Small Things that Brighten Life: Unexpected Thunderstorm

With all those unwelcome atmospheric visitors to several of our states in the last couple of weeks it feels like “naming the halter in the hanged man’s house” but I can’t help feeling great: yesterday we had a real thunderstorm! For those of you who live in “regular” climate areas it is probably nothing but I haven’t personally experienced a full-blown thunderstorm for over a decade.

In Northern California summer is a dry season: from May to October it doesn’t rain. At all. In my many years here, even before the big drought we had recently for four years, I can remember counted occasions when we had some kind of precipitations during those months. A couple of times I saw remote lightnings and heard thunder but it always was somewhere far away. And in winter, when we’re getting our rains (when it is not a drought), it is too cold for thunderstorms.

Yesterday we had tropical rain and a thunderstorm right here.

SF Bay Area Thunderstorm 2017-09-11

As a child I spent my summers at the grandparents’ house. On one hand, heavy rains and thunderstorms usually meant that I had to stay inside, which was a little boring since I couldn’t run outside with friends the whole day, eat fruit from the trees and do other fun stuff kids do during a summer break. On the other hand, rainy weather meant that I could sleep as long as I wanted without disproving glances and comments from my Grandma; I could read a book the whole day not listening to suggestions to go outside; and I didn’t have to do anything to help in the garden. And after the rain was over, I could put on rain boots and conquer the deepest puddle on the unpaved street, on which my grandparents lived. Since I used to spend there at least two months every summer, a couple of rainy days from time to time weren’t something to be upset about but rather to look forward to.

So yesterday I was enjoying that unexpected rain – for the rain itself, for the memories it brought and for the wonderful smell… Did you notice that summer rain smells not the same way a cold rain does? I was thinking about that scent: I wouldn’t want to smell like that myself, it is not what I would consider a pleasant personal scent but I would love to be able to recreate it as an ambiance aroma.

I have to mention that not everyone in our household was happy yesterday: Rusty was terrified by thunder, and while I was enjoying the weather on the balcony trying to capture a lighting on my phone camera*, he was trying to figure out the best place to hide. And for the rest of the evening any sudden move or unexpected noise would startle him and make his pupils dilated:

Rusty Scared

Today the rain is gone and forgotten. It’s summer again. And Rusty is peacefully sleeping next to me on a chair.

 

Images: my own

*It took be about 5 minutes to come to the realization that the combined my and my camera’s response time weren’t enough to capture a still photo of a lightning; then I switch to iPhone’s “Live” mode – and it worked perfectly.

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Small (?) Things that Brighten (?) Life

It has been a while since I published the last post in this series. Back then the topic was holiday lights that had brighten my life in all senses, including literally. Today’s post is kind of the opposite.

As we suspected it would be, this morning we woke up to an overcast morning not looking promising for the impending solar eclipse. As I looked at the sky before driving to work, I couldn’t see anything but grey clouds. I thought about how it should be disappointing to all those who had planned on watching the eclipse, started my car and called a friend to discuss the mischance.

I: What are you doing?
F: Watching the eclipse.
I: Where?!!
F: … On my backyard…
I: I mean, how?
F: (for the next 30 seconds my friend was explaining to me the physics of looking at Sun through a tiny hole in some device)
I: I mean, where do you see the sun? It’s cloudy here (our houses are about 5 miles part)
F: It comes and goes.

At this point I noticed that clouds parted a little, and there it was – a small sliver of sun.

I: I see it! Wait, I should take a picture…

As I parked along the road, rolled (wound – for my British friends) down the window and started taking pictures, my friend was explaining to me how it was impossible to do it without special black lens…

Solar Eclipse August 24 2017 SF Bay Area

It’s hard to call sun a “small thing,” a solar eclipse is hardly something that is associated with illuminating things, and I’m sure that there are thousands of better pictures taken of this event. But for the rest of the day I kept proudly showing my “impossible picture” to friends and colleagues. And it did make my day brighter.

 

Image: my own

The Perfume Museum of Barcelona

As I promised in the Visiting Three Monarchies, Part 2: Barcelona post, I’m sharing some of the pictures I took in the Perfume Museum of Barcelona while my stoical vSO was silently suffering from boredom. He admits that it wasn’t all bad: he enjoyed the first part of the exposition – bottles and other vessels from ancient times until the last century arranged by the origin and period. The rest, according to him, was also interesting – just not taking-240-pictures interesting, not counting time I was actually looking through the collection and pointing to him items I considered especially interesting and just had to share.

Lighting conditions were not the most favorable but I tried my best – sorry for shadows, reflections of my fingers and some color distortion. According to the museum’s website, the exposition holds 5,000 pieces – so even after you see all the pictures in this post, you’ll still have more than enough to look forward to on your visit to this museum. I decided not to do a slide show since it doesn’t allow enlarging images. To view larger images, click on any image in each section and keep clicking through.

The historical part of the exposition, while interesting, was not particularly unique: you probably saw similar vases, pots and other pottery in other museums that cover those time periods and geography. Can we imagine that some of these were used for something scent-related? We could thought I wouldn’t have thought about it if it weren’t for where I saw them.

 

 

This is where it started getting interesting: these are still pre-industrial bottles and containers but they were clearly created for perfume, powder and other beauty products:

 

 

It was surprising for me to see that many perfumes from the USSR: I recognized just a couple of names – Красная Москва (Krasnaya Moskva or Red Moscow) and Шипр (Shipr) but most others I had never seen or heard of before. As I mentioned previously, perfumes were rare in my childhood.

 

 

The rest of the exhibition is organized by the brand, older and newer bottles together without the obvious rhyme or reason for perfumes or brands represented:

 

 

I couldn’t help taking multiple pictures of my beloved Miss Dior but was a little disappointed that my life-long love Lancome Climat was “mentioned in passing” – though, I should probably be happy that it made the cut at all:

 

 

There is absolutely no doubt as to which brand is the most dear to organizers: not only there is a full case of different Guerlain bottles from different time periods, but before you are done with the visit you can smell all the current perfumes:

 

 

It is a small museum – just a single large room in the back of Perfumería Regia. They do not have much space left for any of the modern brands; and with their admission price 5 Euro that didn’t change at least for the last 4 years (see Vanessa’s report here), I do not envision significant expansion – so you’re on your own making history of modern perfumery in your perfume cabinets.

 

Images: my own

Stash Rollerball and 6 Samples Winners

I decided to use one post to announced winners for two giveaway draws I ran recently.

The winner of the SJP Stash EdP rollerball is Vernona:

SJP Stash Draw WinnerRusty has accepted that it won’t become his toy.

Rusty and SJP Stash

And the winner of the 6th anniversary’s six samples draw – Amouage Ubar (vintage), Armani Prive La Femme Bleue (limited edition), Krigler Lieber Gustav, Ormonde Jayne Tsarina, Shaik Chic Shaik No 30 and Tommi Sooni Eau de Tommi Sooni II (discontinued) – is Lyubov:

Sixth Anniversary Draw Winner

Winners have a week until the end of Sunday, February 5th, 2017 to contact me with their shipping addresses – or the prizes will go to another random winner.

Using the opportunity, I want to show you two pictures of Rusty… that I’ve previously shown on my blog … just a week ago. The reason I’m doing it again is that I’m not sure everybody realized what one of them was. It isn’t just a blurry picture – I get those in dozens every time I’m trying to capture Rusty with my perfumes, and usually I just delete them.  These 2 pictures were taken seconds apart, from the same position: as I was taking a picture of Rusty who was sitting on the floor, he decided to jump up (he does that trick from time to time). I managed to take that second shot and catch him (you can see my foot through the jumping cat image). I was very proud of myself.

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Small Things that Brighten Life. Literally.

It is my favorite time of the year, and many things around me bring me joy. Recently we visited a local street that is known for its Christmas decorations. It’s funny that I lived close to it for more than a decade but have never heard about it until two co-workers from my previous job with whom I met to exchange holiday presents told me about it. We’ve worked together and been friends for years but until this year it just had never come up in our numerous holidays-related conversations.

Over years I saw many decorated houses in the area but I’ve never seen so many lights on private houses on one street before. I loved it! In the neighborhood where I live there are just 5 houses with some kind of outside decorations (including our house, even though Christmas isn’t our holiday). And now we’re thinking about getting more of holiday decorations for our house for the next year: not even close to the extremes we saw on that street but we hope that maybe our festivity will be contagious, and more neighbors decide to follow the suit.

Pictures do not properly reflect the atmosphere of the street but I want to share them with you anyway.

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This Saturday we’ll celebrate the Christmas Eve (it’s not our holiday, but we live here – so why not to celebrate it?), the first day of Hanukkah (it’s not entirely our holiday but every year for this holiday I lit candles on that not the most conventional menorah on the picture below that I bought as a gift from my grandmother Rosa – it will be the first year without telling her about that) and Rusty’s Birthday (we don’t know his exact birthday, but when we got him, we decided that he would be our Christmas cat; he is turning 8 this year, and he doesn’t discriminate any of the holidays either: he equally battles Christmas ornaments on the tree and Hanukkah candles on menorah). I’m going to wear my all-time favorite perfume Climat by Lancôme to make the day even more special.

I invite you to virtually join me in any or all of these celebrations regardless of where you live or what your religion beliefs are. Enjoy this day if you are happy now, or find something to brighten it even if you’re not currently in the best place in your life.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Rusty’s Birthday to all of you, my friends and readers!

Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah!

Scented Gift Ideas 2016

Last year I enjoyed writing a Gift Ideas post so much that this year I decided to do it again and early enough for you to have time before holidays to shop. By now (I mean time in your life, not of the year) you’ve probably identified people in your surroundings who might appreciate perfume-related gifts and, unless you’re extremely lucky, your list of such recipients isn’t much longer than mine. But if you like any of the things I found, maybe you could get them – just in case you later think of somebody who you want to give that as a gift? And, worse comes worst, you’ll have to toughen up and use it yourself. I chose $35 as an arbitrary upper limit for the gift ideas I shared below.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post in any form; and it doesn’t contain affiliate links.

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Atelier Cologne keeps coming up with great ideas for popularizing their perfumes: in addition to the last year’s great way of presenting a gift card in a company of 12 samples (it’s still available with the minimum GC amount $70), this year they offer a $35 Discovery Set that includes 32 colognes (their full range) with 32 postcards + $35 gift voucher towards any $70 future purchase. But if you already know most of their perfumes, and do not plan any full bottle purchases from the brand, you might want to check out their new hand creams in Orange Sanguine, Pomélo Paradis, Bergamote Soleil and Rose Anonyme scents. $25 is probably too expensive for a daily hand cream but it’s a nice gift to somebody else or small indulgence for yourself if you like one of the four perfumes.

Atelier Cologne Postcards

I spent about five minutes at the spa shop debating if it was an acceptable gift for somebody outside of the close family circle. I’m not sure yet – so I left without buying any – but I still might go back, even if to get one of these cute and pleasantly smelling shower sponges by Caren for myself. As it says on the brand’s website, “sponges have been infused with our luxurious body cleanser enriched with aloe vera, olive oil, lemon grass, sea kelp extracts, and abundance of creamy that insures the ultimate in pampering.”  Each one has different fragrance. I liked the Snowflake Limited Edition Blue Linen the most.

These last for 15+ washes, so at $12.50 a piece they are more expensive “per wash” than many luxury soaps, but it’s something different, and with the seasonal packaging those might be nice stocking stuffers.

Caren Shower Sponges

Modern artificial Christmas trees can be surprisingly natural-looking. Last year our friends didn’t realize we had one of those until I mentioned it to them. What those man-made wonders cannot replicate yet is a wonderful scent of the drying pine needles and resins from the cut branches. But fear not – Scented Christmas Ornaments to the rescue! (There are many brands available in the price range from $7 to $25 for a pack of 6 to 18 ornaments)

Scented Ornaments

If your Christmas tree is as natural as they come but you still want to add festivity to the ambience, many brands offer special candles for these holidays – but hurry: the small ones go fast. Take a look at Holiday Ornament Scented Candle or Birchwood Pine Scented Candle from NEST ($16 each), Le Roi Sapin (The festive fir tree), Épices et Délices (Delicious Spices) and Un Encens Etoilé (Sparkling incense) from Diptyque ($35 each) or Maison Holiday Travel Tin Candles (Set of 4) from Voluspa ($32; mini-candle also available separately for $9 each).

Holiday Candles

I’ve been eyeing this next item for a while: I love the idea but I do not have any practical application for Scented Inks by J Herbin ($21.95). The set contains the following colors (scents): red (rose), orange (orange), green (apple), purple (violet) and blue (lavender). If I were to use something like that, I might also consider Blue Supple Wax with Lavender Scent from the same brand ($24.40).

J Herbin Scented Ink Samples

And for those situations when you cannot wear your favorite perfume (“scent-sensitive” relatives, no-fragrance work environment or pesky insects) but still want to make a statement, take a look at these t-shirts: they come in four colors (olive, black, brown and cranberry) and two cuts (men and women) for $19.99. The text says:

1 frag-head
noun | frag•head | \’frag-hed\
: a fragrance obsessed person
(see: the one wearing this shirt)

frag-head T-shirt

If you do not plan on posting your own Gift Guide somewhere, please share any interesting “giftable” perfume-related items you came across recently.

 

Images: only the first one is my own; the rest are from the products’ sites, sometimes re-arranged a little (I thought it was a fair use since I linked to the products).

Mary Greenwell Plum Giveaway Winner

Either most of my readers live not in the U.S., or everybody got all the Plum they bear, but I got just two entries for the giveaway.

It was easy for Rusty to choose the winner, and it happened so fast that I wasn’t able to take a picture of the process. But at least I managed to catch his tail seconds before he completely lost interest in my photo session and ran away.

Rusty and Mary Greenwell Plum

But probably at least a couple of people are curious as to who’s the winner.

Carol

Please contact me with your shipping address (Rusty played with my travel spray; yours is still in a shrink wrap).

crystesmom, if you’d like to get the remaining 2.5 ml of my Plum sample (and a couple more samples to keep it company), please send me your shipping address as well.

Image: my own