights I light candles, think about my grandmother, and try to keep Rusty away from the fire.

So, today I lit the first candle, and three of us had a crab dinner (for those of my readers who knows about Judaica even less than I do: it’s not an acceptable food for observant Jews). SOTD Chanel Cuir de Russie (a subconscious nod to my other side of the family tree?).

Happy Hanukkah to everybody who celebrates! (And I’ll be back soon with the next postcard.)

 

Rusty and Menorah