Perfumes, Wine and Ocean

This was planned for the previous week, but time just ran away from me. So, it’s a Second Sunday Samples post on the third Sunday of the month.

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As we were planning a short getaway with friends, I was facing the usual perfumista’s dilemma: which perfumes to bring. Not only we had really vague plans that included wine and cheese tasting (not at the same time), eating oysters and beach walks, but also those activities were spread in two distinct temperature-wise areas – wine country (+32C/90F) and oceanside (23C/73F). Since I wasn’t sure how long each part of the trip would take, I didn’t want to subject any of my favorite perfumes to hours in a hot car trunk, so I didn’t consider either full bottles or even travel ones. At the same time, as a rule, I do not wear perfumes from samples that I test – unless I’m trying to decide whether to buy more. So I took with me samples for perfumes that I’ve either already included into my collection or considered for that.

 

Perfume Samples

 

I ended up wearing just one of the perfumes featured in the picture above – Jo Malone English Pear & Freesia: it was wonderful on a hot day and somehow managed not to clash with aromas from wines that we tasted that day, even though theoretically I wouldn’t recommend this perfume for the activity. I did a mini-review for it almost seven years ago in my post In the Search for the Perfect Pear, and I still enjoy wearing it but I still haven’t bought a bottle because I haven’t finished the decant and several samples that I got. It is though one of my strong favorites from this brand, and just in case you missed it in the sea of Jo Malone’s releases I encourage you to try English Pear & Freesia. Unless they change it beyond recognition, I see a bottle in my future.

 

 

One more Jo Malone perfume – Wood Sage & Sea Salt – I brought with me because it seemed like a good fit to the aquatic part of our trip. Created by Christine Nagel in 2014, with a short list of notes – ambrette seeds, sea salt, sage, seaweed and grapefruit, it felt right in place during our walk on the beach and later for the oysters and champagne dinner at the house that we rented with our friends. Wood Sage & Sea Salt wears nicely both on the tropical beach and on a cool NorCal shore (but I’m glad that I do not smell seaweed in the composition: even though I do not mind smelling it from time to time in nature, I wouldn’t want to smell of it). Will I buy a bottle once I finish my decant? I’m not sure but I might.

 

 

The biggest surprise for me was Mito EdP by vero profumo: I have tried it soon after the release and even remember liking it, but somehow I didn’t go through with the thorough testing – and the sample just stayed in my library for the last several years. It felt right for the occasion, so I took it with me, wore it on a sunny warm day for another round of wine tasting – and loved-loved-loved it.

Most of my readers had probably tested Mito before (and some even reviewed it), so I won’t go through the complete list of notes. But I want to mention my most favorite moments in this perfume development: prominent citrus opening that manages not to take this perfume into the summery cologne territory, slightly bitter greenness of galbanum in development and sweet warmth of … I have no idea what produces that effect but I keep bringing my wrist to my nose trying to figure it out… I think my almost empty sample isn’t enough to finish my study of this beautiful perfume, so I’ll just have to do something about it – in the interest of science, you know.

 

Vero Profumo Mito

 

Images: my own

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Too Special to Enjoy … Ever?

Recently I read an article in NY Times “Aging Parents With Lots of Stuff, and Children Who Don’t Want It

As baby boomers grow older, the volume of unwanted keepsakes and family heirlooms is poised to grow — along with the number of delicate conversations about what to do with them. […] As […] older adults start moving to smaller dwellings, assisted living facilities or retirement homes, they and their kin will have to part with household possessions that the heirs simply don’t want.

This reminded me of how things were in my childhood.

I suspect that life was better in large cities than in more provincial towns or rural areas, but I can speak only about what I saw or experienced: I lived in a large city.

There wasn’t poverty around: you could buy food, clothes and other products one needed for the day-to-day life. But almost everything was not of the best quality, and even that you had to “procure” – spending hours in lines to buy something, moving from one store to another in hope to catch a delivery (of very limited quantities of goods), or “knowing” people who could “get” something for you – either in exchange for favors or for extra money. Demand always exceeded supply, so everybody was on a constant hunt for something. Official prices for small items weren’t extremely high but anything bigger or better required months or even years of savings.

Because of all that, most clothes and household items were used for decades. And even when our parents or grandparents managed to obtain something newer and better, they would usually save that for special occasions or a rainy day.

Nicer china, stemware and flatware were used 2-3 times a year for very special occasions with guests while in everyday life families kept using odd items from previous decades – chipped, discolored, missing parts and their set “relatives” but still perfectly usable. But at least those “special” sets got some use. It was worse when it came to towels and bed linens: while old sets were used until you could see through them (and sometimes beyond that), the new ones stayed in dressers for decades waiting for weddings, funerals or some very important guests. So usually it was the next generation who would get to use something that stayed new for a decade or two.

 

Spoons

 

By the time I grew up, the old life came to a sudden halt: within one year inflation ate up our parents’ life savings; fresh out of university and working for a private company, I was making 5 times more than highly educated and experienced people of my parents’ generation who worked for government-owned enterprises; and goods that flooded the market were … awful if you look back from today but so much better than everything that the older generation was saving carefully hoping to pass onto us one day.

We moved to the U.S. with two suitcases leaving behind most of the things we got passed on from a couple of generations.

 

Rusty and Two Suitcases

 

Many years later, I have “dress up” clothes but my daily outfits are nice as well (because I can afford it, which wasn’t the case for many people back in my childhood years). I have special dinnerware but I try to use it more often – for evenings with friends or even for more special dinners just with my vSO.

I also have many “special occasions” perfumes. A couple of them were designated as such: since I love them very much, I prefer to wear them for celebrations. But I’m talking not about these few.

When I started my current job, I became more perfume-conscious because in a smaller office I have a couple of people who [think they] have sensitivity to perfumes. I started using less and lighter sprays but would still get (very polite) complaints from time to time.

And recently I realized that I’ve changed not only my office environment but also my perfume habits and wardrobe. For years I had “daywear” (aka “office friendly”) and “dress-up” perfumes, and I wore those according to their designations. Daywear perfumes were light, pleasant and non-intrusive while perfumes that I wore away from the office were much more dramatic. But over time I accumulated too many perfumes that I put into that latter category, since those perfumes attract me the most. And when a large part of your perfume wardrobe consists of not-so-office-friendly perfumes, you end up wearing them more and more often. So, if to think about it, it’s surprising that co-workers do not object more often.

A year or so into my trip down the rabbit hole I was concerned that my testing got out of control pushing me to test new perfumes instead of wearing those that I already had. Back then I made a resolution to wear my favorite perfumes at least three times a week. With the collection growing, I quickly came to the schedule where I would wear perfumes from my collection during work days reserving evening and weekends to testing. But now, I think, I’m ready to the next step: I decided that I will be wearing numerous “safe-for-work” perfumes to the office and will make a conscious attempt to wear my “special” perfumes in evenings and on weekends, even if I’m stuck at home doing mundane chores.

 

Guerlain Perfume Bottle

 

What special things do you own that could use … some use?

 

Images: my own (and before you ask, those are not the suitcases we arrived with; and I do not own that Guerlain bottle)

Gift that keeps on… lathering

Traditionally, before a concept of unisex perfumes appeared, or the notion that everyone can wear what they like re-emerged, perfumes were subdivided into masculine and feminine groups. In my native language, in the past, you would have never called creations for men anything other than “cologne”; while their feminine counterparts were called “parfum” (those were pre-spray-bottle times, which, as I suspect, in that country lasted longer than in the USA or some European countries).

Surprisingly, soaps – in the form we had them back then (I’ve previously shared some insights into experiences of my generation in older days so I won’t repeat it) – were strictly unisex before we even knew that term. There were some special “baby” soaps but everything else that I remember from my childhood was sexless. And even when later we were getting some coveted “imported” soaps – Palmolive or Camay – they were never thought of as feminine, and the most macho men had no issues using those fragrant soaps.

When I discovered soap for men (a German company Schwarzkopf & Henkel in 90s came up with the idea of targeting men with their products), a dark navy box with the inconspicuous name “Fa for men,” it was revolutionary! I loved that soap and bought it more than once, even though it was relatively expensive. It was marbled blue and white, and smelled wonderful though I wouldn’t be able to tell what it smelled of.

Fa Soap

They were probably before their time, so in a while it transformed into Fa Sport for Men first, then into something else (it had happened after I moved to the US, so I don’t know/remember what it was in between and cannot find since it was before mass Internet), and then into Far Energizing (the picture above shows the most recent reincarnation: both the box and the soap of  the original one were darker but this is the closest I could find).

In the US there were enough local mass-marker brands, so I completely forgot about that European brand… until many years later I smelled Caswell-Massey’s Sandalwood Soap on a Rope.

When I blind bought the first bar, I didn’t know what to expect from the scent: I was looking for soap on a rope to hang and use in the shower and liked how this one looked on the picture. Years apart, I cannot say with any certainty that Sandalwood and Fa for Men soaps smelled identical but in my scent memory they were very similar, and that made me predisposed to like Sandalwood even before I started using it.

 

Caswel-Massey Sandalwood Soap

 

Sandalwood soap surprised me: not only it perfumed my bathroom for months, felt pleasant while used and would leave a fine trace of sandalwood aroma on my skin, but it was a much better quality than I expected from that type of a product from some random brand…

Well, in my defense I should say that by the time I arrived to this country Caswell-Massey wasn’t a part of the shopping landscape any longer. But before ordering my second bar from Amazon, I decided to read about the brand. I discovered that, according to Wikipedia, the company, created in 1752, “is the first fragrance and personal care product company in America. […] is regarded as the fourth-oldest continuously operating company in America and the oldest American consumer brand in operation.”

If you’re interested, you can read more about the brand’s history from the link above, I’ll just mention that as of 2017 it was re-launched (still as a privately owned company), and they’ve re-released their perfumes and colognes line (with some “updated formula” – whatever it means).

I bought my second Sandalwood bar as a gift to myself and my vSO for Christmas 2016 – and for almost 16 months since then he’s been using it exclusively and I would rotate between this soap and several shower gels. And it still has probably another month of use in it!

 

Rusty and Soap on a Roap

 

Do you know Caswell-Massey brand? Have you tried any of their products – be that soaps, perfumes or hand creams? Have you ever used any soap on a rope?

 

Images: Fa – from the brand’s site; all others – my own

Small Things That Brighten Life: Wildflowers

I can’t believe it has been more than six months since I published something in this series. It was not because nothing good was happening but somehow I would get distracted – and then some other topic would come up. So this time I decided not to wait.

One of our local parks – Edgewood Park & Natural Preserve – is known for its wild flowers. We used to go there often in different seasons but in the recent years for many reasons, none of which is a good excuse, we stopped spending time in parks. This year we remembered in time about the wildflowers season and decided it was a perfect opportunity to re-institute some of better habits.

I knew that the best time for this area is mid-late April but hoped that because of the warm winter we had and all the rain that has finally honored us with its presence in March blooming season would start earlier. It has started but it’s not in full swing yet. Nevertheless, there was a nice variety of flowers on sunny grasslands and just amazing greenery in the shade of woods. It was a well spent Easter Sunday.

 

 

When was the last time you saw wildflowers?

 

Images: my own

Crossover Episodes of SSS and MQS

This month Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) and I decided to run our regular features – my Second Sunday Samples and his Monday Quick Sniffs – on each other’s blogs. Just in case you do not subscribe yet to Lucas’s blog updates, follow this link to see my guest appearance there. And tomorrow come back here to see the new episode of MQS by Lucas.

Week 2 post stays open for SOTD comments, and I will be answering to all comments, but I’m taking two days off from daily updates to celebrate my birthday.

Rusty and Bouquet of Irises

Results of Two Draws

From hajusuuri:

Woop woop! I saw the perfume unicorn! I finished my first Chanel No. 19 EDP bottle on December 27. I predicted I would finish before the end of the year and I did, wearing it exclusively in the past week and a half.

Empty Bottle Chanel No 19

tiffanie guessed the date correctly; however, since she has her own miniature L’Air du Desert Marocain, she chose to not be included in the contest. This means that everyone who guessed a date and did not opt out was included in a random drawing.

And the winner is …

LDDM Draw

Old Herbaceous!
Congratulations, Old Herbaceous. You have until 11:59PM PST on January 2, 2018 to get in touch with hajusuuri with your mailing address or the next person will win the prize.

From Undina:

I couldn’t find the right lighting to take a picture of Rusty with my newly arrived Bee’s Bliss travel bottle, so I’ll just go with the functional picture of the draw while admiring hajusuuri’s empty bottle of Chanel: it’s not something that I see often.

Bee's Bliss Draw

The winner of the Bee’s Bliss sample is Richard Goller. Please contact me with your shipping address.

This year I’m not doing “Best of 2017” post but if you haven’t seen it yet, I invite you to take a look at the list that Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) has posted: out of the 20 he’s chosen, I’ve tried 9 and liked all of them, so taking into the consideration that fact as well as our known “triplets” tendencies (Lucas, hajusuuri and I have a lot of perfume favorites in common), I can wholeheartedly endorse his list.

I’ll be back early next year with my yearly statistics post.

 

Happy New Year to all my friends and readers!

Rusty: Happy New Year 2018

Math Revised: A Minus and a Plus Make a … Plus

From the early school years we learned that multiplying or dividing negative and positive numbers results in negative numbers. Recently I witnessed a social interaction that proved that math rules do not always apply to outcomes with people instead of numbers.

A month ago I wasn’t participating in the NTS’s community project “Reeking Havoc Friday” because while in my spare time I periodically test 5-6 perfumes at once, to the office I can barely wear one. But since the idea itself was not foreign to me (unlike, for example, one of the previous projects – skanky perfumes), I still enjoyed reading what other people were doing that day.

When I came across a totally unexpected strange passive-aggressive comment:

In #confessyourunpopularopinion, I have to say that I hate perfume samples. I am a grown woman, not a child. I don’t need freebies in plastic vials like some cheap concert giveaway. And I’m certainly not going to pay 10 dollars just to try some fragrance. I either buy the bottle or pass. I have also never bought a perfume bottle from a sample. So, I must sadly miss out on these challenges, but instead, adore my full-size collection on my vanity.

… then level-headed Robin’s response:

There is nothing at all wrong with confessing unpopular opinions, but perhaps you could have found a way to say that you disliked samples without implying that the rest of us were children? Just a thought.

Anyway, to each his own! The majority of my bottles were purchased after trying a sample.

… and an even stranger rebuttal from the “offender”:

Yes, apologies for any offense. I was just expressing my frustration with this entire blog and should have chosen my words more carefully. It just seems to have more and more name dropping as free advertisements rather than essays, articles, and meditations on perfumes. It is a fun blog, no doubt, just not for me. Forgive my interloping.

… my knee-jerk reaction was to strike back. In my head I was constructing some sarcastic remark about sending rescue to the poor commenter who had obviously been chained to the computer with access limited to only the NST site… But since my office life not only prevents me from wearing loud perfumes but also urges me to spend most of the time actually working, I had to postpone the fight until later.

 

Rusty ready to jump

 

When I came back, I was amazed by the responses from other members! There was no hostility or combativeness, people were trying to engage that strange commenter – either joking (“Personally every time I sample first before jumping in to the cost of a full bottle, I congratulate myself on my maturity! :)”), or telling their stories (“I need to try something fully before I buy. I’m not a risk taker, I just can’t blind buy, no matter how much I think I’d like something. […] I wouldn’t have a fraction of my FBs without samples.”), or asking friendly questions (“What perfumes have you collected and like to wear?” and “Are you reeking havoc with your full size bottles?”). She never came back to respond, but it felt really good to see the kindness and high spirits of the group. It was totally unexpected and I’d even say unprecedented in my virtual life. I don’t want to say that Perfumeland is inhabited only by good-natured kind and considerate people – we probably all know examples of the opposite, – but there are such oases where you are more likely to come across that level of positivity that cannot be negated by random remarks of strangers.

A minus and a plus produced a plus – despite everything we learned in math classes. And it felt really good and positive. It is great to be a part of the environment that allows you to slow down, relax and smell the roses (or daisies, or great perfumes) and share your delight of doing that with others.

 

Rusty and Daisies

 

Images: my own