… and I’ll be there…

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

 Summonning JK Rowling

 

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

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

 

Rusty in a Circle

 

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

 

 Summonning Undina

 

What should I put in a circle to summon you?

 

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

Advertisements

Rusty Helps with Ex Nihilo Draw

Looking at the general count of comments on the post about Ex Nihilo, one would think that it would be a tough draw. But it seems that hajusuuri and I did a pretty good job scaring people away from the brand. And since there were just three contenders, I decided it was a good task for Rusty.

 

 

The winner of the draw is #2 – Jessica.

But wait! There is more.

As we were working on the post, hajusuuri and decided that, in addition to the official draw, we’ll have the second, secret one, for those who would try to guess which of mini-reviews belongs to which perfume. And since out of the two remaining commenters only one played the guessing game, Rusty didn’t have to even move a paw: the second winner is Brigitte.

Both winners: please contact me or hajusuuri with your shipping addresses.

 

Rusty Choosing Ex Nihilo Draw Winner

 

Images: my own

Orange Cats in My Life – Part VI: Where Do Treats Come From?

In replies to comments on my previous post I promised to tell this story. Disclaimer: it’s a cat story, and no perfumes were harmed involved.

* * *

Last year we found ourselves in between couches: the old couch was re-homed while the new one was delayed. Even before that you couldn’t say we had an abundance of furniture or places to hide, especially in areas to which Rusty has access. So with the approaching 4th of July’s fireworks, which always terrify our cat, I felt a little guilty for disrupting Rusty’s environment. And to compensate that, I came up with the idea to make an artificial hiding spot for him.

I put a decorative pillow, on which Rusty used to sleep on the old couch, under one of the dining chairs and covered the chair with his blanket. I don’t remember if Rusty used it to hide from fireworks but surprisingly he took to periodically spending time inside that contrivance, so we decided to keep it even after the new couch had arrived. My vSO said that it was a “Pet Cave.”

 

Rusty and Pet Cave

 

Being extremely food-motivated, Rusty loves treats and would do a lot to get them. A cruel owner I am, I taught him to do tricks: “Sit,” “Paw. Another one,” “Down,” “Up” and sometimes even “Jump.” Also we have some variation on the “Fetch” – I call it “Catch.”

It goes like this: I would take a treat in my hand, say “Catch!”, and Rusty would start moving away while still looking at me (he reminds me a player in American football who “goes long” keeping an eye on a quarterback), then I would throw a treat, and Rusty, after “spinning” in place for a couple of milliseconds while his paws get traction with wooden floor, would sprint after the treat. It would be naïve to expect a cat to bring it back – hence “Catch.” Once he’s done eating, I call him back: “Come-come-come!” (in an unusual for me high-pitched tone) and when he comes, I give him the second treat. Unlike other tricks that I make him do for my or our guests’ amusement, this one is done to make him exercise a little for the first treat and to teach him to auto-respond to that unusual call – for those unpredictable cases when I might need to find him quickly or make him come to me.

While Rusty is busy catching and eating the first treat, from time to time I would put the third one into his pet cave. The first couple of times I did it, he found them quickly. My vSO suggested that he either saw or heard me doing it. So the next time I made sure that I stood close to the pet cave – so that I could put a treat in without moving while being sure that Rusty wasn’t looking. As you can imagine, the result was the same.

Since then every time when we give him a treat, Rusty goes and checks his pet cave, sometimes more than once (he would walk around and look in again regardless of whether he got the third treat that time or not). And since he does it even when clearly nobody was anywhere close to it, I’m positive that he doesn’t understand the physics of the process and in all likelihood does not discount the possibility of autogenesis – even though my vSO tried explaining to Rusty once (on his third attempt within a minute): “Rusty, treats are not mushrooms: they do not grow on their own!”

 

Rusty and Pet Cave

 

Images: my own

Second Sunday Samples: Out of nothing…

hajusuuri

I first encountered Ex Nihilo at Sniffapalooza in 2015. The company provided a travel spray of Fleur Narcotique in a dark blue satin bag. I was intrigued by the perfume name and decided to explore the brand’s offering at Bergdorf Goodman (BG). The one that got me hooked was Sweet Morphine, no pun intended. At over $300 for a 100mL bottle of a perfume with poor longevity, I demurred from forking over the Benjamins; however, a kind and generous perfumista who used to comment on NST saw my perfume wish list comment and gave me a travel spray of Sweet Morphine!

Three years later, at the April 2018 Sniffapalooza event, I once again checked out the nicely appointed Ex Nihilo alcove at BG. The SA was very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and generous. Having received duplicates of a number of atomizer perfume samples, I asked Undina if she wanted to do another joint post, and so here we are!

Undina

With the number of new brands and new releases that appear every year, it is surprising when you do know about some niche company. If it weren’t for hajusuuri who offered me samples from Ex Nihilo to test and compare notes, I could have easily missed this brand.

I think for any brand it would be hard to leave up to the claims Ex Nihilo makes on their website: ”An alternative to stereotyped luxury products, an alternative to the mass personalisation.” And, in my opinion, they don’t. But, boy, aren’t they milking it while they can: in four years from the inception they’ve created more than 20 perfumes. And if the official composition is not to your liking, and you think that you can do it better than those more or less famous noses they’ve employed to create their luxury perfumes collection, in their Paris boutique you can “personalize” any of the perfumes by requesting to add some of the notes to it (using some super-complex equipment). And on top of that you can customize the bottle: for modest EUR 50 you can choose one of the three standard caps options, or, if money is no object, you can get jeweled models embellished with diamonds and sapphires or 24 carat gold.

But enough snarks, should we talk about perfumes? As I mentioned, there were four samples (in the alphabetical order): Amber Sky, Citizen X, Rose Hubris and Viper Green. Hajusuuri and I decided to do a double-blind test reporting: each one of us chose the order in which we’d present our impressions. Neither of us knows which impression from another reviewer goes with which perfume. We invite you to try to guess… anything. You can try to identify perfume(s) we described. Or match any two of the description to each other, even if you don’t know for which perfume we wrote those descriptions.

 

Ex Nihilo Perfumes

 

hajusuuri

I tested these on my forearms and the first wearing was at least 3 hours long. I did not look at the notes during testing so my impressions were based on what I smelled.

Sample H1 – minty bug spray

Two Sea Stars

The top notes reminded me of bug spray but it evolved to soft greenish vetiver. In hindsight, the name of this perfume fits it rather well.

Sample H2 – fruity lipstick

Two Sea Stars

With its name, I was expecting rose to stand out. Instead, it was propped up by what smelled like violets and a sweet fruit.

Sample H3 – spicy amber

Two Sea Stars

Even if I didn’t know the name of this perfume, I immediately recognized amber with a big dose of incense. It was spicy and I detected a hint of cumin when I smelled my arm up close. The dry-down was a soft blur of vanilla and tonka. I would have rated this higher were it not for a persistent bitterness lurking in the background.

Sample H4 – bitter cleanser

One Sea Star

This one offended me. Not only did it start out smelling like some kind of cleaning fluid (like Lemon Pledge without the lemon), it was nearly impossible to scrub off. I gave it its 3-hour life on my skin but when I tried to wash it off with TechNu, a cleanser used to remove poison ivy oil, it stuck despite multiple washing.

Overall, while I would not spring for a full bottle of any of these, I wouldn’t say no to a travel spray of 2 out of 4 of these perfumes. Wouldn’t it be nice if the company gave consumers the option of choosing which perfumes to include in the travel spray set?

Undina

Sample U1

Two Sea Stars

This perfume doesn’t smell for me as its name sounds. There is some disturbing note in the opening, but a couple of hours into the development it gets better. It contains both a flower and a fruit that smells like that flower (at least some of its cultivars) – and still for my nose it doesn’t smell much of that flower; maybe if I imagine it as candied petals. On the positive side, it’s a warm scent. And I think it becomes very beautiful in its last phase on skin.

Sample U2

Two and Half Sea Stars

This perfume is true to one of the two words of its name. I like the opening: it reminds me of Tom Ford’s Vert Boheme. But it develops differently – more floral less woody, which I like less. Several hours into drydown I like it again: if I bring my wrist very close to nose, it reminds me a smell in a florist’s fridge: a lot of greenery and some mixed flowers. I wish I would like it more: the color of the juice is beautiful.

Sample U3

One Sea Star

This is the most masculine perfume out of the four I’ve tested. It starts harsh with something that brings to mind citrus – even though there’s nothing to that effect in notes. My vSO who rarely volunteers opinion on any of my perfumes – positive or negative – commented on actively disliking it in the opening the first time I tested it (I didn’t even ask!).

Sample U4

Two Sea Stars

Opens slightly sweet and overall traditional for perfume of this type but then develops dry and woody. It’s not masculine but definitely unisex. Pleasant enough but not spectacular if you already have 10 other perfumes in this genre. As with all samples from this brand that I’ve tried, drydown is probably the best phase for this perfume. Interestingly, it’s marked as Sold Out on the brand’s site.

Overall, none of these four rose even to strong “like” for me. Ex nihilo … nihil fit.

 

Rusty Sitting

Rusty believes that treats could come from nothing

 

Would you like to try these to see if your impressions would be different? Leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway for the set of my samples (they are more than half full; and I’ll add a couple more samples of something that I’ve recently tried and liked). The giveaway is open until 23:59 PDT on September 15th to anyone but you know risks with the overseas perfume packages. Random.org will be used to determine a winner.

 

Images: perfumes – from the brand’s site; Rusty – my own

The Big Easy: Food, Music, Cats and Perfumes

New Orleans seems to be one of those places to where everybody either always wanted to go or had been to and remembers it fondly. Somehow nobody I spoke about New Orleans had mentioned the local weather.

Neither my vSO nor I like hot weather. Hot and humid is even worse. So I’m not sure how it happened that we agreed to go with our friends to New Orleans mid-June. It just hadn’t crossed my mind to check in March when we planned the trip what to expect. Most likely, I wasn’t paying attention because the dates were set (our friends had an annual event to attend there, and we were just piggybacking on their special hotel rates). So for the six days we spent there it was above 30C/90F during the day, which put a strain on our ability to explore the city. But we did our best.

Ambiance

When arriving to a new city, nothing puts you at ease better than seeing a new security feature introduced by Uber…

 

Uber Safety Feature

 

I swear: it wasn’t there several hours earlier when I used the app to get a ride to the airport in San Francisco! So, while I thought it was a clever idea, and whenever I used Uber before, I was always making sure to inform somebody where I was, I started questioning immediately how unsafe it was there that they felt like running the onboarding for the feature specifically on my first use of the service in New Orleans. But during the stay everything seemed to be quite safe, even though (or thanks to?) I’ve never remembered seeing that much of police presence on the streets anywhere else.

Food

Food we had during our stay in New Orleans was good. I wouldn’t say it was spectacular but it was good. Expensive but good. We even found a place that served an afternoon tea. What pleasantly surprised me was that practically all cocktails we had in different places were well made, which I cannot say about many restaurants around where we live. Looking back, the day was broken into small chunks of doing something else in between finding ourselves at the next café or restaurant – to cool off while eating or drinking something.

 

 

Entertainment

Recommendations we got from friends and colleagues were food (everyone started with food!), swamps (it was too hot to attempt that), a couple of museums (did that) and music events. We were too busy before the trip to research where we’d like to go, and it was a mistake. The first night in New Orleans a group of us went to some jazz club for a drink and some music. Drinks were fine. Music… Some people just do not understand that “improvisation” doesn’t mean producing random sounds with a saxophone. For the next 6 days, as we were coming across different musicians on the street or at different venues – be those marching or seating bands or even lonely drummers, I kept saying: “Even that is better than what we heard the first night!”

 

 

I get easily bored at museums: there’s that fine line between keeping me interested for 2-3 hours and making me yawn in 15 minutes, and I rarely can predict the way it would go with one museum or the other. But since it was very hot outside, Louisiana State Museum seemed like a good alternative to just returning to the hotel room and trying to watch Netflix streaming of some next show episode.

It wasn’t the most interesting or entertaining exhibition but it had its moments, so I cannot really complain about it (it was much better than numerous museums I’ve visited in different parts of the world before). But one stand captured my attention, and I spent probably more than 5 minutes in front of it.

New Orleans Music

 

I did read the text (and you can too if you open the picture: I purposefully didn’t resize it); but what attracted me the most, were two telephone handsets (wired) that you could use to listen to the same song – The Battle of New Orleans – performed by Johnny Horton and Lonnie Donegan. I still can’t say which one I like more. Can you?

 

 

 

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium wasn’t something that anyone had recommended but one night while walking around our hotel we came across a bright lit window with live butterflies, got curious and came back the next day. I have no idea how it came to that, but this museum, the largest free-standing American museum dedicated to insects, is located at the U.S. Custom House Federal Building. The security measures to get into this museum were stricter than those we went through at the airport. But I really enjoyed the exposition. We all probably read about mimicry and saw some nature documentary about it on TV, but when you see up-close insects that resemble flowers (Orchid mantis) or leaves (Dead Leaf mantis or walking leaf Phylliidae) it is very impressive. (Can you spot all of them on the pictures below?) And butterflies that just float all around you and sit on any available surface (including you) were just beautiful.

 

 

Cats

Even while on the best vacation, we miss Rusty a lot. I wish he could travel with us. But I doubt either one of us would enjoy it. So he usually gets a cat sitter to keep him company. And while we were getting the “proof of life” as I called those daily pictures that a cat sitter was sending us, we kept coming across New Orleans cats everywhere – on the street (either sleeping in shadow or even walking on a leash), in the store (in an eyewear shop Art & Eyes where we went because our friend wanted to get a new frame, we met Hamilton, a store cat; another one we saw sleeping on a half-finished carpet still on a loom), or on pictures and prints sold at the art fair on Frenchman street (I couldn’t pass that orange cat print – so now it hangs over my Zen Garden in the office).

 

 

Perfumes

I plan to do the next post focusing on perfumes I discovered while in New Orleans: it won’t make them justice to cram them in the end of a long post. But since it’s a perfume blog, I cannot not to touch on the subject completely (and it wouldn’t be true to the story since perfumes do play an important role in my life).

Since I knew it would be hot and humid, I brought with me perfumes that I thought would work well in that weather. And all of them were great and added to positive side of the trip. But the one that stood out was Byredo Bal D’Afrique.

Before falling in love with it, I tried it several times. The issue was that two samples that I got from friends earlier stayed neglected in the pile “to test” until they went off leaving rather unpleasant impression and regret about wasted skin “real estate” once I finally got to test them. And then I got a fresh sample – and it was a completely different story.

Even then I, being me, did not go for a bottle but instead bought a decant from one of the split groups on FB. Partially it’s explained by the fact that I think that Byredo’s minimalistic bottle and packaging design doesn’t suit this perfume. Those clean lines, good for the tender La Tulipe, seem wrong for this bright and sexy perfume.

I do not see myself wearing it too often since most of my life goes at work, and Bal D’Afrique is not even remotely office-friendly, but it is an extremely interesting oriental woody perfume that should work equally well both in the dead of winter and on a tropical vacation. It seems like a truly unisex perfume but not one of those anemic citrus-y numbers that can be considered as such just because none of genders would claim the ownership, but rather a bold statement that perfectly fits anyone who wants to wear it.

If you find interesting such perfumes as Byredo Pulp, L’Artisan Traversee du Bosphore or DelRae Bois de Paradise, definitely give Bal D’Afrique a try.

 

Rusty in Grass

 

Since my decant of Bal D’Afrique isn’t too picturesque, and I do not have any Africa-inspired or related items to make a nice shot, I decided to illustrate it with the photo of Rusty on my backyard (à la African Savanna stroll).

 

Is New Orleans on your bucket list?

 

Images: my own

Second Sunday Samples: Tigerlily Perfumery

As I’ve joked in conclusion of my recent post on sampling, it looks like these days I buy even samples only after sniffing them.

My first visit to Tigerlily Perfumery in San Francisco several years ago wasn’t a success, so for a long time I didn’t want to go there even though they were holding some interesting events and carrying perfume lines that aren’t available around here anywhere else. But as time passed, the negative impression had faded away, and I decided to give it another try.

This time my visit went really well, I spent probably 30 minutes sniffing everything I wanted to try. There were a couple of things that I especially liked about the store. First, in addition to “hard to find” niche brands, such as Neela Vermeire Creations, Papillon Artisan Perfumes or Tauer Perfumes, they carry local (SF Bay Area and Californian) brands – Ineke, Parfums DelRae, Bruno Fazzolari, Yosh and others. Then, people who work there are not push-y and allow customers to browse/sniff all they want without insisting on helping them but being close in case help is needed.

Finally, as I found out, Tigerlily offers at the store three free 1 ml dab samples of your choice. After that you can buy other samples at $3 per sample. I really like this approach: selling samples isn’t their business; they cover costs while providing customers a chance to try perfumes at home and, hopefully, come back for more.

After smelling about 40 perfumes from the nozzle first and then some of them on blotters, I ended up buying 3 samples in addition to 3 free ones to try them on skin at home. Even with the cost of parking in the area, price per sample turned out to be much better than it would have been had I bought them online – especially since I knew already that I didn’t dislike those perfumes. Today I’ll talk about three of the six.

 

Rusty and Tiger Lily Samples

 

Tauerville Vanilla Flash

Three and Half Sea Stars

I’ve previously smelled Tauerville Vanilla Flash but since I’m not a vanilla fan in general, I haven’t tried it on skin. This time I smelled it on paper again and decided that I had to properly test it.

I have a feeling that I’m the last one to try it and everybody else has done it by now. So I would be very curious to hear whether you’ve tried Vanilla Flash.

I like that it is not too sweet. I enjoy booziness of vanilla. But it feels a little too intense (like most of Tauer’s perfumes), I think I would have preferred it in the form of body oil, so probably I won’t go for a bottle – even though the price is more than reasonable. But if anyone has 5 ml decant to swap with me, I would love to wear it a couple of times.

Nishane Ambra Calabria

Four Sea Stars

I wasn’t completely new to Nishane Ambra Calabria as well: Lucas who did a very nice review for this perfume last year graciously sent me his sample. I tried and liked it but then something else distracted me and I forgot about it.

When I smelled it again at Twisted Lily, I decided that I wanted to give it another try. It is such unusual perfume! I don’t think I’ve smelled before such combination: very strong citrus developing into warm amber. I think it’s the most summery amber I’ve ever come across. And since I like ambers and do not have enough weather suitable for heavy heaters in my collection, I could see myself wearing Ambra Calabria. But why 50 ml?! Especially since they position it as extrait. I would love to be able to buy 10-15 ml bottle from the brand but not 50 ml.

BLOCKI in every season

Two Sea Stars

BLOCKI brand actually was the main reason I decided to go to Tiger Lily: a week earlier they had there a presentation of their new perfume – SANROVIA, which I was curious to try since I really liked and recently bought this grand affair (pictures below are those that I couldn’t include in that post 4 months ago since it had arrived only after I published it). I couldn’t make it to the event but decided to go the next week.

 

Rusty and Blocki This Grand Affair

 

Unfortunately, SANROVIA didn’t pass even paper test. I might go back and try it again one day but this time I decided to skip it. Instead, I got their earlier released perfume – in every season.

I tried to like it. I gave it all possible benefits of the doubt. I don’t know what to say: it is not nasty or unpleasant, but it is neither interesting nor even pleasant nor beautiful. It gets a little better a couple of hour into wearing but frankly speaking I would go for many of the mass-market perfumes before I would think of wearing in every season. In any season.

 

Rusty and Blocki This Grand Affair

 

Images: my own

Perfume News, Perfume Deals and Cat Pictures (with Perfumes), Episode 1

A holiday in the middle of the week is a strange thing. We haven’t planned anything special for this year’s 4th of July, so I had a little extra time on my hands, and I decided to share some news and deals that you might have missed. I might do it periodically, hence the “Episode 1” designation.

In case you missed the news, Australian Perfume Junkies blog is back after almost a three-month hiatus. Hopefully, issues with hackers are resolved for good, and soon it will be accessible from the regular address (http://australianperfumejunkies.com/) but for now it can be reached at https://australianperfumejunkiescom.wordpress.com/. Also please note that you need to re-follow the blog if you want to be getting e-mail notifications.

APJ Blog

* * *

A couple of days ago Lucas celebrated 6th anniversary of his blog – The Chemist in the Bottleanswering interview questions from one of his blog’s loyal readers Jillie. Go read it to find out what a fragrance evaluator job involves, whether Lucas plans to create his own perfume brand, and just to say “Congratulations” on this rather significant milestone.

* * *

Did you know that Ormonde Jayne now has smaller 30 ml bottles? It’s the same price as their travel set but it can be shipped to the U.S. (free S&H). Also, from their news letter: “to celebrate the new site and life in general, we will send you a surprise gift with every order when you use the promotional code ‘YIPPEE’ at the checkout.”

* * *

If you followed Le Jardin Retrouvé’s Perfume Revival Project 2018, you know that the winning “dot” was the black one – Oriental Sans Souci. This one and the two out of the remaining three will be released as a limited edition of 200 bottles (50 ml) and can be pre-ordered here until the end of July and will be delivered in October. I have not tried any of these but I refer you to Cynthia’s (The Fragrant Journey) post about it.

* * *

April Aromatics in their recent newsletter have revealed that there is a new iris perfume in progress. Also, since the site will be closed for a vacation from July 9th to August 10th, until July 8th they offer 20% off for their 30 ml bottles with the coupon AASUMMER2018. (though, I’d still go for smaller ones)

* * *

Picture of Rusty is a bonus: it’s not special enough to go on its own into the “From the Cutting Room Floor” series, but I decided to share with you a picture of Rusty with Sonoma Scent Studio’s Bee’s Bliss that I wore today to celebrate the 4th of July.

 

Rusty and Sonoma Scent Studio Bee's Bliss

 

Have you recently come any news, deals or cat pictures to share?

Images: my own