Undina’s Advent CaTendar 2022 – Week 2

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

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


Images: my own


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

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


Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass


Saturday Question #143:

Do You Like Pine/Fir Note In Perfumes?

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

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

My Answer

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

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

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

How about you?


Do You Like Pine/Fir Note In Perfumes?

Undina’s Advent CaTendar 2022 – Week 1

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

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

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

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

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

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


Images: my own

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

December, huh?


Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass


Saturday Question #142:

Are You Doing Any Advent Calendars This Year?

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


My Answer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advent Calendars

How about you?


Are You Doing Any Advent Calendars This Year?

Undina’s Advent CaTendar 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rusty and NuFace Trinity

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro

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



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

Rusty and GloPro


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

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

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

Rusty and GloPro

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


Images: my own

Small Things That Brighten Life: October 2022

It has been a while since I posted anything in this series, which isn’t surprising, everything considered. But since I believe it is helpful for one’s well-being to concentrate on positive aspects of the present, I decided to resurrect the topic.

So, here are random nice things that brightened my life in October.

It was a Hunter’s Moon, and my friend whose birthday we celebrated that day took an impressive picture of it.

* * *

This Fall, we see more than usual birds around where we live, and it introduces highly appreciated variety into our evening walks.

* * *

Squirrels and birds compete for the crop of wild berries on the bush in our backyard, and it is highly entertaining for the whole family to watch them.

* * *

Speaking of the family, Rusty shares our appreciation of Boo Chips. We used to buy a similar product, Ghosts & Bats Crispy Potato Snacks, but this year Trader Joe’s didn’t produce them for Halloween. He was so interested in the plate’s content that he didn’t even notice that I put a headband with horns from my Halloween costume on him.

* * *

Speaking of Halloween, I slightly decorated our house to signal to neighborhood kids that we were “open for business,” but to my MIL’s disappointment, not a single child rang our bell that evening. I’m not sure who to blame – the holiday falling on Monday, our community that didn’t have enough decorated houses to attract anyone to our kind of remote location or our city’s decision to have an organized Halloween parade. Or maybe the rumor that we torture kids with mostly dark chocolates has finally spread widely. On the positive side, as a result, we have probably a 6-months supply of Ghirardelli and Lindt dark chocolates.



November has also started promising: we had a nice rain on November 1st!


Do you have anything positive to report for October?


Images: all but the one of the Hunter’s Moon – my own

In the Search for the Perfect Yuzu, Take II or Yuzu Obsession

Among other entertaining aspects of YouTube beauty channels that I started watching in the last couple of years, I find it especially amusing when I hear, “I’m obsessed with XXX!” (Where X is a lipstick, blush or mascara.) from creators who professionally review makeup. I always think that with the sheer number of items in each category that they cover at least 3-4 times per week, I can’t imagine when they manage to repeat wearing the same product enough time to qualify for such an exorbitant reaction.

After such an introduction, I want to confess: I’m obsessed with yuzu.

It started with a friend introducing me to Yuzu Hot & Cold Tea, which I loved, and my search for a perfume that would smell like that marmalade (I told the story here). Demeter’s Yuzu Marmalade was a disappointment. So, of course, I kept looking. And what’s interesting, after testing a handful of samples (Yuzu by Acqua Di Parma, Tacit by Aesop, Oyedo by Diptyque, Tokyo by Gallivant, Smeraldo by Sylvaine Delacourte, Yuzu Rouge by Parfums 06130, Kazehikaru by Di Ser, Peche au Yuzu by Kyse and Note de Yuzu by Heeley), I did find my perfect Yuzu scent – Yuzu by J-Scent and a “runner up” – Jo Malone Yuja.

So, I have the perfect perfume that I enjoy wearing and a perfect yuzu marmalade (I found an online store where I could buy it for a reasonable price). Wouldn’t you think I would stop there?

I didn’t. I kept testing perfumes with this note.

Yuzu Samples

Portia sent me a sample of Yuzu Fou by Parfum d’Empire, created in 2008 by Marc-Antoine Corticchiato. I like the opening mint. It’s unusual. Orange and verbena. Lemon. I’m not sure I recognize yuzu, but it still is appealing and not banal. I wouldn’t describe it as “crazy,” but unusual. Cedarwood is slightly bitter and grounding. For my nose, it has something cumin-like, though notes don’t list it. I think Yuzu Fou is more masculine than I like my perfumes.

Speaking of masculine perfumes, when I was looking for yuzu fragrances, I read more than once that Issey Miyake l’eau d’issey Pour Homme was a good representation of this note in perfumery. So, finally, I decided to buy a sample. No, no and no. Not only is it too masculine (and doesn’t smell like my beloved yuzu products), but it also has something quite unpleasant in the background, which I cannot pinpoint but would not want to smell either on myself or on my vSO. I think it’s whatever makes this perfume “aquatic.” I’ll leave this 1994 Jacques Cavallier’s “classic perfume” to others who might appreciate it better.

Yuzu Soda by Strangers Parfumerie, created by Prin Lomros in 2021, sounded promising as an idea and because of the long list of notes: aldehydes, yuzu, bitter orange, camphor, basil, cream soda, musk, petitgrain, Nashi pear, mint, rosemary, pineapple, seaweed, iris root and vetiver. It starts sweeter, then dries down citrusy and maybe a little minty. It is OK but not that memorable and is not particularly yuzu-centric. My tiny STC sample is all I need; I won’t be looking for more.

I had high hopes for Zoologist’s Macaque Yuzu Edition. It was created by Mackenzie Reilly, with notes: yuzu, juniper berries, mandarin, hinoki wood, myrrh, labdanum, olibanum, sandalwood and oakmoss. It is pleasant and quite unique, but it is more woody than citrusy and rather masculine than unisex.

The perfume I liked the most out of the bunch I tested in this round was Eau de Yuzu by Nicolai Parfumeur Createur (did you know that they’ve changed the name? I didn’t realize it until recently). It’s mouthwatering citrus (literally!) – crisp, refreshing and … high-pitched in the opening, slightly woody and with just a hint of sweetness that increases in the drydown. I like it even though I don’t smell yuzu, at least in the form I recognize (since I haven’t smelled real fruit yet). I don’t think I’d wear Eau de Yuzu, but it is enjoyable and worth sampling if you like this type of perfume in general.

I wouldn’t have called it an obsession had my interest stopped at perfumes. But I liked the scent of my yuzu marmalade so much that wherever I saw yuzu as an ingredient in anything, I would immediately want that product.

It was innocent at first – a shower gel and a hand cream. The shower gel was neither here nor there: I’m still using it, but I’m not enamored of it, and once I’m done, I won’t replace it. The hand cream was a disaster, though! Forget yuzu! It doesn’t matter if it does or doesn’t smell like it. I find the whole aroma completely repulsive. The first night I applied it, I had to get up and wash it out. I wouldn’t have even mentioned these products by name, but I must warn you if you decide to try them. Both hand cream and shower gel are from the brand ShiKai (unless I’m mistaken, both were at least mentioned, if not recommended by Robin from the NST).

Yuzu Beauty Products

I was much more successful with the next yuzu-centric beauty product I bought – Yuzu Vitamin C Sleep Mask from Saturday Skin. I love-love-love it! I mean, since my skin isn’t dry, I can’t say if it works or not, but I enjoy the subtle scent of this mask. And it has a slightly unusual texture: it feels as if it contains some citrus pulp or pieces of the rind. Most likely, it doesn’t. I read that it freaked out some people. But I enjoy using this Yuzu Vitamin C Sleep Mask, and I’m on the second jar of it. The link is to the official site, but it is available at different retailers (run the search in your country). If you’re in the US, Amazon currently has a good Subscribe & Save price for it, and if you’re a member of Costco, the price is fantastic (but it’s sold in a set of 2). Even Rusty seems to like it.



I liked the Yuzu Vitamin C Sleep Mask so much that I immediately jumped once the brand released Yuzu Vitamin C Bright Eye Cream (not shown in the photos because I bought it later). I don’t know what I expected. In retrospect, I realize that an eye cream cannot possibly smell yuzu or any citrus, for that matter. And it doesn’t. It doesn’t have any scent, which is probably a good thing nowadays. But I was disappointed. And its texture is denser than I like it to be in my eye creams. So, while I will go through the jar I bought, I will not be repurchasing it.

After that came the food items. Miracle Mile Yuzu Bitters – good in cocktails though not the most prominent yuzu note when used as directed. Ikinokura Yuzu Shio Salt – rather a novelty, but I like to use it when I cook salmon. Mariage Frères Yuzu Temple Tea – a lovely tea, but I’m not a huge fan of green teas.

Yuzu bitters, salt and tea

The most recent yuzu product I tried was Mighty Leaf Tea & Company Organic Chamomile Yuzu tea. I’m not sure whether I would be able to tell it apart from my regular Chamomile Citrus tea from the same brand, but it looks like I won’t have to think about it since the Yuzu one seems to be an experiment that didn’t pan out, and I don’t see it offered any longer.

Yuzu Tea

All-in-all, I don’t think that I’m done with yuzu. I still haven’t tried yuzu essential oil, vinegar or powder. And I might still find some body products that I like.

Do you have any interesting yuzu products to recommend?

Rusty and Yuzu Products

Images: my own

Saturday Question: Have You Had Your COVID-19 Yet?

I know that it’s Sunday already. But I didn’t want to miss the week completely, and I had absolutely no energy to do any posts yesterday, and today my creativity is still somewhere AWOL. Hence, I’m here as that songwriter who sings everything he sees.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #129:

Have You Had Your COVID-19 Yet?

If yes, how bad was it? How long did it take to get back to normal? Did you lose your sense of smell or taste? Did you wear or test perfumes while sick?

My Answer

My vSO and I came back from our trip to Germany with my vSO’s mother and COVID-19. Luckily, she seems not to be affected, and we’re trying our best to keep it this way, though it’s extremely hard to do while trying to “onboard” someone who knows nothing about how most things work in the US house, isn’t familiar with our food and doesn’t know where is what. But we manage somehow.

The first 2-3 days were the hardest, and now it’s just flu. Kind of. I can master some energy to crawl from the bedroom to the office (I just can’t stay in bed the whole day) or to the kitchen, but not for much more. I haven’t lost the sense of smell or taste, but I noticed that it is skewed somewhat. I’m not wearing anything, mostly because I’m constantly getting either hot or cold sweat, so I don’t want to introduce any irritants. But in the last couple of days, I’ve been testing new perfumes I got in the mail. I’ll have to re-test them once I get better. And Rusty has been a great moral support for both of us (though, we’re being very careful around him since we know that pets might also get infected.


How about you?

Have You Had Your COVID-19 Yet?

Saturday Question: Do You Wear Fig Perfumes?

I love figs. Usually, by now I would be getting fresh figs and eating them with goat cheese and wine or making flatbread with prosciutto and red onion (and eating it with wine). But for some reason this year we still haven’t had figs at the local farmers market. And those that I see at stores just do not look appealing enough for the price. Speaking of prices… It feels like everything suddenly got 20% – 25% more expensive. Very annoying.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #126:

Do You Wear Fig Perfumes?

Do you have strong favorites? Does this note attract you in perfumes, repel or leave you indifferent?

Do you like eating figs?

My Answer

I don’t think I either like or dislike fig perfumes. I can wear them. But I wouldn’t be tempted much by reading about another fig perfume.

Many years ago I did a couple of posts for my Single Note Exploration series. My first favorite, Sonoma Scent Studio‘s Fig Tree, about which I wrote in the first post, is long gone, and I haven’t repurchased it. I have a couple of drops in my bottle of Jo Malone‘s Wild Fig & Cassis, but I don’t want to finish it because I cannot replenish it – stupid, I know: it will spoil eventually. How do I know? Because another perfume that I kind of liked, though I’ve bought it mostly for the bottle, Premier Figuier Extrême by L’Artisan Parfumeur has gone off. Well… Now I can keep it outside as a decorative object not risking it being spoiled by exposure to light.

The only fig perfume I still wear from time to time is Ashoka by Neela Vermeire Creations. Of course, it’s much more than just fig perfume, and I enjoy wearing it, especially in summer.

Rusty and L'Artisan Premier Figuier

How about you?


Do You Wear Fig Perfumes?