Puredistance Rubikona Giveaway Winner

The winner of the draw on this blog is: VerbenaLuvvr! Please contact me with your address.

Puredistance Rubikona Draw

Instagram winner will be announced there soon.

For everybody else – a bonus Rusty shot. In the next second with his claw he pulled the bottle towards himself, played with it for a second, dropped, scared himself and jumped away. I decided not to let him play with it any more because usually the next experiment would be pushing it off the table and hunting it on the floor.

 

Rusty and Puredistance Rubikona

Saturday Question: Staycation in the Time of Pandemic – What to do?

Today I’m asking a question to which I have no answer. So, it’s not a “how-to” type of post where I would share my ideas inviting you to add yours as a hypothetical exercise. I’m actually asking for you advice.

Being too careful, in many years of blogging, I mentioned my traveling during the trip just a couple of times (when we had someone staying at our place). On all other occasions I would publish something about it only post facto.

This year it’s different: not only we had to cancel our Hawaii vacation (I so looked forward to it!), but now, at the last moment, we have to figure out what to do with the vacation week we took, since because of the still expanding wild fires we cannot go to Napa and Sonoma, as planned. And because of the air quality, all those parks, beaches and city walks that I was always so proud of when telling anybody about the area I live, are out or reach. Combined with the COVID-19 limitations, we cannot go almost anywhere. But since both my vSO and I are tired (luckily for us, pandemic hasn’t affected our jobs yet), we’re still taking that time off. Now I need to think of what to do to maximize the positive effect from the vacation and not to fall back onto doing something work-related because we can’t occupy ourselves.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #33:

Staycation in the Time of Pandemic – What to do?

Taking into the consideration that the air might not improve significantly, and we’ll try not to spend outside too much time, is there anything you could recommend?

I’m asking for rather specific than generic advices (I mean, “listen to a podcast” is a solid advice, but I would appreciate a link or a name, or where to find it).

Suggestions do not have to be “free,” but it would be great if they were implementable (so, no “New Zealand is great this time of the year, please :) ). Perfume-related suggestions and other activities that are not necessarily engage both of us are welcomed as well.

 

Staycation in the Time of Pandemic – What to do?

 

Eau de Lockdown

Since this post isn’t a review, I didn’t want to add the author’s name to the title, but still I bring it to your attention that this post is written by Narth. (Undina)

* * *

I write to you in hard lockdown. My state of Victoria has declared both a State of Emergency and a State of Disaster. If you find the double declaration confusing don’t worry, so does everyone. Double states of badness are upon us! We have a curfew and cannot travel more than 5 km (3 miles) from our house. Everything is shut. The post office has called for volunteers. The children are completely glazed over and exhausted from doing schooling online for months and I’m sure it is even worse for the teachers. We’ve been in varying stages of this new normal for 6 months now. Mental health seems to be a tug of war between trying to throw ourselves into new interests and claim and reclaim who we were during the before times. “Don’t try this at home kids!” is an expression that no longer has any relevance to anyone.

My perfume love is just as battered and bewildered as the rest of me. I’ve always said, “I wear perfume for myself, not for other people”, but now that there literally are no other people (!!!) I’ve seen that this is only a half truth. I wear perfume as a tool for interacting with other people, for moving through public spaces, for deciding who I am that day. I always knew this, but I am suddenly painfully aware that my identity for a day, an evening, has been a core reason for my wearing perfume. It isn’t just that sillage is irrelevant, it’s that choosing who I will be today is irrelevant because every day is the same. A lifelong introvert, I never realized just how much time I spent with others until suddenly I am alone. All my whining in the before times that “I wish I could have just one day to myself” has come back to haunt me.

In the beginning of this lockdown I went a bit mad with the online purchasing. It was easy to rationalize a blind buy bottle, after all I wasn’t eating out anymore, and I was saving a fortune in train fares. A steady flow of books, perfume and wine in the post was surely good for me, I wanted something to look forward to! I was even buying “Mystery” wine because I felt like I needed a surprise to counter the tedium of sameness. Thank goodness there were no Mystery perfume offers, which would have been even worse than some of my blind buys I suspect. While waiting for the highly delayed post, I began hardcore going through my samples, I was going to catalog and take notes on them all, I was going to wear multiple samples a day for science! This kept me occupied for all of a week and then, suddenly, I was over it. I spent a month wearing only a handful of favourites, regretting blind buys and wondering if I could exist on Penhalgion’s Sartorial and one random rose scent for the rest of my life. In between these quite obsessive phases were long weeks when I forgot perfume existed despite my desk being covered in it.

This is a post with no conclusion. My current resolve is to sell some of my mistakes and to try and bring balance to the Force, not just in perfume but in my other interests. Reading ten hours a day or power watching K-dramas until 2am is also a little unbalanced. In the beginning we were all okay about that, these were strange times and we encouraged each other to just do that thing, that thing that felt good. But the strange times are now the new norm. Where to from here, fragrance my friend? I have plans to start matching my perfume to books and tv shows as a kind of substitute for happily overthinking what to wear to the pub for Trivia night. I’ve worn Mugler‘s Alien to every sci fi movie I’ve ever been to since it came out 15 years ago, so these plans are not without precedent but… perhaps without a (sillage) audience they feel a little forced. I need my perfume mojo back, friends!

Perfume Samples

Photo is of everything that was on my desk! Some of it was in a box and some of it was not…

Portia in the Looking Glass

Hello! My name is Portia, and Undina has invited me to come do some guest posting at Undina’s Looking Glass.

It’s very exciting, and nerve wracking, to jump into another person’s creation. They have worked so hard to produce a brand, and I hope that it’s a good fit for Undina, you and me. We all have perfume in common, and many of you I know already from around the scentblogoshere. Up till now, I have written for a few other blogs, including Olfactoria’s Travels, Perfume Posse, A Bottled Rose and Australian Perfume Junkies. Undina was the very first person I never met to subscribe to APJ, and we have been friends ever since, she has been also brains trust, confidant, blog rescuer and aspirational icon. We also bonded over the naming of her cat Rusty: my very first cat was a gorgeous ginger and white tom called Rusty. Synchronicity! Every time I see pics of him, it brings back some happy memories.

Continue reading

Winner(s) of the Puredistance Gold Giveaway

All four blogs that ran this mini-joint-project have announced the winners:

Bonkers About Perfume: Hayley

Chemist in the Bottle: Alen

Australian Perfume Junkies: Narth

And finally I went to run a random number generator, but when I typed the search in the search line (I have no idea why: random.org isn’t that hard to remember, and it’s less typing than “random number generator”), Google just presented its own generator – and I decided to try it.

Puredistance Gold Winner

The winner is #11 – congratulations to rickyrebarco. Please, send me your shipping address.

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

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