Twelve Years But Not Full Circle

Undina’s Looking Glass is twelve. I missed it by a couple of days – not because I forgot, and not even because I didn’t know what I wanted to write about, but I wasn’t organized well to do it in advance, and when the day came, there were some less pleasant but more important things to take care of. But since I still love holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, I knew I didn’t want to skip it.

Twelve years is a long term for almost anything in our lives: people get an education, move houses, open and close/sell businesses, change cars, jobs and even partners/spouses, get and lose furry friends and go through many other less significant life events in that period. So, keeping a perfume blog for 12 years is worth celebrating, don’t you think?

When I started this blog in 2011, I didn’t expect to get “free-range” readers. My initial intent was to have it as a sort of a visiting card for when I was commenting on other blogs’ posts – so that those blogs’ owners would know who I was and could return a visit if they felt like it. I love being a part of a community (and belonged to several great ones in my life, both real and virtual), and I thought that having a blog was the justify way of participating in Perfumeland’s community. MUA, Fragrantica or Basenotes felt too large and not personal enough (and the same I felt later about FB groups). But blogs felt just right.

Undina's Looking Glass Blog Header

Back then, a HUGE number of perfume blogs were active. I followed many of them, became virtual friends with some bloggers (and even met with several), and somehow managed to read dozens of posts every week. Many blogs had “blogrolls” as a part of the layout: one of the two prevailing platforms, Blogpost, provided it “out of the box,” listing all other blogs that one followed; and WordPress allowed adding those manually via the Links collection. So, many bloggers were building those cross-reference lists. My approach was slightly different: I put in my “Reading List” only those blogs that I followed and whose posts I always read.

In these 12 years, some blogs have gone silent, many disappeared altogether, and a much smaller number of new blogs appeared.

Only 12 blogs are left on my current “Reading List,” and even those are not all really active (but I still have hope they will stick around for a while longer). I also know of a few other blogs that still publish, but I didn’t find common ground with those, and since we do not communicate, I turned them off in my list.

Out of all the blogs that I used to follow and read, the 12 I miss the most (those that are still online are linked):

When I was thinking about this post a month ago, I planned to put Australian Perfume Junkies as my #1 blog that I miss: even though Portia is now one of the regular guest writers on my blog and Perfume Posse, I miss coming to the APJ for the weekly report on perfumes worn, food eaten and friends met. But I might be putting it back on my Reading List instead! If you missed it, Portia and Old Herbaceous of Serenity Now Scents and Sensibilities are running some interesting collaboration that involves both blogs. It makes me happy.

But now to my list of 12.

Olfactoria’s Travels is one of the first blogs I read (the NST doesn’t count because I was reading it before I even knew what blogs were or realized that people commented on those posts). Birgit’s reviews were very elegant and composed. And it was her blog where our Saturday Question (back then, Monday Question) series started.

Olfactoria's Travels Header

A Bottled Rose was created by Tara, who started as a guest writer on the Olfactoria’s Travels blog (and once posted on ULG). Most of you are probably familiar with her soft and thoughtful review style. Her blog became home to Portia (once the APJ went on hiatus) and Val, the Cookie Queen. Tara hasn’t officially announced the blog closure, but it has been getting “quieter” for the last couple of years, so it looks like she’s done (but one can hope, right?).

A Bottled Rose Blog Header

At least for a while, we were friends with Natalie from Another Perfume Blog. She posted not only perfume reviews but also perfume and fashion news and fiction stories. A couple of times, she participated in the blind-test games for my Déjà vu series (Episodes 2 & 4). She moved, moved on, and deleted her blog.

Another Perfume Blog Header

Suzanne’s Perfume Journal was an unusual blog. While Suzanne was highly social and outgoing and had many friends in the Blogosphere, her blog ran on a platform that didn’t support either comments or automated comments subscriptions. She manually added people who wanted to know about new posts to the distribution list. Suzanne wrote wonderful perfume stories and amazingly supportive and thoughtful comments on other people’s blogs. She passed away way too early. Unfortunately, her site isn’t available directly. But you can still get to her stories using the Web Archive’s copy.

Suzanne's Perfume Journal Blog Header

I met Asali, the author of The Sounds of Scent, when she was a guest writer on another wonderful blog, All I Am – a Redhead (it’s still on my Reading List, and Ines is still around, but it’s one of the blogs that isn’t updated as regularly as I’d like it to). Asali’s blog, now moved under the “Private” lock, was unique because it connected her two passions – perfumes and music. She is the author of the picture that I use as my blog’s header. Asali is still present on Instagram, where you can catch from time to time her artistic perfume flatlays and photos of her beautiful black cat Vega.

Lavanya of the Purple Paper Planes is still around, but those who didn’t know her back when she was active on her blog might now be more familiar with her subscription service Boxwalla. I completely understand that running a small business should take up all the creative resources she might have. But I miss her in the perfume Blogosphere.

Purple Paper Planes Blog Header

Beauty on the Outside was another “one of the first” blog that I started commenting on back in the day. Dee was active for a while, and some of her reviews were quite unusual (if you’re curious, read this Amouage Opus VI review. Then she went silent and came back, got silent again, and tried to come back again.

Beauty on the Outside Blog Header

Victoria from EauMG was the one who ran her blog almost as a professional magazine: she published formal reviews, had a beauty series where she recreated makeup looks, and even tried to make some YouTube videos (probably a little earlier than it became “a thing”). She stopped posting on her blog, but you can still find her on Instagram.

EauMG Blog Header

My taste didn’t coincide with the taste of Christos (Memory of Scent), but it was interesting to read his take on perfumes I knew. I stopped following him closely once he started writing for the Fragrance Daily (I’m not sure what happened to that community: now it is just an online perfume shop). And then he stopped writing.

Memory of Scent Blog Header

I felt that with Mals86 of Muse in Wooden Shoes, our background, lifestyle and almost every other aspect of life were very different; we didn’t “click,” but I liked reading stories about life and her kids that she shared in her perfume diaries. And she’s probably the only other perfumista who I know who liked Climat by Lancôme, my first and everlasting perfume love. Her blog is no longer available, but I still see her in NST’s SOTD threads from time to time (though I haven’t followed those for a while).

Muse In Wooden Shoes Blog Header

Gaia, The Non-Blonde, was probably the only blog I kept following (and even commenting on from time to time) despite her disregarding half of all comments readers left on her posts and rarely participating in conversations on others’ blogs. But she was one of the “founding members” of the perfume Blogosphere, so she was an exception to my mental rule not to engage with those who didn’t want to engage with me. Besides, she loved and shared her life with a lot of cats. Her unexpected passing (from an undiagnosed heart condition) made a big impression on me, and I pay more attention to my health than I would have without that awful life lesson.

The Non-Blonde Blog Header

There were many more blogs I read regularly and communicated with, and the last one I want to mention here isn’t the one I miss the most. The Perfumed Dandy blog was an odd duck. I had a feeling that the writer wasn’t a real person but rather a project run by at least one woman (but maybe a group). “He” didn’t sound like a man playing the role but rather like a woman playing the role of a man playing the role. I will probably never know it for a fact, so that blog got an “honorable mention” in this list for the mystery aspect.

The Perfumed Dandy Blog Header

* * *

Back to Undina’s Looking Glass.

I’m not done yet. Since I don’t expect it to go on for another 12 years, I will not consider it a full circle and keep going as long as it naturally goes. I love perfume. I love my blog. I enjoy talking to all of you, no matter how you got here. I notice when you disappear for a while and am glad to see you back. I want you to know that I usually read your comments the same day you post them, even if sometimes it takes me several days to respond. I’m not sure if you still want to read about specific perfumes, but I’ll keep writing about them occasionally (if I have a story to tell or something I want to share). Whether you care about this aspect or not (I did notice that those posts get fewer participants), I plan to continue my Sunday Self-Care series because it amuses me. I hope Portia will keep writing guest posts every couple of weeks, even with other APJ projects going. And once again, I invite any of you, my “free-range” readers, to use my blog as a platform if you have in you a story or two that you’d like to share but don’t feel like starting a blog for it. While his health allows, Rusty will keep being a part of this blog. And as long as you all come back to participate in the Saturday Question posts, I’ll keep coming up with questions for those.

Rusty Sleeping

This week’s Saturday Question is coming, so don’t think that this is it. But I wanted to offer you to guess: Links to how many blogs (both visible and hidden) do you think I collected over the years in my Reading List? Just a reminder: it has never been a list of all existing blogs, just those I read and communicated with.

 

Images: all blogs’ images are from the corresponding blogs; the rest – my own.

Advertisement

Saturday Question: Starting All Over Again: What 5 Perfumes Would You Buy First?

I “borrowed” the idea of this question from one of the beauty creators on YouTube a while ago, but thought it would be very fitting for the first SQ of the New Year (BTW, thank you everyone for wonderful comments last week: I will reply to each one of them, sorry for the delay). But to this week’s question. I know how hard it is for some of you to read through the exact description of what I’m trying to ask, or maybe I’m not being clear enough, which can also be the case, but I’ll try to do my best. My intent is not to cause the anxiety usually connected to the apocalypses-, fire- or a desert island-related choices. This question is not one of those! OK, maybe a little bit. But you’ll see what I mean.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #147:

Starting All Over Again: What 5 Perfumes Would You Buy First?

Imagine that you woke up in a parallel universe where absolutely everything is the same as in our universe. The only difference is that you do not have your perfume collection. Not a single sample, decant or bottle. You have money to buy any 5 perfumes that you used to have in your wardrobe as a bottle (travel bottles count). Those are “magical” money: they are not limited, but you cannot spend them on anything else but perfumes. And you cannot use that money to buy more bottles of less expensive perfumes—just 5. Later, you’ll continue to rebuild your collection, if you feel like that, or maybe you’ll return to your original universe. But since you don’t know when or if that happens, you have to decide where to start. These will not necessarily be you HG perfumes – you might decide to buy those later if they are readily available and instead go for something that you’d wear every day while saving for a “special occasion” favorite that sees your skin just a couple of times per year.

The only additional limitation is that the perfumes you choose should be possible to buy now. So, while those might be vintage perfumes, you cannot specify “vintage X in good condition” (“vintage X from eBay” would work) or wish for some long-discontinued unicorn that was last seen on eBay… never. But anything that can actually be had now is fair game.

My Answer

You would think that since I came up with that question and all those explanations above that I urged you to read, it should be easy for me to follow my own “rules.” Nope. I struggled. I considered changing the question to 10 perfumes. I thought of creative ways to group perfumes to sneak in an extra bottle or two. But I decided to be firm! So, here’s my list in alphabetical order (by brand):

  1. Amouage Dia: it is my #3 Amouage perfume. I can’t choose #1 Ubar since it looks like it has been discontinued, and I can’t find it anywhere; I would have selected Gold, but I’m still persuaded that it smells very close to my all-time favorite Climat that already made this list.
  2. Chanel No 19 EdT: I like extrait as well, but the EdT would be easier to wear every day.
  3. Guerlain Cruel Gardenia: I know that for a hardcore Guerlanophile that might sound as a sacrilege, but for me it is still my most favorite perfume from this brand, though closely followed by Chamade and Vol de Nuit – both in extrait version and both almost impossible to buy these days.
  4. Lancome Climat: Since it is still available from eBay in the La Collection reissue version, that would be my #1 purchase: even though I don’t wear it too often, I never ever want to be without it in my collection.
  5. Ormonde Jayne Ta’if: This is one more perfume that I want to have in my life no matter what. So, the first opportunity I get, I’m buying it in any universe!

 

How about you?

Starting All Over Again: What 5 Perfumes Would You Buy First?

Saturday Question: What Went Well In 2022?

Dear friends, readers and accidental visitors, I’m so happy that I have this blog, and I can use it to say an enormous “Thank You!” to all of you for being with me this year, for providing support and giving me a reason to keep doing what I love doing (telling stories and sharing photos of Rusty) no matter how hard life outside of the safety of our Perfumeland gets.

Saying goodbye to 2022, I do not want to talk about anything negative that it brought – we all know major pain points, and I’m sure each of us had our share of personal challenges. It is essential to talk about those, share and get support whenever possible. But today, let’s think about good things that happened in our lives this year – no matter how small or insignificant those were. Try to think of as many positive moments in 2022 as possible. I challenge you! Can you think of 5? You do not have to write about all of them, some might be too personal, or you don’t want to “jinx” it by telling everybody. But try to come up with 5. And share with us anything you feel like sharing. It doesn’t have to be perfume-related, but if there is anything of that kind, please include it on your personal or public list.

And before we continue with the Saturday Question, I wish you all a Happy New Year! Let’s hope that when we meet here in a year, and I ask you the same question, your list will be longer, and it’ll be even easier for you to come up with the answer.

Rusty and Happy New Year 2023

Saturday Question #146:

What Went Well In 2022?

One word, one sentence, a list or a Lord-of-the-Ring-type answer – anything will work. But I would love to read what went well in your life this year. If you feel up to it, tell us also “why” it went well (which, according to Old Herbaceous (Serenity Now Scents and Sensibilities) from whom I borrowed this idea several years ago, “allows one to pinpoint times when acts of one’s own or others contributed to what went well.”

My Answer

1. I enjoyed our trip to Sedona. We decided to keep the plans despite everything that interfered and ended up having fun and seeing some great views (more photos were in this post if you missed it).

Sedona

2. My vSO’s mother got to safety with us (and we managed not to pass Covid-19 to her when we got it!). It took a great effort on our part, help from many wonderful people and a lot of luck.

3. This holiday season, more of our neighbors decorated their houses, which created a wonderful holiday atmosphere and elevated our spirit every time we went or drove by. I don’t know if it was just a coincidence, or if my little stunt last year with leaving anonymous “Thank you” cards for each decorated house worked. I’ll be writing more notes this year (and probably adding a couple of individually and safely packed chocolates).

4. Speaking of decorations, we took my MIL to see the unique street in the neighboring town, where they do special decorations every year, and people come to see it from all other towns. She loved it! The photo below is from this year, but if you want to see more, I have a slide-show in this post.

Christmas Lights on Eucalyptus Street

5. After our vet managed to extract 3 teeth in the comfort of our home, Rusty feels and behaves happier. We weren’t sure what to do since the dentist wasn’t sure if Rusty would be fine with full anesthesia. And it’s every time such stress for him when we have to drive him somewhere. So, when our vet suggested doing it at home using Gabapentin and some additional shot, we agreed. Rusty was “out of it” for a couple of days (see the photo!), but got better quickly.

Rusty and Gabapentin

6. Finally, I managed to find and buy Mito Voile d’Extrait by Vero Profumo. I had to break my “no-buy” almost as soon as it started, but I was looking for it for so long, and I’m not sure if it’ll ever be re-launched. The store, Campormazio, still has some of the re-released extrait and voile d’extrait (follow the link above), but I must warn you that their delivery cost to the US is obscene (and they don’t even subtract the VAT from the prices!). But Mito was so beautiful that I couldn’t pass on it.

 

How about you?

What Went Well In 2022?

and

Happy New Year!

Pickles and Vintage Shalimar

It has been a while since Pickles visited us with a story about her human, but she’s back to help us to see off this year. (Undina)

* * *

Decades ago, when my Nana was in elementary school, her best friend’s mother, knowing of her love of perfume, gifted her a flask bottle of Guerlain Shalimar EDC. For a young girl with a modest perfume wardrobe of Avon and drugstore beauties, that was a prized possession. My Nana wore it to her heart’s content, but it was never replaced as there were always other shiny jewels in the world of perfume beckoning her. However, Shalimar always reminded her of her best friend’s mom, who sadly passed away much too young from breast cancer.

Guerlain Shalimar EdC

A few years ago, one of Nana’s pals from Australian Perfume Junkies surprised her for her birthday and mailed her the same flask as a birthday gift, knowing that my Nana had a strong scent memory attached to it. My Nana still loves how it smells and is secretly amused that she had the audacity to wear this bold and sexy fragrance out in public as a young girl. Her vintage formulation is from the 1960s and is certainly not as tame as the current one.

Pickles and ShalimarPersonally, I really love the bottle and enjoy posing with it. I think it’s aesthetically pleasing to the eye and smells pretty darn good on my Nana too.

 

What are your thoughts on Shalimar? Have you ever received a treasured perfume gift from a friend?

 

Until next time, furry kisses and hugs,

Pickles Bella

Saturday Question: What Is Your Favorite Animalic Perfume?

OK, folks. Since last week many of you totally disregarded the SQ’s instructions not to talk about perfumes that would be under your Christmas Tree this year, there is no reason to ask that question (but feel free to share your perfume wardrobe newcomers if you didn’t do it yet). So, today’s question is inspired by Rusty’s birthday (a separate post is coming).

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #145:

What Is Your Favorite Animalic Perfume?

I’ll leave the interpretation to you – it might be an animal-derived ingredient (natural or artificial), animal-related name or any other characteristic that would allow you to classify that perfume as such.

My Answer

If I were to think longer, I would have found more perfumes to name (so I look forward to reading your comments). But the first perfume that came to my mind when I asked myself this question was Papillon Artisan Perfumes Bengale Rouge. I wrote the story about this perfume three years ago (Rusty played a significant role in it). For those who weren’t around back then but don’t want to read it, I’ll quote myself:

I thought I was predisposed to like this perfume. I was wrong: I loved it. Since then, I looked up the notes more than once (sandalwood, Turkish rose, honey, vanilla and sweet myrrh), and I still can’t really make them out. But does it really matter? Bengale Rouge is perfectly blended, elegant and complex perfume that purrs on my skin – maybe not as sweet as Rusty sitting on my lap but warm and comforting nevertheless.

I still have half of the decant a generous friend shared with me. But when it’s finished, I’ll want more.

 

How about you?

What Is Your Favorite Animalic Perfume?

Undina’s Advent CaTendar 2022 – Week 3

The third week of my daily Instagram‘ posts for the Advent CaTendar – a count up to Rusty’s 14th birthday on Christmas Eve. Plus some “extras.”

These days it’s much easier to take pictures of sleeping Rusty. But I still manage to catch other aspects of his life.

Even though Rusty is a … mature cat, he still plays with sunlight reflections.

 

Come back this weekend for Rusty’s Birthday celebration, new Saturday Question and other festivities.

 

Images: my own

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?