Friday, November 26, 2010

A quick word

Prompted by new Luckyscent sample pack and Mona di Orio scents.

One of the most important things I learned about the world of perfume is that you cannot just jump in. You cannot go around gathering ideas from what bloggers are writing about, what smells good or is new and interesting at the moment, what the classics are, etc.

If you have no knowledge outside your perfume store and absolutely general and often bad releases we see (smell) each day, you cannot just start smelling stuff at random by reading about what people find great.
I mean, you could (as I did) but most of the time, I failed to come to the same conclusion.

Learning about perfumes (and their constituent parts, i.e. notes) is a long and pretty much never-ending process. And I know this for some time now, but it became very clear tonight after trying some Mona di Orio perfumes. I tried some of them a year and half ago and kept wondering what was in there that everyone liked so much?!
Well, now I understand, and I already have my favourite - Jabu.

But the point I'm trying to make is, you need to take baby steps. Learn a general road of notes, start with some easily likeable but different houses (my favourite for that is L'Artisan Parfumeur) and take it slowly then. Trust me when I say, it takes a while for Mona di Orio (and in my case chypres) to register on the right scale.

And the most important thing - the more you smell perfumes, the more you understand them. There is no other way.

Not a quick word after all. :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gerard O'Donovan: The Priest

Since I am a serious book freak, it's not difficult to get me interested in a book.

So, when this title appeared on Algoritam site, I was hooked and went to buy it. I'm actually surprised by my reaction to it. I kept reading it although I kept thinking each time I put it down that I might not continue next time with it (as I'm always reading at least 3 books at the same time) but each time I found the time to read, it was always The Priest I kept reading until I finished.  I'm still not sure why that is.

It's not like it keeps you at the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens next. You get a pretty good idea very soon what is going to happen. and this being by my standards a crime thriller, you know what you can expect from it.

I hope no one gets upset with me writing this, but reading The Priest is like watching a British crime series. You know, since the author is Irish and the book is mostly set in Dublin.

I'm not going to get into details about the story, I'm sure you'll find them if you get interested but it is a bit gory type of violence. Not many dead but that doesn't take away from the tragic factor.

Anyway, what I loved about this book was the way the main character's thoughts were described. Inspector Mulcahy is a person like all of us. We get tired, we get upset, we cannot remember the key fact at a moment, it takes us a while to link some things into a picture. You get the idea.
We solve the case through his mind and we follow his steps until he reaches the right conclusion. But the important thing is, those steps are so real. Even though you know who is guilty, you still understand why Inspector Mulcahy cannot just jump to that conclusion without serious evidence. And that process is what I love about this book and what I think made me not want to stop reading it.
Of course, we follow the thought processes of some other characters, but I was mostly taken by Inspector Mulcahy's.

Pic by: Gerard O'Donovan site

Monday, November 22, 2010

Finally a HP movie worthy of the book

Honestly, after the disaster that was the HP 6 movie, I didn't expect the first part of the Deathly Hallows to be so much better. I don't know if it was directed by the same person (I never remember these things) but if it was, I think whoever it was listened to what people had to say after movie 6. As someone who is a huge fan, I watched all the movies again previously to Deathly Hallows coming out, except for movie 6 because I'm still boycotting it. It was just a huge disappointment for me.

So, I am extremely glad that this one was everything I expected after reading the series several times. It's dark, it sticks to the story so well that I, for a chnage, didn't have any complaints as to the changes that were made for the movie, which I think is a first for me, the story feels real and the acting is excellent. There really isn't anything that I have any complaints about - except the fact that I need to wait 8 months for the last installment. But I waited so long for the last book, I can survive these 8 months. I'm a bit scared of thinking how tragic that one is going to be, but well, the book wasn't very happy (or almost at all).

One thing I'm wondering though is how are people who haven't read the books enjoying these movies?! I just can't imagine not reading the books but going to watch the movies (and I know many who did exactly that). I keep thinking they must be missing so many things I take for granted as I read the books and they have no underlying knowledge why some things happen or what they represent. Not to mention the fact that they probably forgot the stories (and little important bits of information) from the previous movies.

Can you tell I'm a huge fan? :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

SSS: Tabac Aurea

Well, before you all get your hopes up, this is it for the time being, no more reviews of Sonoma Scents as I only ordered these two. But this is actually good, I don't wont to end up having Sonoma scents monopolizing my perfume wear time being in constant use. :)
I find it quite ironic that I would like so much a perfume that has such a prominent tobbacco leaf note as I hate cigarettes, smoking and have been against them my whole life (and expect to continue like it) and have also without success tried to convince my parents of the same.

Notes: cedar, sandalwood, tobbacco, leather, vetiver, patchouli, clove, labdanum, tonka bean, amber, vanilla, musk.

Lately I started wondering why I even bother with the notes as most of the time they just cannot even begin to describe the perfume journey you are going through while smelling something. And in this case, I really have to admit and say, most of them never popped out of this wonderfully different but totally cool perfume. At least it's different for me, I don't remember smelling such an amber tobbacco scent.

It opens with a sweet (shortly boozy) tobbacco smelling wonder. This is where I get the most of the vanilla. I don't know if I'm that sensitive to tobbacco (having to endure a smoking home most of my life) or it's really that prominent (I would need to hear about this from someone not as opposed to smoking) but the tobbacco is there for the whole ride. Not always as prominent, and almost invisible at some point, but there.
After a while, some smokiness starts appearing, but luckily for me, it's not the smell of cigarette smoke but more of a fire under a clear sky. And along for the ride came vetiver, hinting that the smoke cannot possibly be coming from an indoor fire.

One of the best thing about this is that each time you smell it as it progresses, some little thing has changed but so imperceptibly that you are not sure of you are imagining it or it's really happening. It's always the same perfume but it keeps winking at you. It makes me feel like I'm all mysterious when wearing, you can never be sure what I'm thinking and whether I'm approachable or not. ;)

Pic and notes by: Sonoma Scent Studio

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Angry scents

This morning I woke up seriously angry with the world (somewhat with myself) but mostly just angry. So, naturally, I wanted my perfume to reflect my state of mind and say to everyone who comes near me today to back away, because I'm angry and a mean - something (I won't write down what all went through my mind). The reasons behind my anger are not important now, but I'm sure we all have our angry moments.

Anyway, I stood in front of my perfume collection and had no idea what to put on that would reflect my angry state of mind.
So, I need some help now. Do you know of a scent that can make your anger waft around you?
In the end, I put on Serge Noire, but it's not meeting my angry expectations.

And as a side note, I contemplated putting on some Chanel 19 from a sample I unearthed some days ago and that caught me completely by surprise. I've tried 19 several times (because a character from Anne Rice novel wore it and I wanted to know what the fuss was about) and each time I tried it, there was nothing there for me to like.
Until I tried that sample. Oh my, I can now see why people who knew perfumes a decade ago are angry with the IFRA. I want a bottle of THAT Chanel 19 that came from my sample, not the one I've been smelling around here.
Btw, that's just one more thing to be angry about.

So, please, any angry scent recommendations would be welcome. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Winter Woods

This appeared in my Holiday Gift Guide but I haven't given it a proper review yet, so the time has come to do just that.

You know how you smell a lot of perfumes and most of them (the unsignificant ones) are gone from your mind the next day? I mean, you know you smelled them but all you can remember about them is exactly that - you smelled them and no longer remember what they smelled like or just have a vague idea what they smelled like.
And then, there are the ones you smell and love them instantly and just know they are great, they are what perfumes should smell like.
That is what I think of Winter Woods (and Tabac Aurea but that is another review).

Notes: Guaiacwood, cedar, sandalwood, birch tar, cade, oakmoss absolute, castoreum, amber, labdanum absolute, vetiver, ambergris, musk.

Each time I wear this, it seems another facet pops out. First time I tried it, I thought it smelled sweet (vanillic), woody with hints of incense and slightly fruity. Then I thought I detected a vague metallic undertone which got lost as smokiness got a bit more prominent. And then I got a whiff of something that can only be described as pine resin. Quite lovely really, especially as I always associate pine woods with winter - fresh, woody and ambery.

So, I tried it again (well, wore it, then sprayed it on my arm to have it closer to my nose, wore it, sampled it), I keep coming back to it even though it's not nearly as cold here as I wish it when I wear Winter Woods.
Anyway, on other wearings I get a more ambery sweet opening (with slight booziness that comes and is fast gone) giving off richness and depth. I love it how incense here peeks through but never ever overwhelms the whole  (which can often happen, once you smell incense, everything else just fades into background). As the smokiness gets more into the wearing, the vanilla sweetness somewhat subsides but never disappears. And then at some point, I smell hints of tobacco which I would have probably missed if it weren't for Tabac Aurea getting some wearing these days as well.

The best thing about Winter Woods is that is very easy to wear (not like Tabac Aurea for which you really have to like the smell of tobacco leaves in order to wear it). It's just so likeable.

Notes and pic by: Sonoma Scent Studio

Monday, November 15, 2010

Shopping for high-end cosmetic products in Zagreb

Basically, if you really don't have to, don't do it.
I, on the other hand, don't have any choice because there is no trip abroad anywhere on the horizon for me so I did some shopping today. Well, I do it often enough to have gained some insights I'd like to share even though I don't suspect many of my readers might actually find themselves in this situation. :)

My first stop was Martimex, which used to be one of my favourite shops for high-end cosmetics and perfumes (while I still knew nothing about niche). This is not the first time I arrived and whatever I asked for particularly, they didn't have. So, I didn't find the face illuminator I wanted and ended with Touche Eclat by YSL again (it's not bad but I wanted something different). They didn't have any primers of any kind. And the eye cream I didn't ask for anything specific so I took Guerlain's home with me.  This is really starting to get on my nerves, each time I come, they don't have most of the products I'm looking for, even though they carry the lines. My purchase got me one Moschino perfume sample (one I got last time as well).
I have no idea what's happening with them, I mean, I have a pretty good guess but the way they are going, they are just losing customers. Yes, I know it's recession time and I guess they don't earn as much money as before but hey, this way they are not going to improve the situation.

Although, if they are losing customers, Iris perfumery is probably not going to be getting them. Each time I get there, all the SAs try and sell Sisley products to me. Always and all of them. Then, when I say that I have something else on my mind, we move on to that. So, today, after saying I'm not giving 200$ for a Sysleya primer (or however you spell that), I got the Sisley one. :) And lo and behold, they have a special offer - when you buy one Lancaster product, you get the other one for free. As I'm a proficient shoppingholic, I could not pass such an offer (and I'm almost done with those I have) so I got a day and night cream. All this amounted to almost the double what I paid in Martimex and earned me no samples. I guess that free cream counts as one big sample. I wouldn't even be mentioning this if it were the first time, which it isn't. And I'm certainly not going to ask for them.
You see, the thing here is, all the SAs working in stores like that don't need to buy any cosmetic products - they have all those free samples just lying there and why give them to customers when they can use them themselves.
Btw, here is where I should mention that I get more cosmetic samples from Bamapharm pharmacy where I don't buy the stuff.

And to end my rant today - I'll just mention Douglas which I didn't visit today but do it often enough. They usually have what you are looking for, if the SA can find it. Although, most of them need to be asked to just give you what it is you want because usually they cannot be trusted to suggest the right thing.
Plus, just a word of caution - which I learned the hard way, anything available to public with a lid on it (like a body butter or similar) needs to be opened prior to purchase in case someone decided before you to partly remove the foil and test the product.
But at least your bag will contain some samples.

Sorry, I had to get this off my chest - this is years of frustration pouring out. :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide

I have to say I was thrilled when Trish of the Scent Hive invited me to participate in the Holiday Gift Guide blog event. I get to talk about shopping ideas? Wonderful! :) Especially since shopping brings me much joy.
The only holiday we are looking forward here is Christmas and I admit, I already have most of my shopping for that event planned out (and some actually done). Shoppingholic, what can I say.

So, let me guide you through my ideas. I'll start with the perfume ones.

My first choice and the latest discovery would be Winter Woods by Sonoma Scent Studio. As I live in a city, a perfume that can transport me for a walk in the fresh woods where you can even smell the resin from pines, well, is there a better way to refresh your Christmas day in the city? Or someone else's?
17 ml of this natural perfume will cost you 40$, and 34ml are 75$.

My next stop is the online boutique of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. She has several great holiday choices I wouldn't mind finding under my Christmas tree.
My recommendations for Christmas scents would be: Piment et Chocolat, Cimabue, Festive and Gingembre.

Piment et Chocolat can be found on Dawn's site under Perfection Connoisseur Fragrances and Les Rouges. This one comes as a perfume solid (among other variants) for this holiday season and is 45 $. 
The same goes for Cimabue which is a lovely clove fragrance and also comes as a perfume solid under the Limited Editions but if you enjoy the smell of cloves, you can add a perfumed body lotion into the mix - for 30$.
Gingembre will evoke a wonderful smell of orange and cake but one you will want to wear, as a purse spray for 35$ and shea body lotion for 27$.
Which brings me to Festive - if you want to smell sexy for a Christmas party, my suggestion is this. And, it's the most economically approachable, purse spray for 27$ and shea body lotion for 14$.
Dawn's site is not easy to navigate, so if you cannot find these perfumes, try the Search function.

My choices in  gifts usually reflect what I would like to own or receive as a gift. Lately, I've beein trying to coax people into drinking more tea, so one of my holiday gift choices are sets from Mariages Freres.
In Zagreb, their products can be found at Institut Parfumeur Flores but you can also order from their site.
The products I found would make for lovely gifts are Tea break Noël set which will set you back 46 Euros and a box of chocolates Chocolat des Mandarins - Esprit de Noël for 15 Euros.

On to some more easily acquirable/economic choices.
One of my first forays into niche perfumery was through the Irish wildness of Burren Perfumery. I still love the fact that their love of Irish nature and natural products is easily seen in what they do and how they approach life.  They have  a page for their Christmas specials, but what I enjoyed most giving my friend last Christmas were their soy candles (9,50 Euros).
If I cannot get myself over there to experience Irish nature in real life, at least I can get some of it over here and share it with my friends.
Also, if you subscribe to their newsletter, you get 10% off your first order.

And last but not least, my favourite due to the fact that it is easy to acquire and even though somewhat typical, I will be giving it this Christmas to some of my friends.
A bottle of quality red wine but since it is a Christmas gift, why not buy some cinammon and clove and put it in little bags in order to warm up and spice up the cold winter days with some mulled wine? You should probably aim for a wine with a more fruity taste and if you really want to add spice to it, add cardamom to cinammon and clove. :)

I hope your holiday season is filled with love and laughter because even though gifts will be exchanged, the most important gift we all will be getting this holiday season is the love of our family and friends.

Please visit other participating blogs for some other interesting ideas:

Thank you to Roxana for coming with the picture for the blog event.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Intrigued but not yet in love

Thankfully, there is still a lot left in my sample to fall in love with.

So, I finally got my hands on a sample of Boxeuses. For some reason, I though it was going to smell like a leathery version of Feminite du Bois. I was quickly proven wrong and then I started thinking how in the world did I get to thinking that? Perhaps somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered reading plum is a note listed and most of my SL experiences are oriental so the leap was made.

You can probably guess from my introduction that I don't think it smells like leathery Fem du Bois. :) Actually, in the beginning it smells more like you had an extremely juicy smelling lollipop clutched in your leather-clad hands. Probably sticky as well as it was handed to you by your kid standing by.
Here is where I have to say that someone forgot to mention a whole bunch of notes when deciding to make them public: woody notes, leather, licorice and plum.

Plum completely went by me. The initial fruit burst reminded me more of oranges and berries and there was something lightly floral in there, giving off some powderiness (so my mind went straight thinking there's some violet in it), but that didn't last too long. As the fruity aspect subsides, leather gets more and more prominent but it's the type of leather that's in Daim Blond which in my mind is well, too lady-like.
Given the name, I really thought this was going to be more dangerous and dark (maybe that's just me thinking box is a dangerous and aggresive sport, even if women participate). I find it serious but not really dangerous. 
Unfortunately for me, I don't know what licorice smells like. But I can tell you that I smelled light smokiness, like someone accidentally charred some of the wood in this, and it was the only thing giving a dark and bitter vibe. Maybe if I were to spray it on, this darkness would get more pronounced and therefore be truer to the name for me.

Since I have enough left in my sample, I'm looking forward to seeing if I can tease the darkness out. :)

Pic by:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Miller Harris: Piment des Baies

I seem to be on a Miller Harris kick. Well, not exactly because this is it but it is interesting how the first decant I picked this morning was another Miller Harris. One I forgot I even had and have to thank Carol for sending it. So, this morning, I opened the decant, figured it smelled ok for the warm weather we're having and sprayed it on.

You know how I said yesterday how when I smelled some of their scents, I couldn't find anything by Miller Harris to seriously like? I have to take that back. After Noix de Tubereuse which is a scent that makes me smile now (even though I'm not wearing it), I love Piment des Baies. I really do. And I actually think I can wear this all through the year.

And I'll tell you why - it's fresh but at the same time spicy and woody - it's just a perfect balance of the notes.

Notes: bergamot, orange, tarragon, red thyme, pepper, pimento berries, angelica seed, sandalwood, orris butter, Madagascan vanilla.

Ok, so I don't smell all the notes, but I do smell enough. Btw, google (or better wikipedia) really is your friend. I went to check what exactly pimento berries are and it turns out, another name for it is allspice because the English thought it combined the smell of cinammon, nutmeg and clove. No wonder I like this! :)

It opens on a sweet, slightly green citrus note (I found it a bit reminiscent of cologne, but only a bit). It's not too sweet, or too green, or too citrusy. It's just right to smell fresh but with a twist. I think the twist is probably given by both pepper and tarragon as it gives barest hints of nose pinching. But only barely.
I thought (before wikipedia) that pimento berries might smell like some kind of berries because there is a really nice juicy fruit note at the beginning of this, but I guess it's a combination of orange and spices and herbs.

What I like so much about this is that the slight juiciness combined with  pepperiness never really goes away. Sandalwood makes an appearance but never alone, the drydown is perfect, some sandalwood in a small green shrub sprinkled barely with fruit juice. And the lasting power is much better than I expected. Much better.

This one falls straight into the category of scents I never have to think about wearing. I will never mind putting it on. I don't know what to wear today? Oh, look, here is a decant of Piment des Baies. I'll put that on and won't have to wonder anymore. It just fits me.

Pic by:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Miller Harris: Noix de Tubereuse

Lately, I've been feeling like I'm late to the perfumeworld and everyone seems to have this basic knowledge of almost every line there is out there. Except me.
I did give Miller Harris a try some time ago, but none of the things I tried were great for me and I kept wondering if it's just me, or I sampled the wrong scents, or something  else, because almost every other blogger out there had a Miller Harris scent they loved. Well, now I have one too. :)

Notes: Tuberose leaves, tonka bean, orris amber, wild green clover, mimosa, violet, fig

Hmm, now I see the notes, I see there's some violet in there. I seem to be in for scents containing violet note lately and not even realizing I'm smelling it. That just makes me consider those scents very good since I'm not getting put off by its smell (it's not as overpowering as it can be for me).

And can I just say that the name of the perfume is misleading. I mean noix does mean a nut and I don't see one amid the notes. Oh well, not the first (or the last time).

What I really like about this perfume is the opening. It reminds me so much of the cough syrup  my mom used to make when I was little. It contained common mallow and smelled very sweet and syrupy. I actually loved both the taste and the smell of it.
Noix de Tubereuse has that kind of opening and after a little while, you spy tuberose peeking through it.  I think it's a very interesting take on the lush tuberose. And after a while, it gets a coconut/walnut vibe to it. I mean, if you can imagine what a nutty tuberose would smell like, you'd get this, it is very true to its name. Also, very sweet and floral, I couldn't name mimosa but I knew some other flower was hiding in there. As well as some amber giving this a sweet richness that lasts.

I am really happy I have a small decant of this because I realized that tuberouse is (as are all other white lush flowers) actually quite appropriate for autumn. At least for me, I really feel like wearing it.

Pic and notes by:

Monday, November 1, 2010

I don't like getting disappointed

And I really tried. More than once even though I knew it was no use. But my optimism never wanes so I gave it another try. And got disappointed again. I just don't know how in the world did they manage it.

The "it" I am talking about is makinga wonderfully lush tuberose/jasmine into a shrill artifical musky floral. I mean that must actually take some serious talent if you ask me. And btw, they cheated on the notes.

Notes: tuberose, jasmine, lilly, spices.

The scent I am talking about is Narcotic Venus by Nasomatto.
The name is so very true for the first hour and I absolutely love it. It is lush and narcotic and everything one might want from a tuberose perfume. It is wonderful. I even get some lilly peeking through, although I wouldn't recognize it by myself if I hadn't seen the notes. No spices though.
And there I was, every lush minute of this when strange things started happening. My lush tuberose started shape-shifting into this bland shrill floral that occupies so many shelves of perfume stores around the world. How?! Why?! I want my tuberose back!

But no. Once it disappears, it never comes back. And I'm left here disappointed and sad we got to hang out for an hour.

Pic by: