Lily of the Valley – Once Again

Since my first Single Note Exploration post about lily of the valley perfumes five years ago, I weren’t exploring the note much: the rumor about Malle’s possible venture into featuring this note in his next creation proved to be just that – rumor. Instead, he released magnolia perfume and sold the brand (not sure, in which order).

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Back then I had three perfumes in the “Lily of the Valley I Loved” category.

I still wear my favorite Dior Diorissimo – not as often as it deserves but then I do not wear any of my perfumes too often.

Instead of a mini bottle that I thought of buying, I got a full bottle of Lily of the Valley by Penhaligon’s (thanks to a kind friend).

Even though I liked Guerlain Muguet and was contemplating getting a decant, later I realized that perfume itself, though nice, wasn’t what was driving the price. The main part of it comes from the unique, limited edition bottle. And I was admiring from afar yearly updates of those bottles but I decided that paying the proportionate price for juice without getting at least a chip off that bottle just wouldn’t make much sense.

Lily of the Valley

Last year, when I read that Thierry Wasser created a new perfume for 2016 LE of Muguet, I was mildly curious – but never got around to trying it. This year, when I saw the announcement for the new edition, I’ve got a strange reaction: I felt offended.

Perfume prices went up significantly in the recent years: what was labeled as an “aspirational price” in 2010, became a mundane reality of new releases today. Guerlain, on the other hand, kept their limited edition perfume at the same price point all these years – around $500, give or take, dependent on the Euro rate, which isn’t cheap if you were to think about what goes into its production. It is Eau de Toilette – so about 10% of aromatic compounds, main of which, lily of the valley, is not even something that can be sourced naturally – it is a chemical compound. All of that was secondary while Guerlain was producing a limited number of special collectors bottles of that concoction: even if one wears that perfume as a signature scent, I doubt 125 ml of it will be gone in a year, in time for the next bottle, so, most likely, people were buying it not really for the juice itself.

Muguet 2017 was launched in a differently colored but otherwise same bottle, in which they’d previously launched their perfume sprays for lingerie and wool/cashmere. They through in some “pristine white bells fashioned by the Maison Legeron are meticulously hand-embroidered by the Atelier and embellished with a fine, golden-beaded leaf.” But the result still looks much cheaper than their previous creations for this “special” perfume. We’ll never know, but I would be really curious to know how the sales of this year’s LE fares compared to other years. For one, I’m not even tempted.

Today, for the May 1st, I’m wearing Penhaligon’s Lily of the Valley. Its ribbon is not as impressive and definitely not hand-anything. Its original price is, in my opinion, still too high for what it is. But it is light, spring-like, very uncomplicated and believable lily of the valley perfume. And it can be had almost for a song from discounters.

Penhaligon's Lily of the Valley

Images: All but the last one – my own (I re-used pictures of Rusty from the previous post – just in case you haven’t seen them before); the last one – from FragranceNet (they have a really good price for this perfume – no affiliation).

In the Search for the Perfect Mimosa, Take 4

It’s spring again, and again I’m drawn to mimosa and mimosa-centric perfumes. Of course, our spring comes after our winter, so the change is not as drastic as it happens in many other areas. It reminds me of those make-believe magazine recommendations where a model in a perfectly fitting “simple” frock effortlessly “dresses it up” with a tiny accessory – which would never work for us, mere mortals, for whom anything like that requires careful planning and meticulous execution. Same happens with the season change here: our nature just carelessly put on a floral lace wrap – and got all beautiful for the spring party.

Mimosa and Palm Tree

I have enough mimosa perfumes in my wardrobe: Givenchy Amarige Harvest Mimosa, Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie, Guerlain Champs Elysées and Jo Malone Mimosa & Cardamom are perfumes I discovered during my previous three takes on the topic.

One would think that it should be sufficient – and it is: I do not actively seek that note any more. But every time I hear about a new mimosa perfume, I just cannot pass on it. Especially when it comes from brands I like.

Prada launched Infusion de Mimosa last year in their Les Infusions de Prada collection. Thanks to a friend, I’ve got to test it long before a couple of luxury retailers started offering it in the U.S. (and I’m yet to see it in the actual store). I like it a lot. It doesn’t always work – to combine two good things, but in this case it does: it is still unmistakably the beautiful Infusion d’Iris’s relative, even though there are almost no notes in common listed, but also it has a wonderfully true to natural mimosa aroma – airy and intense at the same time. What I especially like about Infusion de Mimosa is that it feels summery without being citrus-y cologne.

Mimosa

When I smelled Mimosa Indigo by Atelier Cologne for the first time, I was utterly disappointed: it was not what I expected or wanted it to be; and I could smell absolutely no mimosa in it. Since I do not write perfume reviews, I do not always give perfumes another chance if I didn’t like them on the first encounter, especially if I don’t have a sample at home. With the number of new releases out there, I just do not usually bother with getting a sample of something that didn’t wow me on the first try. But I like Atelier Cologne, and that purple color just spoke to me… After a couple of shopping trips, during which my nose stayed glued to my wrist, I bought a bottle of Mimosa Indigo (thankfully, they have 30 ml bottles). I like it and enjoy wearing it. I think I can smell some mimosa in it but I wouldn’t be able to call it without reading a list of notes. It’s an interesting floral perfume on a gentle almost suede base.

Rusty and Atelier Cologne Mimosa Indigo

I do not need more perfumes – with or without prominent mimosa note. But I know that the next time one of my favorite brands releases their take on this flower, I’ll be tempted – the same way I was tempted by Chanel’s limited edition nail polish called Mimosa. They got the color perfectly: it’s definitely spring in a bottle.

Chanel Mimosa Nail Polish

Images: my own

Frog Prince(ss)’s Kiss

Did you grow up with the Frog Prince or the Frog Princess? Not only I (and my whole generation, I think) grew up with the female version of this character but I don’t think I heard about the existence of the other one until I was in my late twenties. It’s especially surprising because we had other Brothers Grimm’s tales translated and published. It might be that the local version – The Princess Frog (or Tsarevna Frog) was one of the popular and loved folk tales: there were books, movies, animated films and predecessors of the modern audio-books – vinyl records. There even was a painting by the famous Russian neo-romanticism artist Viktor Vasnetsov.

Vasnetsov Frog Princess

Just in case anybody is curious, you can read The Frog Princess in English. For the rest I want to mention that, interestingly, there were no kisses involved as well even though, as you can see, the heroine of this tale is older than characters of Grimm’s version. But our folklore also had that kissing frog theme played out in many ways.

***

Lipstick Queen is one of my favorite brands: I love their quirky names and colors (I previously posted about Hello Sailor and Black Lace Rabbit), and I’m constantly on the look-out for their new products. So when last year I saw their Frog Prince lipstick (since then they’ve launched two more product in that line), I had to have it!

Lipstick Queen Frog Prince

While I liked the idea of a green lipstick, and from my experience with the lipsticks mentioned above I knew that on lips they do not stay blue or black, I wasn’t sure what color I’ll get from that green beauty, so when I saw the holiday set of mini-lipsticks, one of which was Frog Prince, I leaped.

Lipstick Queen 3 Lipsticks

The first thought that went through my mind when I looked at the swatch was that mini-size was a good decision: with my pale complexion green lips would look rather unhealthy. But since it was in my hands I had to try it. The transformation was amazing! On my lips it became pink – sheer but with enough pigment. That frog clearly needed a kiss to reveal its true self. I can see more princes in my future.

And since I can’t show you the results of that transformation, at least I’ll leave you with the picture of Rusty trying to paw that frog.

Rusty and Lipstick Queen 3 Minis

 

Images: my own

Know-How: Brands with Perfumista Size Bottles

For years I keep repeating that more brands should release their perfumes in perfumista size bottles – 10-15 ml. Of course, for somebody who has a signature scent or alternates 2-3 perfumes in their day-to-day life, 50 ml, 100 ml or even 200 ml bottles might make more sense both economically and logically. But for anybody who has been “into perfume” for at least several years, not too many perfumes warrant the vats, in which most perfumes nowadays are sold.

Sure, big bottles are great for splits; and decants are nice for getting to wear something without committing your heart or money to a full bottle. But even the best decant – with well-made labels and a good sprayer – is still not as good as a real bottle. And I suspect that, as a rule, it has a shorter shelf life, even if you use parafilm or electrical tape to prevent evaporation: the act of spraying perfume from the original bottle into a smaller receptacle introduces additional oxidation to the juice, which cannot be healthy (should we add a blueberry or two?).

For all these reasons for anything more than 3-5 ml I would rather pay extra price per ml but get a travel bottle from the brand – if the brand has that option.

Surprisingly, when it comes to niche brands, those that offer smaller sizes are still rather an exception than a rule. So I decided to put together a list of the brands that offer smaller (perfumista size) bottles of their perfumes. I won’t include links since those change but it’s easy to find them through a search engine.

Perfumista Size Bottles

The following brands have single bottles for all or most of their perfumes (bottle size is given in parentheses):

  • April Aromatics (15 ml)
  • Frederic Malle (10 ml)
  • Hiram Green (10 ml)
  • Histoires de Parfums (15 ml)
  • Le Labo (15 ml)
  • Sonoma Scent Studio (4 ml & 17 ml)
  • Jul et Mad (5 ml & 20 ml)
  • Cognoscenti (5 ml)
  • Dame Perfumery (5 ml)
  • DSH Perfumes (multiple sizes)
  • EnVoyage Perfumes (15 ml)
  • 4160 Tuesdays (9 ml)
  • Roja Dove (7.5 ml)
  • The Different Company (10 ml)
  • Puredistance (17.5ml)

Several brands have smaller sizes just for some of their perfumes:

  • Atelier Cologne (12 different perfumes in 7.5 ml at Sephora)
  • Juliette Has A Gun (4 different perfumes in 7.5 ml at Sephora)
  • Ineke (15 ml, Floral Curiosities line only)

More brands recently have introduced the “travel” option – probably as a response to the air travel regulations. Unfortunately, those come in sets either of single perfume or of pre-selected (or all) perfumes from the brand. Single perfume sets are easier for friendly splits. Mixed sets defeat the purpose: how often does someone like all the perfumes in the set? I also found two brands that offer customizable mixed travel sets.

Perfumista Size Bottles

Single perfume sets:

  • Neela Vermeire Creations (2 x 15 ml)
  • Ormonde Jayne (4 x 10 ml)
  • Amouage (3 x 10 ml)
  • By Kilian (4 x 7.5 ml)
  • Byredo (3 x 12 ml)
  • Maison Francis Kurkdjian (3 x 10 ml)
  • Aedes de Venustas (3 x 7.5 ml)

Perfumista Size Bottles

Customizable mixed sets:

  • Hermès (4 x 15 ml sets for both their regular line and Hermessence)
  • Tauer Perfumes (3 x 15 ml)

Perfumista Size Bottles

Pre-set mixed perfumes sets:

  • Viktoria Minya (5 x 15 ml)
  • Maison Francis Kurkdjian (8 x 10 ml)
  • Miller Harris (3 x 14 ml and 2 x 7.5 ml)
  • Aedes de Venustas (3 x 7.5 ml)

If you know any other brands that offer small bottles in one of these categories, please share in comments. And if you agree that more brands should have perfumista size bottles, keep repeating that whenever you publish a review on your blog or comment on perfume reviews and discussions on blogs, forums, FB or Twitter. Somebody might be reading…

Rusty and NVC Pichola

Updates from comments:

  • Maria Candida Gentile (7 ml and 15 ml single bottles)
  • Zoologist (11 ml single bottles)
  • Parfums MDCI (5 x 10 ml customizable set)
  • Memo (3 x 10 ml same perfume set)
  • Imaginary Authors (14 ml single bottles)
  • Maison Anonyme (10 ml single bottles)
  • Olympic Orchids (5 ml and 15 ml single bottles)
  • Soivohle (10 ml single bottles)
  • Ormonde Jayne (10 ml single bottles if you call)
  • Profvmvm Roma (18 ml single bottles for some of their scents)

Images: my own

Secret Admirer, or In the Search for the Perfect Narcissus

When I was growing up, International Women’s Day, March 8th, was a good holiday: unlike most other holidays, it was a non-political one (well, almost); it was a non-discriminatory celebration (it didn’t matter if you were young or old, single or in relationships, with or without kids); and it was a public holiday, so nobody had to work or go to school.

Back then this holiday was like a combination of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day but for women only. In days before the holiday, people would have a potluck lunch/happy hour at work; boys would bring sweets and flowers to girls in their class; there were special programs on TV and radio. On the day itself families or friends would have a celebratory dinner or a party. Husbands, sons, fathers, partners, male friends and co-workers would be presenting women in their lives with flowers and, sometimes, gifts. And did I mention it was a day off?

I was fourteen or fifteen. At that time I didn’t have a boyfriend, so on March 8 I spent half the day out with friends. When I came home, I found there a bouquet of narcissuses waiting for me. My mom told me that some boy dropped them off for me. She didn’t recognize him (it meant he wasn’t from my class since she knew all of them), he didn’t tell his name, and there was no card. Since flowers were expensive at that time of the year and not that easy to get, I was sure it wasn’t a practical joke of any kind. So I was intrigued and thrilled: I had an actual secret admirer out there! You normally read about it in books or see it in movies, it doesn’t happen in real life!

For the next month or so I was trying to figure out who that might be, waiting for him to make the next move, hoping it would be somebody I liked.

Narcissuses

This story doesn’t have an ending – happy or otherwise: nobody ever admitted bringing me that bouquet. But several decades later I still remember those flowers better than I remember many dozens of bouquets I got over years from people I knew and loved.

* * *

After I moved to the U.S., I stopped celebrating International Women’s Day. But since I enjoyed so much our recent Month of the Roses project, I decided to run on my own a mini-project for the first week of March – Week of Narcissuses.

I didn’t realize I liked narcissus in perfumes until I started noticing it again and again in the notes lists of my favorite perfumes. Climat, Miss Dior, Chanel No. 19 – these all have narcissus. But this week I focused on perfumes, in which I thought that note was more prominent.

Hermès Eau de Narcisse Bleu attracted my attention (see Birgit’s review) because it had galbanum and narcissus, and it came in a blue bottle. It is a true spring perfume with wonderful combination of greenness, blossoms and wood. My 15 ml bottle looks cute and will probably serve me for a while.

If Penhaligon’s The Revenge Of Lady Blanche perfume’s opening stage would hang around for at least 2-3 hours, I would have probably be contemplating the purchase of that 75 ml bottle – I love the opening that much (panther head top doesn’t hurt either). But [un]luckily, the opening gorgeousness disappears within the first 30 minutes, if not faster, which would probably justify the size of the bottle but not its price. But you should definitely try this perfume to experience a beautiful combination of iris and narcissus. Galbanum is not one of the notes either listed or mentioned by anybody else, so if I were you I wouldn’t trust my nose, but I smell galbanum there as well.

I sought and tried Parfums DelRae Wit because it had Daphne – my dream note in perfume. While it smelled nothing like Daphne odora blossom, in general it was pleasant enough for me to go for a decant. It’s a beautiful spring bouquet with narcissus prominent enough to fit into this quest for the perfect narcissus. I wish DelRae would finally release their perfumes in 15 ml bottles: I would buy Wit and at least one more perfume from the line in a heartbeat!

I have strange relationships with Tom Ford Jonquille de Nuit: when I wear it, I think that I like it – but then I never choose to wear it unless it’s for some special reason like comparing it to other perfumes, doing a brand week or, like now, for the Single Note Exploration series. Jonquille de Nuit is very floral, with a prominent narcissus note, but despite that it doesn’t read like early spring when blossom aroma interweaves with greenery and earthy scents but rather a warm pre-summer bouquet with everything in full bloom.

Both Yosh White Flowers and Jo Loves No. 42 The Flower Shop I wore from samples. I had White Flowers for years, tested it briefly and completely forgot about it. Recently when I decided to send one of the two vials of White Flowers to a parfumista friend, I tested them to make sure they didn’t turn and was amazed at how much I liked it. It smells beautifully of a lot of flowers, and so does The Flower Shop sample, which I have “on loan” (for testing) from another parfumista friend, and which, in my opinion, is one of the cases of the name perfectly fitting the scent. These two perfumes are different bunches of flowers – thus have different aromas but they both have a similar feeling of the presence of that bunch, and I like both scents. Enough to do anything about it? I’m not sure but I plan to do more testing.

It was Penhaligon’s Ostara that reminded me about my secret admirer and gave me the idea of doing post for this note. This perfume actually epitomizes narcissus flower for me: it’s sunny, and bright, and happy, and uncomplicated. It doesn’t come even close to be worth Penhaligon’s full price but last year’s sale deals invited Ostara into many homes, from what I’ve read on different perfume forums. I bought a bottle for myself. I bought another bottle as a present to my friend. I enjoy wearing Ostara as my spring perfume, and this year I wore it as an anti-#BeBoldForChange: even though it’s not my holiday any longer, I refuse to politicize it because it’s still a nice and loved holiday in my native country. I am a feminist the other 364 days of the year; I do not have anything to fight for on this one extra day.

Rusty And Narcissuses

Do you like narcissuses – in perfumes or in a vase? Did you ever have a secret admirer? Have you ever been one?

 

Images: my own

A Month of Roses: Conclusion, Statistics and the Draw Winner

It was a great month filled with great perfumes. I’m so glad Lucas came up with this idea. While I’m not sure I’m ready to do another month of any particular note, I’m thinking about a couple of note-themed weeks (and even doing one already – but that’s the topic for the next post).

Peach Rose

Rose Perfumes for Week 4

February 22: Le Jardin Retrouvé Rose Trocadéro

A beautiful and extremely realistic in the opening rose. And it has my favorite black currant. I like it and actually plan to wear my sample, which I don’t do too often. But I’m not sure if I want more: it’s a rose soliflore, and it comes only in a HUGE 125 ml bottle. But it’s very nice, and I recommend testing this perfume if you get a chance.

February 23: Keiko Mecheri Mogador

I was supposed to wear another perfume but I couldn’t find the sample in the morning, so I decided to wear Mogador again. Loved it.

February 24: Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme

I had a large sample of Rose Anonyme, which I was testing periodically when I wanted to compare it to something else. When I scheduled it for wearing, I didn’t realize how little I had left in my sample. When I applied it first, very sparingly, I thought that I didn’t like it at all and was surprised since I remembered liking it more. But in the evening when I didn’t try to save it and put on the remains of my sample, it smelled much better – the way I remembered it from before. But I don’t think I need more Rose Anonyme in my life.

Rusty and Ineke Scent Library

February 25: Ineke Briar Rose

This is the only perfume from Ineke’s Floral Curiosities Collection, for which I do not have a travel bottle-book. It wasn’t by choice: they didn’t have it on sale at the time when I bought the other four, mostly just to have those “books.” But I had a sample in the set (the one, with which Rusty is playing on the picture above). I didn’t remember what I thought about Briar Rose but I remembered that Blacknall (aperfumeblog by Blacknall Allen) liked this perfume enough to go through the full bottle at some point. So I decided to give it a go. It’s not bad but I won’t want to wear it.

February 26: April Aromatics Rosenlust

One more change of plans: I got this sample with my purchase and wanted to re-test it. It’s a lemony rose – very natural and beautiful. But it’s just a rose. With many other rose-centric perfumes in my collection Rosenlust does not cross that line from “nice to have” to “need to have.”

Roses

February 27: Lancome Mille et Une Roses

This is one of my favorite perfumes; I enjoy wearing it every time. And I love its color. A couple of years ago I paired it with the second equation in my post A Simple Equation Or In the Search for the Perfect Rose.

February 28: Hermès Rose Ikebana

I left Rose Ikebana for the last day of the month because I thought it would be warm by then. I was wrong. We are having an unusually cold for our area winter (not that I’m complaining: it’s nice for a change; and it comes with long-expected rain), so Rose Ikebana was a little too light for the weather. But it still wore nicely.

February Statistics

Rose perfumes I wore: 27 (but two of them I wore twice)

Rose perfumes I tested: 5 (yes, it wasn’t enough that I wore a rose-centric perfume each day, I managed to test 5 more rose perfumes during that month)

Samples finished: 4

New bottles of rose perfumes: 1 (bought); 3 (being considered)

23 people left 75 comments for the Month of Roses posts. 34 of those comments had mentioning of the rose perfumes worn in the spirit of the Month of Roses – and, as I promised, they all were included into the draw for two bars of local artisan chocolates.

And the Winner is…

According to random.org, the winner is the most diligent commenter – hajusuuri! Congratulations! Now it’s your time to choose whether you want two bars of dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or one of each.

Chocolate Fountain

Shall we do it again next year?

 

Images: my own

A Month of Roses: Week 2

The second week of the Month of Roses went very fast because it included a 3-day weekend (I took an extra day off to celebrate my birthday) and Valentine’s Day. Rose perfumes felt extremely appropriate.

White Rose

February 8: Floris Snow Rose

Since Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) mentioned in her comment on my A Month of Roses post that her bottle of this perfume, from which my sample came, went off, I felt uneasy as the date scheduled for wearing Snow Rose was approaching: I had just a little of perfume left in the sample after the previous testing, so I didn’t want to try it before the time to wear it came, so I decided to risk having to look for the last moment replacement. Surprisingly, I didn’t have to! I don’t know how it could have happened but a small part somehow had a better fate than a “whole” (whatever was left in Vanessa’s bottle).

I feel bad telling you what an interesting perfume Snow Rose is since it was a limited edition in 2009, and it doesn’t look like they are going to re-issue it. But I want to mention something that attracted my attention: it started out cold and very fitting to the name, but then it melted into very warm and cozy scent.

February 9: Les Parfums de Rosine Rose Praline (Francois Robert)

I had a couple of meetings in a small conference room so I was very discreet with the application. It’s not a bad perfume, and I might even finish my small decant but with many other great perfumes I have Rose Pralines seems a little too ordinary. I would still recommend trying this perfume if you’re looking for rose perfume with just a pinch of gourmand flavor.

Mrs Robert Shewell

February 10: Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady (Dominique Ropion)

Portrait of a Lady is one of my favorite perfumes. Normally I wouldn’t wear it to the office but since Lucas chose a work day for hajusuuri to wear this perfume, I was going to keep her company. But then I couldn’t help the urge to wear my favorite Lieber Gustav for the NTS’s community project (lavender perfumes): not only I love it but it’s much more office-friendly.

I still wore Portrait of a Lady that evening when I came home. It is such strong and elegant perfume! I think it calls for evening attire and pearls, though it might be an interesting contrast to jeans with a turtleneck – just not in the office.

February 11: Juliette Has A Gun Miss Charming (Francis Kurkdjian)

It was a perfect charming perfume for a pre-birthday trip on a beautiful sunny day to a couple of wineries, a brewery and a coffee shop in Santa Cruz. As I previously wrote, Miss Charming is my absolutely favorite strawberry perfume. I enjoy wearing it on any occasion but that Saturday it was just perfect, and it accompanied well roses that were on my mind, cider with a distinct rose flavor that I tried during lunch and my favorite rose truffles that I had with coffee from my favorite coffee shop.

Rose Truffle

February 12: Ormonde Jayne Ta’if (Geza Schoen)

Ta’if is perfume, to which I attribute to my nosedive into the proverbial rabbit hole of niche perfumery. I love this perfume and think of it as my number two all-time favorite. It is so special for me that I wear it only for special occasion – such as my birthday this year. I started my morning with Ta’if oil, then later during the day switched to Ta’if EdP, and for the evening I went with Ta’if parfum. It is such a beautiful rose! I need to come up with more special occasions to wear it.

February 13: Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud (Fabrice Pellegrin)

Judging by the fact that I like this perfume, no real trees had to suffer to produce this agarwood. Velvet Rose & Oud is pleasant and plays nicely on my skin. And Jo Malone just started selling their Cologne Intense collection in slightly more reasonable 50 ml bottles. If they ever go for 30 ml, I’ll probably get it. Until then my small decant should do.

February 14: Les Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Amour

I chose this perfume because I like it very much, and because I thought it would be hard to find a more suitable name for Valentine’s Day perfume. This is one of a few aldehydes perfumes that work for me. It’s a bright beautiful rose, for which I can see myself buying the next bottle when my current one is empty – it’s not something that I can definitively say about too many perfumes in my collection.

Rusty and Roses Bouquet

With the extra day off and then Valentine’s Day, half of the third week just ran away from me, but I don’t want to crumble extra three days into this post – so February 15-17 will appear on the Week 3 post.

How was your week? Did you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Or Singles Awareness Day? Did you wear any rose perfumes recently since you commented on one of the previous posts in this Month of Roses series? Did you eat any good chocolate?

Images: my own