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.

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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

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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

Do You Thunk?

For those who do not follow NST’s daily SOTD threads, some time ago chocolatemarzipan8 announced she would not be pursuing new perfumes and would enjoy what she had in her collection already. Every time having finished something she would officially announce “Thunked it!” Over time many other participants joined her, and now almost every day somebody announces “THUNK.” Of course, most people do it with samples but sometimes they report decants or even bottles. It prompted me to look into my usage pattern.

Bottles are the hardest for me: once I decide that I want to have perfume in my collection, I never want to not have it. As a result, those perfumes that I like less stay in my collection because I do not use them often but do not want to part with; and with those that I do like I’m content… while I have more than one-fourth of a bottle. And as I approach that imaginary demarcation, I start feeling anxious and tend to use those perfumes less often or in an even more than usual office-friendly manner (1-2 tiny spritzes). But, in general, I’m fine with my attitude towards bottles: I keep using perfumes that I love on daily basis, even if I do not finish bottles. Alternatively, I end up buying a back-up bottle – and then feel better about finishing the previous one.

 

Les Perfumes De Rosine Roseberry

 

With decants I have a mixed case: I do finish some of them, though usually only those that graduate to a full bottle (at least in my plans). But decants that I plan to use and be done with rarely move below one-fourth volume left in a vial, whatever the size is. The reason, I think, is that I like having an option of wearing those perfumes more than actually wearing them. So I’m reluctant to finish those decants for the fear of losing that comfort of knowing that I have them. Used up 5-7 ml decant usually means I want a bottle. So, again, it looks like I wear perfumes that I like the most while “hoarding” those that I shouldn’t wear anyway since I don’t like them that much.

Samples. Since I do not usually wear perfumes from samples, I rarely finish them even if I liked them. Small vials might naturally get used up during a couple of testing sessions; or I would give perfume several wears before committing to a full bottle. But otherwise samples just stay in my “perfume library” for years – until they either evaporate or turn. It wasn’t an issue for me until recently when I decided that, going forward, those perfumes that I didn’t like I should pass on to others for testing, and those that I liked, I should try again to see if my opinion about them has changed…

 

Empty Samples

 

I’ve just emptied two samples I had forever: L’Artisan Parfumeur Mimosa pour moi and Arabian Oud Kalemat. Guess what. I’m upset that those are gone and already started questioning that “don’t need them” decision. So it seems safer not to “thunk” those perfumes that I liked but didn’t love enough to put on the mental “to buy” list.

 

Do you finish any of your perfumes?

 

Images: my own

Small Things That Brighten Life: Two Suns

Today was a good day: first of all, it was a weekend after a busy week. Second, I didn’t have to be anywhere so I almost missed the heat wave that was happening outside (“almost” because at some point I had to turn on the A/C – just to make sure my perfumes were comfortable, I myself could have easily stayed downstairs without it). Third, I managed to finish a couple of chores at home, which gave me some sense of accomplishment (something that I don’t get at work recently because of the size of the project I’m working on). Forth, I got a chance to do some serious perfume testing since dictated by the weather short sleeves of my lounge wear allowed for multiple “test sites.”

And at the end of the day overcast that will bring us tomorrow a relief from the short temperature spike today, once again, served as a sophisticated camera lens that allowed me to see a very unusual sunset.

 

Sunset June 2018

 

… and about 10 minutes later

 

Sunset June 2018

 

Have a nice Sunday and stay cool (warm – for those on the opposite side).

 

Images: my own (pictures were not color edited)

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.

* * *

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