Saturday, October 29, 2011

The easy choice - Labdanum 18 by Le Labo

I'm calling this an easy choice because each time I have to go someplace and don't know what to wear, I reach for this. :)
My relatively large decant came through a split and the speed I'm going through it, makes me think I will have to start looking for another one soon.

Notes: Labdanum, tonka beans, vanilla, castoreum, patchouli.

If I were to describe this perfume in one word, I'd say it smells ambery. :)

Lately, I realized I write down my notes on a perfume, then I go see what are the notes listed and then I go investigate which parts combined to get me the smells I was getting.
One of the good things about Labdanum 18 is that I believe I know what castoreum smells like. The process of elimination brought me there. :)
So, the vanilla, labdanum and tonka beans are responsible for the ambery feel but all very nicely tempered so no note overpowers the other. I also detect light whiffs of some herbal sharpness and I thought that came from patchouli but cannot really say for sure.

The problem with this perfume is that it is better smelled around you than on you. I mean, for reviewing purposes, I get less when I smell it on my wrist than when I smell it around me when I wear it. Then it sort of jumps out at me at all times. Not that this perfume jumps, it's more like it suddenly stealthily overpowers you and you are left wondering how you didn't know it was there a second ago.
It's an aural perfume to me (you know, it has the amount of sillage like an aura - just right).

Which brings me to the last note and castoreum. I have a problem detecting that particular tinge to this perfume on my writs, but when I catch a whiff of my "aura" there is a light sexy, possibly dirty or animalic to some, tinge to this perfume. But when you want to take a better look, it's gone. And then when you're not watching, it hovers around the edge of your vision, only to disappear when you take a better look.

There doesn't seem to be much development to this perfume (at least not to me) but I don't mind that because I really love the way it starts and those "sleight of hand" changes it does so it remains smelling the same with some minor changes for the  duration.

P.S. I just checked the Le Labo site and they list more notes than Luckyscent.
The ones missing up there are: cista, civet, musk aubepine, birch tar, cinnamon, gurjaum balsam.
Can't say I got any cinnamon but the first 3 could be all responsible for what I thought was solely castoreum's part. Oh well, I guess I still need to learn how it smells then. :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Late to the party - L'Air de Rien by Miller Harris

It seems everyone knows how this smells and it has quite a lot of fans out there as far as I could tell.

I only tried it today. So, yes, quite late to the party. :)

Notes: French oak moss, Tunisian neroli, sweet musk, amber and vanilla

I've been thinking of how to describe this all day.
On me it doesn't really display many changes, and I don't want it to.
(I also tried Lorenzo Villoresi's Dilmun today and wished it wouldn't change from the opening, but unfortunately it did, once again confirming LV perfumes and I don't go together)

Basically, L'Air de Rien smells like a cool, dry cover over a warm ambery base. The cover wouldn't let me get to the warmth hiding inside even though I could almost touch it.
Honetsly, I can't tell what notes the cover is made of, but as I see the list, the oakmoss must have done its thing with keeping the warmth and sweetness inside and neroli and musk as far as I can tell kept everything smooth and cool.

I really need some of this.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Melissa Darnell: Crave

If you asked me why I love YA so much, I couldn't give you an answer.
I'm not sure myself.

Is it because teenagers are full of emotions and anxiety and want to be adults but still retain the childlike in them?
Because I can no longer imagine my inner life going through so many emotional turmoils - I really don't have the energy left for it. :)

But, I enjoy reading about young people having adventures in the style of Romeo and Julia. Because this story reminds one of those lovers.
Tristan and Savannah were forbidenn in fourth grade to ever have any contact with each other. And until then, they were best friends.
Nobody though bothered to explain the reason to them.

The things I really loved about this book were:

- the fact the story is told both from Tristan's and Savannah's point of view (I always miss the male perspective, because honestly, I can't begin to imagine what might be going through their heads)

- the witch is the guy and the vampire is the girl (usually it's always the opposite)

- absolutely loved the part where Savannah's mother is explaining magic to her and saying that only in post Harry Potter world is magic cool and fun :)

- even though Savannah struck me at first as blinded and unrational, she did come to the conclusions I wanted her to understand eventually, so I guess, I can't take fault with that ( she is 16 after all and finding her place in a completely new world)

It's been a while since a YA love story gripped me so much.
And the star-crossed lovers of modern America are to appear in books 2 and 3.

The problem though is - it won't be soon enough. :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tom Ford: Black Violet (and I'm upset)

Seriously upset! I mean, for the love of god, Mr. Ford, 200$ for 50 ml?!

And that was the cheapest one I could find.

I don't know how private these blends are, but unless Mr. Ford made them himself, there is no way I want to give that much money for 50 ml.
No matter how much I love this perfume.

I can't even convince myself Profumum's Ambre Aurea would be a justifiable purchase even though I go weak at the knees thinking of it (240$ for 100ml but the blend is 40% perfume).
Btw, is that normal? Going weak at the knees at the smell of particular perfume? Because Ambre Aurea isn't the only one - but luckily there isn't many of those around.

On to Black Violet.

It smells perfect to me.
It starts lightly citrusy-piney to me, the masculine accord but soon after that I get the sweet "pulpy" fruitiness, and the woods and I believe some resins too but the notes themselves are very misleading. There's got to be more in there than what is enumerated (I guess everyone who smelled this came to the same conclusion) but I can't figure out what.
I just love the way it smells. A lot.

I've been testing it for a whole week and I still have problems writing this review. Each time I try it, something new comes out. And it's not the violet. :)
There are some florals in there, beside violet that is. And I hope it's not my wishful thinking conjuring the violet feelings of this perfume (I hate being influenced but sometimes I can't tell if it's happening or not). Still, can't say I smell anything violety, I just have the color in my head.

That middle stage, after the masculine accord of the beginning and before the one in the end, lasts quite a long time. And I lack words to describe it - a woody, lightly salty moss lightened by fruity sweetness.
And the woody masculine drydown is still discernible after 8 hours of wear.

But still, 200$?!

No matter how much I love it, I won't be buying a bottle at that price (but if anyone can point me to a cheaper one, please do). :)

Notes: citrus, pulpy fruit, black violet, woods, oakmoss

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Am I being too harsh?

I don't know how many of my readers are aware that I am a total cosmetics freak. It was my first love, I adore testing stuff and I'm always on the lookout to try something new.

But it hit me today when I was applying my perfectly ok face cream.
There aren't that many cosmetic products that wow me.

Those that actually deliver what they promised, or work in a way that would make you notice.
And that is why I don't talk much about them. Although I wish I would because that would mean there are some truly spectacular products out there available to everyone.
Because I don't really like to pay a huge amount for a body cream. Or any kind of cosmetic product. Ok, so what I am willing to pay is huge to my mother, but when compared to other cosmetic prices out there, I consider myself rather conservative. :)

The last two things that worked really well for me were:

Afrodita Cinnamon AHA Forte Anti-cellulite cream - I don't use it enough for an anti-cellulite effect to be noticeable but the AHA part works great.

And, a sample of Guerlain's serum and cream that the most generous Birgit sent, but being me, I managed to forget the name, I only remember it was anti-age (and blue).
But worked wonders to make my inner radiance come out. ;)

So, what do you think about most cosmetic products you use? What really stood out lately?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kasey Michaels: A Midsummer Night's Sin

Being a romance novel lover, I'm always on the lookout for new authors to read. Unfortunately as my romance taste is rather specific, those writers tend to be few and in between.

But I found a new one! Kasey Michaels. And had so much fun reading. :)

The main male character is Puck (nickname). He is fun and games personified and also lovable and loving when he falls in love.
In this case, the woman he falls in love is intelligent and has a healthy sense of humour which is needed if you plan on spending time with Puck.

The problem they face is white slavery. That unfortunately is a problem we still face today so I was glas to see K. Michaels showing it in rather grim manner in this novel.
I love to read to get lost in imagined worlds but we shouldn't forget that the world we live in, is generally not a  nice one.
And Regina's world won't be rocked just by that.

I loved the intelligent conversations and all the Shakespearian connotations.
And as this is the middle novel of the three Blackthorn brothers, I have something to go back to and something to look forward.
And Jack's story is definitely something to look forward... ;)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Nalini Singh: Lord of the Abyss

I've been hearing the name Nalini Singh for ages now, but I never seemed to get around to actually read one of her books.
Now I have Netgalley to thank for my first opportunity. :) Loved it too.

By the end of the book, I realized it's part of the series as it brings together brothers and a sister in order for them to save their land and the Lord of the Abyss is the youngest one so the others had to come before.
Now, I'll have to go back and read from the beginning (what a terrible chore!). ;)

Anyway, I can't help but put in some slight, possible spoilers.

Lord of the Abyss reads to me like a beauty and the beast story. Only in this case, the beauty is ugly, and the beast is beautiful and only gets beastly when the curse is upon him (which isn't often).

In retrospect, for a book that is romantical fantasy, it actually got me feeling quite strongly (and by that I mean the actual feeling of my stomach clenching in certain situations).
N. Singh certainly painted the childhood of Liliana in such dark and gruesome details that I shivered and almost cried with incredulity that she would do something so awful to such a good character in her book. But unfortunately, it did fit with the father. :(

Micah, or the Lord of the Abyss is an interesting character because he has many traits that I would detest if they weren't combined in him with kingly ethic and goodwill toward all the people and the land. And his lover.  They seem to be, character-wise, made for each other.

I really enjoyed the destroyed world of Elden (they only got to fix it in the end, like I said, last book in the series) and I also think that because this was the last book, I lost some of the world building which probably happened in the beginning but I didn't have a problem following the story (did wonder a bit about parts of the world they inhabit).

Basic line is, I am happy I got introduced to N. Singh's novels and I want to read more - starting with Royal House of Shadows 1 (which btw I just realized wasn't written by her but is a series written by some other authors I wanted to get to know). :)

Having fun at Flores yesterday

You know, I really do believe I get drunk when I enter a niche perfumery and start smelling stuff and then times flies by when you're drunk and having fun, and before you know it, it's closing time and you've been there longer than you thought possible. :)

But it really isn't my fault. :)
When I came, I was the only one, and then at one point, a guy walked in and we then proceeded through smelling his possible choices while I was debating with myself what do I want to walk out with.

He seemed very keen on By Kilians but couldn't get the refill of his favourite White Cristal (which surprised me when I heard the name as I thought I knew all the By Kilians and it turned out to be the sub-title of Straight to Heaven). I have a hard time distinguishing them with all the love floating around, let alone with double names. Oh well...

Of all the perfumes he tried, in the end his two (and mine) favorites were Passion Boise by Frapin and Lumiere Noir by MFK.
Passion Boisée, which for some reason I read English Passion and French Boisée is a really good cold-weather choice for men, this one especially as his skin seems to eat all the sweetness out of every perfume.

Lumière Noire, fits the name (finally! a noir that works) as there is a dark rose in there.

Passion Boisée is a warm, rumy-fruity wood concoction that will probably make your guy smell very appealing to a lot of women.
Hmm, I might still decide against buying this one for my boyfriend then...

Of those that I smelled

Dyptique 34 almost made the cut. I really like it. It's more full than the rest of the Dyptique perfumes I tried so far and has some fig in there which makes it instantly likeable for me, but it's not sweet, it actually seems fitting for the fall weather we are having at the moment.
In the end, I decided against it because it's just so perfectly fine.

Ombre Rose L'Original smelled much better on the blotter than on my skin. All I seemed to be getting, progressively at that, was powdery violety-irisy-rose (with accent on powdery). Not for me.

Jovoy Chypre has potential. It is a serious chypre, one you don't want to mess with. Easier to wear than Bandit but almost giving away the same aura.

Velvet Aoud by Montale also almost made the cut. It would fit nicely with the mood I'm in as it seems to have a light fruity feel tinged with metallic (with the oudy background) and I like it a lot.
I checked the notes now and the only thing with any fruit connotation would be orange blossom. :) But it seems whoever wrote the Luckyscent description also gets some fruitiness. :)  I'll be going for some more testing.

The last thing that sticks in my mind from yesterday is Safran Troublant which I finally tested. I knew there was a reason I didn't try it before. I'm a spice addict and ST fits my addiction very nicely. :)

And if you're wondering what I took home with me - well, finally, I have my own stash of Ambre Russe and Fougere Bengale by Parfum d'Empire. :)

Huge thank you to the nice blonde lady (whose name I don't know) for her smiling, easy-going  company yesterday. :)

The Flores facebook site from which I took the photo.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The sweet smell of fall...

This year, autumn has taken its sweet time in arriving. :)

Practically, until week ago, we've been having summer days - I think that was the longest I remember of having such sunny, warm days.
This September in Zagreb was the warmest since the start of measuring temperatures (some 150 years ago), so I guess that tells you a lot.

I'm not one to enjoy the summer heat, but the warm, balmy days we had, suited me fine. The only problem was that my fall/winter perfume collection kept beckoning, and I kept giving it a wide berth. The time to wear it just wasn't right.

Well, now it is. :)

My collection got turned around so that the perfumes that warm me up are now close at hand, and those that cool me off, are having a vacation.

I also noticed that my mood for perfume these days leans toward the more masculine of the warm genre. Dry, herbal patchoulis, dry woods, sniping orientals.
I guess you might say I'm not in a mellow mood these days... ;)

(which is mainly caused by work and me finally starting to learn to stand up for myself - I hope...)

Pic is mine - the Versailles gardens. :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

M.J.Rose: In Session

This is a short story collection I am very happy to have stumbled upon because it features several characters whohave series of their own but are brought together in these stories in order for the book to promote and support David Baldacci's Wish You Well Foundation, which supports family literacy.

Of the characters, I've only read Jack Reacher novels. His story in the book is called Knowing You're Alive where he helps Dr. Snow (whose series I now want to read very, very much) wait for the ambulance and police after a bombing by telling her a story.
Bear in mind that Dr. Snow is a sex therapist so all the stories concern the topic.

I've read Steve Berry's The Romanov Prophecy, but Cotton Malone somehow escaped me, so now I got to know this bookstore owner (now, of course he wasn't that before), I want to know more about his adventures.

There is one more character appearing in the stories that Dr. Snow talks to (not in the capacity as a sex therapist with any of them, it's just her nature to look at people like that) is John Rain - a character by an author I've never had any contact with before - Barry Eisler.
John Rain is an assassin but I believe that is the most visible thing he is - it seems he is a  mystery waiting to be unraveled by an avid reader (like me). :)

I'm very much looking forward to getting to know all these characters better thanks to these stories.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Brave New Scents - Winners!

First I want to thank everyone for participating. :)

These are the most visited draws on my blog so far. :)

And here are the winners:

 Carmine by Christi Meshell goes to - FLAVOURFANATIC (I hope you're having a great time in Greece). :)

And Avalon by Ambrosia Jones goes to - a.k.a. WARUM (Pacific coast midnight was lucky for you). :)

Please contact me with your addresses so I can forward them on.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Growing as people

I completely lost my thread. :(

I went to answer the comments on the blog and my post title disappeared from my mind. This one is the closest approximation but the really good one is missing.
Maybe it will come to me in sleep. :)

Anyway, I had a sort of epiphany today (and the usual place where those happen is bathroom). :)

It doesn't matter what the precise subject was, let me just say it was on relationships (the opposite sex ones) and I realized that the older I am, some things seem to fall into place and I understand those types of relationships better (in this case mine). I also seem to give my partner more understanding for things that would drive me up the wall before.
I'm happy for myself and the feeling that I'm growing as a person. Giving someone else the benefit of a doubt or even, trying to put yourself in their position seems to be nowadays a lost art. Ok, maybe not lost, but not really practised a lot (so, on the road to extinction).

I know I'm far from perfect but I also know I want to be a  better person. I want to feel happy and at ease with myself, knowing I didn't do any harm to anyone (intentionally).
At the same time, I'm aware that will not always be possible and people will refuse to listen and hear.
But hey, we do live in an un-perfect world.

Would it be perfect if we all strived to better ourselves? And as optimistic as I am, I don't really think that will ever be possible. But we could all strive to be better and grow as people.
Eventually the world would be such a better place for our children.

P.S. I don't want to delete my post, but it feels like meanderings without any goal. :)
It also feels like I'm following the footsteps of famous Croatian writers, finding inspiration in wine. :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Brave New Scents: Jessamine by Charna Ethier (Providence Perfume Co) and Sweet Water by Liz Cook (One Seed Perfume)

I don't think I'll be able to review all of the Brave New Scents, but I do want to talk about some others in the project that caught my heart.


Top notes: Cedrat, Yutu, Galbanum
Heart notes: Jasmine Auriculatum, Aglaia, Linden Blossom, Pink Lotus
Base notes: orris, hay, Tahitian vanilla Bean tincture

"Evoking Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, southern drawls, Jessamine covered verandas and the hum of cicadas."

I can't start by saying that this perfume evokes a cologne-ish feel at the beginning. Because even though that was the first idea that came to my head, the citrusy-green opening isn't light and floaty, but full while at the same time beaing so fresh. I guess that is needed during Southern summer.

This freshness is soon resting upon a nutty feeling and you are happily starting to enjoy the sunny, fresh smelling flowers in the air. I can't say I can tease out the participating flower notes but the whole feeling is yellow (and you can see some of the flowers here are yelloy, jessamine stands for yellow jasmine).

I love it that I cannot tease out the individual notes but am left with enjoying their interplay and smelling the lovely mix they made.

But, the evening in the Garden approaches and the sunny flowers are no longer playing and wafting. What we are left is a broody vanilla.
Are you sure you still want to be outside?

Sweet Water

Top notes: clementine CO2, distilled lime, basil absolute
Heart: mimosa absolute, linden blossom absolute, honey absolute, hay absolute, sweet clover absolute, jasmine sambac CO2, mint absolute
Base: tobacoo balkans absolute, amber oil, copaiba balsam, iris butter, tonka bean absolute, labdanum absolute clear, green tea absolute

The first thing that came into my mind upon smelling this was LOVELY! (and I do mean that in capital letters)
But I don't think that would count as a perfume review. :)

I hope you didn't pay much attention to the notes because they can't convey the loveliness of this. It starts sweet and spicy, lightly fruity (I'm thinking citrusy/basil combination with mint playing along).

It's like you are blasted by good chear. :)

And then the sweetness blossoms. The flowers and the honey. The real honey. The one you smell when you open your pot. For me, this pot contains chestnut honey, a slightly darker smelling version of honey.

Btw, here is where I have to say that this is not the type of honey that makes people run screaming in the other direction. The one that actually doesn't smell like honey but like a candied, awfully synthetic imititation of one.
Here, the honey smells as honey is supposed to. And if anyone had a chance to try it, I would love to hear if someone else got the pure honey note from this.

Eventually though, honey sweetness dissipates and you are left lying in dark hay, smelling tobacco from afar.
Like I said, lovely. :)

Just a little reminder, you have until tomorrow midnight (October 4th) to enter for a chance of winning either Carmine or Avalon.

Jessamine pic by

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Brave New Scents: Avalon by Ambrosia Jones (Perfume by Nature)

Avalon is one of those imaginary places I wish existed and I could visit it. Possibly with all the legendary characters being there at the time. :)

In place of that, smelling it suits me just fine.

Here is Ambrosia's description of Avalon:

"A Magical Perfume full of sweet apples, waiting for harvest in the sacred groves of Avalon... the soft earthiness of hay drying in the fields on a soft late Summer's eve... and as the sun goes down, the scent of incense arises and you can almost hear chanting as the Magic begins to grow around you..."

And here are the notes:
Top notes: apple CO2 and distillate, neroli

Midnotes: rose du mai, green mandarin, apple blossom accord
Base notes: labdanum, hay, fir balsam, amber acco

This is a magical perfume.
I get surprised by the opening each time I spray it. The hay in there is full of blooming flowers making the air around it fragrantly spicy. Apple orchard is close by but not much as the fragrant air bears only hints of it. And someone must have bit into an apple as it's flavour is wafting in the air. I believe that someone prefers the apple with some nuts?
It's already early afternoon as the sun has beat heavily on the hay to make the air so fragrant.
The late summer languidness is in the air and anything is possible.

Is magic in the air?
Or are we only imagining the possibilites, drowsing in the sun?

Possibly falling asleep and dreaming of the ambery sweetness in fragrant lands.

If only the dream would last...

And now for the best part. Ambrosia is offering a 5ml perfume oil to one lucky commenter! :)

Please check out the other participating blogs (and more chances to win some natural bravery):

 Feminine Things
Perfume Shrine
The Perfume Critic
Ca Fleure Bon
The Examiner

And Perfumers:

Lord's Jester
Perfume by Nature
Anya's Garden Perfumes
Providence Perfume Co.
House of Matriarch
Belly Flowers
a wing and a prayer perfumes
JoAnne Bassett
One Seed Perfume
Ascent Natural Perfumes

P.S. Did you know that Avalon probably comes from Welsh afal meaning apple?

Brave New Scents: Carmine by Christi Meshell (House of Matriarch)

I'm happy to be participating in the Brave New Scents project as it enabled me to learn more about the ingredients used in perfumery regardless of whether they were new - which is what this project is all about. The perfume notes that became available to perfumers after the year 2000.
They were all allowed one "wild card" note - a note that was in wide circulation before the turn of 21st century.

I have to say they all made very good use of both the brave new ingredients and their "wild cards".
Let me tell you about it. :)


Notes: Hiba, Kewra, Tagetes, black pepper, Michelia alba, Michelia champaca, Davana, patchouli, vetiver, tonka, oakmoss; white copal tincture, bruizinho tincture, tobacco tincture, Chai massala tincture, Africa stone tincture, celestial amber tincture, sandalwood

Where to start?
Here is what Christi has to say about Carmine:
"A brave new perfume created in an ancient tradition, Carmine returns the wearer to a basic truth:
Nature is the Ultimate Luxury.
A formula of natural ingredients too obscure and costly for use in mass produced perfumes, Carmine offers something strange and unique to the perfume connoiseur."

And I concurr. I've had such lovely time getting to know this perfume.
But now that the time has come to talk about it, the first thing to come to my mind is that I'm seduced by it. It taught me about the natural ingredients I didn't know the smell of, we were together on a path of learning and now I'm at its mercy.

Carmine reeled me in with its easy to love fruity jungle opening. The fruitiness is hidden among the vintagey oakmoss and the green vine vibe, so that the fruity sweetness can only be glimpsed amidst all this.
There is no point in describing the notes because they all come together to transport you to a place you've never been before.

Although learning what hiba, kewdra and davana smell like certainly helped in making this strange place become more comforting to me.

And then you go deeper in, where the light is no longer as penetrating as it was in the beginning and the patchouli/oakmoss/sandalwood bed beckons you to rest in it. Seduction was never easier because once you hear the call, you will lie down, smile and let yourself enjoy the seduction Carmine wrought on you.
You also won't be getting up any time soon. ;)

If you want to enjoy the strange seduction Carmine will make you experience, please comment as Christi was very generous and is offering a full 4 oz collectable crystal bottle with ground glass stopper and silver flip top (extremely expensive!).

Please visit other participating blogs for other brave scents and a chance to try them:

Perfume Shrine

Ca Fleure Bon

Feminine Things

Perfume Critic

The Examiner

And here is the list of participating perfumers:

Lord's Jester

Perfume by Nature
Anya's Garden Perfumes
Providence Perfume Co.
House of Matriarch
Belly Flowers
a wing & a prayer perfumes
JoAnne Bassett
One Seed Perfume
Ascent Natural Perfumes

P.S. Pictures by and Anya McCoy (the logo for the project).