Tuesday, November 24, 2009

SYTYCD Season 6: Week 5

Ellenore & Ryan's Lindy-hop -- That was one tough routine, very well choreographed. Personally, I've known lots of swing types, and they did not seem happy and free wheeling enough for me. I liked Ryan's slide. Okay, but not stunning.

Kathryn & Legacy's Jazz -- As a choreographer, Sonja is hit and miss with me, but I LOVED this one. It was so acrobatic and she was so lucky to have two dancers who could do all that really difficult strength based movement. Also, I hated Karen's weird one piece with the flesh colored bits. Bad and distracting.

Karen & Victor's Tango -- One of the hottest dances EVER ON SYTYCD. EVER. LOVED IT. Loved the costuming, loved the music, loved the choreography, loved the performance. Can't say enough good things about this one.

Mollee & Nathan's Hiphop - This was a fun routine, and the first half of it was surprisingly hard hitting. Mollee was surprisingly good on her rolls and stuff at the beginning; she was a lot better than a many of the other little white girls who have done this style before. I thought it was fun, but near the end Mollee got tired and it showed a little. Decent. Definitely not bad.

Noelle & Russell's Samba -- Dips not low enough. I have seen a black hiphopper shake his stuff ad sell a Samba (Joshua, Season 4), and Russell, who I love, could not have been less convincing here. Neither one of them seemed into this at all, or into each other. This was the worst of the bunch so far. Shankman said they were "too nice" and I agree. It was not a hot steamy dirty dance, and it needed to be.

Jakob & Ashleigh's Lyrical Jazz -- Sonja again, brings on the good stuff. The dancing? Technically just perfect and beautiful, which for Ashleigh is so impressive for being able to do it because this is no where near her style. She is very talented. Emotionally, it felt empty to me. It just didn't do it for me.

Weakest two of the first round: Noelle & Russell and Ellenore & Ryan (though the hiphop was close).


Ellenore & Ryan's Broadway -- Holy crap! THAT WAS SO GOOD! What a wonderful piece and the dancing was great! That was possibly one of the very best Broadway performances I've ever seen on this show. One of my favs of the night. Totally redeemed the first half.

Kathryn & Legacy's Viennese Waltz -- Okay. I cried. I did. I cried. So beautiful. So emotional. I just loved it. I cried even before Legacy did. I don't care that it wasn't technically beautiful, because I was moved. Very nice.

Karen & Victor's Tango -- Bad. They weren't together at all, and the entire freaking piece was basically united movement. Weakest of the night, which sucks because the Tango was so good.

Mollee & Nathan's Cancan -- Hmmm. I can definitely see how Mollee hurt her ankle. It's funny because this was exactly as united in movement as there is. It made the previous performance look even worse by comparison.

Noelle & Russell's Contemporary -- I love this song, but did not like this version. It was a nice piece by Tycee and I think this really helps overwrite the really bad showing in the first half.

Jakob & Ashleigh's Cha-cha -- I did not look at Jakob once. Usually I think all of XX's salacious comments as just the weird ramblings of a very dirty old man, but DAMN! She was so freaking hot. I mean just could not be hotter. I'd vote for them just so she could keep going. She was just so wonderful. Wow.

Favs of the night: Karen & Victor's Tango, Ellenore & Ryan's Broadway, Kathryn & Legacy's Viennese Waltz

Bottom 2: It's really hard for me to cut anyone, but honestly, I'd cut Karen and Victor. I just don't find either of them to be very consistent. The other couple I night put at the bottom is Nathan and Mollee. They aren't bad at all. They just haven't overwhelmed or wowed me at any point. As I look back over my notes from the previous weeks, I just feel sort of eh toward them. I really hope it isn't Ellenore and Ryan, who I'd like to see for another week.

And because this is the week of Thanksgiving, I will say this: I am thankful for not serious prop routines this week! Hallelujah! Even when the dances had props, they weren't the focus. Amen, hallelujah!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm taking this week off to feed many, many holiday homeless college students. See you next week. Until then, be thankful for the love in your life. I know I'm thankful for the love in mine.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Champagne bubbled up through the nick of the bottle & sweet silence came out through the radio.

Susanne Lang Vanilla Champagne

That's right friends, back to vanillas today. Sometimes I think I should have named this blog something to do with vanilla, since it feels, even to me, like 15-20% of my posts are about vanilla scents.

According to Luckyscent, Vanilla Champagne is a
celebrate with chocolate, roses, champagne and the sweet smell of love... bottled! Vanilla Champagne captures the scent of all things romantic: A 30ml Spray combines the delicious scent of sparkling champagne with the essence of dark chocolate and sweet vanilla bean, two scents long considered aphrodisiacs.

Notes: Sparkling champagne, vanilla bean, dark chocolate, essence of rose petals and sandalwood
Vanilla Champagne is a a nice mix of candyfloss vanilla and a peachy liquer. On immediate application, it reminds me a lot of mixing vanilla vodka and peach schnapps, actually, so it's about as girly a shot of liqour as you can imagine. I mean that in a good way, though. Both halves are well-balanced throughout, and over two hours neither half take over completely. I don't get the chocolate much, but I do get the rose and sandalwood very lightly as the scent develops. I think Vanilla Champagne would make a great summer scent and is very feminine; though I rarely say this, I think it would be hard to sell this one as masculine, though I know at least one salsa dancing Latino man who could pull it off. Vanilla Champagne is a nice light scent that I think would appeal to short swishy skirts, big hoop earrings, bright colored tank tops, and strappy, peep-toe platforms. It's a fun scent, and yes, it feels a bit youthful in its innocence, but I also think that for a hot night out on the town, it would make a really nice choice.

You can buy Vanilla Champagne in a 30ml bottle for $50 from LuckyScent. You can also get 4ml of Vanilla Champagne and eight other vanillas in a lovely package for $95 direct from the perfumer. The Scented Salamander recommends both Vanilla Champagne and the box set for the holidays, and I concur.

"You danced across the living room floor,
and you kissed me once and then you kissed me some more.
You had your arms wrapped around my neck and it felt real fine,
and then your ankle knocked up against mine.
And resonating in my bones
was the precise crisp drumming of Mr. Elvin Jones.
God damn it, I love John Coltrane!"

- "My Favorite Things," The Mountain Goats

I could not find any reviews of Vanilla Champagne other than the user reviews over at Luckyscent.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

SYTYCD Season 6: Week 4

Ashleigh & Jacob's Lyrical Hiphop -- I wait all season for these routines. And this -- was terrible. These two could not be worse at hiphop. I can't believe Nigel was so complimentary because this was so rough. It was NOT HARD HITTING AT ALL, and while yes it was passionate, that did not save the fact that they weren't even really TOGETHER when they were supposed to be.

Karen & Kevin's Broadway -- Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeak. They were both too small with all their movement and obviously really uncomfortable. Also, this song is supposed to be full of joy, because Charity is supposed to be overwhelmed with glee at her good fortune. And this wasn't. This was just flat and nervous. Bottom 3.

Noelle & Russell Foxtrot -- I loved this. Here was a couple doing something very unfamiliar to them and they not only looked comfortable, but they looked happy! They looked like they were having fun very genuinely. This was the first good number of the night for me.That the dance was so hard and one that usually screws people makes it all that much more impressive. A favorite of the evening for me, which is saying something.

Channing & Victor's Jazz -- Despite the use of an overwhelming props at the beginning, this was a great piece once they got out the stupid cage. What wonderful choreography! Tycee is really probably the most talented and creative choreographer left now that Mia Michaels is gone.

Legacy & Kathryn's Paso Doble -- Legacy's lack of training finally was showing through here but I still feel like all in all this was a very good routine. They really committed to their parts and worked their asses off. I enjoyed it way more than the hiphop piece at the top. This is a another number that can really kill a couple,so good on them. Also, I really like Legacy, so I am happy to see him doing so well.

Ellenore & Ryan's Contemporary -- Travis Wall is, without a doubt, a young choreographer to watch. What an amazing and powerful piece. Well made and well executed. I think he gets to that emotional place repeatedly that the show used to go with Mia Michaels.

Nathan & Molly's Pop-Jazz -- I really loved this piece. The unity of movement and the fun of it all was wonderful. Choreographically, one of my favorites of the night.

My Bottom Three: Ashleigh & Jacob, Karen & Kevin, and I DON'T KNOW! I honestly don't. Everyone else was very good this week. Kevin should go home this week, and I really don't know which girl. I'd hate to see Karen go, but kind of think she should. While I thought Nathan and Molly were good this week, I really don't think they are as good as some of the other couples.

BTW I write these before the judges weigh in or results are in. If there was some sort of SYTYCD pool, I'd be kicking butt.

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got...

Frapin 1270 EDP

I'm on record already about my love of booze in general and boozy scents in particular. One nice thing about moving back to Portland is that it is considered the Microbrew Capital of the World. This means that there is not just quality booze here, but also some of the best beer in the world. In a couple of weeks, several of our friends from California and Washington are coming into town for the annual Portland Holiday Ale Festival. Therein, some of the most lovely winter brews from all over the United States will be available, as well as the excellent offers of Mountain Meadows Mead, one of my personal favorites.

When I'm looking for fall weather appropriate scents for to wear to various holiday parties and ale events, I like to turn to Frapin. Frapin, makers of fine cognacs, also makes some fine boozy fragrances. 1270 EDP, a "fruity oriental" is described as being for "hedonistic ones," including
-travelers, seduced with exotic, warm and tasty scents
-sensuals, identifying themselves in this olfactive creation, voluptuous and unique
-thoughtful ones, who embrace the elegance, richness and mystery of an olfactive emotion, a moment, a loved one.

As Cognac has always been, this fragrance, suitable to both men and women, is complex and seducing with the use of fruity and floral accords : at first, a stunning candied orange note arouses. Then, the fragrance reveals accents of nuts and hazelnuts combined to raisins and prunes delicately envelopped by gourmand, balsamy and roasted aromas such as cocoa, tonka and coffee beans.

The heart notes convey a sublime harmony of vine flowers, the same ones as those from the floral FOLLE BLANCHE ; a grape variety now disappeared. The tonic accent of the everlasting flower gently mixes with the softness and elegance of linden, and delicatly melts into a spicy touch of pepper and sweet spices.

As for all great Cognacs, the fragrance reveals a perfect balance between the richness of precious woods, the sensuality of white honey and the sweet vanilla exotism.

Notes: exotic woods, spice, raisin, vine flowers, pepper, candied orange, nut, hazelnut, prune, cocoa, coffee, leather, woods, white honey, vanilla
1270 EDP is a very masculine scent, combining citrus, spices, wood, and incense. It's sweet and smoky, and has a hint of menthol bite to it. The second time I sampled it, I got a little bit more of the coffee and a bit of a vanilla tabacco-y thing going on than I had before, and it was a lot less medicinal. It reminds me of a very nice and cozy bar with high polished wood and shiny chrome bars, back lit shelves with top-shelf liqours, where everybody knows your name and even the worn parts hold memories and thus have a sweetness and charm.

For all of that, though, it's lighter than you'd expect, and with its moderate sillage, I think makes a lovely scent for a woman as well. I don't like it quite as much as Passion Boisee, but I think it's also very nice and worth owning.

You can purchase 1270 EDP from Luckyscent or Beautyhabit, and you can get samples from Luckyscent or The Perfumed Court.

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they're always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name.

- "Where Everybody Knows Your Name (Theme from Cheers)," Gary Portnoy & Judy Hart Angelo

Want more? Try...
~ a review from For The Love of Perfume
~ a quick review from Nathan Branch
~ a review from Pink Manhattan
~ a review from Winterstorming: Perfume, Kimono and Tea

Images courtesy of Frapin and Cheers.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Turkey for me, turkey for you...

CB I Hate Perfume M#3 November

When I think of November, I think of the beginning of the holidays. For me, that has always meant three things: food, family, and friends. Aside from one very lonely Thanksgiving I spent sitting in a dorm room, eating Doritos, and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade by myself, I have spent every November focused on a day of coming together with people I loved. As I've mentioned before, I really enjoy the holidays, and thus I am always looking for scents that remind me of the holidays.

M#3 November is another creation of Christopher Brosius and part of (much beloved by me) the CB I Hate Perfume line. Brosius describes the inspiration for M#3 November, in part, as follows:
For decades November depressed me. As the year died away, I too longed for warm green grass, long summer evenings spent with friends outdoors and the sight of fireflies twinkling in the woods. the days became shorter and colder and i would become more and more gloomy. This feeling would never really leave me until the first snow fell. Sometimes that was a long wait...

But I have learned to embrace November and find comfort in the beauty of decay. I have come to realize the warmth I long for is still there - but it has taken other forms and it has changed just as I have. Change is inevitable and although I am still sometimes sad as the fall deepens, I know there is much to look forward to. The coming snow will being the warmth of family and friends.

So now on rain chilled November afternoons, I am content to sit quietly and wait...
The scent is supposedly to be an amalgamation of the scents of "Pumpkin Pie, Fallen Apples, Bonfire, Wood Smoke, Dried Grass, Fallen Leaves, Wet Branches, Damp Moss, Chanterelle Mushrooms and a hint of Pine Forest." All these scents, layered together, obviously make up the many days of November, with its weather and holidays and foods. But the amazing thing, to me, is that I smell my own special November scents in M#3 November, some of them the same and some of them the creation of my own mind and nose.

To me, M#3 November is a magical scent that embodies all things holiday. In my mind, when I sniff at M#3 November it smells like the first snow of winter. It's dry like snow, fresh like fir trees, and sweet like Christmas cookies, lightly toasted coconut on macaroons. After about ten minutes, there are hints of spiced cider and sprigs of spearmint. Two hours in, I get a little sweet chimney smoke, the way the night smells the first cold snap of the year, when everyone lights their chimneys up to keep warm.

You can buy the M#3 November for $75 in either 15ml perfume absolute or 100ml water perfume direct from the perfumer. You can also get samples from the CB website or from The Perfumed Court.

"Let's eat the turkey in my big brown shoe.
Love to eat the turkey at the table.
I once saw a movie with Betty Grable..."

- "The Thanksgiving Song," Adam Sandler

Again, the only reviews I could find were a bunch of short reviews from Luckyscent users.

Images from CB I Hate Perfume and BlogGreen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Remembrance: Veteran's Day/Armistice Day

I don't think war is noble. I don't like what it puts people through, and I don't like what it does to the people who train for it, much less endure it. But I do recognize that at times it is necessary. And when those times come I am never more grateful than to those who willingly put themselves in front of the gun. Those people include my grandfather, several of my cousins, and most recently, my brother. So I take today to say that I hope for a day when humanity can stop killing itself off by the thousands, that we can be better stewards of the world we all share, a time when people stop dying from hunger and thirst and lack of basic healthcare so others can have swimming pools and fancy cars and throw food away. Until then, I hope for peaceful resolution of conflicts through negotiation and diplomacy as much as we are able, and for a few of the young men and women who are willing to die to protect the rest of us to end up in pine boxes as possible.

Thanks to all veterans, all over the world and everywhere, and to all the men and women who currently serve. I appreciate the sacrifices you already make -- time away from family, low income, putting off plans for your future -- and the risks you take with your physical, emotional, and mental health and safety everyday on our behalf. I hope we never need to ask you for more. As it is, we owe you far more than we give you, and it is my hope that we can improve your benefits and get you the help you need and deserve.

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

- "The Hollow Men," T.S. Eliot

Dress me, I'm your mannequin...

Tauer Perfumes Une rose chyprée

There are a lot of fragrances out there intent on being nice. For me, L’Artisan’s Mûre et Musc comes to mind. You smell them and you know that they are meant to compliment the wearer, not make a statement of their own. They aren't meant to draw an overly large amount of attention to the wearer or to have a look designed around them. They are meant to be noticed and complimented and forgotten, so that the wearer thinks, "What a lovely woman," and not "What a splendid perfume!" And that's fine. Most of the time, that's what I want. I want a scent that makes me look better or makes me feel better, not a scent that requires that I rise to meet it. But occasionally, every so occasionally, I want to be challenged to carry off the art I wear, not for what I wear to make me slightly more than I am. When I want that, I can always turn to Andy Tauer of Tauer Perfumes to provide such a challenge.

Une rose chyprée is the first fragrance of the Tauer Perfumes's Mémorables line.Tauer Perfumes describes Une rose chyprée as follows:
Une rose chyprée is an oriental rose on a chypre base. It is an elegant perfume built around two natural extracts from rosa damascena: The absolute and the steam distilled essential oil. Its heart is lifted by spicy Bay and hot cinnamon and a fresh accord built around bergamot, lemon and Clementine essential oils. Green Bourbon geranium oil lets the rose petals shine and contrasts with the dark resinous accord in the base, built around labdanum, oak moss, patchouli, vetiver and vanilla.
Lemons and patchouli, labdanum and leather, this is a rose with teeth. It's cinnamon-y and citrus-y, and like all the Tauer perfumes, incredibly unique and full of punch. In this case, rose is the background smell, not a foreground smell, which is great because most roses are far too rosy for a man to wear. Une rose chyprée, on the other hand, is just the opposite and is the most masculine rose I have ever smelled. That said, it could still be easily carried off by a spunky woman. Like taking a double shot of straight cinnamon schnapps, there is a back burn to this scent that carries it on and on. It reminds me, in a way, of those spicy cinnamon mint candies I frequently find in Mexican restaurants, or of this poster I saw for the feminist indie flick, Teeth. Over an hour in, Une rose chyprée still won't quit, with sillage huge and spinning on and on, it isn't for the faint of perfumed heart. Like all of Andy Tauer's incredible creations, this one makes a statement. I honestly wonder if there is any thing in the Tauer Perfumes catalog I wouldn't love to have a bottle of.

You can purchase 15ml of Une rose chyprée for $75 directly from the perfumer, Luckyscent, and other distributors. Also, you can get a great sample set of this and all of Tauer Perfume's offerings -- yet another wonderful stocking stuffer, and definitely one that works for a man or a woman.

"I need, some new stilettos.
Can't walk down the street in those.
You are who you wear, it's true.
A girl's just as hot as the shoes she choose...
Fashion! Put it all on me.
Don't you want to see these clothes on me?
Fashion! Put it all on me.
I am anyone you want me to be."

- "Fashion," Lady Gaga

Want more? Try...
~ a review from Angela at Now Smell This!
~ a review from Perfume-Smellin' Things
~ a review from Perfume Posse
~ a review from The Non-Blonde
~ a review from Perfume Shrine
~ a review from Fashion Ratty

Images from Style.Com, Tauer Perfumes and promotional materials for the film, Teeth.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

SYTYCD: Season 6 Week 3

I am an avid SYTYCD fan and have decided to start posting my impressions here. For more thoughts from season 6 and videos, please click the sytycd tag.

Karen & Kevin's Hustle -- Karen was so, so good. She was so good in fact, that I almost missed watching how totally uncomfortable Kevin was. But, too bad for Kevin, I noticed. I thought he looked awkward and hulky where Karen was all smooth and sexy movement. Karen is definitely top 10 material. It will make me sad if she carries Kevin all the way in with her.

Ashley & Jacob's Jazz -- O.M.G. Why are they so prop obsessed this season!?! Really? I, in my brief life as a dancer, did more than my fair share of prop work, and no matter what you do, no matter how good the dancing is, it's still all about the props. I would have loved this pseudo-Boardroom BDSM piece if it hadn't been for the stupid cane. They did a great job with what they had to work with, which in this case was only mediocre in my opinion. Good job on the dancers, though. Bottom 3.

Peter & Pauline's Quickstep -- The choreographers quickly realized these two could not actually quickstep and decided to give them a lot of character work and almost no actual dancing. Smart on the choreographer's parts. Given what they had to work with, which was easier on them, they did a wonderful job with their characters. I'd love to see Peter do a Broadway piece, because I think he'd also do Broadway really well.

Kathryn & Legacy's Broadway -- Wow, say they word "Broadway," and Broadway doth appear. I thought Legacy did a better job than Kathryn, which again is so impressive given his hiphop background. I'll definitely be calling in for these two because I feel like they have consistently been one of the best couples on the show, at least for me. Definitely in my top 10.

Channing & Victor's Contemporary -- New pairing this week. I thought the choreography was really nice on this one, and that Channing was **SO GOOD.** She really danced her rear off this week and I think she should be safe if you base it only on this week. Channing did touch me with her movement, and that impressed me. Victor was at his best thus far, but I still don't think he belongs in the top 10, which is going to suck for Channing, b/c I think she's going to end up switching partners again unless they get really lucky from here on out.

Ellenore & Ryan's Hiphop -- Little C is a tough choreographer b/c, unlike say Nappytabs, he doesn't flex his choreography to the dancers as much as some others do. Consequently, if you don't do hiphop, you've got to be terrified when you walk in and see him. Consequently Ryan had all my sympathy going into this one because I love Little C's style when it's danced well, but it is really hard to do well. I thought, given all of this, they did a respectable job. Am I going to pick up the phone for this? No. But do I think they should get to stay -- yes, absolutely. Bottom 3 this week.

Molly & Nathan's Salsa -- Oh Nathan, that was so awkward. You were not sexy. You were painfully awkward to watch. It reminds of the opposite of when Gev and Courtney pulled that amazing Rumba out of nowhere two seasons ago and Gev, this sweet little b-boy, was suddenly sexy and hot. Molly could not move her hips enough to be comfortable here. This was just so bad. I agree with Mary, the feeling was just so off. Nathan was not at all suave; he didn't take his suaveness seriously, and that was so painfully over the top it was hard to watch. I wish I could have seen some real salsa dancers do this number. I really do. I think it might have been awesome if another couple had pulled it. Bottom 3 this week.

Noelle & Russell's Afro-Jazz -- This concept clearly stolen from Disney, which was frankly cheap on the choreographer's part and that sucks because you're introducing an entirely new ethic style here. That said, I loved the actual movement in the piece and was happy to see some of the classic moves from African movement incorporated. I loved the rolling flips. My fav of the week. I thought they did a good job, good enough that I'll call in a bit for this one.

For me, all things taken into consideration, Kevin and Pauline should be going home.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Recommended Reading & Shopping: Holiday Edition

As a young woman, I never had much interest in fashion, much to the chagrin of my brother, who I'd affectionately call a label whore. As I've gotten older, though, I've become less interested in fashion as a statement -- in my case, a statement of nonconformity -- and more in fashion as an art form. Gaining weight in America today means having an increasingly difficult time finding clothes that even fit me, much less that look nice or qualify as art. The development has increased my interest in finding flattering and artful clothing that can look good on people bigger than a size 2.

Part of my interest extends to reading fashion blogs, like style rookie, and also following The New York Times The Moment. I was excited to see Hermes Eau de Pamplemousse Rose show up in Gift Guide Bonus Round. I have not yet tried a grapefruit rose, but I'd love to. Another site I've found to salavate over is Osmoz because it has an easy interface allowing you to look at lots of incredibly beautiful perfume bottles in one place. I also really enjoyed Chandler Burr's piece, "Dude You're So...Citrusy!," recommending men's scents, which included a lot of pretty bottle pix as well. There were more than a bottles on the Burr list I'd love to own. Maybe for Christmas...

Speaking of the holidays, if you're anything like me, you'ere probably already thinking about the shopping you need to do. Sample packs make great stocking stuffers, especially for those who already wear a fragrance but may not realize all the lovely options available to them. A young man who enjoys Old Spice Sport, a teenage girl who is only just beginning to explore scent, or any woman who enjoys scent and could also try new things. In addition to the INeKE sample set, which I can never say enough good things about, there are a lot of other independent perfumers who offer sample packages that would make a great little gift.

Possets Parfum has really affordable sample packs that allow you to choose what goes into them, which is great because you can customize the packs to the giftee. Ayala Moriel makes quality scents, and you can get a nice sample of two as stocking stuffers for very good prices. There's also a very nice sample set available. Rich Hippie, purveyor of organic and wildcrafted scents for the hippie-types in your life, has affordable samples and scents that are well worth your time. smell bent also has great prices on scents and with samples at only $3.75, you can buy several for your secret santa giftee without breaking the bank.

DSH Perfumes has wonderful sample packs, some of which are made up of scents that replicate the perfumes made for Kings and Queens of old. They also have some very nice collection boxes. Aftelier Perfumes has not just lovely perfumes, but perfume solids in antique containers, perfumed teas, and lots of other high quality, handcrafted items. So keep these items in mind when you are searching for a gift for that person on your list who has everything, because my bet is, they don't have some of this, and their lives would be richer for experiencing them.

Last but not least, let me point your attention to three great interviews over at The Scented Salamander with Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes, Ineke Ruhland of INeKE, and Liz Zorn of Soivhole, all three of which make beautiful scents I have personally tried and enjoyed.

Images from Heremes, INeKE, smell bent, and Aftelier Perfumes.

You are the moonlit memory I can’t seem to lose…

L’Artisan Havana Vanille

Let talk about overhype.

You’ve all been there. You hear, first from a newspaper reviewer, or maybe a friend, “Hey, I loved this thing. I think you’ll love it, too.” Then one person becomes three, who become a half dozen, and suddenly every newspaper, website, television ad, and Facebook update seems to be telling you that ThingX is fabulous, wonderful, the best whateveritis ever!

You get excited. Try as you might to contain your enthusiasm, you get excited, too. The anticipation builds. And then you finally, finally get to try or see or do whatever the AWESOMEST thing is…

…and it doesn’t blow your mind. Ah, the disappointing let down of the overhype. Whether your mind just wasn’t blown by Garden State or Crash or Slumdog Millionaire, Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” video or that Miley Cyrus album everyone seems to love, or your first trip to Vegas or Disneyland was kind of a bust, everyone has something that has been hyped to them and then the real experience, while not bad, just wasn’t everything you’d hoped for.

Perfume is not immune to this phenomenon either. And for me, the overhype has really hit home L’Artisan Havana Vanille.

Everyone has a holy grail scents they are looking for, that perfect rose or iris or smoke or incense. Being a big lover of vanilla, I’m constantly on the hunt for those scents closest to vanilla perfection. For me, the best ever has been Guerlain Spirituese Double Vanille, which, because I love it best, it is of course a limited edition long since sold out.

According to L’Artisan, Havana Vanille is
From its vibrant Salsa rhythms, its famous cigars and Cuban rum, it is certain there is something magical about Havana. It is a place that contrasts all others.

This mysterious fragrance is reminiscent of travels around the world, the nostalgia of crossing the seven seas to discover far off treasures and the smell of a wooden boat mingling with the aroma of rum and spice. A sensually elegant fragrance, Havana Vanille expresses itself according to the occasion.

A luminous and mysterious harmony, Havana Vanille is indeed the fragrance of a magical place.

Notes: Mexican vanilla, rum, clove, crystallized dried fruit, narcissus, tonka bean, honey, narcotic, balms, smoked woods and musks.
Many, many reviews have compared Havana Vanille to my beloved Guerlain, so I was very hopeful. I think this is part of why I found Havana Vanille disappointing. On me, Havana Vanille and Spirituese Double Vanille are not alike. While Spirituese Double Vanille has a great incense-y undertone, Havana Vanille has a burning rubber thing going on. Spirituese Double Vanille comes off as rich, while Havana Vanille is, in its wake, hollow. It’s not as coconut-y as Memoire Liquide Creme de Vanille #204, and of all the vanillas I’ve smelled, the sweetness is most like the sweetness in Il Profumo Vanille Bourbon. The rest of it reminds me very much of L’Artisan Vanilia, which is green and plant like and not at all foodie.

Havana Vanille is interesting because it tries to walk the line between being a foodie vanilla and a green plant-like vanilla. What is nice about that is that it makes for a more masculine vanilla than you usually get. It’s not all that sweet, it doesn’t smell like a bakery or something made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Is it possible to create a mean vanilla? Probably not. But this is as close as I’ve experienced to such a thing. If you were to say, “Sweet little vanilla, what is it you are rebelling against?,” this vanilla would try its best to reply, in its surliest tone, “What’dya got?”

So in the world of vanillas, I think there is ample room for Vanille Havana, which can carry itself off as a masculine vanilla and that ain’t an easy get. Evaluated on its own merits, it is a nice, unique scent. If you don’t love the superfoodie, super saccharine vanillas that tend to dominate, you might just love this, though I’d still tell you to try L’Artisan Vanilia first. But I have to disagree with my peers who all felt Vanille Havana had a lot in common with Spirituese Double Vanille because I sit here sampling them next to each other, I think I finally start to see the resemblance two hours in, and I’d still say Vanille Havana is more like Vanille Bourbon at this point than Spirituese Double Vanille. But that’s just one humble, vanilla lover’s opinion. And thus, the search continues...

You can buy L’Artisan Havana Vanille in 50ml for $115 or 100ml for $155 from LuckyScent, BeautyHabit, Aedes de Venustas, and other online retailers. You can also get a sample of Vanille Havana, along with four other L'Artisan scents of your choice, for a mere $7 directly from L'Artisan. So really, you have no excuse to miss this one.

Deep in my veins the sensuous strains
of the soft guitar. Deep in my soul
the thunderous roll of a tropic sea
under the starts that was Havana.
You are the moonlit memory I can’t seem to lose…

- “Sand in My Shoes,” Bobby Short

Want more? Try...
~ a review from Robin at Now Smell This!
~ a review from March at Perfume Posse
~ a review from Perfume Shrine
~ a review from The Non-Blonde
~ a review from Fragraqnce Bouquet
~ a review from Perfume-Smellin' Things

Images courtesy of L’Artisan, IMDB, and Offbeat Travel.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

There's a stain on my notebook where your coffee cup was...

il Profumo Cafe Vert

Cafe Vert, part of Italian perfumer il Profumo's classic line, is described as follows:
Cafe Vert develops from the soaking of green coffee-bean into pink grapefruit and mandarin pulp. It has an evocative and energizing effect on the psyche too. Its aroma gives pleasure to the person who either wears it or to the one that perceives it. The enchanting scent released by jasmine, cyclamen and geranium notes makes Cafe Vert an unforgettable refiner perfume.
What is this trying to be? It starts out with a strong syrupy coffee candy mess, but it spirals into a strange spearmint thing. You'd think it might be nice, but instead it's kind of like brushing your teeth and then immediately drinking coffee with cream and lots of sugar. Or maybe trying to gargle with a Caramel de Leche coffee and mint mouthwash simultaneously.

It kind of reminds me of Thierry Mugler's Angel A*Men, but this one is less offensive than Angel Amen because at least it's just two conflicting scents fighting for prominence. (Side note: part of the reason I have studiously avoided reviewing any of the Mugler scents is because, quite frankly, and no matter how I try, I just hate them. Go ahead, take away my perfumista card. I don't care. I hate them. All of them. There. I said it. Moving on.) I think it would work well as a bodywash maybe, as it does in Wash With Joe, but not as a scent. Not for me.

But yes, I am sure there are many who think that coffee and mint go together in a way that is lovely. I usually do. I loves me some peppermint mocha. But here, neither is an accent for the other; instead, both keep trying to fight for prominence so it's a weird gross mishmash. If they were going for minty chocolate here, they missed. Big time. I think it's worth smelling if you have the chance, but I can't recommend buying it without trying it. This one is going to have a small but dedicated fan base.

You can buy 100ml of Cafe Vert for $135 from Luckyscent.

"From the lips without passion
to the lips with a kiss,
there's nothing of your love
that I'll ever miss.

- "Black Coffee in Bed," Squeeze

I couldn't find any reviews other than the user reviews at Luckyscent.

Images courtesy of il Profumo, Girlichef, and Listerine.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

SYTYCD: Season 6 week 2

I am an avid SYTYCD fan and have decided to start posting my impressions here.

Noelle & Russell's Tennis Prop Hiphop -- This was fun. I think it would have been a much better routine without the weird prop part. I wanted a hard hitting hiphop and it was too bad they did not get that b/c they focused on the props.

Ashleigh & Jacob's Vienesse Waltz -- I so did not feel the chemistry. It just felt very fake. I don't think she feels any attraction to him at all and, especially given the wedding theme, it showed to me. He though, of course, is freaking amazing. He is just one of the most talented things I've seen and will definitely hit the top 10.

Victor & Bianca's Jazz -- I have never liked Tyce as much as Mia Michaels, but I am very glad the show has gotten a lot more Tyce to make up for Mia's absence. Personally, I *LOVED* *LOVED* *LOVED* this piece. I think Bianca seemed so natural in this piece. She could have been a little bigger, but at the same time, she was just beautiful in this.

Victor, on the other hand, really was out of his element and it felt that way. I think if Russell and Bianca could have done this it would have been AWESOME.

Nathan & Molly's Bollywood -- F-ing props. God, stupid props making everyone seem awkward. No more props! Now about the dancing -- I seem to compare every single Bollywood number to the very first one Joshua and Katee did, and this one was okay, I guess. I wish it had been more traditional Bollywood. They seemed very evenly matched and danced it equally, so that was nice.

Channing & Phillip's Samba - Awful. Definitely in bottom 4 for me. Girlfriend has the goods but cannot shake them, but she tried and it was very clear how hard she tried. Part of it were awkward even to watch. They were not even good at faking having fun with it. The samba roll was awful -- not near deep enough. I'd definitely cut Phillip now.

Kevin & Karen's Hiphop -- Yay Nappytabs! The routine was fun, if a little slow. Karen did a really excellent job for someone so clearly struggling in rehearsal. Though, let me say, I really did not love her costume, which I don't think was flattering. Kevin was obviously great, but they did not out dance each other, and the choreographers clearly played to the movement Karen was comfortable with (all that thrusting). The weird thigh stand was awkward, but other than that, loved it. A really good routine this week. Karen's one of my favs of the girls.

Kathryn & Legacy's Contemporary -- O.M.G. I'm not the world's biggest fan of contemporary and I got all Shankman watching it -- I was just tearing up all over the place. This was my FAVORITE FOR THE NIGHT! My favorite of the seasons thus far. Very beautiful, very emotional, very well paired and well partnered. I just loved it. I was just so...moved. And that is why I watch the show. Because sometimes it's not just choreography...it's dancing.

Pauline & Peter's Jazz -- I freaking loved this piece. I thought the choreography was great, the concept was interesting, and the dancing was fabulous. A wonderful art piece -- kudos to Wade. A favorite of the night for me.

Ellenore & Ryan's Argentine Tango -- I was so not feeling the heat between them here. I wanted to be. I really did because the dancing was very good, but the chemistry just feels really fake here, unfortunately.

Saw you going crazy on the dance floor...

Miller Harris Geranium Bourbon

Why is it that sample acquisition is that much more tempting now that I am unemployed? I did manage to convince myself I was allowed to get a sample of L'Artisan Havana Vanille, which I have been drooling over since it was announced, so look for that soon.

For today, though, I'm reviewing Miller Harris Geranium Bourbon. According to Miller Harris, Geranium Bourbon is described as
Geranium Bourbon is a complex blend, deep and rosy; a combination of cassis berries, lemon geranium and Turkish rose - the scents of an English garden after the rain. Geranium Bourbon is unique. It is light, complex, young and sophisticated and one thing is for sure - it is truly addictive.
I love Geranium Bourbon. Despite being able to smell the rose throughout, this is one hot and sexy masculine scent. It's spicy, it's dry, it's boozy, and yet with the cassis and rose and geranium, it's still got a lovely feminine edge.

This is exactly what I think of when I try to think of scents that might fit Angela's call for feminine scents that work for men. It's a little sweet in a dry way like good gin and I like the lemony edge it gets from the geranium. On me little bits of spice kept bubbling up and bursting on the dry down, which kept it interesting and complex. I love that it is masculine in a cheeky way; it reminds me of meat sweetened by a lemon honey brine or one of my favorite beers, a Belgian beer, Lindeman's Cassis.

It's a scent that says I am traditional enough to be confidently teasing in a feminine way. On a woman, I think it would read as classy and preppy, like a very youthful Polo ad. Basically I think it works for for the Gossip Girl set, and I mean that for both Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass. Geranium Bourbon has very low sillage, and it is very faint after two hours, so I'd be generous with the application.

You can buy Miller Harris's Geranium Bourbon in 50ml for $95 and 100ml for $140 direct from the the perfumer or from Luckyscent, FragranceNet, and other outlets. Check around; on this one you can probably find a good deal. You can also get decants from The Perfumed Court or, and in this case I recommend, Posh Peasant, which frequently has lovely scents for very good prices. It also comes in a candle and a 5g solid perfume, if you're into that sort of thing.

For the first time,
standing with my friends in the bright light.
Saw you going crazy on the dance floor.
I’ve taken one already but I want more.
This time I’m going to feel it.

- "Breakfast in NYC," Oppenheimer

Want more? Try...
~ a review from Perfume-Smellin' Things
~ a review from I Smell Therefore I Am
~ a brief mention from Katie Puckrik Smells
~ a brief mention from Perfume Posse

Images courtesy of Miller Harris, Merchant Duvin, and Gossip Girl.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The sweetly scented life

Ever since I came back to Portland, I feel like I'm playing a constant game of catch-up. I cannot figure out if this is because I have no job and feel like I need one so I have an underlying low-level anxiety just brewing around in there, making me feel behind, or if life in Portland is just way busier. I am only just now getting some very overdue samples in the mail to Ines, for which I apologize wholeheartedly. I am hoping that the inclusion of a couple of extra samples will help make it up to her.

Now that Halloween is once again behind us (but not the delicious leftovers from our party -- yum!), I am looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas. With that in mind, I'd like to point out that Perfume Shrine is doing a nice series of Christmas gift suggestions, and if you want to send me something because, I don't know, you've got that kind of money, the LE Annick Goutal bottles are nice. Also, I wouldn't balk at a bottle of any of the INeKE scents or anything made by Tauer Perfumes. Just in case you were wondering.

In other news, Perfume Shrine has a review on INeKE's Field Notes from Paris that is just as glowing as mine. So let that be yet another recommendation for you -- INeKE is definitely worth checking out, and is more than affordable, so you really have no excuse not to.

And while I'm on a roll with the recommendations, let me recommend Angela's piece on feminine scents for men, because I, too, would love to meet a man in a well made suit wearing Patou Joy, or at least see the cute guy with the short hair cut, clean shaven face, and wearing a sports coat with jeans in the college cafeteria (rare at my alma mater) try something slightly more daring than Old Spice Sports. Sometimes I think if I won the lottery I'd just wander around the world with a huge bag of perfumes in tow, spritzing everyone with the scents they should be wearing. But then, it would be just like some creative prosecutor with allergies to charge with me assault. Alas, alack, the world thus continues far less scented than it should be.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Recommended viewing, reading, a note on shopping....

"Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King,
and recognize that there are ties between us.
All men and women living on the Earth,
ties of hope and love.
Sister and brotherhood
that we are bound together
in our desire to see the world
become a place in which our children
can grow free and strong..."

Basenotes is doing a random give away for subscribers to their youtube video feed. I've embedded the video below, but I recommend going to youtuvbe proper so you can enter the draw!

Also, I have added several new blogs to the blogroll, including SmellyBlog, Vetivresse: Nosing Around in Scent, Wine & Style , and Tea, Sympathy, and Perfume, as well as a great new shopping opportunity, Rei Rien. Like others, I'm wondering how I missed this site for so long and look forward to receiving my shipment of samples. It's surprisingly hard for me to find places to get samples of mainstream fragrances, so I really appreciate Rei Rien.

Also, in recommended viewing, may I point you to this testimony from April from Philip Spooner? Spooner, 86, spoke out in favor of marriage equality during hearings in Maine on gay marriage Apr. 22, but the remarks are no less timely for being six months old. The World War II vet, and father of four, says he didn't fight in World War II for his gay son to be treated as a second class citizen. When a member of the Greatest Generation talks about the sacrifices he and others made so that we could all share in equal rights, rights we currently deny to our fellow citizens, I think it says something profound about the civil rights fight going on in America today. November is historically a month spent thinking about elections and rights and voting. In that spirit, let our thoughts turn to Martin Luther King and the distance that still remains before us as we work to realize his dream of one America, a dream still being denied to too many people in too many ways.

"We are bound together
by the task that stands before us
and the road that lies ahead.
We are bound and we are bound.
There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist.
There is a hunger in the center of the chest.
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist,
and though the body sleeps the heart will never rest..."

- "Shed a Little Light," James Taylor