Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's definitely not a Nashville party...

A New Year's Resolution to Shop List

I mostly shy away from New Year's resolutions, but this was one opportunity I couldn't resist. A few weeks ago, Rebella at Confessions of a Perfume Nerd posted her wishlist for the holiday season. With the year ending, I thought I'd post a hopeful "To Be Purchased In 2010" commitment list, which I am hoping to make come true as soon as I take the bar in February and find a job.

1. Andy Tauer L'air du desert marocain
2. CB I Hate Perfume M#3 November
3. Costume National 21
4. DSH The Vert
5. Guerlain L'Heure Bleue
6. Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille
7. INeKE After My Own Heart
8. INeKE Evening Edged in Gold
9. L'Artisan Dzongkha
10. L'Artisan L'Eau de Jatamansi
11. L'Artisan Timbuktu
12. L'Artisan Vert Violette
13. Montale Vanille Absolu
14. Serge Lutens Bois de Violette
15. TDC Sublime Balkiss
16. Guerlain Shalimar
17. Leslie Blodgett Bare Skin
18. Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory
19. Keiko Mecheri Iris d’Argent

Yes, I realize that's more than 1 bottle a month, but really, some of these choices are rather inexpensive and I'm sure if I shop around and check for swaps and... Okay, yes. I basically just committed myself to spending what will like be at least two grand on perfume next year after samples and impulse buys. Just don't tell my student loan people and everything will be fine...

What about you, dear readers? What purchases do you plan on making to kick off a new decade of scent? What scents combination do you long to discover for yourself?

I'm out for the evening. See you on the flipside, readers. And welcome 2010. We all pray you'll be better than the last decade.

"So I put my hands up.
They’re playing my song,
and the butterflies fly away.
I'm nodding my head like yeah...
I'm moving my hips like yeah...
And I got my hands up.
They’re playing my song.
I know I'm gonna be okay.
Yeah, it's a party in the USA!"

- "Party in the USA," Miley Cyrus

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Circles and I’m watching the sparks; you’re traveling into the dark...

Bvlgari Jasmin Noir

As I've mentioned before, I love noir. I'm currently working my way through The Complete Sherlock Holmes, on loan from my husband in preparation for our post New Year's trip to see the new film. I'm really excited for the film, both because I love mysteries and because I have been a faithful fan of Robert Downey Jr. for years, even through his can't'-work-consistently-because-of-all-the-drugs period. If any of you have seen the movie, I'd love to know what you thought -- but no spoilers!

Because of my deep immersion in all things mystery related, I tend to run directly toward anything with the word "noir" in the title, even if in perfume, that means something very different. Thus, I am here wth a review of Bvlgari's Jasmine Noir, which I also stumbled across at Sephora. According to Sephora,
Bvlgari's newest fragrance, Jasmin Noir, captures the irresistible charm of a mysterious and intensely sensual woman. Captivating and caressing, Jasmin Noir is a rich mix of voluptuous floral and precious woody notes with accents of almond and licorice. This infinitely addictive essence is sublimely revealed by jasmine, a flower whose beauty is as pure as it is tantalizing. This scent embodies the very heart of the Bvlgari brand, reflecting the richest and noblest codes of a luxury jewelry legacy. The deep black and luminous gold bottle beautifully honors the heritage of prestigious allure.

Notes: Green Sap, Gardenia, Sambac Jasmin, Satin Almond, Precious Woods, Tonka Bean Absolute, Licorice
Despite this fairly crappy, overblown ad, Jasmin Noir is decent. It's a lot of sugar and flowers, surprisingly more gardenia than jasmin up front, though. I'd really get any woods or licorice, but after a while I do get some almond and hints of a vanilla-ish scent that must be from the tonka bean. It's a totally inoffensive scent, very smooth. At the end, it becomes what could be mistaken for powdery, but really it's a nice sweet floral mix. If you sniff carefully, you can discern both the gardenia and jasmin, which is really nice.

It's not heavy enough to be heavy, but not light enough to be delicate. There's nothing dark about it, either. When I hear noir, I come looking for darkness, complexity, mystery. This is about as mysterious as a Nancy Drew novel. Now that's not a slam from my perspective; once upon a time, I owned all 52 original Nancy Drews in hardback. (Also, I found the Nancy Drew tweeny-bopper movie that came out a few years ago charming, even if, in my childhood mind, Nancy was a lot less cardigan sporting and a lot more Veronica Mars.) But it isn't a grown up kind of mystery. It's an easily solvable mystery, the kind you along with because you enjoy the sweet simplicity of the problems and their ready solutions, not because you are looking for intrigue. But I thought, on the whole, that Jasmin Noir was a pretty and accessible jasmin for a really good price. Definitely worth a try if you've got a Sephora nearby.

You can buy Jasmin Noir in 10ml travel spray and 33ml bottles for $25 and $68 respectively from Sephora or Amazon, though Ebay had bottles for a fairly decent discount. And before you drop those 68 bones, you shou7ld know I saw a 100ml bottle available through an online discounter for a mere $55. If you like this one, you can get a bottle as large as those ridiculous skulls sized jugs of Prada Infusion d'Iris I'm always seeing in Vogue and Elle.

"The night you swore your heart nearly bled,
I saw a part of you that’s already dead.
I’ve heard places and times they’ve got their own M.O.
Tear the surface; let’s go looking below.
I’ve heard faces and signs they’ve got their own M.O.
Hiding secrets they don’t want you to know."

- "M.O.," Oppenheimer

Want more reviews? Try...
~ A review from Robin at Now Smell This!
~ A review from Perfume-Smellin' Things
~ A review from Pere de Pierre
~ A review from Polish, Platforms, Perfume
~ A review from Fragrantica

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best of 2009!

My favorite fragrances for 2009 (at least that I tried this year -- might be older): Ineke Field Notes from Paris, Ava Luxe Film Noir, CB I Hate Perfume M#3 November, Bond no. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory, Téo Cabanel Oha, Il Profumo Vanille Bourbon.

Classics I discovered I loved immediately: Robert Piguet Fracas

Classics I have finally developed an appreciation for: Caron Tabac Blond, Guerlain Shalimar

Best packaging: I love the Marc Jacob's Lola bottle. The flower on top, that looks like sculpted glass, but is actually just plastic so it won't break? So fun!

Biggest surprises: Very Irresistible Givenchy For Men, because I never thought I'd find a coffe/mint/citrus mix I liked! Washington Tremlett Royals Heroes 1805, because I never thought I'd want to wear bananas, but man is that stuff good.

Biggest disappointment: My biggest disappointments were L’Artisan Parfumeur Havana Vanilla, Amouage Jubilation 25, and definitely Prada’s Infusion de Fleur d’Oranger.

Best celebrity fragrance: SJP Lovely. Of the stuff I smelled, I choose Lovely.

Best commercials: Personally I loved the Audrey Tatou Chanel ad.

Worst commercials: OH wow. That Jay Z one? Where the chick just rolls around in his bed like a cat in catnip? Definitely the worst.

Cheap thrill of the year: Bath & Body Works Wild Honeysuckle

Best gift I asked for: This awesome Tori Amos comic book, Comic Book Tattoo Tales.

Best surprise gift: A tie between the Sephora Sampler Set from Star and this beautiful scarf in lavender Darius sent me.

Check out the other great blogs who are posting their lists right now!:
Now Smell This!, Mossy Loomings, 1000fragrances, Smelly Blog, Bittergrace Notes, Shoes-cake-perfume, Eiderdown Press Journal, Scent Hive, Olfactarama, Roxana's Illuminated Journal, A Rose Beyond the Thames, The Non Blonde, Notes from the Ledge, I smell therefore I am, Under the Cupola, All I am a Redhead, Perfume In Progress, Savvy Thinker

Maybe we make a deal. Maybe together we can get somewhere...

Leslie Blodgett Perfume Diaries Bare Skin EdP

I was wandering around Sephora the other day while a friend, Jill from Pearl Sugar, was looking for new make-up. While browsing around the standard perfume choices (and schooling one of the employees on their own offerings) when I stumbled across the first offering from Leslie Blodgett's Perfume Diaries line, Bare Skin. I liked the packaging and description and was intrigued, so I sampled away.

Here's what Sephora has to say about Bare Skin:
Imagine you're on a beach. The warm rays are beating down on you. There is nothing on the agenda for days, save for sunbathing and sleeping in. Leslie Blodgett has captured the ultimate vacation th rough fragrance with this intoxicating blend of creamy sensuality, dreamy florals and sexy musks. Glowing, gorgeous sun-kissed skin that just begs to be touched is at the heart of this limited-edition scent, created exclusively for Sephora.

Notes:(top)Black Pepper, Freesia, Anise, (mid)Iris, Vanilla Orchid, Plumeria, Patchouli; (bot)Sandalwood, Labdanum, Musk.
The first thing I thought when I tried this was, "Wow, this is surprisingly complex...and good!" It stars sweet and spicy, then it balances with a bit of pepper and oil, like the smell of a supple and well-oiled leather seats of an expensive sports car with the windows rolled down and the smell of vanilla and flowers in the air. After the dry down I get the sandalwood and labdanum, but faintly at first, then growing stronger. Mostly I get a lovely spice and oil mix that reminds me a bit of Caron Tabac Blond.

This scent would make an excellent scent for a man or a woman. When I smell it, I think of something much more expensive than you'd think for the price point. I get a mental picture of a very expensive car speeding along the beautiful cliffs of the 101, walls rising up from the merciless slams of the ocean, twisting and turning dangerously. I imagine driving too fast along the curves, windows down, music up, sunglasses reflecting the setting sun as the smells of the ocean, the leather seats, the flowers that climb the cliffs all in bloom dancing on the wind as it whips through the car. And I don't care if you're a man or a woman, that is a lovely smell and wondrous experience.

You can buy Bare Skin EdP for a mere $55 for 1.7oz from Sephora, Amazon, and other equally accessible locales. It is also available in a solid perfume and and body cream for equally low prices.

"You got a fast car
but is it fast enough so we can fly away?
We gotta make a decision.
We leave tonight or live and die this way.
I remember when we were driving, driving in your car.
The speed so fast I felt like I was drunk.
City lights lay out before us
and your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder.
And I had a feeling that I belonged.
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone."

- "Fast Car," Tracy Chapman

Want more reviews? Try...
~ a review from Beauty Junkies Unite
~ a review from Bella Sugar
~ a review from Laughing Lindsay

Monday, December 21, 2009

And all the souls on Earth shall sing: Draw Results and a Very Merry Christmas!

According to randomizer,

There were 3 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

1. Sue
2. Ines
3. Mary

Timestamp: 2009-12-22 05:11:01 UTC

Congratulations Sue! However, because there were only three of you, EVERYONE IS A WINNER! Yep! Also, I added two additional 2ml samples -- CB I Hate Perfume Black March, a spring favorite of my mine, and one of my favorite fragrances for any time of year, L'Artisan Iris Pallida. So I just need addresses. ((Ines, I still have yours.)) Please email me at diana.wiener @ with your mailing details.

Packages will go out, but probably early next week because Feminine Things is going on hiatus until middle of next week. As it is I have been crazy busy with holiday stuff as it is, and it's only going to get more intense over the next few days.

"I saw three ships come sailing in,
on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day.
I saw three ships come sailing in
on Christmas Day in the morning."

- "I Saw Three Ships"

Images are of the Christmas tree in Pioneer Square in downtown Portland, Oregon and of one of the Christmas ships ready for sailing in the annual Portland Christmas Ships Parade.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Candy, I call my sugar Candy...

Aqaba Midnight Sun EdP

So here’s a confession. I’m a twilight fan. Yeah, I know. I’m 31. I’m a feminist. I have no real excuse for loving these chaste preteen romance novels.

And yet…

When I reflect on what it was like to be confused by the actions and statements of the opposite sex, when I think about how first love felt, so all consuming, so sure, and when I consider how total the pain of losing such a love was, I have to say the series, particularly the first two books, feels so accurate, so real.

So I admit it. I own all four books, in hardback no less. I’ve read them, several times. I’ve seen the movies. I have the soundtracks. I’ve always been a sucker for stories about the supernatural, and these completely hooked me. Now, like the little twifans spoofed on SNL last week, I see twilight everywhere. So when I first picked up Aqaba Midnight Sun, the name reminded me of the book names, and the first thing I thought was, “Is this scent Bella would wear? Is this a scent a vampire would enjoy?”

Silly. I know. But there it is.

According to Aqaba,
This velvety floral is full of deep purple shadows and glimmers of gemstones. A lovely bouquet of gardenia, tuberose, freesia and sweet orange blossom rests on a warm and plushy bed of white musk and sandalwood. A tryst in a royal garden -- the night air is still and heavy from the heat of the day as the blooms release their most intoxicating scents like a sigh. There is a rustle of silk and murmured endearments. A romantic fragrance that speaks in a hushed voice, with a gentle, spicy sweetness. Notes: gardenia, freesia, rose damask, orange flower, rose, Indian sandalwood, white musk, tuberose
Is it weird to say that the application on me is like flowers and sweet tarts? I definitely get sandalwood and some white musk, but the flowers in this combine to smell like a strange indistinguishable mix placed in a vase, and that vase has been placed inside a larger one, and the spaces in between have been filled with Sweet Tarts. Or maybe it’s grape kool-aid? Perhaps that’s what feeds this eclectic bouquet inside of water? A bit further in I get buts of cinnamon and even a tiny animalistic something that comes off like hot skin, warm asphalt, or melting rubber. But that nice weirdness is buried so deep inside the candy flower mess that I can’t get to the interesting part with any consistency; I burn my nose out, inhaling the strong part over and over, in the effort.

I’d say that this might be perfect for a fifteen year old if the sillage weren’t quite so large. I can’t imagine winning over anyone hundred year old vampires with this one; the sheer volume of it would drive away such sensitive noses. It’s not a bad scent, but I can’t say it’s good either. My biggest difficulty is that I cannot imagine who would wear it. So often I smell a scent and even if I don’t want to buy it for myself to wear, but I can easily picture a snapshot of the person who would wear it. But with this one, it’s so many things that could be great wrapped in cellophane, dipped into wax candy, and heated by a hairdryer held waaaay to close to the mixture that I can’t even get a handle on the sort of animal, vegetable, or mineral that might choose this one.

Perhaps it is meant for more discerning noses than mine. If you’ve tried it, can you tell me what you think?

Midnight Sun is available in 30ml, 50ml, and 100ml through Luckyscent and the perfumer. Samples available through Luckyscent or direct from the perfumer.

“He has taken my complete heart.
Got a sweet tooth for my sweetheart.
Candy, it's gonna be just dandy,
the day I take my Candy
And make him mine, all mine.”

- “Candy,” Johnny Mercer

Want more? Try…
~ a review from A Mix By Any Other Name

Saturday, December 19, 2009

So, tell her what she wants to know; she'll find out anyway.

I sent 113 holiday cards out this year. Every year the list gets longer. I don't know how. But it does.

I usually have cards printed or buy 6-10 boxes in after holiday sales each year to keep up. As I said, my list has gotten really long, but it goes back to teachers from secondary school (15 years or so) because it is the one time a year I actually make myself sit down and talk to all the people I should. It’s sort of my annual show of gratitude for all the folks who have helped me along the way.

My biggest challenge at this point is keeping straight who gets what kind of card (Christmas secular, Christmas religious, Hanukkah, generalized holiday, etc.) I have an excel spreadsheet that gets transferred and updated year to year, though, which helps!

I'm also big on the hand made gifts -- I crotchet scarves, I bake cookies, I make CDs.

The point is, I'm fairly engaged in the celebration of the holidays.

So it makes me a little sad when no one enters my holiday drawing! Seriously, folks. Click on the link. Enter the drawing. Make my holiday. I promise there will be unexpected goodies!

"You can't find her?
that's when she's gone looking for you.
And she leaves you too much room
and it makes you feel ignore.
Don't let it go.
You won't say you love her.
She will see it in yours eyes; she'll know.
So, tell her what she wants to know;
she'll find out anyway."

"Tell Her What She Wants to Know," Sam Phillips

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

If you change your mind, I'm the first in line...

Lorenzo Villoresi Alamut EDT

According to Lorenzo Villoresi, Alamut is
A warm and sensual fragrance, a journey to the Orient, a fragrant arabesque. The rich, opulent and velvety flowers of a Thousand and One Nights, dreams of secret gardens in the moonlight of the fresh Oriental nights. The enveloping scent of rare and precious woods, the seducing embrace of Tonkin Musk, the profound and mysterious aroma of Amber.

Top Notes: Osmanthus, Rose, Jasmin, Rosewood and exotic flowers.
Middle Notes: Narcissus, Tuberose, Ylang ylang, Orange blossoms, Labdanum and ambery notes.
Base Notes: Amber, Musk, Amyris, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Benzoin, leather and powdery notes.
Incense and amber scents are scents that are frequently criticized by those not in the perfume know as being overly "perfumey." There was a time in my life, seduced by the familiarity of light florals and the easy acceptance that comes with wearing gourmands (a time I think of as 1hell, a black time for so many reasons), that I might have had a similar reaction. Truthfully, I think it takes a more experienced nose to enjoy stronger scents.

When Angela first found me wandering out there in the perfume wilderness, she gave me samples of five fragrances -- S-Perfume 100% Love, Annick Goutal Songes, L'Artisan Dzing!, Worth Courtesan, and Alamut. That's all it took. Five samples. I was totally hooked. Of those five scents, the ones I liked most immediately were Songes and Dzing! 100% Love was so light I couldn't really make out the distinct notes, Courtesan was too powdery, and Alamut was just too much for me. Too big. Too Loud. Too much.

Now I love long lasting incense scents with huge sillage. Even if I don't wear them more than a couple of days out of any given month, I find them so complex and powerful and comforting. An Alamut is one of my favorites. Yes, it's mostly amber, sandalwood, and powdery notes on me. Yes, the osmanthus and jasmin burn off almost immediately, with only the rose faintly lingering with labdanum and musk. Is it huge? Yes. Does it last forever? I can still smell it on my clothes two weeks later when I take them to the dry cleaners. Do I love it? Absolutely.

So if you think you don't like big incense scents, keep an open mind. I love all of the scents Angela gave me now, and I have a 30ml decant of Alamut, a bottle of 100% Love, *two* bottles of Songes, and a bottle of Dzing! (Still haven't managed to get a bottle of Courtesan because it's hard to get here in the States.) And without continuing to give these scents a chance, rather than rejecting them because Alamut was too much for me when I first started getting into perfume, I would never have found the all the beauty that incense and amber scents can possess.

Alamut is available in Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum, Perfume, Perfume in oil, Body Oil, Body Cream, Body Lotion, Bath & Shower Gel.

"Gonna do my very best and it ain't no lie.
If you put me to the test, if you let me try...
Take a chance on me."

- "Take A Chance on Me," Abba

Want more? Try...
~ a review from Angela at Now Smell This!
~ a review from Victoria's Own
~ a review from Fragrantica
~ a review from Perfume-Smellin' Things

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quick Fragrance Question: Laundry

So I don't know if anyone else has seen the ads for Downy Simple Pleasures new line of differently scented softeners. Through these, Downy assures the buyer she can "express herself" and her different moods. The website even wants you to "help design their next scent."

Now I love freshly laundered clothing, and I like it very much when the apartment and my house smells like clean clothes fresh from the dryer. At the same time, though, I wonder if having strongly scented clothing would potentially conflict or interfere with a perfume I might wear. So do you perfumistas out there have any opinions on scent in your laundry soap or fabric softener? Is it better to go with a scentless laundering and avoid conflicts in scent, or are you more in favor of embracing a multitude of scents in all their incarnations? Thoughts?

Miss Dior Cherie Ad

Caught the new Miss Dior Cherie ad, directed by Sophie Coppola, during How I Met Your Mother last night. It's wonderfully whimsical and kind of reminds me of Amelie.

Things are not the same it seems as in such tender dreams...

Last night David and I got into a protracted discussion over the virtues and vices of box bookstores while watching “You’ve Got Mail” on cable and this lead me to google about my very most favorite bookstore in all the world – the Bookstop on W. Alabama in Houston.

That is how I discovered that my beloved Bookstop, which since 1982 housed in the shell of a 1930s Art Deco movie theatre the most extensive book and magazine collection I’d ever seen until I moved to Portland and visited Powells, is gone.


On September 15 of this year, the doors closed without my knowing it.

This is how life breaks your heart, over and over. I cannot tell you the number of school days I skipped to drive an hour downtown to visit this bookstore after one of my boyfriends took me there on a first date. I remember that night we went there, just before we went to see “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert,” which was the first time I was exposed to queer culture or drag culture in a sympathetic light. As someone who was already aware of my own confusion about my bisexuality, seeing the film was an important moment for me. The boyfriend didn’t last long, but the Bookstop! That Bookstop was one of my top five favorite places in the world! The first time my husband visited me and met my family and friends, I took him there, and I remember that his enjoyment of it endeared him to me all over again. The one and only time I took my brother skipping school with me, we had breakfast at that Bookstop, before we went on to go ice skating at the Galleria. I discovered two of my very favorite books of poetry at the Bookstop. That Bookstop was the first time I discovered that Vogue did different versions all over Europe and that not all models were skinny or pretty in the same ways that Americans expect them to be. I loved, I just loved, that bookstore. I got my college prep books there. I got my first travel books there. I dreamed there.

And I can never visit it again.

The theatre is still there. It now houses a non-profit that runs an annual film festival in Houston. But the thing that was so special about it, to me, was that it was a beautiful old building repurposed into a portal that took me places, first metaphorically, and later, literally. The Bookstop on W. Alabama was the place that made me think I wanted to be a historic preservationist (a profession I considered seriously enough that I applied and was accepted to a graduate program before I ever considered law school). A profoundly important place in my life, a formative place, is gone now.

No review today. Instead, dear readers, I’d like you to think of a place you really enjoy. It could be a book store, a restaurant, a little gallery, or any place that is special to you. Think about what makes it special to you and, if you’d like, tell me why in the comments section. And if you can, go for a visit. You never know when your own Bookstop will disappear.

To love is just a word
I've heard when things are being said.
Stories my poor head has told me.
Cannot stand the cold
And in between what might have been
and what has come to pass
A misbegotten guess alas
and bits of broken glass.

Where do your golden rainbows end?
Why is this song I sing so sad?
Dreaming the dreams I dream. my friend.
Loving the love I love to love.

- "Long Ago & Far Away," James Taylor

Monday, December 14, 2009

Samples: The Addiction

The Sample Box

"You are an obsession. I cannot sleep.
I am your possession, unopened at your feet.
There's no balance; no equality.
Be still I will not accept defeat."

- "Obsession," Animotion

There are stages to perfumista development. I have been trapped in Stage 4, also known as "Full Blown Perfume Mania" for well over a year. I'm not honestly sure I'm ever getting out since the idea of "paring down" my collection seems just totally antithetical to collecting perfume. I mean, I have a bottle of one perfume that I bought unsniffed, sprayed ONE TIME, and summarily hated, and I still can't bring myself to give it away. Nope. Still sitting there in the back of my perfume cubby, because "WHAT IF I CHANGE MY MIND LATER!?!?!" My nose is so new that some things I didn't like when I first started but that everyone loves I'm still waiting to find affection for, though at this point even I will admit that there are things I wait 6 months on, try a second time, and no, still do not enjoy them and probably never will.

My samples collection is suffering because of this. I just hang on to everything, even the stuff I actually put in a baggie labeled "NO! -- give these away" in part because I'd hate to give anyone scents I can't wholeheartedly endorse. (Though I realize that (a) this means I'm sitting on someone's favorite when they could be enjoying it, and (b) this is the number one way to heartbreak for a true perfume lover because someone out there is going to reject one of your favorites pretty forcefully eventually, and that will just kill you.)

The First One's Free: Sample Shopping

Untrue, unfaithful, that was you.
Every other day there was someone new.
Untrue, unfaithful, that was you.
Why was I a fool to fall in love with you?

"Untrue Unfaithful (That Was You)," Nita Rossi

I started out with sample jars, then moved onto the box pictured above. I've now outgrown it, and I'm desperately trying to figure out what storage system to move to next. The straw that broke the already full sample box's back was my discovery of the super cheap samples over at Rei Rien, which conveniently also provides samples of more mainstream department store scents that, quite frankly, I have a tendency to overlook. This baggie full, plus a couple more, cost me a measly $22, but was WAY MORE than would fit into that box. Plus, every time I order from Beautyhabit they send me a generous helping of samples (which is aided by the fact that I am always moved from "contemplating a purchase" or "Where is my credit card!?!" by one of their frequent "get a bazillion samples with purchase" offers), which has helped fill the box. Though, okay, yes, I admit that EVERY FREAKING MONTH that email from Luckyscent featuring 6-9 new samples in a "pack" usually gets me excited to order, and then there's that scent I've really wanted to try that everyone else is already reviewing and Oh look! they have it over at The Perfumed Court now....

And then there are the packs from independent perfumers. I just see it as doing my part to help America in this time of economic crisis by buying sample packs direct from independent perfumers. You know, supporting small businesses, stimulating the economy, etc. You get the picture.

Okay, who am I kidding? I love sample shopping. I never have a lot of money, but I can somehow always justify spending a few bucks on samples. It's the perfect set up. All of the beauty. None of the commitment.

I'm a perfume trollop. Untrue, unfaithful. No signature scent for me -- no way. I can't commitment to one scent for an entire day anymore. I accept it. Moving on...

Admitting You've Got a Problem Is the First Step

"They'll name a city after us,
and later say it's all our fault.
Then they'll give us a talking to
because they've got years of experience.
And it's contagious!
And it's contagious!

- "Us," Regina Spektor

After I got in deep (good bye tiny sample jars, hello giant box) I struggled to figure out what to do with my samples that I wanted to carry with me during the day. Then David found this Disney tin abandoned during closing two springs ago and brought it home for me. At the time I was carrying samples around in little velvet baggies in my purse, but got nervous about them getting beat up or lost. The little tin seemed perfect. It was the right size for 2-3 baggies worth and let me decide on the fly what to wear or sample. I even put some folded up 3x5 note cards in it so I could take notes wherever I was if I needed to, as well as a couple of empty 1ml vials in case I was in a store and could convince an employee to allow me to take a sample of something I found. This seemed like a great idea to me. This plus a few small sprayers of things I loved already stashed in my car and my desk at work in case I managed to forget to spritz up before I left the house and I thought I had a pretty good system set up.

I knew that my perfume love was starting to get weird when several of my California coworkers commented that needing to carry samples around in a little tin looked like I was carrying crack vials. When I jokingly said that perfume was kind of my drug and I had a little bit of an addiction, they would carefully eye the little pile of samples scattered across my desk and say, "Ummmm. Oooookay."

No joke.

This is how you know your hobby has crossed the line from "cute" or "interesting" into "weird." I don't have one sample of a vanilla scent with me; I have five. I need to be able to compare them! On the fly! Wherever the mood strikes me! People tell me I smell great, and I'm now at the stage where I have to say things like, "Oh! This is a limited edition, you can't buy it anymore," or "Oh, this is great isn't it? But it's kind of pricey... How pricey? Umm...$300 a bottle?" or, and this is the worst yet, "Yeah, I love it, too, but they only sell it in Tokyo." (Yeah, thanks for that, Le Labo. That won't get you a crazy look *at all*.)

Yes. Mania, you hath possessed me. I love you. Never let me go. (Especially because at this point, you're starting to scare away other potential occupiers of my time, like new friends. If you left me, I might find myself very lonely.)

Let the Enabling Commence!

Today I received my first enabling gift since Angela got me hooked two years ago. No matter how many times I tell my friends I really want perfume for my graduation/birthday/holiday gifts, they are all too scared to try to buy me any now, even when I provide a list of pre-approved purchases. They're afraid they'll buy something I already have or, worse, something I won't like. They don't seem to understand that the unloved eventually becomes the swappable or that I am crazy enough to do things like buy myself that second bottle of Annick Goutal Songes (as though anyone ever needed more than one bottle of Songes) because it was just so cheap and what if my first one broke/was confiscated by security/got stolen/ was attacked by a pack of wild, perfume-hating dogs!?!

So THANK YOU STAR for bravely going where other gift-giving friends fear to tread and for enabling my insanity. Today in the mail I received a package containing the "Sephora favorites" sampler that comes not only with samples, but a coupon I can trade in for a full bottle of my favorite of the group. Bliss! Exhilaration! A package that soothes the savage obsessive collector type within me, satiating my need to find a way to acquire more samples for at least another month.

And the best part? It came with a cute little clutch, that was filled with -- yes you guessed it, more samples! Face wash samples, eye shadow samples, and EVEN MORE PERFUME SAMPLES! Because what do you give to an addict? More enabling addictive materials! Because that's what a junkie can never get enough of! Another fix!

Yes, my friends, this is a great holiday gift day here in the household. David doesn't have to sweat when my will breaks and I order another round of samples -- they're already here.

"I will have you; yes, I will have you.
I will find a way and I will have you.
Like a butterfly, a wild butterfly,
I will collect you and capture you."

- "Obsession," Animotion

Recommended Viewing: Guerrilla Handbell Strikeforce --- Hoooo!

I *love* guerrilla performance art, and this has to be one of best holidays performances I've seen.

I get a little warm in my heart when I think of winter: Best of Winter 2009 & Drawing!

Inspired by I Smell Therefore I Am's list of Favorite Christmas Smells, I thought it was time I made my list of my top winter scents for 2009.

Winter is bearing down on us here in PDX. Saturday night we got our first ice over of the season, resulting -- campus events wise -- in David sliding five feet on his back, cars sliding off the road on the hill, a broken arm, and my friend Becca not being able to get back to her campus apartment from a late night in the lab because she kept sliding down the hill when she tried to walk up it! Being on a college campus at the top of a steep hill is always eventful when there's weather. Though, since I am no longer employed by a college or university, my role here is strictly spectator, even if David does have the duty phone from time to time.

So from the warmth of my apartment, with kittens all sleeping soundly, I bring you my list of winter/ holiday season favorites for 2009. My winter lists tend to be dominated by spice, sweet, and incense, which is reminiscent of my kind of winter holiday -- snow covered days spent next to fire places, spicy sweet roasted nuts, and trips to church for holy days. With that in mind, away we go!

1. Bond no. 9 New Haarlem
When it's cold, I like hot coffee with milk and sugar, and I like no coffee scent better than New Haarlem, and this one has vanilla and patchouli to boot! Every time I wear it I get tons of compliments. It's foodie but not too foodie, herbal but not too herbal, sweet but not too sweet. If you like coffee, I bet you'll love this.

For my review, which I wrote write at the beginning of this blog and really does not do this brilliant scent justice, go here.

2. CB I Hate Perfume Fire From Heaven
As I said in my review, this is such a potent smoke scent, one that to me speaks of sacred rituals and holy fires. A great scent, and one that is different enough from the generally lovely smoking smell of cold winter night spent in the warmth of wood burning fireplaces that it makes you stop and take notice.

For my full review, go here.

3. CB I Hate Perfume the Fir Tree
You might think that no one would want to smell like a fir tree, but let me tell you, you're gonna want to smell like this tree.

For my full review, go here.

4. Frapin Passion Boisee
When you think of all those spirits that help one get into the holiday spirit, and you are looking for a great holiday party or late night cocktails scent, this is the one.

For my full review, go here.

5. L'Artisan Dzing!
Possibly my favorite scent of all time. Summer, Spring, or Fall, I'll wear this one. But winter, ah, winter. I think practically every sweater I own has the faint smell of Dzing! If you are new to perfume and try this and think you don't like it, try again in six months. Trust me -- it's genius.

For my full review, go here.

6. Miller Harris Geranium Bourbon
Geranium Bourbon is another wonderful dry, boozy scent that would be great for the holidays.

For my full review, go here.

7. Tauer Perfumes L'Air du desert marocain
Hilariously, when I wrote the review I was thinking, "summer scent" but here I am in winter and I still want L'Air du desert marocain. It's possible that Andy Tauer just makes transcendent scents that go beyond time of day, event, season, or even gender. I feel this way about really all of the Tauer scents, but I love L'Air du desert marocain the best.

For my full review, go here.

8. INeKE Evening Edged in Gold
Again, here I am with the leathers and smoke, but there are plums here and gold tinsel and so many beautiful and fine things. All six of INeKE's scents are great -- definitely worth the $25 for a sample box. It's the perfect size for a stocking stuffer. Don't think, just order.

For my full review, go here.

9. Guerlain L’Heure Bleue
When I first reviewed this, one of the things I noted in the mixture was the smell of wet wool, like snow flakes melting on your coat or sweater after you come into a warm house after a winter walk.

For my full review, go here.

10. Lorenzo Villoresi Alamut
I have actually never reviewed Alamut, and I own a bottle! Ha! I'll have to get on that. I know that a lot of people were disappointed with Alamut, but I love it. It's big and warm and incense-y, and I deeply enjoy it, particularly in winter.

11. Bond no. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory
Possibly the best of all Bond scents, it's textured and multi-layered and beautiful. Woody, sweet, incense-y, awesomeness, with a great weirdness in the opening. Love it!

For my full review, go here.

12. DKNY Black Cashmere
One of the only bottles I've ever bought entirely unsniffed during the period when everyone thought it was being discontinued, Black Cashmere is a great spicy scent that has a weird rubbery leathered edge to it and yet somehow manages to simultaneously be a light fragrance. Donna Karan has since brought back Black Cashmere and Fuel and several other scents through the exclusive DK collection at Neiman Marcus, along with my beloved Fuel for Men, but I don't regret buying the bottle at all. This is yet another scent I need to review completely.

That's it for me. What about you? What scents do you associate with winter? In the spirit of the holidays, those who comment by 12:01am PST on Monday, December 21 will be entered in a random drawing for 1ml samples of Bond no. 9 New Haarlem, Lorenzo Villoresi Alamut, DKNY Black Cashmere, and L'Artisan Dzing!. Depending on my availability, prize package may also include a mix CD made by yours truly. Thanks in advanced for the commentary! The results will post on December 23, 2009.

"I run off where the drifts get deeper.
Sleeping beauty trips me with a frown.
I hear a voice.
'Your must learn to stand up for yourself
'cause I can't always be around.'
He says, "When you gonna make up your mind?
When you gonna love you as much as I do?"

"Winter," Tori Amos

Sunday, December 13, 2009

She had her way of thinking and Lord knows I had mine.

Sarah Jessica Parker Covet

When it comes to trying new things, while inherently risk adverse, I do tend to be pretty open minded when it comes to whether or not I will like something. Because I tend to like the things I like whether they are popular or not, I usually will try things and trust my own judgment as the item's appeal to my taste. I also don’t reject things out of hand simply because they are popular; I like to try everything–-good and bad, obscure and mass market-–and make my own determination. Therefore, I tend to do a lot of things other people won’t. I will sit through films that I am not sure I’m enjoying all the way to the end. I will endure a random hour of a radio station that plays music I don’t tend to enjoy to see if I’m missing out on things. I let people take me out to foods I haven’t enjoyed before so I can retry them.

Consequently, there are very few things I genuinely do not like. There are less than five films I’ve ever just turned off. I have more fingers on one hand than the genres of music that I find totally inaccessible. And there are very few scents that I think are true scrubbers. I try, very hard, to find the good in things, because I know that the scent I’m scrubbing off is probably a signature scent waiting to happen for someone I really care for. Please keep that in mind as I review SJP Covet.

Created in July 2007, according to Sarah Jessica Parker (SJP), Covet is
a stunning blend of fresh green notes, gorgeous florals and sensuous woods that instantly draws you in and won't let you go. Covet has top notes of wet greens, geranium leaves, Sicilian lemon, lavender and chocolate; a heart of honeysuckle, magnolia and muget, and a drydown of musk, vetiver, bois de cashmere, teakwood and amber.
On application, it is sharp and green, with a melon-y note that gives it a bit of a sour edge. It’s loud and trashy, and kind of burns out the nose the way trying too many scents one on top of another seems to burn out the nose. After about an hour it backs off, and finally get around to the being anything like the “lavender chocolate” tag Tania gives it in Perfumes: The Guide.

I get a lot of powdery notes, too, like someone took a lavender water flavored cream filling, rolled it in a medium coating of semi-sweet chocolate chips that have been melted down and mixed with paraffin for that glossy finish (“Forget tempering – this is faster!” the Learn Cookin’ in Five Quick Minutes host says with a wink), and then, in lieu of sprinkles or colored refined sugar, rolled each ball thoroughly in baby powder.

This feels like the sort of scent my Brittany Spears loving cousin who is in her early 20s would love. It's big. It's sparkly. It's like a sequined top. It's false eyelashes with gem stones. Given the right time and place, it can be outstanding. I can’t imagine a man wearing this, but I can think of a couple of very *beautiful* drag queens I knew back in Houston who would have loved it, and felt the name was a hilarious inside wink.

As I reread that description, it sounds bad. It sounds negative. Here’s the truth: it took over an hour for me to find the parts of Covet I like. But they are in there. The sweetness is sharp with greenery in the same way that salted caramels surprise you with the biting salt bits. It has huge sillage and really strong staying power, so know that if you wear this one, not a body in the room will miss it. Covet it isn’t bad, exactly. I don’t hate it. I didn’t scrub it off. I just didn’t find a lot that made me think, “I want to have this experience again.” But try it for yourself. It's not all bad. And that's something.

I found large quantities of Covet for sale on Amazon and for very affordable prices.

"One man's loss is another man's gain.
One man's pleasure is another man's pain.
Now when I left this town it was for her and for me.
Now I'm home all alone, with a paper that says I'm free.
I guess I'll hit the road again, and do what I do best.
To hell with her, to hell with him, to hell with all the rest."

- "One Man's Pleasure," Molly Hatchet

Want more reviews? Try...
~ A review from Robin at Now Smell This!
~ A review from Scented Salamander
~ A review from Bella Sugar

Images borrowed from Sarah Jessica Parker fragrances and Variety Magazine. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Legend of Chanel No. 5

Chanel No. 5 is a staple of perfumery. In fact, it is THE staple. The world could end tomorrow and in 1,000 years aliens could land on earth and they would still know that Chanel No. 5 was a cultural icon. So I wasn't surprised when I was flipping through a favorite book of poetry I find fifteen years ago, New American Poets of the '90s, the following poem in honor of that one and only iconic scent, and I thought I'd share it with you.

Chanel No. 5
by: Chase Twitchell

Life had become a sort of gorgeous elegy,
intimate with things about to be lost.

The waiter's hand on the wineglass
seemed an intermediary flame,

the atoms rampart inside it,

though it moved slowly
and hesitated slightly
before it was withdrawn

as if it meant to ask
whether anything more was wanted.

Abstracted by the static of the surf,

I dined alone, the beach hotel
half-empty in the off-season,

the honeymooning couple
at the table next to mine

caressing with their voices
the still-folded map of their future,

their two armies still in reserve,

the flowers massed between them
a flimsy barricade
against their wakening grief.

The long pin of her corsage
pierced the thin silk on her breast:
white flower, green leaf, black dress.

In her perfume I smelled
the residue of all their recent happiness,
a sweetness corrupted by the sea, and yet

she wore it innocently, that target.

It was a fledgling bitterness I caught
off a shred of air that had touched her dress
as she rose to follow her husband-mystery.

The little emblem inside the flame,
the male and female become one,

was blackening back in their room

overlooking the sea, but before they
hurried back to it, she looked at me,
and, as if to innoculate herself against me,

inclined her head to smell her own gardenia.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dragged up from the underworld just like some precious pearl.

Le Labo Iris 39 EDP

According to Le Labo, Iris 39 is as follows:
Iris is one of the most precious essences in the world.

It’s the origin of the creamy and woodsy nobility of this exclusive fragrance. The best of the Patchoulis then waft in, bringing with them sensual depth. The perfume is reinforced by a musky base, our very own secret. The result is remarkable elegance.

Notes: notes as iris, lime, patchouli, rose, ylang ylang, musk, violet, ginger, cardamom, and civet.
Iris 39 is a unique take on a flower that is frequently presented in primarily a soliflore format. When I think of some of the popular irises out there - Prada Infusion d'Iris, Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, or L'Artisan Iris Pallida -- they seem to be more oriented toward adding only enough other notes to bring out the many facets of the beautiful and alluring iris.

Now I love these scents because I love irises and it is possible that I could own 100 slightly different iris soliflores and still want more. What I find notable about Iris 39, though that this is not really a soliflore. On me, the iris is very well-balanced against the violet and rose notes. Almost immediately on application the violet and rose comes in. After about thirty minutes, I get plenty of ginger, cardamon, and patchouli as well. Again, these spice scents are all very well-balanced, so that none of them overpower the others. The floral scents back down as the hours wear on and the spices come up a bit, and on the whole the effect is very nice.

This is a really different kind of iris in my opinion. I think it's one of the few that I think would make an excellent masculine because, despite being floral, it's got a nice sophisticated spicy mixture that makes it one of the few I think translates well to the male wearer. If you've tried some of the aforementioned oft lauded irises before and not really enjoyed them, then you should give this one a try. If you love the more soliflore irises, you should try this one because it will make a alternative to what you normally expect when you think "what a lovely iris!"

You can buy Le Labo Iris 39 EDP in 50 ml bottle for $125. Iris 39 is also available in a balm, lotion, and oil.

"Can you see them?
See right through them?
They have no shield.
No secrets to reveal.
It doesn't matter what they say.
In the jealous games people play,
our lips are sealed."

- "Our Lips Are Sealed," The Go-Gos

Want more reviews? Try...
~ A review from the lovely Angela of Now Smell This!
~ A review from Bois de Jasmin
~ A review from Pere de Pierre
~ A review from the charming Divina at Fragrance Bouquet
~ A review from indieperfumes

Images courtesy of Le Labo and McAllister's Cyberspace Iris Garden.

And the Kreativ Blogger Award goes to...

Once again, I want to thank Ines at over at All I am - a redhead for awarding me a Kreativ Blogger award. It was totally unexpected and immensely appreciated. Since part of the award is passing it along, I get to do my own nominating now. So, without further ado, the awards go to:

1. Bakerella
I read quite a few baking blogs, but Bakerella has some of the most adorable and tasty recipes around. If you enjoy baking, this is a great blog to follow.

2. The Brightside Project
At a time when lots of people are struggling and are overwhelmed with negativity, the ladies of the Brightside Project give you reason to accentuate the positive.

3. The Family Trunk Project
This amazing project connects a search for familial identity and truly talented knitting. Emily and I went to college together (though we didn't know each other well) and through her blog I have come to admire her artistic ability.

4. Fragrance Bouquet
I really enjoy Divina's writing. She's got a good nose when it comes to perfume, and she always seems to keep a positive attitude about her.

5. style rookie
If you aren't reading style rookie, you are totally missing out. I love Tavi. I wish I had been half as cool as her when I was her age, and if I ever have a daughter someday, I hope she's got the same independent spirit.

6. Shopping Losts
One of my first jobs was as a graphic designer, and through that job I fell in love with the artistry of typeface. Shopping losts takes ordinary meaningless objects from the refuse of the world (in this case, lost shopping lists) and makes art out of them.

7. Angela at Now Smell This!
Now Smell This! hardly needs my endorsement for readership. All of the writing is superb and these are some of the best blogging noses on the proverbial block. That said, I'm giving this award specifically to Angela, who usually contributes on Mondays, because I admire her writing and because, and I've said this before, without her this blog -- and my love of perfume -- would not exist.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Unexpected Gifts

Talk about your unexpected holiday gifts! This year I received, rather unexpectedly, a blog award.

Ines at over at All I am - a redhead has nominated me for a Kreativ Blogger award. Ines writes a great blog about perfume and books, both of which I really enjoy. Definitely worth checking out.

So, this is what I have to do:

1) Copy and paste the award and post a link to the blog that nominated me. (Checkity check.)
2) Tell seven things about myself. (See below.)
3) Nominate seven other bloggers and pass the award along. (Coming Friday!)

Seven things about me....

1. When I named my blog "Feminine Things" it was in part because I have a lot of interests that are not traditionally feminine. It is only in the last five years or so that I have developed an interest in perfume or make-up or skincare or nail polish or fashion. My primary hobbies are things like going to rock shows, playing computer games, reading sci-fi/fantasy/horror novels, college football(!!!), etc. I collect comic books. I wore combat boots to my law school graduation. I used to cut my own hair (no training) because I couldn't be bothered to spend the money I'd spend on role-playing books and CCG cards on my appearance. I'm basically a geeky 14 y.o. boy trapped in the body of a grown woman. I started this blog as an ode to my more traditionally feminine interests, which seem to be growing as I get older.

2. When I first started this blog I hadn't owned a scent that wasn't made by The Body Shop or Bath & Body Works since I was a very little girl. In fact, I had one bottle of what I considered "perfume" and it was Origins Ginger with a Twist. Two years later, I have an entire cabinet full of perfume from all kinds of sources. My husband has been surprisingly patient with me about it. So if it seems like I have kind of a newb nose -- I apologize. I'm still learning, so if you're learning to, let's do it together!

3. I *LOVE* cooking. I just graduated from law school back in May, but my alternative schooling plans if I did not get in? Culinary school. I particularly enjoy baking, and I cannot own enough cookbooks.

4. When I was growing up in the American South (and let me tell you, for those of you who haven't been there, West Texas may be southwestern, but in East Texas, where I grew up, we are a lot closer to Louisianians and Arkansans than to anyone else), I hated everything about it. I've been gone for eleven years now, and spent most of that time here in Oregon. For my non-American readers, let me assure you that the climate, culture, pastimes, and politics of the Pacific Northwest where I now live are VERY different from my Texas roots. Consequently, I frequently feel like a fish outta water up here. This has bred in me an intense love and nostalgia for the food, the culture, and even the music of the American South, which I suspect would dissipate immediately if I were ever forced to move back there.

5. Though I have never owned a dog as an adult, and I actually own four cats, I really like dogs. That is, I really like LARGE dogs. Having been bit by a small, yippee dog as a child, I have no love for the pursed sized dog, but I had several large dogs as a child and hope that someday, when I have a house with a yard, I can have a nice big dog again. Until then, our apartment is just way too small.

6. I have no fear of going out into the world alone. I go to fancy restaurants to dine alone. I go to movies alone. I go to concerts alone. A lot of my friends find this strange, but I don't seem to notice it, really.

7. I really love to karaoke. I hardly ever get to do it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

SYTYCD Season 6: Week 6 (last voting night)

First, a finale of 6!?! Wow. Did not see that coming. This season has been so weird schedule wise though. Personally I think this is just so Nigel can get away with letting four men into the finale.

Couples Round 1
Ryan & Kathryn's Disco -- This was fun but didn't wow me. I mean it wasn't bad; it was good. It just wasn't fantastic. I do love Ryan though. I'm glad this is chance for all four men to get through to finals. I honestly have no idea who I would cut.

Jacob & Mollee's Viennese Waltz -- I was really hoping that Jacob was the one who would be stuck without a partner and forced to sink or swim on his own. I didn't know how this pairing would work out, but they were just perfect. I agree with Shankers -- great costuming, great music, great choreography. The unity, the effortlessness in their movement, really good. Lovely and sweet. I think Mollee really held her own, which was wonderful. Also, her costume was great!

Ellenore & Legacy's Contemporary -- I didn't like this piece, but it wasn't the dancing. The "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" is tired. The props did not help. The choreography was boring. Given what they had to work with, they did a great job. That leg lift of Ellenore's? Legacy's head stand collapse on top of Ellenore on the table? Freaking awesome. I do agree it was fraught with peril; I just thought it was kind of boring.

Ashleigh & Russell's Hiphop -- Ashleigh's out and the assistant is in? Could Russell BE ANY LUCKIER? This meant that he didn't need to hold back; if he overshadowed his partner, who cares? He got to kick ass. He totally killed this routine. I hope people vote for this b/c Russell really danced the crap out of it. This was a really hard routine and the fact that Russell made it look so easy -- and the camera almost never cut away from him b/c he was the only competitor dancing -- needs to be appreciated.

Couples Round 2
Ryan & Kathryn's Cha Cha -- That piece was so good. I loved the choreography. I loved the costumes. I did really feel the energy and connection here. Ashleigh is so freaking lucky to have Ryan as a husband, because he is SO FREAKING HOT. Best of the night.

Jacob & Mollee's Broadway -- This music did not help. What the hell was with all the weird scratching? Did not belong in a Broadway number. I did not like the beginning, but after they dropped the coats and were doing the unison movement. That part was so very impressive.

Ellenore & Legacy's Hiphop – That was, indeed, strange. The costuming was weird. And the judges making weird noises at Ellenore? They’re just filling time now. I thought Legacy did a great job with dancing the routine, and I thought he was way better than Ellenore. I agree with Nigel that it was the strange choreography that hurt them in this number tonight.

Ashleigh & Russell's Bollywood – Again, no Ashleigh. Wow, what a difficult routine. I have to say Russell really gave it his all and I’d say it was respectable. I would have loved to have seen Ashleigh do this. I agree that Russell genuinely looked like he was enjoying this piece and that was really fun to watch.

Asleigh solo -- no solo. Hope she makes it through. I'd love to see her in the finals.

Jacob's Solo -- watching Jacob contort does not do anything for me. Sorry. His lines are incredible. His feet are perfect. But I do not feel the earth move.

Mollee's Solo – Who let her dance to Alicia Key's "Heartburn"? "Burning in my soul"? Mollee isn't sexy in hot way. She's too sweet. This was a very bad pick for her.

Legacy’s Solo – The big question about Legacy was, would he learn enough about the flow of dancing over the course of the show to stop doing solos that looked like a series of stunts and add some connectedness, some dancing there. Here I think he was really trying, which was a nice effort. I think he’s going to continue to grow as a choreographer; he’s already a great dancer.

Ellenore’s Solo – I have to admit to being surprised Ellenore made it this far. She did an okay job, I guess. I think all the baby gesturing was weird.

Russell’s Solo – Oh noes! Wardrobe malfunction! This was not impressive, tragically.

Kathryn’s Solo – Better than most in my opinion, but the bar is really low for me in terms of solos.

Ryan’s solo – It is so hard for ballroom dancers to do solos. I liked this mostly because I have loved the song since it was in Breaking 2. And can I just say, I cried when Ryan asked people to remember Ashleigh and vote for her. I thought that was incredibly classy of him.

Final Thoughts
Is it just me, or as the show goes on, does it seem like they get contestants who are stronger all around dancers but weaker as individual choreographers? I look back at the solos from Seasons 2 and 4 and not a single solo from this entire season could at all touch, say, Twitch’s solo from the next to last show in Season 4 or any of Travis’ solos.

Best of night for me? Ryan & Kathryn's Cha Cha was by far the best in my eyes, with Jacob & Mollee's Viennese Waltz as a close second.

This is a really tough cut. I think I have to think of it in terms of who should probably not make it. To me, I think that has to be Ellenore and…. I just don’t know! Kathryn?

Also Jacob to me is like Will from Season 4. He may be the judges’ favorite, but he’s left me cold all season. I’m glad he’s got a bright future as a professional dancer ahead because he won’t be getting any calls from me tonight.

Now to you, dear readers. For those of you watching in the States, who do you think should make the final six? Inquiring bloggers want to know!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday visits...

I meant to be posting another review tomorrow morning, but David and I had five lovely friends come to town for the Annual Portland Winter Ale Festival. This meant we spent the last three days eating and drinking and shopping and drinking some more. It was an incredibly lovely weekend and has resulted in my being quite exhausted, but pleasantly so.

I've spent the last few hours since they left watching holiday movies and crocheting. I completed my annual "Miracle on 34th Street" review, along with "The Bishop's Wife," a lovely old holiday film wherein Cary Grant plays an angel who carries a message of love, loyalty, forgiveness, and appreciation for friends and family.

Now I'm going to have the rest of my hot cocoa and finish watching a modern holiday favorite of my own, "Bridget Jones' Diary." Then it's off to bed so I can get my holidays cards finished up tomorrow, as well as some gift wrapping done.

Good night, dear readers. More posts to come on Tuesday.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I've seen the paths that your eyes wander down; I want to come to.

Very Irresistible Givenchy For Men

As you may have noticed, I tend to do reviews of independent perfumers (CB I Hate Perfumes, INeKE, Bond no. 9) or high end classic lines (L'Artisan, Guerlain). I don't tend to do a lot of mainstream department store or drug store lines simply because I tend to lack access to them. I'm trying to amend that a bit.
Designed for the man who possesses natural charisma, a strong personality, and a seductive aura, Very Irresistible For Men is an elegant, woody, green, sensual fragrance spiked with notes of grapefruit, mint, sesame seed, and mocha, melded with soothing hazelnut wood and Virginia Cedar.

Notes: Grapefruit Peel, Mint Leaf, Sesame Seed, Mocha, Hazelnut Wood, Virginia Cedar
My initial thoughts were: Yay! Citrus-y coffee! Who knew grapefruit juice and coffee poured into a single cup could smell so good together!?! And mint leaves? Did someone muddle fresh mint in my grapefruit coffee juice? The heart is more mint hazelnut mocha coffee than the opening, which is mostly citrus and mint. On me the mint is really quite strong, though, tipping it more toward toothpaste and away from the mint coffee drinks I enjoy, but ultimately the mint and sweetness aren't overpowering, which saves the scent from being cloying. On the whole a nice experience, though it faded pretty fast on me (say after an hour).

This is similar to what's going on in Thierry Mugler's Angel A*Men. It's less strong than Angel A*Men, but in my opinion, that makes it better. I also find it much more appealing than il Profumo Cafe Vert because Cafe Vert tries to give you caramel coffee, citrus, and mint all at the same time, right up front. Very Irresistible Givenchy For Men manages to avoid the missteps those take, in my opinion, by doing the citrus mint at the top and then slowly backing into a less sugary, black coffee scent over time as the citrus and mint back off. For someone looking for this particular combination, I'd definitely recommend it, particularly if they found A*Men or Cafe Vert too sweet.

The fact that I really enjoyed this is proof positive that you can never say, "What it is? Oh, I've tried that and hate it," based purely on notes/description. Given my feelings toward Cafe Vert and A*Men, which range from indifferent to "NO, just, no," I'd have thought I'd hate this if you told me what was in it before I tried it. But nope, it's actually really nice. After making some notes for this review and looking them over I thought, "Wasn't I just railing against this exact combination not too long ago?" In earnest I actually dug out my samples of the other two for side by side comparison and I have to say, my feelings on the other two haven't changed. It just goes to show that one woman's citrus-mint-chocolate-coffee heaven is another's hell. And vice verse. So one should always keep an open mind and a willing nose.

You can get 100ml for $71 from Sephora, where you can also sample this one on site, but I also saw the same bottle on Amazon for half that price, so look around if you want to buy it. I got my sample from Rei Rien for a whopping 25 cents.

I think that possibly, maybe I'm falling for you.
Yes, there's a chance that
I've fallen quite hard over you.
I've seen the waters that make your eyes shine;
Now I'm shining, too.
I never knew just what it was
about this old coffee shop
I loved so much.
All of the while, I never knew
it was you.

- "CoffeeShop," Landon Pigg

Want more? Try...
~ A review from Bois de Jasmin
~ A review from Marlen at Now Smell This!

Images from Givenchy and Bee Creative.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I don't understand what destiny's planned.

Ulrich Lang Nightscape

I have not been feeling very Christmas-y this year.

This is the first time since I was eighteen that I’ve been unemployed during the holidays. It is also the first time in a decade that I haven’t been on an academic schedule. All of this has resulted in a substantial lack of holiday cheer. I’ve acquired and wrapped some of my gifts. I put up the tree, though it still isn’t decorated. It turns out I need twinkle lights as mine were all burnt out. I made the card list, bought the cards, and am ready to start writing them, I guess.

But that’s it. “I guess.” Normally I am bursting with holiday flavor at this point, but I just can’t muster it this year.

But enough about me and my holiday malaise. I'll just say that for now I'm looking forward to the fresh start of a new year. It makes me feel like there's an opportunity for an emotional purge so I can start anew.

Nightscape, according to Ulrich Lang, is described as "a modern take on patchouli":
Nightscape is a sensual, mysterious and long lasting scent with notes of bergamot, “green” notes, a floral heart note of jasmine and geranium interwoven with cedarwood and a base of soft leather notes, musk, amber, tonka bean and patchouli.

In keeping with tradition, Ulrich Lang asked a new artist to interpret this fragrance visually. Carrying a small lab sample of nightscape around with him, young American photographer Matt Licari hit the streets of his home town New York City and got inspired by the fascinating metropolis.

The result: an image that shows the magic of a glittering, vast city at night that matches what Ulrich Lang had in mind: Following portraits of Belgian Photography Dealer Roger Smulewicz photographed by artists Erik Swain and Katy Grannan for anvers and anvers 2, the cityscape at night works well with the pure yet sensual aura of nightscape. It reflects the cosmopolitan and futuristic scent which will become a modern classic for the times to come.

Notes: Bergamot, Green Notes, Jasmine, Geranium, Cedarwood, Leather, Musk, Amber, Tonka Bean, Patchouli
The immediate notes I get are mostly citrus and greenery, rolling immediately into bergamot, amber, and tonka, with the opening being a bit sweet with tiny bits of spice underneath. Within a few minutes though, the sweetness backs off and you get a dry wood, dry old leather like the smell of the interior of a well-used classic car, and spice mixture that reminds me a tiny bit of classic Old Spice. According to Kevin over at Now Smell This!, the pre-1990s (i.e. original) formulation of Old Spice, the one I grew up smelling in my grandfather's bathroom every day, was a combination of "orange, lemon, spices, clary sage, aldehydes, cinnamon, carnation, geranium, jasmine, heliotrope, pimento berry, vanilla, musk, cedar wood, frankincense, benzoin, tonka bean, ambergris." Given that list, I think I can see where there is enough overlap that "a little bit like Old Spice" as a first impulse was not a bad guess on my part. I also get the patchouli, and plenty of it, but it's a dried patchouli, like what you'd expect in a medicine man's bag, not like the green and lively patchouli you get in other scents.

I enjoy Nightscape. It's got low-ish sillage and that dryness would work well for a man or a woman. I think it's a nice fragrance, one that isn't too big or bold. This isn't a scent that isn't going to offend anyone and might be mistaken, after it had the opportunity of an hour or two to mix with one's natural scent, for one's own scent, freshly showered, powdered, and coiffed. If you'd like to buy a gift for someone, particularly a man, who doesn't think he likes 'perfume,' this might make for an excellent starter scent. This is also a great scent to try on someone who claims to hate all things patchouli. I suspect this one might be modern, gentle, and appealing enough to trick even the most self-avowed patchouli-loathing hipsters.

I'm starting to grasp what is in my own hands.
Now I'm clean.
I've broken my fall;
Put an end to it all.
I've changed my routine.
Now I'm clean.

- "Clean," Depeche Mode

Nightscape is available in 100ml for $110 from LuckyScent and Aedes De Venustas.

Once again, I will point you toward the user reviews over at Luckyscent if you'd like more opinions than my humble nose.

Images courtesy of Ulrich Lang (top left) and Spiritual Renewal (Joy Unspeakable) by Angela Branigan, available for purchase at