Sunday, December 11, 2011

Secret Grarden and Oud Lubin by Aftelier Perfumes

The secret garden in the sky

 Trying something new from Aftelier Perfumes is always a treat. You never know what will happen, the only thing that's for sure is that you're in for something unique and totally unexpected. Secret Garden was no exception, first thing that jumped out at me when trying it on were bandages and saffron! I was a bit suspicious, neither of these notes were listed among the official scent notes, but within minutes the perfume started to get hold of itself and suddenly it settled into a lovely, mouth watering, fruity floral.

I think Secret Garden is a very apt name. It IS a fruity floral, sure, but these are not fruits and flowers as we usually know them. I'm finding it hard to pin down the exact listed notes, what I am getting are  flowers yet to be discovered, forbidden fruits and every now and then there might be a reflection of an eye or a sharp tooth, barly visible through the shrubbery, belonging to one of the mysterious inhabitants. An image that has been coming to me again and again is of a castle in the sky. A beautyful mirage anyone would wish to possess - but the castle is impossible to touch and merely it's own.

Oud Luban is a whole different thing. It smells of smoke and incense and made me feel the way I do when staying at my husbands familys cabin, far out in the woods. There is no running water and no electricity and all cooking is done, medival style, over a small fireplace. Oud Luban took me back to the state of utter relaxation one gets into after sitting alone, staring into that cooking fire while the rain is pouring down outside for hours and hours. If it would be a person it would be that big, calm outdoorsy type. He doesn't say much but you know you can rely on him anytime you need.

But, then I tried Secret Garden layered with Oud Luban and a complete tranformation happened. My experience when doing this was like I have this Secret Garden floating in the sky and suddenly someone slappes a lower body onto the whole thing, complete with hips, legs and a nice ass. And now we're talking accessability on a whole new level. All of a sudden this is a scent you can dance with and do a whole lot of other stuff to that are more fun than just gazing at something admireably from a distance.

I'm thinking of Secret Garden and Oud Lubin as those kids, back in school, that were not allowed to sit next to each others in class because they would disrupt the order in the classroom. I can understand, from a teachers perspective, why it's a good idea to keep them apart but if you don't mind a bit of fun, chaotic excitement in your life, by all means smear both of them on - because they really enjoy each others company.

Official Notes:

Secret Garden:
Top: bergamot, bois de rose, Geraniol, blood orange.
Heart: jasmine sambac, raspberry (compounded isolate), Turkish rose, blue lotus.
Base: civet, castoreum, vanilla, deer tongue, benzoin, aged patchouli. 

Oud Luban:
Top: elemi, orange terpenes, blood orange, frankincense CO2.
Base: oud, opopanax, choya ral, benzoin, aged patchouli.

These sampels were sent to me for considerations

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Revisiting perfumes I've disliked

No, this is not me.

As I'm about to move within 3 weeks from now I've been in a major clear out mode recently. I've been going through all of my stuff, forcing myself to categorise it into "keep", "give away" or "throw away". My beloved perfume sample collection has been subjected to this as well. There are some that I'm very sure I'll never ever want to wear again (Hello Secretations Magnefiques and Serge Lutens Miel de Bois). But there are others I'm not so sure of how to handle. These scents I typically tried on once and either mildly disliked or just felt so indifferent about I never bothered to try them again. So now I've decided it's time to take on a few of them on and decided once and for all if they are keepers or not.

Frederic Malle - Une Rose. If I'd play "Guess the recipe" it would be the following:
  • 3 parts rose
  • 2 parts soap
  • 1 part fresh cow urine
  • 1 part beef broth
Does this sound like something you'd like to wear? First time I tried it I nearly shreiked in horror but the weirdo in me begged to give it a second chance. This time around I do like it better, it's resonating with the most sad, showy and melodramatic parts of myself. It's a "look how you make me feel, I'm all messed up and I'm desperatly trying to imply it's your fault"-kind if scent. Lets hope I won't find too many occasions to wear it - but I will keep it.

Tauer Perfumes - Incense Rose I remember trying this one on and thinking that the combo roses and washing powder felt old and that the sharpness hurt my nose a little bit. Shouldn't Tauer be able to do better? Now I tried it again and I can't believe I'm remembering the same perfume. The intro is absolutely wonderful, full of spices, reminding me of "glögg", the lovely Swedish mulled wine that's very popular here this time of year. I don't get a lot of roses at all but I do get LOTS of spicy incense. To me this is the perfect Christmas scent and I can't believe I even considered getting rid of my sample. 

Frederic Malle - En Passant. Bright and cheery lilacs. Washing detergent overdrive. When I was 12 real lilacs used to be my favourite smell, smelling them in En Passant makes me feel old. Another sample to be sent away.

Etat Libre d'Orange - Putain de Palaces. I'm perfectly aware of that this is one of the most loved and cherished ELdO scent. But it just doesn't work on my skin. I first tried it this summer and got "Suffocation by Play Doh". Now I also get bitter almonds, unwashed bodies and sun tan lotion. This sample is going away to someone who has better use for it.

And the winner ....

of a sample of Carmaine from House of Matriarch, drawn bu, is.... non other than....



Please mail your address to me at solafsdottir (at) gmail (dot) com. I think I might have it somewhere but I'd just like a double check that you haven't moved or anything :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Carmaine by House of Matriarch - and a draw!

Earlier this autumn I had the immense luck to win a bottle of Carmine from "House of Matriarch" from Ines blog, "All I am - A Redhead". And it wasn't just any bottle. I was stunned when I went to pick up my prize at the post office and realized that the bottle I had won one was of the same type as depicted above. A heavy ornamental crystal thing with a silver top that looked so classy I'm seriously thinking about getting a new dressing table just to have somewhere proper to display it!

But the best thing was not the bottle but what came inside. Carmine starts out fruity, peppery, smoky and do I get a hint of stables? What happens next seems to be a different thing every time I wear Carmine. Sometimes I have gotten what I can only describe as a chocolate rose. The rose part here has none of that aldehyde washing powder lift that comes in many rose perfumes. This is the soft, sensual scent you'll get of the innermost part of a real booming rose. Imagine that matched with a smooth, highly aromatic chocolate, full of those substances that makes our happy hormones dance in joy.

On other occasions I've been taken back to India, riding a train on an icy cold night. Me and my husband cuddled up under a blanket, warming ourselves holding cups of sweet spicy chai while watching people go on with their lives outside the train windows. I also get fruitiness, this one is very hard to describe. Imagine an extraterrestial hybrid of Thai custard apples, sapodilla and dark caramel sauce and you're somewhere near. During dry down the gourmand chocolate note fades and everything goes softer. There are lots of sweet resins in there. There is faint vanilla, sometimes I think of Coca Cola. 

A man enjoying his chai
Carmine is unique, it's not like any scent I own or have tried. That's not strange given it's part of the Brave New World project by the Natural Perfume Guild. The aim of the project was to put focus on new ingredients, that have only been available to perfumes for the last 10 years. I have to admit I don't have a clue about what half of the officially listed ingredients in Carmine smell like individually. But I do know that Carmine smells good.

And now to the best part - the draw! One lucky reader will receive a sample of Carmine drawn from my own bottle. Just leave a comment below before Thursday the 24 of November and you'll be included in the draw. Contestants may live anywhere in the world and I will not be responsible for loss or damage caused by the post office.

Official Notes:
TOP NOTES:  Hiba Wood, Kewra, Tagetes (Egyptian)
HEART NOTES: Black Pepper, Michelia Alba, Michelia Champaca, Davana BASE NOTES:  Patchouli, Vetiver, Tonka, Oakmoss,  White Copal, Bruizinho, Tobacco, Chai Masala, Africa Stone, Celestial Amber, Sandalwood (Africa)


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Le Nez du Vin

If I'm going to list one passion in my life, except perfume, friends and family, that would be wine. In order to pursuit this hobby, in a somewhat structured and seriously looking manner, me and some friends have a small wine circle. That means we meet up for themed wine tastings at one anothers homes every three weeks or so.

One of the members in our group has invested in the box depicted above. It's a 54 piece collection of little bottles and in every one of them there is liquid that smells like a scent note that is present in wine. For instance, there are "Lemon", "Hay", "Musk", "Dark Chocolate", "Yeast" and many others. There are also descriptions of all the notes and some info about what notes are found in what type of wine.

I found this idea sooooo nifty, I'd love to have a scent library with "clean" notes to turn to for reference. Smelling the bottles is a little bit tricky, though. I found that you have to hold them at a precise distance from your nose while smelling. If they are to close the main note gets obscured by the carrier and if they are to far away tou won't pick anything up. 20 cm (say 8 inches) from the nose seemed to be ideal.

Another thing I realised when smelling those samples is that I'm completely anosmic to the musk included in the box. This has made me thinking, the notes that I've interpreted as musk before, is that musk but another kind than in the box? Or is it something that perfumers tend to put in perfumes to go with musk? I've no idea. One thing is for sure, I'll pay more attention to second opinions whenever wearing musk heavy secnts from now on...

The box is sold by a company named "Le Nez du Vin" and in the picture is their "big box" containing notes from all different types of wines. There are also smaller sets available for red wine, white wine, coffee, notes one get from oaking wine and there is one set with smells of defects, as well.

Pics and more info at:  Le Nez du Vin

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Comparing the 3 lavenders of Serge Lutens

First time I tried Serge Lutens Forreau Noir (click link for full review) I fell in love with it and since then, every time I've wore it, it just gets better. The intro kicks me in the stomach, in a good way. It's cool, has just the right amount of masculinity I feel comfortable wearing in a perfume and it's dirty as some random guy flashing himself to you in the subway during rush hour (yes, that did happen to me recently). I've also recently started to pick out a Swedish candy named Lakrisal in there. If I'll ever allow mysef a bell jar, this one is at the very top of my list!

But Uncle Serge does have other scents with lavender as well, there are Encens et Lavande and Gris Clair. Be sure, they are all worth trying and are very far from what comes to mind when thinking of the lavender potpourries found in grannys closet.

Encens et Lavande approaches the lavender from a very different angle than FN. Where FN is full of sweet gourmand notes as vanilla and caramel EetL is not. If I'm going to summarize EetL in three adjectives, it's dry, green and savoury. Fragrantica only lists 2 notes in EetL,  incense and lavender. The incense is a massively green and herby one. To me, it's magical and ever changing, its building blocks seem to be rearranging themselves constantly. What I one second interpretes as incense smells like sage, oregano and juniper the next.
Gris Clair I strongly associate with a February morning. You wake up, the air is crisp, clean and has that wintery dryness about itself. When looking out the window you see frozen fields, touched by frost, stretching out in all directions.

My first try was while wearing a bikini on the beach on my Cretan holiday a few weeks back. In that setting, GC was wrong. But, back in Sweden, I've been wearing it a lot. It is rather similar to Forreau Noir, in fact I view it as a weekday version of FN. The smoke and gourmand notes of FN are all gone, the vanilla is less prominent while the dryness of the lavender is the same. In order to get an even more strict and formal feel, GC has had some iris added to the blend.

I've worn GC for work every day this week and I'm finding it to be an amazing work scent. It's strict with a proffessional feel to it. That initial hint of masculinity feels appropriate, maybe because the role I have at work is one that is normally very male dominated. I know, my intro says I'm a sommelier. I am, as I do have a sommerlier degree but that's not where the money comes from. I am ... now brace yourself...I'll just mention this once and then never talk about it on this blog again...ok, now...I'm a Java programmer. And GC is perfect for that.

For more reviews, see:
The Non-Blonde: Fourreau Noir, Gris Clair,
From Top To Bottom: Encense et Lavande

Notes according to Fragrantica:
Forreau Noir: lavender, tonka, almond, musk
Encense et Lavande: incense and lavender
Gris Clair: lavender, iris, tonka, amber and wood


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Le Labo - Gaiac 10 + help needed with ideas about good workplace scents

As time goes by, I'm not on maternity leave anymore but I've started my new job now. The shift to everyday working life has been easy but there are things I haven't gotten used to yet. One of them is not being able to dab on perfune whenever I like. Where I work "strong perfumes and scented candles" are not allowed. I've even signed a paper saying that I acknowledge this. I think the scented candle part is hilarious. In order for them to mention it, there must have been a "scented candle incedent" at some point in the past. Just thinking abou this makes me smile. The perfume part of the deal, though, I've choosen to interpret this as it's ok that I wear scents that are discreet and do not have a big sillage.

My choice of work scent for the first week has been Le Labos Gaiac 10. It's a very nice, uncomplicated scent. It starts out woody. I don't know what real gaiac wood smells like, but the woody note I get from Gaiac 10 is a green one, it reminds me of a lighter take on cedar and I do get a hint of cumin to go with it that I haven't seen mentioned by anyone else. The wood stays for approximately 2 hours and after that there is a straight forward and skin hugging musk. The musk scent remains for hours and hours, I've put on Gaiac 10 before leaving in the morning at 7 a.m. and still being able to smell the musk when I've gotten home around 6 p.m.  It's listed as a masculine but I only find the beginning to be a tiny bit on the masculine side. The musk part feels very unisex.

As a work scent Gaiac 10 is a very good one. It stays close to the body so it's unlikely to annoy anyone. I only get it when sniffing my wrist directly and, to be honest, if any perfume foe at work would do that they will just have to live with getting whatever perfume I've choosen to wear...  Another thing about Gaiac 10 that I like is that the musk packs just enough dirtyness to keep itself interesting but not enough to make me feel all inappropriate.

I'll have to work, day in, day out, for many many years now. Therefore I'd love to get some ideas of other good workplace scents, discreet but not boring, please. Any ideas, anyone?


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Beyond Love by Kilian

Tuberose, tuberose tuberose... I like it whenever I encounter it but always there is a big "but" waiting to be inserted into the scentence. "I like it but I'm not sure about that supporting coconut note" (Mona di Oro). "I like it but I wish there wasn't so much bubblegum" (Vamp á NY) or "I love it, but when will I ever find the right occasion to wear it?" (Tubereuse Criminelle). However, now, I've found a tuberose that is just right, just "me" and that is by Kilians Beyond Love.

It's no easy access however. The first hours are ... difficult. First there is a faint whiff of cloyingly sweet orange coconutty vanilla. I'm guessing i's there in order to smooth out the onset of the tuberose, because that is heavy stuff! If you've ever had flowers in a vase of water, then left home for a month, come home, found the flowers long dead and the stalks rotting in the water, or if you've had coworkers with bad breath, I'm not just talking garlic for lunch here but long term gum infections, those kind of notes are what I'm getting. I'm wondering, are these "indoles"? Are they part of how a real tuberose (the flower) smells (I've never smelled one in real life) or are they a byproduct of turning the flower into perfume? I'd be truly grateful if someone could educate me on these points!

Well, things do get easier. There is a Swedish proverb saying "Whoever waits for something good never waits for too long", and that is most true in this case. By then, there is this most gorgeous, inviting, tropical, suggestive (suggesting things in a wide open, come and get it type of way), sweetly intoxicating scent imaginable. I've spent the most part of the last couple of days just smelling and smelling and smelling my arm and then smiling because I smell so good. I love that feeling and fortunately this lovely drydown phase of Beyond Love lasts very long indeed.

So, wearing Beyond Love takes a bit of planning. This is not a fragrance to spritz on just before going downstairs in order to make a stunning impression on your prom date. This one you put on right away when you get out of the shower, before you get dressed, do your make up, do your hair, get that last bit to eat and text all your friends about how fab the night is going to be. Doing it that way around, if that date turns out to be a disaster, at least it won't be due to the way you smell.

For more reading on tuberose, the Candy Perfume Boy has published a great guide to tuberose here.

Official notes according to the by Kilian website: coconut, Egyptian jasmine absolute, tuberose concrete, tuberose absolute, green tuberose, tuberose petals accord, ambergris and tonkin musk.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Le Labo - Santal 33

I've had some very busy days lately. The main reason for this is that earlier this summer me and my husband found the house of our dreams - literary. We have been looking for a house for years but never found the right one, until we stumbled onto this one. The night after going there I dreamt about how wonderful my life would be in this house. And not just that, I kept having nightmares about when buying other houses, we'd find that the floor was rotting and we'd sink through it or just feel suffocated by bad vibes in general. I CRAVED that house but of course there was a catch for us getting it - it was way out of our price range.

But the days went by and we saw that the house was still out for sale, with a lower price tag now. "That would be the perfect house for us", we thought, but it was still too expensive. But later, again, it was out for sale for an even lower price. It was still nowhere near cheap but we just couldn't pass it up again, so we bought it. Now the only catch was that we really really needed to get a decent price for our apartment or else we'd be in big trouble money wise. And anyone who has read this far will understand that the real estate market here is not very hot at the moment... So we cleaned and cleaned and cleaned and staged and staged and staged. By this time I was so tense I had a permanent headache from unconsciously grinding my teeth and clenching my jaws, I only ever do this when I'm VERY stressed out.

As I see it, there are two ways to use perfume as therapy. You can spray on the scents that you associate with whatever feeling it is that you want, but unfortunately is missing. Or you can just go with what you got, support your mindset by scent, live it and hopefully get over it in the end. I went for option 2. I wanted something that felt focused, assertive, energetic, absolutely no frills, a "there is only one way and that's forward"-type of scent and I reached out for Santal 33.

Santal 33 is woody and leathery. I get tiny whiffs of the same smoke as in Patchouli 24, but it's nowhere as dominating. This is the only Labo that I've tried that I've loved from the first sniff and I've been wondering why that is. I usually get annoyed with scents that have this degree of woodiness but there is something in this one that makes it just right for me. When I read the official notes I realized that it's probably the flowery softness of the violet note listed that balances everything else. This is now my "getting things done and cut the crap, we can smell the flowers tomorrow"-scent.

So, did we sell the apartment? No, not then. We had an agonizing week of people making way to low offers or wanting the apartment but not getting a loan from the bank. But in the end our real estate agent showed it again and than this lovely gay couple from heaven showed up. They seemed to mentally move in at first sight, talking about how they were going to rebuild the kitchen and where to put what furniture. The day after, papers were signed, they bought the thing and now everyone is happy :)

Official notes: sandalwood, virginia cedar, cardamom, violet, papyrus, spices, leather, musk and amber.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My holiday in Greece

Magrigialos, Crete

Ages ago me and my husband booked a holiday on Crete for this October and last week it was finally time to go. The vacation started with a patch of uphill though. The Greeks are very unhappy about the saving actions their governemty is taking and dicided to manifest this in a huge strike the day before our planned arrival. We thought we'd just escape but when we came to the airport it was announced that the Greek airport personnel hadn't arrived to work yet but would probably showed up later during the day(!)

But an airport isn't the worst place to be stranded if yuo're into perfume. I got to explore the perfume counters there for 4 hours. I remember sampling Prada Candy and Shalimar with flankers and liking them all but most of the time I spent chasing my 1 y.o. girl who is also into perfume, but more along the lines of displacing the bottles, licking them or running away with them...

But after that things went smooth. October is a great time to visit the Mediterrainian. The weather was warm enough to wear shorts and a t-shirt but not as scorching as it can be during hight summer. The sea was still warm enough for swimming. We had one day of rain and thunder but we just cozied up indoors, watching some amazing lightenings over the sea.

Before going I had planned to pack all my favorite summer scents, but when the time came to actually pack I felt "I've been wearing those for all summer, I'm sick of them,. I want something else", and I went for a little bag of not very much tried Serge Lutens samples.

The ones I wore (in order for how suitable I found them to be on a beach holiday) were:

A la Nuit - the winner of the week. Absolutely stunning! Starts off with a big blast of dirty white flowers and then gently settles into a great rendition of jasmine. We had real blooming jasmine on the premises and they smelled gergous, but, I have to say, "A la Nuit" smelled better! And, as an unexpected bonus, it worked perfectly with the coconut scented soap our hotel provided in all bathrooms.

Fleurs d'Oranger - a naugty little orange blossom sticking out her toungue. I don't love this one as a lot of others seem do, but it did make me smile.

Ambre Sultan - vanilla and oregano, who would have thought that they make such a stunning match? I'm dying to try this combo in ice cream, I bet it would turn out very unique. About the perfume,  I will have to try this one many many more times before I'm anywhere ready to write a review.

Claire de Musc - a very wearable, non-dirty musk. Liked it. Don't know what more to say.

Douce Amère - smells like the taste of those little sugar coated fennel seeds you get at Indian restaurants after finishing your meal. A disappointment. It's not that it smells bad, it's just that I 'd expected something more of the absinthe and anise. Meek and inoffensive.

Fille en Aiguilles - I love it on my husband but any more than a fraction of a drop on myself gets very tiresome. This one is now labeled "his".

Claire Gris - absolutely lovely but very strange on someone wearing a bikini on the beach. Smokey lavender, half masculine. Short listed for winter.

Miel de Bois  - dolled up ear wax. Note to self: Don't ever try this one again!

So, what happened more? I do complain a lot how, as I live in Sweden, never have the chance to smell lots of those plants frequently used in perfumesry. So now I thought I should really use the opportunity to smell as much as I possibly could. The biggest revelation was fig. I had no idea how those trees can scent up a whole street! I finally do understand why fig perfumes smell the way they do :) And those jasmines I've already mentioned. So many times i thought, what is that perfume? And every time there were some of those little white flowers somewhere with in reach...


Monday, October 3, 2011

Announcing a few weeks blog break

There are busy times ahead. During October I'm planning to stage and sell our apartment, spend a week in Greece, spend some more days going to a conference in North of Sweden, preparing to start working after more than a year of maternity leave and probably do a lot more. So I find it unlikely that I'll have time to blog. But I'll be reading my mails and I love to hear from you as usual. And when things settle down I'll have tried lots of new perfume samples during this time and hopefully I'll have some very well thought about things to say about them :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

RiverCali from Anya's Garden

As with everything, there are different types of perfume lovers out there. If I'd try to categorize myself I'd say I'm the analytical type. I spend a lot of time thinking about the notes I encounter in a perfume. Which ones are there, how do they get along, play each other up etc. I also think a lot about what type of person would wear a certain perfume and what associations in general a perfume brings. When I talk about perfumes I tend to describe them by the different characteristics I find in them, I might say they are woody, floral or "remind me of some old pervert I met once". The ones I like I tend to describe as "interesting". Surprisingly seldom I encounter a perfume that "just smells good", but RiverCali from Anya's Garden does just that.

The first time I tried it was on one of those days. The whole family was in a bad mood due to sleep deprivation and low blood sugar. Everybody was cranky and complaining. But somewhere in all that crankiness I did catch a whiff of something...else. Something happy and comforting that cut right through the drudgery. An unexpected little smile coming from my very own wrist. It made me lower my shoulders, relax, realize that I had a choice about letting all the stress get to me. I could take charge and make the best out of the situation. Which I did.

RiverCali starts with an uplifting leafy lemon note. As the citrus fades a soft, beautiful, creamy floral is revealed. It's hard to pick any one note as they come together near seamlessly but the main players are rose and orange, lingering on a bed of vanilla. When I read the list of official notes I was very surprised to see that there is pink pepper in there. Pink pepper, as well as black pepper, are notes I usually don't get along with. In RiverCali I first didn't notice it but when I really searched for it I realized that there is a hint of pink pepper and it's that tiny sharpness that somehow helps bring focus to the other notes, keeping them on their toes, adding character.

In all, I find RiverCali being calming and energizing at the same time. I tend to always have lots of threads of thought running in my head and it's very unusual for me to find any fragrance, good or bad, that I don't seem to think about all the time. It seems to give that part of my brain a rest but at the same time I don't get bored, which I do get if I don't wear anything (as in no perfume, duh). I reckon this is a very good thing. Like meditation. Really, if I had the chance to rename it, it would be "Blissful Meditation".

Official notes:

Top Notes: pink pepper, pink grapefruit

Middle Notes: petitgrain bigarade, jasmine, petitgrain lemon, neroli, orange, orange flr water,
turkish rose otto

Base Notes: bee goo tincture – tinctured beehive end caps and floor of the hive litter, mitti attar, ambrette seed tincture, vanilla, sandalwood from vanuat

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Le Labo - Labdanum 18

Some time ago I read Tarleisio review of Neil Morris Rumi. She wrote how she, in general, didn't like ambers as they are "so obvious", Rumi being one of the exceptions. I must say I didn't really understand what she was getting at. Amber is one of those notes I haven't given much thought. I don't reach out for them but I don't avoid them either. When a sample comes my way I dutifully try it on and think "this was nice" and then forget all about it.

But then I tried Le Labos Labdanum 18. My first thought was, "I can't believe I'm smelling like this. It's like 8 o'clock in the morning. On a weekday. I have to do lots of errands and meet people I barely know. And I smell so ... [eyes rolling] .... obvious."

I went on, thinking, who'd wear this? At first I pictured a young girl going out on the town, spraying on some Labdanum 18 in order to seem older and more "experienced". But a while later I thought, no, that's not it, there is just way too much skank in it. This is a middle aged mama going out and after a few drinks she thinks it's a good idea to rip open that leopard print blouse, tie it around under generous boobs, baring her midriff and dance like Britney in One More Time. When even this does not get her enough attention she starts rubbing herself up against everyone on the premises.

So what does it smell like? All the way through there are two sides of Labdanum 18. There is a soft and clean side, featuring lots of baby powder, chocolate, resins and creamy vanilla. That side does not change very much as the scents wears. Then there is another, utterly dirty, side. At first the dirtyness manifests itself as a small bitter harshness, a harshness that smells like unwashed hair. It's faint compared to the powder but it gives that eyebrow lifting "Did I just smell what I think I was smelling..." thing.

A while later civet enters the stage. Now Labdanum 18 smells like someone who has had a big workout but is to lazy to shower and tries to conceal this fact by  caking herself in vanilla baby powder. It's almost working. (And, I can see how this question might be arising at this point: I do take daily showers that include a hair wash, just so everybody knows...)

During the drydown there is that musk note that is somewhere between piss and pipe tobacco, the same one you get in Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Kahn or Bois et Musc. I'm intrigued about the fact that it feels so intensely perverse but I can't put my finger on exactly why.

So, what is my final verdict of Labdanum 18? After all, I do like it. But keeping some around the house worries me. Because I can very well imagine the following scenario. At some time me and my girlfriends manage to get babysitters on the same night and decide to have a grand night out. First we have some drinks at my place and when it's time to leave I just make that last trip to the bathroom and start thinking, oh, I really need some more perfume. Wasn't there this scent I reviewed that was such a smashing party scent, Labdööööch.... something? Oh yes, here it is, lets put some on, and then things are just going downhill in a straight like towards that bare midriff Britney scenario....


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Winner of the DSH Draw is.....

Winner of the DSH Draw for "Cuir et Champignon" and Celadon, decided by, is none other than...



I'll be sending over the samples as soon as I manage to get to the mailbox. Please just send me a email or comment making sure you haven't moved anywhere, will ya :)


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Le Labo - Neroli 36

Not as the other Nerolis

Once upon the time there was a big white house where all the Nerolis lived together. They were such a happy bunch, everywhere you looked there were sparkling smiles, cheerily bouncing corkscrew locks and dresses all the colors of the rainbow. Laughter chimed everywhere as the Nerolis played games as "Hide and seek" or "Catch" out in the sun.

And then there was little Labo. He was not as the others. Some even sayed that he wasn't a Neroli at all but no one would dare say that to his face as he had this way to glare at you that made your toes curl in discomfort. There were many rumors about him, that he liked to get earthworms to crawl up his nose so far that he could spit them out through his mouth again or that he liked to eat slugs. I don't know if any of that is true but what I do know is that most of the time Little Labo kept to himself. He liked to go to the beach and watch the sea. Especially on cold days when the sea looked all gray and there wasn't a speck of blue anywhere. He used to sit there and dream about how he would one day sail away to a better place. HIS kind of place. A place where  people would see him, and hopefully love him, for what he was and not just obsess over what was missing compared to the other Nerolis.

Le Labo Neroli 36 starts with lots of oceanic notes and fruit. For me, this was most unexpected, as I was expecting neroli (duh!). I was thinking, what, have they bottled some mainstream leftover from the 90-ies and hope I wouldn't notice??? But then I sniffed some more and realised, yes, there are oceanic notes and fruit but this is very far from any "attempt to be a crowd pleaser during the 90-ies frag" I know of.

At first I got salty sea, musc melon, bitter astringent orange peel and pink pepper. After a while there was mostly bitter orange zest, sweet, slightly cloying florals (jasmine, I think) and a hint of something medical. On Fragrantica there is one review mentioning a resemblance to the infamous Sécrétions Magnifiques. As I have the questionable luck to have recent experience of that one I must say that this is not entierly untrue. Yes, when you think about it you can detect bandages and bile in the background, but don't worry, it's just a fraction of what you get from SM.

So, what do I think of Neroli 36? First time I wore it was a disaster. I was throwing a birthday party for my son and managing sugar crazed kids, making sure everyone is having a good time and no one is left out is one of the most physically and mentally challenging things you can do. Really! I had hopes that Neroli 36 would help me maintain that cheery (if not entirely genuine) hostess-mom smile all day, no matter what. And I can tell you, Neroli 36 did not help.

Since then, I have tried it in other circumstances and Neroli 36 and me are slowly becoming friends. It's a great scent for days when you feel introvert and broody, when the rain is pouring down outside and you'd rather just stay at home, reading books and listening to music, not having to talk to anyone. On those kind of days I don't want to be cheered up. I want a scent that mirrors my mood for a while, acknowledging that "Ok, this is the way you feel right now". I want something that stays with me, holding my hand so I can experience whatever it is I'm experiencing so I can then be done with it and move on to whatever greater glories there are waiting down the road.

Picture disclaimer: This picture seems to be all over the net. I'm using it solely to visualize my perceptions of a scent, I do not know that person or mean that he is anything like the Little Labo I write about. If anyone is getting offended by me using it, please let me know and I'll remove the picture at once.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cuir et Champignon by DSH Perfumes - and a DRAW!!!

(Yes, I'm reusing this image, here is a reason for that, hang on and you'll see why!)

Lets do a bit of fantasy role play. Imagine it's a cool autumn day. You live somewhere in rural Britain where you're the lord or lady of a huge manor. Every now and then you saddle your fastest white stallion and take him for a ride to inspect your vast properties. As you gallop through the woods and over the fields you notice how the weather is getting colder by the day, soon holiday season will be here. After the ride you relax into your old leather armchair in front of the fireplace. Your butler brings you a cup of tea, a piece of gingerbread and your favorite pipe, stuffed just the way you want. He should know, after all his family has been serving yours for more than 3 generations.

These are the vibes I'm getting from "Cuir et Champignon". It starts out smoky in a big way. In the very beginning I'm getting salami, black pepper, smoked meats and animal. After half an hour CetC calms down into one of the nicest leather interpretations I've smelled, ever. I'm getting saddles and halters. The leather is just my type of leather, there is none of the cloyingness of Cuir Mauresque nor the perversity of Bandit (which I do love, but I couldn't wear it every day). It's comfy and wearable and perfectly accompanied by warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. I also get wood and tobacco. The mushroom note does not stand out to me, but it's noticeable if you know it's there and it aids the general feeling of autumn.

In my last review I also wrote about a fragrance with mushroom notes, namely Aftelier Perfumes "Cepes and Tuberose". If I was to compare that one to CetC, "Cepes and Tuberose" happens on a sunny day in September while CetC takes place on a chilly day, late in November.

And what was that thing about the reused picture? Well, I did use it 2 weeks ago when I reviewing "Celadon - a Velvet Green", also from DSH Perfumes. In that post I described how Celadon took me back in time to when I was 8 years old, dreaming of a horse. Celadon had all the elements of that dream, well, everything except the actual horse. Therefore I was utterly astonished when I tried CetC and it turned out to be a another horse riding experience in a bottle. This one mirrored my adult fantasy of a life where horseback riding is an integral part. Totally different but still the same things from two different periods in my life.

And now to the really good news. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, perfumes and founder of DSH Perfumes, has been incredibly generous and sent me extra samples of both "Celadon - a Velvet Green" and "Cuir et Champignon" and they can become yours!!! All you have to do is comment on this blog post before Tuesday, September 20 and I'll announce the lucky winner sometime towards the end of next week. You may live anywhere in the world and I will not be responsible to damage or loss caused by the postal services. Don't miss this chance, these are great fragrances for fall!

Official Notes for Cuir et Champignon:
Top notes: Bergamot, Clary, Sage, Galbanum, Neroli, Wild Chamomile
Middle notes: Cepes (mushroom absolute), Clove Bud, Gardenia,Honey, Orris, Sandalwood, Tuberose Absolute
Base notes: Castoreum, Civet, Guiacwood, Hiba Cedarwood, Indonesian Vetiver, Leather, Peru Balsam, Tobacco Absolute

My samples were sent to me for review but they can also be bought on the DSHPerfumes website. They have a huge sale right now, don't miss it

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cepes and Tuberose by Aftelier Perfumes

The Trolls and the Tuberose

In order to describe Afteliers "Cepes and Tuberose" I'll retell you a short story I read a while ago. It's called "Border" and it's from a collection of stories named "Paper Walls" written by Swedish horror author John Ajvide Lindqvist.

The main character is a woman named Tina who hasn't got the happiest of lives. She married to a good-for-nothing guy who cheats on her and spends her money. Furthermore, she's big boned, scarred and, by most peoples standards, downright ugly. She works at the customers office but the only place where she feels at peace is in the forest.

One day, a man passes her at the customs counter and she just knows he's hiding something. He also smells incredibly good. During a routine customs search, nothing out of the ordinary is found, though.

Paper Walls
Later, it turns out that he's renting a room in the house next to hers. She gets more and more obsessed by him. She breaks in to his room, into his car and just sits there, breathing in his smell, at once musky, woody, beautiful, just RIGHT, somehow.

Now, at this time she might be sounding really creepy, but it turns out that the two of them are not really humans at all, they are trolls. He is one of the last ones to have been raised free. Tina was taken away from her parents at a young age, tail cut off, put up for adoption among humans in an attempt to integrate her into society. Her parents were institutionalized, driven insane from being deprived their peaceful existence in the forest.

I've had this story coming to mind ever since I first put on "Cepes and Tuberose". That is how I picture those trolls smelling. It starts off with boozy orange, chocolate and marzipan accord. When the orange wears off the cepes (=porcini) reveal themselves. A mushroom perfume might sound odd, but just think of the truffle pigs. The reason why they are so keen on finding those truffles is that truffles smell just like a female pig in heat. Ok, she seems to be hiding a few inches below the ground, never a good sign, but sometimes you don't ask any questions. Now, smelling of truffles would be a bit much, at least for me, but the earthiness of cepes are the second best thing on my internal mushroom sexiness ranking chart, and in "Cepes and Tuberose" - they smell good! 

There are other notes as well. I get woody cloves and cedar. Sometimes I get something musky. And there is the tuberose, flickering like an elusive forest fairy. Sometimes she's out in the open, sometimes not, but her glowing pixie dust helps  bringing the other notes to life.

To say that "Cepes and Tuberose" smells like an autumn forest would be true but it would not be the whole truth. This is one of those scents that sum up to a whole lot more than the individual notes in themselves. It IS an autumn forest, but it's a sunny one, a happy one, one that is chock full of pheromones, smiling at you, beckoning to enter.

Disclaimer: I read the story "Border" several years ago and I might not have all the details right. There is a lot more to it than what I tell here.
My sample of "Cepes and Tuberose" I bought at the Aftelier Perfumes Website.
Troll image is by Swedish artist John Bauer.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Doing the classics - YSL Opium

A while ago I was the lucky winner of "Perfumes, the A-Z guide" by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez in a draw on the lovely blog Feminine Things. "Perfumes", if you don't know of it, contain reviews of 1200 or so perfumes. The authors do not hold back on critisism, neither good nor bad, making it a very entertaining read.

There are several ways to read the book. The reviews I've found the most useful are the ones reviewing the classics. Even the saddest little perfume shop, among all the clelbrity scents and cheapo fruit blends there tend to be a few classics still hanging around. They might look sad and out dated but, when you think about it, the reason for them being there is that someone has dearly loved them, loved them so much they've gone back time and time again to buy them, in some cases during more that 50 years. And by reading "Perfumes" I've gained two pals to hold my hand and giving me a guided tour on what's so remarkable about those classics.
Yesterday, after delving into "Perfumes", I decided it was time to try on the legendary icon YSL Opium. It was originally launched in 1977 and, as far as I understand, pretty much dominated the scent scene during the years thereafter. How to describe it? Well, if Opium was a movie it would be from 1977 (duh!). The plot would take place in an old antique shop, specializing in intricate oriental wood carvings. It would also turn out that the owner is dabbling in Chinese medicine, in his bathtub he's trying to create a elixir of youth, based on equal part old school sun tan lotion and Nivea cream, spiked with a secret blend of oriental spices, resins and balsams. Main character is played by Linda Lovelace (seen on the left) and the plot itself (or lack thereof) I will leave to you, my dear readers, as an excercise.

Or, trying to be a bit serious here, Opium starts out very two sided. There is strong, freshly cut up, wood and a creamy generic sun tan lotion. After half an hour these merge into a malange of vanillia, cinnamon, balsam resiny goodness. It's soft, smooth and well integrated. I kept thining of Opium as a Ormonde Jayne Tolu, but everything golden is replaces by a 70-ies hue of mahogany brown (if that makes any sense to anyone). Opium also turned out to have remarkable staying power, I sparyed it on at 10 a.m. and it was still strong 12 hour later.

What surprised me most about Opium is that I fell in love with it. I thought this would be a little experiment, aiding to my general perfumista knowledge but I found I seriously enjoyed wearing it. So much I'll be getting a full bottle somewhere in the near future.

Disclaimer: I don't own a sample of Opium. This blog post is based on my one time experience, spraying some of the reformulated 2003 version of Opium on, at a store counter.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cucumbers and horses - "Celadon, a Velvet Green" from DSH Perfumes

It's nothing new that I've been seriously into vegetable notes this summer and the first time I saw DSHs website I was in awe. So many perfumes, so many with vegetable notes in them. Where to start? What do I want? I went for cucumber.

Now, most people that have perfumes as a hobby know that what you get is not always what you had expected. With "Celadon, a Velvet Green" I had zoomed in on the cucumber note and somehow managed to ignore all the others. I was expecting something light, aquatic, green and fresh but what I got was completely different. Look at the picture below, I got that! Well, everything except the horse, that is.

Celadon took me back in time to when I was maybe 8 years old. All my friends went to riding school and the conversation topics that mattered was gossip from the stable; what horse was the cutest one, who would get to ride what horse during the next couple of lessons, that type of stuff. I badly wanted to attend riding school, but no. My dad is a plastic surgeon and he had met more horseback riders than you'd like to know - on the operating table trying to reconstruct various parts of their bodies after being kicked or fallen off. So this was a very "No Discussion"-type of no. But a girl can dream... I read books about horses, read magazines about horses and watched horseback riding shows on tv, thinking, one day, I'd wear one of those stylish riding outfits, have a horse of my horse and we'd be best friends forever.

Celadon is the scent representation of my childhood dream of a horse. There are two sides of this scent, one is green, containing clover, grass and lots of hay, complete with that slightly sour note that it tends to get by laying around in damp environments. All the stuff I'd be happily feeding my little horsie, the two of us hanging out in the barnyard. The other side is soft vanilla/tonka. Sometimes it's a dreamy marshmallow cloud to dwell in. Sometimes I get fabric softener, like riding outfits smell in fantasy land where no one ever has to clean out the stables or get horse sweat all over you.

Now, me and vanilla "are in a relationship and it's complicated", as you see on Facebook sometimes. There are some scents in which I like it, but in this one it's brushing me the wrong way. The green side of Celadon I like though. And I admire how it brings up memories that I thought I'd forgotten all about. Who needs a shrink when you have a perfume blog?

And, did I ever get that horse? No, it was not meant to be. Some years later my parents actually encouraged me to try horseback riding. At that time they probably had realised that one of the most likely pastime I'd chose would involve beer and boys with motorcycles. By then, horses had lost their appeal.

For other reviews of "Celadon - a Velvet Green", see:
Olfactorias Travels
I Smell Therefore I am 

Top notes: Clover Leaf, Cucumber, Lime Peel
Middle notes: Green Grass, Liatrix, Orris Root
Base notes:Balsam Fir, Hay absolute, Narcissus Absolute, Tonka Bean, Violet Leaf Absolute


This sample was sent to me.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Winner of the Occult draw announcement has spoken and the winner of a bottle of Occult from Vessel Perfumes is......


Congratulations!!!! I hope you'll love the scent!

Please mail me your home address to solafsdottir (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll put the bottle it in the mail as soon as possible :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cooking with Aftelier essences, part 2 - Ice Cream

One type of food that that lends itself especially well to experimentation is ice cream. People are more open about how it can be flavoured, compared to most other foodstuffs and it's nearly impossible to make a bad batch of it, as long as you taste as you go!

In this post, there are two ice cream recipes, the first one is basically a lemon sorbet that has had some sunshie added to it in the guise of a drop of Aftelier Yellow Mandarin Essence. The second one is also very good but a bit on the nerdy side, to say the least. It was initially meant to be a tribute to the cult fragrance Shiseido Feminité de Bois. By mistake I overdosed the raspberries and it blossomed into a "Serge Lutens Bois et Fruit" Ice Cream. You can fail in worse ways than that :)

Mandarin Sorbet

Mandarin Sorbet

3-4 lemons
4 dl (1.6 cup) water
2 dl (0.8 cup) sugar
1 drop Aftelier Yellow Mandarin Essence

First, make the syrup:
Put sugar and water in a pot.
Bring to boil.
Let the syrup cool down in a refrigerator until completely cool.

Squeeze the juice out of 3 of the lemons into a big bowl.
Add 3/4 of the syrup and the drop of mandarin essence.
Taste carefully.

If it's too sweet, add more lemon juice.
If it's to tart, add more syrup.
Keep on doing this until you can't imagine the sorbet getting any better.

Freeze everything in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.


And now, the Bois et Fruits recipe. I had so much fun doing this. I dabbed some Shiseido Feminité de Bois on, trying to match the scent tastewise as I went, borrowing inspiration from the list of notes posted at the Fragrantica website. Doing it this way was a bit like playing perfumer but actually having a clue about what I was doing :)

Bois et Fruits Ice Cream

Bois et Fruit Ice Cream

270 g (8.5 oz) plums, cut into pieces, pits removed
2.5*2.5 cm (1*1 inch) piece of ginger, cut into coin sized pieces
1 clove
1 stick of cinnamon
1 splash vanilla essence (I've a difficult time measuring this properly as I make my own by putting leftover vanilla pods into vodka, use a little but not to much)
5 tablespoons honey
1/2 dl (0.2 cups) water
1 drop of Aftelier Blood Cedarwood Essence
100g (3 oz) raspberries 
1 drop Aftelier Yellow Mandarin Essence
1.5 dl (0.6 cups) whipping cream

For really getting the most out of making this ice cream, if possible, dab some Shiseido Feminité de Bois on one wrist and some Serge Lutens Bois et Fruits on the other. These are your references to smell while cooking the fruit base.

Put plums, ginger coins, clove, cinnamon, vanilla, honey, water and cedar essence into a pot. Bring to boil. Don't use a lid.

Now, FdB is mainly about wood and fruit. The spices are supposed to be team players, binding everything together but not stand out individually. Therefore you need to taste your plum jam to all the time (at least every 30 secs). As soon as one of the whole spice seems to getting too dominant compared to your perfume reference it has to be removed.

I did it like this:
after 1 minute of boiling the clove was removed
after 5 minutes of boiling the cinnamon stick was removed
after 7 minute of boiling the ginger slices were removed

Keep on boiling until the plums start to disintegrate.

By now the fruit base should taste something similar to Feminité de Bois. Feel free to tinker with it.

Add raspberries and mandarin essence.

Keep the pot on the hot stove until the raspberries start to disintegrate.

Now the fruit base should taste like Bois et Fruits.

Chill until completely cold

Whip the cream.

Stir the fruit base into the cream.

Freeze in an ice cream maker following the manufacturers instructions.

And not, finally, you get to eat the ice cream!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Vessel Parfums - Occult and my first ever DRAW!!!

Before I had kids my favourite past time was reading books. All kinds of books. I still love them but nowadays I've hardly ever get the time to read one from start to finish. I often get books at the library, feeling all excited, but at the time I get those mails telling me that I better return the books right away or get fined, I've usually haven't managed to even open them...

Last week though, I picked up a book named "Cirkeln" ("The Circle" in English) by Mats Strandgren and Sara Bergmark Elfgren. This book is really aimed at teenagers and tells a story about 6 high school girls who find out that they are witches with superpowers and only by working together they can prevent the upcoming destruction of the world. I probably would not have looked twice at a book like this if it wasn't for the fact that several reviewers have hailed it as the best thing since Harry Potter. And, was it that good? Yes!!! I haven't been able to put it down during the last few days, all I've been thinking about is "What will happen next?". The good thing about it is not the story about the paranormal stuff in itself but the portraits of the characters, the dynamics between them and their lives, going to school, in a God forgotten Swedish small town. I don't think it has been translated to any other languages yet, but keep an eye out for it any ways because I'm sure it will be.

I've also been lucky to been wearing the perfect scent while reading this book, namely "Occult" from Vessel Perfums. First note to stand out is sweet burnt honey. After a while there is incense. This reminds me of the type of incense my grand mother used to burn when she was trying to hide the fact that she had been smoking indoors. She claims that she quit smoking in the 80ies, but we still catch her with a cigar behind the house every now and then... But back to Occult, there is vanilla, wood, hints of soft leather and musk. In all, the notes are very gentle and well blended. If I'm to picture someone wearing this it would be a girl sleepwalking over a graveyard, hair blowing in the wind, she's wearing a long white cotton night gown and a silver cross around her neck. It would be perfectly innocent if it wasn't for that strange silvery smoke and strings of ectoplasm coming out of her mouth...

My only complaint is that Occult is rather faint and doesn't last that long on my skin, but, I suppose, one can always dab on some more.

Vessel Parfums is a relatively new company, founded in 2010, by Hollis Schwanz.  According to their website: "She was bored by the high volume of generic fragrance launches in the marketplace, and decided to develop a line of perfumes inspired by eras in time and the moods they evoke". Occult is their first fragrance release and it was: "Made to enhance the wearer’s personal mystery, not to coat him or her in a pre-fabricated narrative". One can only say YAY to that!

Now to the part everybody has been waiting for! I've been sent a small bottle of Occult that you can see in the picture above. It's fitted with a small silver pendant and a necklace string so it can be worn around the neck. As much as I'd love to keep it to myself I also love to help out new ventures, so I've decided that one lucky reader will be eligible to win my bottle. There are a few drops of perfume missing due to me making this review. If you want it, all you have to do is make a comment on this blog post and tell me why you want to try Occult. This is no essay competition, something like "It sounds nice" is perfectly acceptable.

More rules for the draw is that you can live anywhere in the world. Last day to make a comment is 2nd of September 2011. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced some time next weekend. I will not be responsible for damage or loss caused by postal services. Now, go ahead and make those comments and Good Luck!

Official Notes
Top: Laotian Beeswax, Black Plum, Somalian Olibanum
Heart: Texan Cedarwood, Haitian Vetiver, Leather, Amber, Indonesian Patchouli, Sandalwood
Base: Benzoin (Laos), Vanilla Bean (Madagascar), Civet, Opulent Musks

For more reviews of Occult, see also:
The Non Blonde

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cooking with Aftelier essences, part 1 - Grand Fir

Mandy Aftel does not only make top notch natural perfumes, she also has a range of cooking essences and I've been lucky enough to get to try a few of them. The ones I've been experimenting so far are Yellow Mandarin, Blood Cedar Wood, and Grand Fir. The wooden ones I choose because those flavours are unusual in cooking and I love a challenge. Sweet mandarin I chose because I LOVE the taste of mandarins. Clementins and tangerines we can get all year round here, but real mandarins with their very special happy taste are very hard to come by. They only show up for a few weeks every year in speciality food stores, so having a small bottle of essence is a real treat!

So, what have I been using these essences for? Since I haven't had any finished recipes I've started easy. Doing simple, near fool proof, dishes just to get to get the feel for each essence. Initially I thought that the Grand Fir one would be the hardest one to use, it smells very assertively and resiny. A scent that I associate with masculinity, winter, deep forests and green Wunderbaums, hanging in cars belonging to guys with shady intentions. Fortunately, I've been delighted to find several great uses for it. I've tried adding a drop to a basic balsamic vinaigrette dressing, that works great with veggie salads or Greek salads, especially with sweet ripe tomatoes and feta cheese.

Veggies with Balsamic Fir Vinaigrette

Balsamic Fir Vinaigrette

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegraitte
1 small drop Grand Fir Essence
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything in a small bowl. Taste!

Salad to go with the dressing

Use the any ones you like of the following:
Tomatoes, the sweeter and riper the better
Red onions
Grated carrots
Feta cheese

Cut up the veggies and feta. Put everything in a salad bowl. Either pour the dressing all over the salad or serve on the side.

A well known chefs proverb is "Grows together, goes together". Here in Sweden I think the fir is the most common tree, especially up north there are vast forests of them. All over the forest floor wild lingonberries grow. Their taste reminds me a bit about cranberries, but they are smaller, harder and tarter. The most common use for them is making jam. I was very curious about how lingonberries would take to the Grand Fir Essence so I made a quick, not so sweet, version of lingonberry jam to try. It turned out great, an interesting, and somehow deeper tasting, version of a Swedish classic.

Lingonberry Forest Relish

This is somewhere between a jam and a relish. For making jam, just boil the berries a bit longer and add more sugar.

1 cup of lingonberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 drop Grand Fir Essence

Put lingonberries, sugar and water in a pot.
Boil for a few minutes until the berries start breaking up.
Add the drop of Grand Fir Essence.
Stir and serve.

Great served with Swedish meatballs.

So, this is enough cooking for today. I have several more posts coming up using the other two essences, so stay tuned :)

The essences were sent to me for trial.

Monday, August 22, 2011

DSH - Perfum de Luxe

I've been meaning to try DSH perfumes for a while now and finally, this week, I managed to score a couple of samples from a fellow MUA swapper.

One of these was Perfume de Luxe. I had chosen it at random from a list of available samples and had no idea what to expect. The list of official notes, posted in the bottom of this post, is long, so I couldn't predict what it would smell like in real life. The only thing I knew, by reading up on the net, was that it was inspired by the Art Deco movement of the 1920´s and ´30´s.

First sniff conjures up the intoxicating scent of raisins soaked in rum. And maybe some aged sweet sherry. Yummy and boozy. This lasted for about half an hour.

Then I start getting sweet honey and candles. And I'm not talking about scented candles here, I'm talking about smelling good quality old fashioned wax candles close to the burning wick, getting the scent of warm running wax and smouldering twine. I don't get any of the flower notes individually but they are there, intermingled, in the background, crating a sweet surrounding for the candles to cast their glow upon.

In the very end the sweetness evades and I'm getting a faint, amiable, blend of amber and tobacco. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Mandy Aftel recently said, in an interview on the Eyliner on a Cat blog: "Luxury is an internal experience; status is an external one", and that is very true about my experience with "Perfume de Luxe". It wears close to the skin, there is nothing show-off-ish about it. It doesn't scream "Look at me, I can afford smelling like this". It's a perfume for someone confident and secure in herself that stands above such behaviour because she knows that she herself is the main attraction anywhere she goes. This perfume accentuates her in all her glory, it's not the other way around.

Official notes
Top notes: Bergamot, Clary Sage, Neroli, Petitgrain, Violet
Middle notes: Bulgarian Rose Absolute, Centifolia Rose Absolute, Chinese Geranium, Honey, Orris, Tuberosa, Ylang-Ylang,
Base notes: Amber, Benzoin, Brown Oakmoss, Labdanum, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Tobacco Absolut, Vanilla

Pic: Alfons Mucha

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oolang Infini - Atelier Cologne

In order to write this blog post I've been thinking about how to describe the scent of tea. It's not that easy. The first note that comes to my mind is the citrus of Earl Grey teas. But that is, of course, not the tea itself but the bergamot used to add flavour and contrast. Then there is the smokiness of Lapsang Souchong, created by smoking the tea leaves in a bamboo basket over fire. Again, that's the smoke and not so much the tea in itself. Green tea does have a describable scent; slightly bitter dried grass and hay. But Oolang, also called blue tea as it is somewhere between green and black, not fully fermented, is hard to describe. The best I can come up with is as a "Me, but better version of hot water featuring elements of earth, astringency and bitterness". But we all know there is a lot more to a nice cup of tea than that. And fortunately it's all captured in the beautiful Oolang Infini by Atelier Cologne.

When smelling OI and thinking about the notes with the analytical part of my brain I'm getting some bergamot, tea and maybe a hint of lavender. But what I'm really experiencing are tears - in a good way. I'm not sure what brings this on, maybe the slightly astringent tannins present in the tea note remind me of that feeling after having had a good cry. Wet cheeks, swollen nose but now I've let it all out, it's time to pick up the pieces and move on.

I'm also reminded of rain filled skies on a damp and chilly day. The air is so thick it feels like breathing in cold fog through your mouth. But as the scent wears the weather clears up, sunshine breaks through. The memory of sadness is still lingering, but it's not sad any more. It grounds you, add to your experiences and helps you to stand your ground in this crazy world.

I like OI a lot, it's my favourite Atelier Cologne so far (I've not tried them all but I'm very impressed with the ones I've tried). The scent is subtle but pleasant, works great on both men and women and easily lasts a whole day.


Monday, August 15, 2011

I ♥ les carottes - Honoré des Prés

Carrot notes in perfuems are not that uncommon. As far as I understand they are often used to support the mighty iris. Therefore I was intrigued when I heard about "I ♥ les carottes" by Honoré des Prés where carrots get to play the lead, with the support of, among others, orris butter. And "I ♥ les carottes" is very much about carrots, carrots that come in 4 liquid servings.

First, there is an aperitif. I♥LC starts with a huge blast of alcohol, and there is nothing smooth about it. This is a 80+ proof bad ass Carrot Vodkatini. Putting on I♥LC on feels like waking up under the bridge, reaching for my bottle in a brown bag. Fortunately I do find it, it's still not empty but someone has stuck a carrot in it! Weird, I think as I take a swig, but, whatever.

After 5 minutes or so the alcohol has evaporated and the next serving comes along. It's a super healthy, freshly made, carrot juice with a hint of minced orange peel and ginger for that extra bite. I find the carrot note at this stage amazing, it is so dead on carrot juice. It has that feeling of being a little thinner and having a tiny hint of funk that carrot juice has that I do not get when crunching away on fresh carrots.

After an hour or so the sharpness of orange peel and ginger has faded and I start getting vanilla. Now we're having a milk shake made of carrot juice and vanilla ice cream. It's still on the thin side, but hang on, this is a bit of transitional phase, lasting maybe an hour...

...until Orris Butter enters the stage. If I♥LC started out interesting, an experiment in unorthodox ways to smell, it's now getting truly beautiful. The orris butter, vanilla and carrot notes come together into something soft, velvety and very "cosy boozy". Maybe this could be a carrot mudslide made with French unpasteurized cream and the very best brandy? I've no idea. It's probably a good thing I don't know how to make something like this, I might end up under that bridge, madly ranting about how carrots are to blame for everything.

In all, I♥LC was great fun to try. I like how much it changes on my skin, going from very sharp to super soft, showcasing an array of carrot cocktails. The first hour or so is not exactly mainstream perfumery, but because of the soft dry down I think I♥LC is worth trying by anyone who thinks vanilla and iris make a good combo.

Image: Organikal

This sample was sent to me for review.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Annick Goutal - A Rose Splendide

I tried my first Annick Goutal scent about 3 months ago. That might sound a bit late bloomish, but AG isn't a label you see much around here. As far as I know there is only one store in Stockholm, a huge department store named NK, that carries them and when I've been there usually something else has caught my eyes and nose. The brands I used to go for were the ones trying to signal they were cool, innovative or reeked of contemporary conceptuality in some way. The first Annick Goutal I tried didn't work on me, so based on that experience and the old fashioned bottle design I just assumed that Annick Goutal "wasn't me".

But I kept noticing how AG got a lot of love, or just general chatter about themselves, in the perfume community so I figuered, I have to give them another try. So, some time later at NK, I grabbed a handful of paper strips, some random perfume bottles (I think those might have been Ninfeo Mio, Songes, Neroli, Un Matin d'Orage and some more, but I'm not sure) and started squirting. And, some of the scents I tried that day made me speechless. It was as if time had stopped and I just stood there, frozen, having a perfect perfume moment. Everyone around me was stressing and hurrying about, I was blissfully smiling, no doubt looking very silly, lost in my own world.

Now, I've only tried a few random scents so this might not be true for the whole line, I'm very much generalizing here, but there is something delightfully naive and charming about the AG scents. They are super girlie in a way that pre dates the Barbie and Hannah Montana kind of girlie. They take me to a place where pink ribbons and a clean white apron is da shit. A world where time is all I got and I get to use that time experiencing the scent of one perfect rose, lingering in a florid Italian garden or enjoying the feeling of a few precious drops of Neroli oil applied on my skin.

Another thing that I'm even newer to than AG is enjoying rose scents. After discovering Etat Libre d'Oranges Rossy de Plama a few weeks ago I've been lucky to have a few wonderful rose samples coming my way (thanks again, Ines!). One of them was Rose Splendide. That is that perfect rose I mentioned earlier. I haven't worked up a vocabulary to describe rose scents yet (I'm working on it) but this one is a stunner is its purity and simplicity. This scent seems to catch the life cycle of a rose. It starts all fresh and dewy and as it wears it grows sweeter and more mature. At the very end it reminds me of the dry incense like rose of Rossy de Palma.

According to Fragrantica the official notes for Rose Splendide are rose, pear, magnolia and musk. The pear is evident in the into. It works as an opening act, doing it's thing until the rose bud is opens up, and it's than the real action starts. It's also interesting how we imagine colors going with scents. For me, this rose is champagne coloured with pink rims, like the one in the picture.

I've read that AG has recently been bought by a Korean company and I've no idea how that will affect the brand. I imagine that the girlity I get from AG will work in Asia, anyway I sincerely hope that the new owners will preserve the perceived innocence and purity of the brand. Cause, at least me, once in a while, I really need something like this.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Finding my way through the woods - comparing the Serge Lutens boises

So quickly, my apartment has turned quiet again. Husband is back to work after his holiday. My son is back at pre-school. My baby girl is having a nap (I don't know if she technically is a baby any more, she turned one a month ago, but anyway). At the same time the weather has been getting chillier. All of a sudden there is autumn in the air.

So, now I'm going to write about some perfumes that I feel have a somewhat autumnal feel to them, namely the Serge Lutens boises. I've been comparing 5 of them, namely:
  • Bois Oriental
  • Bois et Musc
  • Bois et Fruits
  • Bois de Violette
  • Shiseido Feminité du Bois
The first four all came in 1992 and rely on the same cedary base. I find it hard to describe, but there is sunny wood, sweet fruits (I'm getting raspberry or blackberry jam and quinces) and resin, blended to perfection. Anyone who is serious about perfumes should try at least one of these once.

Bois Oriental

This scent The Perfumed Court touts as a "Gateway Serge Lutens". The reason for that is that the woody cedar base is a lot less intense, I'd say there is about half of it, compared to the other scents. Instead there is a big component of sweet vanilla added. I have to say, this is my least favourite. I really like that woody part, smelling it makes me think of talking a walk in a magical forest I know and love. But all that vanilla, it feels like there is a sticky sweet fog obscuring everything worth seeing. This one is not for me.

Bois et Musc

Do ware panthers pee in the wood?
This one consists of 2 main tracks. There is the good old cedar base and a hefty dose of musk. The musk is faint at first, but grows stronger and in the end overtakes the cedar, as the musk is very long lived.
I've reviewed this one before and I wrote something about "feminine musk" and "a great scent to wear to the office". I must have had a massive cold or possibly suffered from some temporal sort of brain damage that day. That musk is pure animal and lands somewhere between blackberries and cat pee. It's similar to that "after shave" note found in Muscat wines. Everyone who has smelled Muscs Koublai Khan will know what I mean. So, I just want to make this clear - please try before wearing to the office...

Bois et Fruits

Here the fruity parts of the cedar base have been amped up. That means A LOT of raspberries, blackberries and quinces. The fruits are all on the sweet and jammy side, creating a cheery and youngish feeling concoction. I wear this one when I want to smile. I have reviewed it before and I don't feel there is that much to add. The old review can be found here.

Bois de Violette

Another great one, I love to wear this one when I'm feeling a bit introspective and dreamy. Here the cedar is matched by violets, creating a darker but still very beautiful forest. This one I've also reviewed before, the review can be found here.

Shiseido Feminité du Bois

Now, here is a real woman. This one makes the others look like teenagers going through phases, not having found themselves yet. Feminité du Bois is the classiest, sexiest most elegant scent I've come across in a very long time. The cedary base in this one is different, I can't say exactly what is the difference. It's similar to the others, but when comparing them wrist to wrist there is a notable difference.

I'm not sure about the connection between this one and the others. As far as I understand (and correct me if I'm wrong) Shiseido Feminité du Bois is the forerunner, created by Christopher Sheldrake and Pierre Bourdon before the Serge Lutens perfume brand was born. There is a "Feminité du Bois" launched under the Serge Lutens brand as well but it seems like the formula is slightly different according to random Internet sources. I haven't tried the Serge Lutens version myself so I can't really say.

What I can say is that the SFdB is true magic! This is a fairy forest at it's sunniest and most intense. There is a lot of fruit there and I think the most prominent one is plum. If you've been watching True Blood, I'm also thinking of the glowing lumiere fruits. The downside of eating them is that you loose track of time but as long as you get to stay in Fairy and smell like this, I don't see this as a problem. I also get a hint of leather and spices that I don't get from the others. Overall SFdB is more of a skin scent, inviting people in. And it's up to you to use the fairy powers in SFdB to decide if you're ever going to let them go again.

Special thanks to Ines for sending me the sample of Shiseido Feminité du Bois