In the Search for the Perfect Lavender, Take II

It’s not exactly true: I think I found my perfect lavender perfume – Lieber Gustav 14 by Krigler. Since I published that Take I post, I finished the decant of Serge Lutens Gris Clair and bought a bottle of it. And I’m still contemplating getting Fourreau Noir if I ever get somewhere where I don’t have to pay $300+ for the bell jar. Maybe I should go for a travel spray.

    

Rusty and Lieber Gustav

 

But lavender is still on my mind, and I seek it in many different forms. Earlier today, for example, I had a cocktail with lavender syrup. It was probably the best part of the dinner.

For the recent 3-4 years I kept planning to go to a lavender festival. But every year I was either traveling somewhere else at that time or would remember about it only when I saw some lavender at a store – and it was already too late for that year: the main flowering time would be over.

Before I proceed with my story, I want to remind you (if you haven’t read it before and/or didn’t follow the link I shared above) that lavender came into my life relatively late, so I wasn’t really familiar with many aspects that probably would be obvious to those of you who grew up in countries where it was widely used.

 

Lavender

 

A couple of years ago I bought a lavender bunch at a local farmers market and, as I do with other flowers, put it into a vase with water. It smelled nice but a week later it started dropping buds and, what was even worse, the stems were rotting. I cut off everything that was in water, fasten the remaining stems with a blue rubber band, and put that improvised lavender sachet into my linen closet. Unlike it happened with Le Labo’s Rose 31 (if you weren’t around 5 years ago, see my post Know-how [not to]: Freshen up a linen closet), this haven’t fended me off lavender, though, as it was drying, it kept losing its petals, which made it a little messy… But I put it on some napkin and kept moving that napkin from place to place when I needed to take something out of the closet or put in.

 

Rusty and Lavender

 

The next year, when I got another lavender bunch, I was smarter: I hanged it to dry in the spare bathroom and then, once it was dry, I used one of a bigger organza bags that I’ve got either with a purchase of something else or from a swap with a perfumista friend to put the bunch in to prevent a mess.

 

Lavender Sachet

 

You can’t imagine how proud I was coming up with that novel idea! What’s more, my vSO was very impressed with what I’ve done. I was (and still am) using it in our bed putting it between pillows during the day. By now I have probably half of it just bouncing in the bag loose, but it still smells nice though very faint. I bet Rusty can still smell it strong.

 

Rusty and Lavender Sachet

 

And then one day Robin from the NST posted in her Daily Lemmings this:

 

Diptyque Lavandier Wand 2018

 

I was gobsmacked: it was so beautiful, so elegant, so… in a different league compared to my creation. I don’t remember if it was still available when Robin posted it, but by the time I thought of getting it, it was sold out. And since it usually means that it isn’t coming back, after researching it online and discovering that, even though there were many similar products offered, nobody does it exactly the way Diptyque did, I started planning on trying to make one myself next time I get a lavender bunch.

I studied instructions, found ribbons to use (2 different sizes and colors!), and was waiting for the lavender season… It must have happened this summer, right? Every weekend I was on a lookout for the main ingredient for my DIY project – without much success. I don’t know how but I managed to miss it again. I blame my work schedule. I should try again next year.

Meanwhile, I keep adding from time to time a drop or two of lavender oil into my sachet. And I also found and was enjoying Lavender Lip Mask from Bite Beauty – a brand that makes my favorite Agave Lip Balm.

 

Lavender Bite Lip Mask

 

Images: all but Diptyque’s wand – my own

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Do “Bad” Perfume Samples Circulate Better?

What does a perfumista do while being sick to the degree that wearing any perfume is temporary out of question? She thinks about them. And thoughts might flow in an unpredictable direction.

But first let me explain what I meant by the title. Did I mean samples of bad perfumes or perfume samples that are bad? Either. Of course, “bad” is a subjective term: tastes differ, and for almost any perfume there is someone out there who adores it. But we all know that some perfumes get everyone’s love while others pass by to be forgotten half a year later. These “others” are those that I called “bad perfumes.” Besides, most people (though, not all) prefer spray samples, hence, the other ones (those messy 0.7 ml dabbers from Luckyscent and other similar places) are “bad samples.”

What I’ve noticed over years of swapping perfumes: when it comes to exchanges not with friends and usual “sparring partners,” percentage of perfumes that I didn’t care for at all would go up significantly. When I started thinking about it, it made sense. I’ll share with you my train of thought.

 

Small Perfume Samples

 

A perumista (let’s call her P.) gets a sample, tries perfume and likes it. If she doesn’t love it enough to buy, P. wears it until it’s finished (or keeps in her collection planning to finish it eventually). This sample never leaves P.’s possession.

If perfume goes onto the “to buy” list, P. continues using that sample waiting for a bottle, especially if it’s a convenient spray sample. By the time that bottle finally joins P.’s collection, the sample is either gone or is so depleted that it feels wrong to send it to anybody else. The sample stays with P.

Unless it was a dab sample because then it wasn’t worn as much; or let’s say it was, but even a 0.25 ml in a dab vial is still suitable for testing, especially it it’s a “freebie” that P. adds to a split or a swap.

On the other hand, if P. didn’t like perfume, a nice spray sample of perfume that everyone else praises has a better chance to go into a “maybe” or “try again later” pile (and die in it), while a sample of perfume that nobody else proclaimed to love, especially in a dab vial, seems like a good candidate to be sent unsolicited and, most likely, not to one of the friends whose tastes P. knows. It is easier to just throw it in than spend time asking if the recipient even wants to test it.

… Another perfumista, S., gets a sample from P. – and everything repeats. In the end, those “bad perfumes” and/or “bad samples” get to move from one perfumista to another much more often than “good” ones amplifying the common perception of the recent years that niche perfumery becomes worse and worse.

What do you think? Were those just feverish emanations of my perfume-deprived brain?

If It Looks Like Perfume, If It Costs Like Perfume…

During my trip to Barcelona two years ago perfume was constantly on my mind, which wasn’t surprising since I managed to try about 700 perfumes while there.

One evening, while walking aimlessly in the neighborhood where we were staying, I noticed an interestingly looking small shop with some unfamiliar perfume bottles on display. I came in and tried several perfumes that, as I discovered, were all from the Spanish brand Daniel Josier.

 

 

We walked in, I sniffed perfumes from the bottles and tried some on paper. I liked several but they were quite expensive, and since none of them immediately spoke to me enough to risk putting them on my skin, I kept sniffing. One bottle that I noticed in a slightly unusual basket arrangement attracted my attention.

 

Barcelona Vintage Eyewear Shop

 

I picked it up and started examining… I’m not sure if I would have sprayed it before reading the label but the store owner couldn’t risk it: “Wait! It’s not a perfume!”

 

Chateau D'Estoublon Olive Oil

 

I know, I should have bought it as a souvenir from that trip but somehow it didn’t even occur to me then. I took a picture planning to write about it – and then forgot about it since I had enough perfume-related material for several posts. But recently I came across that brand’s condiments on the Neiman Marcus site. I know that readers do not usually click on the links, but I do recommend checking out this one to see how much all Chateau D’Estoublon products’ packaging looks like perfumes.

But if until that trip I haven’t seen that type of chameleon packaging, since then, as it often happens, encounter one more example of that approach. From a friend of mine I got a Christmas present – a 50 ml bottle of Linea Solitario Limited Edition 8 year old Italian Balsamic Vinegar.

This limited edition, unique and intense flavoured balsamic, aged for 8 years in oak barrels. Linea Solitario Ltd Edition 8 year old Italian Balsamic Vinegar comes in a glass bottle, elegantly boxed with a synthetic diamond on the label. […]

For 160 years, tradition and production secrets have been passed down through the family. Today Massimo, who represents the 5th generation of the family, is the current president of Acetaia Malpighi. Acetaia Malpighi is internationally recognised as “Made in Italy” brand taking its products on the main markets all over the world.

Linea Solitario Balsamic Vinegar

 

As with many of my “special” perfumes, I still wait for the right occasion to try this vinegar. Maybe this upcoming tomato season…

 

Rusty and Linea Solitario Balsamic Vinegar

Have you ever encountered anything that looked like perfume while not being perfume (or some body product)?

 

Images: my own

That’s Why We Can’t Have Nice Things…

I thought hard but couldn’t find a slightest perfume connection for this story. So, this one is just a Perfumed Reflection of Life.

***

In my “previous life” furniture was something that stayed with people throughout their life if not passed through generations. Of course, back then even in my native country a lot of things, including furniture, were made to last. One wouldn’t expect to replace every 5 or even 10 years something like this:

 

Loveseat

 

OK, maybe we didn’t have exactly that type of furniture in our humble abodes, but you’ve got the idea.

After moving to the US, for a while we were very minimalistic: we didn’t have too many pieces of furniture (it wouldn’t have fit into our apartment anyway), and pieces that we had were either secondhand or “assemble yourself”-type plywood pseudo-furniture. Those clearly weren’t meant to survive the next move let alone the next generation.

But once both finances and square footage allowed, we started getting what would pass for real furniture. And most things that we bought have served us for a long time already. For example, a nice dinner set – a table and a set of six chairs. They weren’t the most expensive or fancy, but I think they were the best of what a couple of generations of my family ever had back in the days. We weren’t using them too often, so I thought we’d keep them for the next… lifetime or so.

Rusty was about seven when he started paying an extra attention to our chairs. One of the reasons was that I was spending more and more time sitting at the table to avoid a couch that was too soft for my back. So Rusty followed me. But it couldn’t be just that, somehow they got a stronger appeal for him: he would sleep on one of them, then wake up and use it as a scratching post. He knew he wasn’t supposed to, he knew we didn’t approve, but being a cat he didn’t care. Within a year chairs were trashed completely.

After some consideration, we decided to buy a new set. Partially I blame a sales person at the store where we buy our furniture: as we were shopping for something else, I asked if they worked with or could recommend any re-upholstery company in the area. He said that they didn’t, and then he checked the records and matter-of-factly said that those chairs already were in the end of their life cycle… and since I had my doubts as well (I was afraid that re-upholstering in combination with the necessity to take those 6 chairs first to and then from where it can be done would cost more than those chairs costed us initially), we talked ourselves into a new set.

New chairs were slightly more expensive than the first set, but they matched other furniture in the dining area, looked good, and allowed us to invite guests over again without apologizing or feeling embarrassed. … Rusty liked new chairs even more, and despite all our efforts (for a while we were even putting them up every evening!) in two years they looked even worse than the previous set in more than 10.

 

Rusty and Chair

 

If you were wondering how exactly he managed to do that, we didn’t see it but I think it happened like this:

 

Rusty and Scratching Toy

 

What was even more ironic, our old chairs were doing just fine: a friend who needed more chairs took them off our hands when we were planning to throw them out, re-upholstered and was using since then. And since to do that project our friend had to buy some equipment (and even then it was cheaper than to buy new chairs), he offered to help us with our “new” chairs’ problem.

Having considered different options, I decided to go with vinyl hoping that Rusty wouldn’t confuse it with a scratching post. So far, so good: out of all 6, Rusty spends most time on the one that is covered by a blanket (the one that is converted into a pet cave). Unfortunately, updated chairs are less comfy in daily use, so I’ll have to figure out something before the next winter. But they look nice, fit with “metal” details of the table and sideboard and are easier to clean from Rusty’s hair before entertaining guests in nice clothes.

 

Rusty and Updated Chair

 

Images: my own

Small Things that Brighten Life: The Beautiful Duck(ling) 2

Almost four years ago I wrote about the unusual inhabitant of the nearby pond: a domestic white duck.

Since then I kept watching him (for whatever reason I decided it was a drake) almost daily, feeling happy when I saw him in the company of other birds or sad when he was alone. Unlike other birds, this domestic duck seemed to be more “stationary”: most of the days he would be somewhere around the pond. Some days he wouldn’t be there, and I’d be worried that something had happened to him. But the next day he would be back, and the order of things would be restored.

One day, while walking in the neighborhood about a mile from our place, we came across another group of ducks with one white domestic duck. Was it our duck that got that far away from his regular spot? Could it be another white duck that also joined a wild life (after escaping from the same farm from the legend we came up with for the previous one)? We weren’t sure. I took a picture of that other group. As we came back that evening, our duck was back where it usually was, in the company of wild mallards, very similar to the one that we saw thirty minutes earlier. I took another picture and spent some time comparing the two birds. “Our” seemed bigger but then the distances from which I took those pictures were also different, so I couldn’t be really sure one way or the other.

In the following seven months we kept meeting a white duck here and there on our evening walks. We even found a “feeding spot” where two women from the apartment complex said they were feeding that white duck almost every evening. And we knew that there was a woman who fed all the birds next to our pond in the morning. And since after that one time it was back to seeing the white duck just once a day, I finally decided that probably it was the same one bird just migrating between several places that provided morning or evening meals.

A couple of weeks ago, driving by, we suddenly saw TWO white ducks in the same group of birds. I thought my eyes were playing a trick since there are other while birds around here – egrets or seagulls – whom from the distance I confuse with our duck from time to time. So we had to stop, I got out from the car, disappoint all the birds that rushed towards me expecting treats – but now I have a proof that at least two domestic white ducks live around here among wild birds. So, the title of this sequel post should have rather been: The Two Beautiful Duck(ling)s but that would have given the plot away.

White ducks and other birds

Image: my own

Big Island Vacation, Episode III: Trivia Edition

As my friend Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) usually does it, here’s a disclaimer: this is not a perfume-related post. But you know what? If you read my “perfume” posts and are still around, I would bet that this one can’t be that much less interesting/useful.

This trip to Hawaii was quite educational, and I do not use it as a euphemism for something unpleasant. Quite literally, I learned many new and interesting trivia bits and had interesting experiences, mostly food-related, which now I plan to share with you.

Did you know that…

  • Between 1790 and 1870, sandalwood was a major part of Hawaii’s agricultural industry1. Too bad it’s not any more – it would have been interesting to compare it to sandalwood from other areas.
  • In the 1960s, Hawaii was responsible for 80% of the world’s pineapple. Today, Hawaii produces only 2% of the world’s pineapple. But 90% of the world’s macadamia nuts are still produced there [1].

Big Island Macadamia Nuts

  • Peaberry coffee (oval, pea-shaped coffee beans) is not a special coffee variety but rather a rare (about 5%) mutation produced by regular coffee trees.
  • Roasted coffee beans are bigger than green ones [2].

Big Island Roasted Coffee

  • Passion fruit is a vine.

Passion Fruit

  • Strawberry guava is considered the most invasive plant in Hawaii [3].

Big Island Strawberry Guava

  • Left not picked, a tea bush can grow higher than the tallest person.
  • Both green and black tea are grown on the same bush but, counter-intuitively, green tea is “cooked” (leaves are heated in a special appliance, shown below, to stop the oxidation), while black – isn’t [4].

Big Island Tea Roasting Machine

During this trip I’ve seen for the first time:

  • Tea flowers and tea seeds: you can propagate tea by either cuttings or seeds [4]. Tea flowers look beautiful both in rain and on a sunny day.
  • Growing vanilla: it looks like green beans!

Big Island Vanilla

  • Cinnamon tree: I didn’t realize before that it’s made from the bark is harvested from a live tree [4].

Big Island Sinnamon Tree

We experienced:

  • Mead from local honey infused with local tea: it tastes great on a hot day.

Big Island Tea Infused Mead

  • Chinese tea ceremony during which I smelled strong floral scent of one of the black teas: it wasn’t an imaginary or pretend-I-know-what-you-mean scent as it happens sometimes with wine tasting but it actually smelled of flowers [4].

Big Island Chinese Tea Ceremony

  • Freshly baked homemade scones with passion fruit curd: we were treated to these in the end of the tea ceremony, and they were so tasty that I started contemplating making them at home.

Scone and passion fruit curd

  • Hot and sunny mornings, perfect tropical rains and the most beautiful sunsets – and all that within an hour-drive distance

 

1 Source https://www.to-hawaii.com/agriculture.php

2 From our visit to Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation that offers free coffee farm tours lead by enthusiastic staff members, sampling of coffee and other products in their shop, as well as inexpensive nature walks.

3 Wikipedia

4 From the private tour in Onomea Tea Company – three-hour event that included the tour and tea ceremony. It was probably the best experience of this type in my life, so I would highly recommend it.

 

Images: my own

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