Light and Shadows: Ineke Idyllwild

I’m a city person. I grew up in downtown of a big city, and I still would prefer to live in one of those. Moving to the Northern California suburbia wasn’t a conscious choice: work-related circumstances brought us here. But since we moved, San Francisco Bay Area became our home, and I love it.

There are many great things about this area but one of them that I want to mention in this post is that there are several great parks 30-90 minutes’ drive from where I live.

Idylwild, new perfume from the San Francisco-based brand INEKE, to my nose does not smell of any of the forests I’ve been to around here (and I’ve been to many different ones) but it perfectly evokes the image of California forest on a sunny day: as you follow the trail, you move from brightly sunlit areas through the mélange of light and shadows to dark patches and back to the bright openings.

 

 

Notes: rhubarb tea, grapefruit, lavender, Big Sur sagebrush, cypress, fir needle, cardamom, woods, oud and musk.

The moment I sprayed on Idyllwild, an unexpected association popped into my head: Christmas in July. Even if you’re familiar with the term, the association probably needs explaining.

This is one of those concepts, about which you are not aware until you either experience it yourself or come across it in some media. I grew up knowing about Christmas in the country that didn’t celebrate the “regular” one, let alone any other kind. After moving to the U.S., I embraced that holiday but until recently I haven’t heard about Christmas in July.

My knowledge about it came from the episode Murder Under the Mistletoe of the Australian series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Not everybody who celebrates Christmas lives in areas that have winter, snow and everything else that accompanies Christmas celebration in Northern Hemisphere – for example, where I live it never snows – so for our winter-for-winter-holidays fix we usually drive to mountains but otherwise feel content with a single Christmas celebration. But it made some sense that living on the opposite side of the globe and having winter weather but offset 6 months related to Christmas, somebody would come up with the second celebration.

Back to my association. Idyllwild smells like Christmas in July but in the area where I live – meaning, a hot July Christmas. Why? All those evergreens and cardamom in the notes vividly conjure Christmas but unlike other Chistmas-y perfumes, for example, Fille en Aiguilles, Idyllwild starts so bright and light and cheerful that white and cold winter is the last thing that comes to mind. Grapefruit is as juicy as it can be and while it is citrus, I associate it more with summer than with Christmas (unlike oranges and mandarins). As it dries down, it transitions from the sunny territory into the shadowy wood full of fir needles – though you can still “see” glimpses of “light.” I can’t smell agarwood – real or not – but it is a plus for me. Idyllwild is not the most tenacious perfume I wear but it’s not the least either.

 

Rusty and Ineke Idyllwild

 

Woody Aromatic perfumes aren’t “my thing”: until now I had just a travel bottle and a small decant in this genre. But somehow Idyllwild captured me from the first time I put it on. So soon after that a bottle has joined my collection.

Speaking of the bottle, this was my only disappointment about this perfume. Starting from the letter “E,” Ineke decorated each of the bottles so beautifully that I was looking forward to the arrival of my new bottle hoping for a nice forest-themed artwork. The bottle is still the same they used before but this time it’s back to “blank” bottle. Coupled with a slightly changed box – a generic box and a dust jacket with the perfume name on it instead of a “designated” printed box, it seems like the brand cheapened the packaging a little. But as long as they do not compromise on their scents quality, I won’t complain much.

 

Rusty and Ineke Idyllwild

 

I was almost ready to publish this post yesterday but I couldn’t finish working with pictures in time. Last thing before going to bed I checked my inbox and was surprised by a coincidence: Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) published his review of the same perfume. He liked it as well. You might want to check it out if you’re curious what the perfumer told him about this perfume in a private conversation.

 

Images: my own

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A Postcard from Undina: Sonoma – Love and Tears

Almost 10 years ago our friends took us to one of the wineries that they liked – Paradise Ridge. It was the last day of a beautiful 3-day Sonoma trip mid-December, right in between two big holidays with inevitable crowds, so we had most of the places to ourselves. It was a magic trip.

There are many good wineries in our region. Some of them look like a small castle or château. It wasn’t the case with Paradise Ridge: it looked quite ordinary from the outside.

 

Paradise Ridge Winery Tasting Room

 

If you expected that the next phrase would be about the great interiors, I tricked you: while it was very nice and perfectly suitable for their specialty – wine tasting and weddings, a large second floor banquet room, a ground floor tasting room and even a wooden deck with tables for picnic under a huge oak tree – weren’t the best part of this winery experience. But the view that opened from each of those areas was just breathtaking.

 

View from the Paradise Ridge Winery Tasting Room

 

That view alone would have been probably enough to visit that place from time to time, but they also produced wine that we liked very much. And about 8 years ago we became Paradise Ridge Wine Club members. Since I haven’t been to wine regions in any other country, I do not know how common are wine club memberships in countries where my readers live, so I’ll just quickly explain that in the U.S. it usually means that you “subscribe” to get a certain number of bottles during one year, and the winery sends you those bottles (of their choice but with 15-20% discount from their regular prices) 3-6 times a year. This is done either prepaid for that year or in installments when they ship (or, as we prefer to do, when we pick up our shipments). Small family owned wineries like Paradise Ridge rarely sell their wines to retail stores: they do not produce enough to benefit from volume sales. So wines that they produce are sold mostly to the club members and in their tasting rooms.

 

ParadizeWine haul from the Paradise Ridge Winery

 

Over years we went there dozens of times – just two of us, with local friends and with friends and relatives visiting from other states. We became… not friends but very good acquaintances with the wine maker and several people who worked at the Paradise Ridge winery. So we kept coming back for great wine, beautiful views and an improvised park with periodically changing strange metal sculptures – just a perfect setting to spend time walking and taking pictures in between visiting other wineries and doing more tasting. One of those sculptures became Paradise Ridge’s trademark (and I shared it with those who were here five years ago in one of my “postcard” posts).

 

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On October 9, when we heard about fires that broke out Sunday night in that region, my first thoughts went to Paradise Ridge and Sunce (our second most favorite winery). As always in such cases, at the same time there was too much and not enough information. I kept telling myself that what were the chances that the fire happens there? Moreover, Paradise Ridge was on the top of the hill, away from other houses and structures… Midday their Facebook page brought the news I feared: the winery completely burned down. I cried. It felt like a personal loss. Pictures below are from their Facebook page taken hours after the fire. You can see all the smoke in the air.

 

 

It was Monday last week. We didn’t know yet how bad the fire would get. Eleven days later, it’s about 80% contained. By estimate, so far it scorched more than 210,000 acres, burned 6,000 houses/buildings and killed at least 42 people, most of them elderly residents of the area who couldn’t evacuate in time – the fire moved extremely fast. 50 people are still considered missing, and about 20,000 people still didn’t return from the mandatory evacuation.

Official air quality in the area where I live (70 miles from the closest affected area) is back to green “Good” (from scary red “Unhealthy” last week) and it is “Moderate” in the area of fires. It a big catastrophe from which we will be recovering for months if not years to come.

When we hear or read about such events somewhere in the world, we sympathize and feel sad, on some level, but we do not feel it as acute as when it happens close to us or to somebody we actually know – and its normal, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to live and function in our age of communications, where every week brings bad news from somewhere, hopefully far-far away from us and people we love.

So while I predict bad fallout from this situation for the area and many-many people, I can’t help feeling relieved and rejoicing from (finally) good news: all people who I care about are fine: Paradise Ridge owner families are alive; Laurie Erikson (Sonoma Scent Studio) safely returned to her house and studio after a week of evacuation. And, according to the most recent reports, Paradise Ridge vineyard survived – so there will be crop next year.

 

SSS Samples

 

Drinking “boutique wines” is luxury (same as wearing perfumes), and we would have been fine with or without our favorite wines. But running wine business, same as producing artisan perfumes, is not a luxurious undertaking: it’s a lot of hard work and very low profitability (at least until a big brand comes and buys you out). So I’m happy not as much for the fact that we’ll get to enjoy Paradise Ridge wines or Sonoma Scent Studio perfumes but mostly that they will be able to keep creating them.

 

Rusty and Paradise Ridge Wines

 

As I’m finishing writing this post, it has started raining outside. It would have helped much more had it happened a week ago but I’m happy about this rain: it is time the Nature joined us in crying.

Second Sunday Samples: Berdoues Collection Grands Crus

Until recently I was familiar with Parfums Berdoues only from a couple of samples graciously sent to me by hajusuuri and Lucas’s (The Chemist in the Bottle) review. I haven’t seen this brand in any of the stores around or come across it during my recent European trip.

I didn’t know about their history, and, to tell you the truth, I don’t believe all that “since 1902 family owned” PR BS. I mean, I have no doubts that the brand was something owned by the family since whatever year it says but I doubt it was any perfume-related successful business before the current parent company decided they needed a “legitimate” niche brand under their wing. Not that it means anything to me one way or the other. It’s just a little curious how many brands with a century history started appearing in the recent years once the perfume industry started booming.

Anyway, this brand could have stayed just a record in my database if it weren’t for chocolatemarzipan, who mentioned how much she loved perfumes from Berdoues… just several dozen of times on NST, my blog and other places. So when I saw that Sephora online had that extremely appealing Discovery Set, I gave in.

Berdoues Perfumes Sampler

(see my new Sea Star Ratings explanation here)

Assam of India

The first time I tried it I immediately thought of one of my favorites – Jo Malone Assam & Grapefruit, which isn’t too surprising looking at the list of notes (here and going forward I dropped geographical descriptors): lemon, tea and sandalwood (Assam of India) vs. grapefruit, rhubarb, violet, Assam, cardamom, rose, almond, musk and patchouli (Assam & Grapefruit).

I tested them in parallel several times, and can confirm that they do smell similar, especially in the opening. Many years ago when I got Assam & Grapefruit as a gift, I wasn’t super-thrilled with it. Since then I changed my mind, and enjoy wearing it from time to time. So while I have it, I won’t need Assam of India. But since Jo Malone’s perfume was a limited edition, once my bottle is finished (or spoils), I won’t grieve much since Berdoues offers a perfect replacement – and Assam of India is priced much more reasonably.

Three and Half Sea Stars
=====

Somei Yoshino

I didn’t care for this perfume at all: it smells either nice but too simple or overly sweet and even unpleasant. Somei Yoshino might work better for you, so do not take my word – try it if you get a chance.

Official notes: shiso, patchouli and jasmine

One and Half Sea Stars
=====

Arz El-Rab

As it happens often, smelling perfume with a prominent note one immediately thinks of another perfume known for the same note. So while trying Arz El-Rab, I started drawing parallels between it and Diptyque Tam Dao. But since I own the latter, the next time I tested Arz El-Rab, I ran a wrist-by-wrist testing. And how it usually happens, being tested together, perfumes reveal both similarities and individuality. Arz El-Rab has an extra citrus in the opening (though it’s not mentioned in the short list of notes), has less oily cedar in the development and is sweeter in the drydown. I cannot smell iris, so those notes are clearly just for the general idea about perfume. It’s not bad at all – if you like cedar wood-centered perfumes.

Official notes: cedar, iris and ginger.

Three and Half Sea Stars
=====

Oud Al Sahraa

Since I rarely like agarwood perfumes, I tried Oud Al Sahraa mostly because I wanted to go through the complete set. I was pleasantly surprised: I liked it. It means that, most likely, Oud Al Sahraa’s agarwood isn’t real, which is a plus in my book. I do not smell anything citrus-y in this perfume though an Italian mandarin is declared as one of three revealed notes, and I think that I can smell what they call myrrh. I could wear Oud Al Sahraa myself and wouldn’t mind smelling it on my vSO, but I’m not sure it interests me enough to actually pursue it.

Three Sea Stars
=====

Rusty and Berdoues Sampler

Scorza di Sicilia

It smells not bad, though completely not what I expected looking at the box: it is very flowery when I thought it would be all citrus-y. It is sweeter than I wanted it to be and reminds me a little of air freshener. I retested Scorza di Sicilia three times, and I’m positive that I wouldn’t want to wear it beyond this testing.

Official notes: citron, cedar and vetiver.

One and Half Sea Stars
=====

Selva Do Brazil

First of all, I like the bottle (on the picture) and the box, in which my sample came: I think I have a shirt with a similar print. Selva Do Brazil starts green, even grassy with a hint of citrus. It settles down to a pleasant slightly woody skin scent. It is not “interesting,” “challenging” or any other epithet to similar effect one might use describing perfume. But if it works for you in its simplicity, you’ll unexplainably like it. Or it will seem too boring – so no blind buys, please.

You have to read this short but sweet review of Selva Do Brazil at Perfume Shrine!

Official notes: petit grain, gaiac wood and tonka bean.

Four Sea Stars
=====

Vanira Moorea

I can’t help it: Vanira Moorea reminds me of a tooth paste from my childhood so I cannot think of it as of a perfume. Our tooth pastes weren’t that great, I’m sure Vanira Moorea has much nicer ingredients but… In drydown it becomes just a vanilla perfume – not too great but not too bad either.

Official notes: orange, petit grain and vanilla.

Two Sea Stars
=====

Russkaya Kozha

Since a lot of leather perfumes are not my cup of tea, I didn’t expect much from this one but, I think, the sheer style of the Collection Grands Crus helped: despite its name, Russkaya Kozha (Russian Leather) doesn’t have that concentrated birch tar scent that is used to represent leather in many perfumes but it still evokes leather. Later in development it becomes sweeter (but not too much). It stays on my skin for hours – sheer, slightly smoky and with a hint of sweetness. Russkaya Kozha is one of those perfumes that are “office-safe” in a good way: it doesn’t project much to be offensive for others while it is not completely boring for the wearer.

I liked Russkaya Kozha very much, and I expect it to join my collection soon.

Official notes: juniper, cardamom and benzoin.

Four and Half Sea Stars
=====

In general, I liked this collection and think it’s a good addition to the perfume world. I can’t say one way or the other based on what I smell, but I do not believe that they are using natural ingredients – because of the price of perfumes and them insisting on listing just three notes while naming those with the location markers (e.g., oud wood from Malaysia). Does it matter to me? Not at that price. I think that this collection is a nice alternative to overpriced Jo Malone and Atelier Cologne perfumes – even though I like both brands. What Berdoues should do, in my opinion, is to produce smaller bottles (15-30 ml) keeping the same bottle and box design: I would gladly pay $35-$40 for a 30 ml bottle of at least two more perfumes in this collection while it’s hard for me to justify adding another 200 ml of perfumes to my wardrobe.

Rusty and Berdoues Sampler

Images: my own

When Life Gives You Clementines, Enjoy Them

How many different citruses can you think of?

As I told before, in my childhood there were just four different citrus fruit – orange, mandarin, lemon and later grapefruit. Since it was pre-Internet, I didn’t even know about other varieties.

Of course, by now I’ve widened my fruit horizons, so as a mental exercise, without looking it up online, I came up with additional seven: pomelo, clementine, tangerine, lime and Meyer lemon – from my grocery shopping trips; and from my perfume hobby, I know about bitter orange and bergamot though I’ve never seen or eaten them. So, eleven in total.

While everybody in our household loves citrus fruits, citrus fragrances is probably one of the least represented categories in my perfume wardrobe. It’s not that I do not like how many of them smell, but somehow I always think about cologne-type creations as of “lesser” perfumes than their oriental, woody or even floral relatives. For a while I’ve been contemplating buying one of Atelier Cologne’s citrus perfumes but kept postponing until I finish the travel spray of Orange Sanguine and a decant of Cedrat Enivrant.

And then Atelier Cologne came up with the fifth cologne in their Joie de Vivre series – and I surrendered. Brand’s site gives the following notes for this perfume: clementine from California, mandarin from Italy, juniper berries from Macedonia, star anise from China, Sichuan pepper from China, basil from Egypt, vetiver from Haiti, sandalwood from New Caledonia and cypress from France. Clementine is not my favorite fruit; and I’m not sure that I would recognize its smell or even taste from, let’s say, tangerines. But Clémentine California smells great whatever citrus it’s supposed to invoke, and it is extremely juicy, bright and uplifting. It probably can be classified as unisex but, in my opinion, it’s a little sweeter than a “civilian” man would choose to wear. I cannot say that I like Clémentine California the most out of the 5 citruses in the line – I like Orange Sanguine and Pomélo Paradis probably not less. But Clémentine California bought me with the name; and I bought a bottle.

Atelier Cologne Clementine California

As the name pushed me towards this perfume, I kept thinking about it and even got annoyed: if it’s Clémentine than why not Californie; and if it’s California, why not Clementine? And, in general, why clementine and California – whatever language you choose? I do not have a definitive answer: if they’ve explained it in some interviews or in an ad copy, I haven’t found that. But I have a plausible theory based on what I read in Wikipedia. The fruit was first discovered in 1902 by Brother Clément Rodier, so it was named after him – first in French and then in English. The first commercial production of the fruit started in California in 1914. So that English-French centaur makes some linguistic sense.

 

By the way, do you know that there are only four original citrus species, from which the rest of cultivated citrus hybridized? No, those four aren’t the same four that I knew growing up. According to Wikipedia, the four core ancestral citrus taxa are citron, pomelo, mandarin and papeda.

Rusty and Atelier Cologne Clementine California

Images: my own

Address Change Notice

For many years undina@myway.com was my main address for everything blog- and perfume-related. It was an OK service – if not to count that some of the providers were blocking it from time to time, that it went down for several days around New Year or that it was impossible to check e-mail from a mobile device. But I got used to it; I used it for all registrations, subscriptions and to communicate with my friends in perfumes. Not being big on changes, I would have continued tolerating all its quirks but it has been decided for me.

As of October 2, 2017, MyWay Email will be shut down. If you are a MyWay Email account holder, please log in and save all information you wish to save. After October 2, 2017, you will not be able to access your emails.

Well… I kept postponing it for as long as I could but from September I started moving everything I could think of to my new address. I think I’m mostly done. The last steps in my plan – to let know about my address change to all of you, here on my blog and in direct e-mails that will follow in the next week. So, if you have a strict spam policy in your inbox, please add my new address to your address book.

Rusty and Postcard

Image: my own (if you’re curious, the card Rusty brought is a reminder post-card from the vet)

Vacation in a Bottle: Yosh Ginger Ciao

I love Hawaii: beautiful nature, relaxed atmosphere and great food. And for what I value in that type of vacation the most, the best time for visiting Hawaii is late September – early October: ocean is the warmest possible while the air and sun is already tolerable at least part of the day; many tropical fruit and vegetables are the best in that season; sunsets are around dinner time; and it is slightly less crowded since school has just started.

 

Sunset on Maui

 

It’s mid-September already, and I long for that leisure week of swimming, stargazing and eating tropical fruit and fish. Sadly, this year we didn’t get to go to a tropical. European vacation, especially its London part, was great but I miss Hawaii. So to cope with that I’ve been recently wearing Ginger Ciao by Yosh.

 

Yosh Ginger Ciao

 

When I first tried, liked and bought Ginger Ciao six years ago, I didn’t think of it as a tropical perfume. It was a beautiful perfume, which didn’t remind me of any other perfume I wore until then – but other than that I didn’t think about it much. And then Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) reviewed Ginger Ciao from the sample I sent her:

Made for warm summer nights, it exudes a tropical vibe that is at once relaxing and exciting.

Birgit has always had huge influence on me, so from that moment Ginger Ciao got its tropical designation and became my number two* Hawaiian vacation perfume. It accompanied me to several trips, and I discovered that it was equally beautiful in the breezy warmth of tropical night and in sunlit heat of lazy Hawaiian day.

Ginger Ciao notes include coconut, night blooming cereus, tiger lily, neroli, ylang ylang, ginger, basil and sandalwood. Coconut is not too sweet, sandalwood is creamy, and all the floral notes sing nicely together with neither of them doing solo. It is one of those perfumes that seems simpler when you think about it remembering than it proves to be when you wear it.

 

Rusty and Yosh Ginger Ciao

 

Recently I got a bit of a scare: there was a huge sale on Yosh perfumes at Hautelook. Combined with brand’s site being down and no new releases in a while, I feared the worst. So without thinking for too long I’ve bought a back-up bottle.

Since then I calmed down and did some research. It seems that many of the online retailers still stock Yosh perfumes, full priced. Yosh Han, the brand’s owner and perfumer, is still active in perfume industry: according to her FB posts, she’s just worked at Pitti Fragranze with INEKE. So who knows: maybe one day soon Yosh releases a new chapter in her brand’s story. But meanwhile I’m happy that I’ve got an extra bottle of perfume that I love. And I’m glad to report that perfume from the new bottle smells identical to what is left in my 6 years old bottle. So, for the next 6 years I’m covered for my future trips to Hawaii (I hope) or for surviving a lack thereof.

 

Rusty and Yosh Ginger Ciao

 

Have you tried Ginger Ciao? Do you have any perfumes that you associate with beach vacation?

 

Images: my own

* Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess is my #1 tropical vacation perfume.

Small Things that Brighten Life: Unexpected Thunderstorm

With all those unwelcome atmospheric visitors to several of our states in the last couple of weeks it feels like “naming the halter in the hanged man’s house” but I can’t help feeling great: yesterday we had a real thunderstorm! For those of you who live in “regular” climate areas it is probably nothing but I haven’t personally experienced a full-blown thunderstorm for over a decade.

In Northern California summer is a dry season: from May to October it doesn’t rain. At all. In my many years here, even before the big drought we had recently for four years, I can remember counted occasions when we had some kind of precipitations during those months. A couple of times I saw remote lightnings and heard thunder but it always was somewhere far away. And in winter, when we’re getting our rains (when it is not a drought), it is too cold for thunderstorms.

Yesterday we had tropical rain and a thunderstorm right here.

SF Bay Area Thunderstorm 2017-09-11

As a child I spent my summers at the grandparents’ house. On one hand, heavy rains and thunderstorms usually meant that I had to stay inside, which was a little boring since I couldn’t run outside with friends the whole day, eat fruit from the trees and do other fun stuff kids do during a summer break. On the other hand, rainy weather meant that I could sleep as long as I wanted without disproving glances and comments from my Grandma; I could read a book the whole day not listening to suggestions to go outside; and I didn’t have to do anything to help in the garden. And after the rain was over, I could put on rain boots and conquer the deepest puddle on the unpaved street, on which my grandparents lived. Since I used to spend there at least two months every summer, a couple of rainy days from time to time weren’t something to be upset about but rather to look forward to.

So yesterday I was enjoying that unexpected rain – for the rain itself, for the memories it brought and for the wonderful smell… Did you notice that summer rain smells not the same way a cold rain does? I was thinking about that scent: I wouldn’t want to smell like that myself, it is not what I would consider a pleasant personal scent but I would love to be able to recreate it as an ambiance aroma.

I have to mention that not everyone in our household was happy yesterday: Rusty was terrified by thunder, and while I was enjoying the weather on the balcony trying to capture a lighting on my phone camera*, he was trying to figure out the best place to hide. And for the rest of the evening any sudden move or unexpected noise would startle him and make his pupils dilated:

Rusty Scared

Today the rain is gone and forgotten. It’s summer again. And Rusty is peacefully sleeping next to me on a chair.

 

Images: my own

*It took be about 5 minutes to come to the realization that the combined my and my camera’s response time weren’t enough to capture a still photo of a lightning; then I switch to iPhone’s “Live” mode – and it worked perfectly.