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

Last Week the President of the U.S., my vSO and I visited Seattle

With the workload of the last five months both my vSO and I needed some change of scenery, and Seattle seemed to be a perfect destination for a three night trip.

It’s just a 15-minutes’ drive to the airport but you can’t predict how bad the traffic will be, so we left 15 minutes earlier. There was no traffic.

We had just carry-on bags and checked in a day earlier but with the recent situation with TSA you can never know how long the security check will take, so in my calculations I allowed 60 minutes before boarding time for waiting for the privilege to take your socks (but not shoes!) through a full-body scanner. It took us only 15 minutes.

The boarding had started just 15 minutes later than it was supposed to, but it was well-organized, and “a full flight” (lingo used by flight attendants to scare people into checking in their carry-on bags) managed to play the luggage puzzle game in a record time and without odd pieces.

It was supposed to be a two-hour flight. “An hour and a half once we’re flying” kept repeating our captain while explaining first that “a technical crew needs more time to go through <inaudible>”, then “it’ll be at least another hour” and then “it looks like we’ll need to change planes.”

We landed in Seattle almost 2.5 hours later than scheduled and 15 minutes after the gourmand tour, for which we had tickets, started.

But from this point on everything went just perfect: nice hotel, great food, a couple of pleasant evenings with friends who live in Seattle. We even got to see some rain (we loved it!) and the President’s Motorcade (we had to wait for it to pass to get to the hotel).

Mr President

I brought with me enough perfumes to change them twice a day (I didn’t) and I planned to do some perfume sniffing (I did). But if I had to name just one scent/note that lingered over my stay in Seattle, it would be lavender.

If you were wondering, no, we didn’t visit any of the lavender farms near Seattle, we stayed mostly within a short walk or taxi drive from the downtown; the picture below is from one of my trips to the local wine country last year. But lavender somehow sneaked into our urban retreat.

Lavender

It started the first evening when after dinner at a seafood restaurant I was brought a bowl of water with lavender and lemon to wash my hands. It smelled divine and turned my thoughts towards the Chanel counter at the flagship Nordstrom store nearby, which, as I remembered from the previous visit, had Les Exclusifs line, and where I hoped to try their new perfume featuring that note… So there we went.

An SA at the Chanel counter was very nice and completely went along with “smells-interesting-but-I-need-a-sample-since-I’m-wearing-something-else-now” (I was!), and Boy Chanel sample landed in my purse.

I like both lavender and rose that I can smell in the Boy Chanel‘s opening. It is unmistakably Chanel, and I felt a surge of that excited feeling: “Is this the one? Will I love it?” But within half an hour it develops on my skin into a soapy but strangely dry scent. I dislike it at that stage but mercifully it goes away in the next 30 minutes. Unfortunately, together with the rest of the perfume. I won’t say that Boy Chanel has the worst longevity out of all Les Exclusifs but it will be a close competition with some of them. Robin (Now Smell This) in her review of this perfume wrote: “Boy would make a great no-brainer summer cologne if you needed such a thing” – clearly not for me: I wore it on a mildly warm day of leisure walk in Seattle and each application lasted barely a couple of hours.

Boy Chanel wasn’t the only or the best lavender perfume I came across during that jaunt, so I could have probably made a sequel to the last year’s In the Search for the Perfect Lavender episode if I hadn’t tried to sneak Mr. President into the title. But since I couldn’t resist, I will probably leave my other lavender discovery for the next post.

 

Images: my own

Byredo Samples Draw Winner

I tried persuading Rusty to help me with selecting a winner but it didn’t happen so hajusuuri had to do it an old-fashion way – using random.org. And we have a winner!

Byredo Samples Draw Winner

Juli B.! Please contact me with your address.

And for the rest – one of the pictures from the photo shoot session for the original post: I think Rusty feels obligated to keep the image.

Rusty and Byredo Samples

I wish everybody a good weekend and hope to be back soon with another post – maybe even a perfume-related one.

Guerlain Chamade: Surrender? In a Heartbeat!

When I started thinking about this post, I couldn’t remember the exact occasion when Chamade came into my life. I have a documented evidence of the time when I didn’t have a single bottle of Guerlain perfume in my collection and was looking for guidance and inspiration from my readers. Then in the post that I published just a week later to report the success of my search, I mentioned that Chamade was the most recommended perfume by my readers and that I liked it and considered it as a “back-up” purchase should I have not found something even more desirable. So I assume that Chamade won me over lighting fast (“in perfume years”, I mean). Looking back I think that I might have gone for Chamade for my-first-Guerlain-perfume quest (instead of Cruel Gardenia, which I still love), had I seen in that Las Vegas boutique the real Chamade bottle and not the standard square store tester. But once I saw it several months later, the resistance was futile.

There are many great reviews for Chamade out there, so if you somehow missed the story of the perfume, both romantic and not so much connotations of the name, origin of the bottle, revolutionary use of some ingredients and a lot more, I want to refer you to the comprehensive six-part series published on Perfume Shrine (start here), concise but informative entry on Monsieur Guerlain‘s site and poetic (and useful if you’re curious about different reformulations of this perfume) 5-star review on Bois de Jasmin.

I’m positive that I tried the EdT version at some point but since my heart was taken by the modern extrait, I’ve never pursued real testing of any other concentrations or vintages. Chamade extrait feels very refined, elegant and poised. And the bottle… Even after I already had the real one in my collection, I couldn’t pass a vintage mini bottle in an antique shop. Since the perfume in the mini was slightly off, first I used the bottle in my Thinking Outside the Box project. But recently I found an even better use for it.

Chamade & Zen Garden

For many-many years I pondered the idea of getting a desk Zen garden. The problem was that, while I liked the idea, I’d never seen any of them in real life, so fearing disappointment, I kept postponing an Internet purchase in hope to come across it in a B&M store one day. When I started in the new office earlier this year, I decided that after a leap of faith I’d taken with that move, I was desensitized enough to take a risk with Zen garden kit that I had in my Amazon wish list for the last decade.

The set that arrived promptly was exactly like I imagined it! I unpacked everything, raked sand into some waves and circles, and carefully placed six rocks and two plastic cranes that came in the box in some deeply meaningful arrangement. I was happy probably for a couple of weeks. But then those plastic cranes started annoying me: they felt completely foreign – wrong size, poor liking and, in general, too much “made in China.” And then I figured out that I didn’t have to be limited by the original kit – and that was when the fun really began.

Chamade & Zen Garden

I think Chamade looks very zen in my garden.

Images: my own