Happy New Year! Rather than listing my favorites or “the best” among the fragrances launched in 2019 (other blogs have done that so thoroughly!), I am going to list some of my own fragrance highlights of 2019. Some are actual perfumes, others are fragrant items or experiences. I feel so fortunate. I write about my many blessings in this blog to remind myself that, in spite of challenges and losses, I am thankful for the love and beauty in my life.
- First trip to Tuscany, Florence and Venice, with many perfume stops. I will not forget the aromatic scent of the Tuscan hills and the timeless beauty of their landscape — not to mention the fragrances of the vineyards and wines, and the cooking class I took. Florence and Venice were as magical and amazing as expected, and I brought back souvenir fragrances from perfumeries like Santa Maria Novella, I Profumi di Firenze, Aquaflor, Farmacia SS Annunziata dal 1561. Back home, I treated myself to Flower Fusion by The Merchant of Venice (gorgeous glass bottle, lovely fragrance); and my husband gave me Hermes’ Un Jardin Sur la Lagune for Christmas.
- Visit to 4160 Tuesdays’ studio in London and meeting Sarah and Nick! If you’re a fan of 4160 Tuesdays’ fragrances, and you wonder if Sarah really is as cool and interesting as she seems, the answer is YES! She and Nick graciously spent time with me, talking about their fragrances. And yes, I came away with several purchases, including the beautiful Truth Beauty Freedom Love and the silk scarf designed to go with it. I’m excited to see their new studio on Raynham Road when I visit London again! I also took part in the crowd-funding (such a brilliant idea) of some 2019 launches by 4160 Tuesdays, including Clouds’ Illusion, Christmas Concert, and Meet Me On The Corner.
- Perfume-making workshop in Nice, at Parfum Et Vous, recommended by Megan of the blog “MeganInSainteMaxime.” It was a beginners’ workshop, but so much fun! And I was introduced to a line of fragrances I hadn’t tried before, Baruti.
- Meeting Megan in Cannes, and visiting the office of Atelier des Ors, including meeting its founder, Jean-Philippe Clermont and trying several of its fragrances which were created by Marie Salamagne: Nuda Veritas, Crepuscule des Ames, and Choeur des Anges.
- The publication of Neil Chapman’s wonderful book, “Perfume: In Search of Your Signature Scent.” Neil writes one of the longest-running and best blogs about perfume, “The Black Narcissus“; he is a true connoisseur and collector of fine fragrance as well as a very interesting, creative person. It was so exciting to read about his work on the book and its eventual publication and launch!
- Learning how to use Instagram!
- Two very special fragrance sets/Christmas gifts, which I can’t wait to explore: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ 2019 Heirloom Elixir Collection, and Sarah McCartney’s “January Joy Box” from 4160 Tuesdays.
- Giving in to temptation and ordering Papillon Perfumery‘s Bengale Rouge. It hasn’t arrived yet, from Ave Parfum, but I expect it shortly! This has been one of the most highly rated perfumes of 2019; given how much I love Dryad, I’m excited to have this.
- The continued success of St. Clair Scents, another independent artisan perfumer, whose fragrances Gardener’s Glove, Frost, Casablanca, and First Cut I thoroughly enjoyed in 2018. Although I haven’t yet reviewed them, this year’s issue of Pandora and Eve , the “Audacious Innocence Collection”, shows us that Diane St. Clair is here to stay, thank goodness, in perfumery as well as her legendary butter.
- Getting to try L’Iris de Fath, thanks to the wonderful associate at Jovoy Paris’ London store.
Some of the blogosphere’s “Best of 2019” lists:
Australian Perfume Junkies
Bois de Jasmin
A Bottled Rose
I Scent You A Day
What were some of your fragrant highlights of 2019? Feel free to comment broadly, it’s a broad category! Thank you for reading my online musings this year.
Featured image: Fleurs et Flammes, Antonio Alessandria Parfums.
I only do this occasionally now, but for a while on this blog I had a regular feature called What Went Well Wednesday. It was based on a gratitude practice also called Three Blessings, in which one lists three blessings, or three things that went well, and sometimes WHY they went well. The idea is to refocus one’s attention on what is going well in life and how that happened, including one’s own agency.
Tonight is Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving here in the US, so I’m counting my blessings.
- I am so thankful for my husband and three children, who are all happy, nice, healthy people; and I’m thankful that my children get along so well that they are currently out, just them, having a “sibling bonding” dinner and movie together. Because they are good people making good choices, becoming young adults who make us so proud!
- I am thankful for the rest of our extended families: siblings, siblings-in-law, nephews, nieces, and one elderly father-in-law, who is the only surviving parent of the original four parents of myself and my husband. Because they are also good people, doing good things in the world, living their best lives as best they can, living conscientiously in the world.
- I am thankful for the daily blessings of good health, a loving spouse, a pretty home, a garden to enjoy, a temperate climate, an interesting and well-paid job (even with its many challenges), the opportunities to keep learning, and the privilege and safety that come with being an American citizen.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate it, and blessings to all of you who don’t. I’m also thankful for all of you who do me the honor of reading this blog and offering your own thoughts here. What makes you thankful?
“What Went Well” is a gratitude exercise also known as “Three Blessings.” The idea is that on a regular basis, daily or weekly, one lists three things that went well, and why. (Adding “why” allows one to pinpoint times when acts of one’s own or others contributed to what went well). When I started this blog, while recovering from a broken bone, and during a very stressful period at work, I posted my three blessings weekly, on “What Went Well Wednesday.” I still pause regularly to count my blessings, but I no longer post them. However, a reader recently suggested that I do so again, so here is the year-end wrap-up of “what went well” in 2017! Please feel free to chime in with your own!
- I was able to avert a dreaded change in my workplace, that would have had me report to a colleague who has been undermining me for several years, thereby putting my job at risk. This was possible because a new chief executive arrived before that change was made, who had known me, my good work, and excellent reputation for many years — and because I mustered the courage to speak to him candidly about it, so he reversed the plan of the outgoing leadership. My work life now feels less stressful and insecure than it has for several years.
- In the face of loss, this year’s deaths of my mother and my husband’s, our extended families were drawn together and supported each other better than might have been expected. Because we made the effort to recognize each adult child’s different experience and grief, and responded to each other with gentleness and empathy.
- Our three children continue to delight us with their growth, resilience, gifts, and love. Because all three have faced various challenges endemic to adolescence and young adulthood with grace, humor, kindness, and perseverance.
I don’t normally post much or speak much about faith, because that is such an individual matter for every person: whether or not one has faith, and how one chooses to honor or express it. In the Lord’s house, there are many mansions. I am also frankly horrified at the misuse of religion to justify the unjustifiable, such as cruelty to others and a domineering will to power regardless of others’ beliefs. It often seems that those who are most outspoken about their own religion are most intolerant of others’, and I want no part of that. However, I pause now to note that my own faith (progressive mainstream Protestant Christian) and our family’s worship community, filled as it is with kind, intelligent, thoughtful, decent people, who try to make the world a better and more beautiful, charitable place, have been especially important to me this year. I take comfort in knowing that our mothers’ long illnesses are over, and that they have been restored to their best essence. So I’ll wrap up my year-end three blessings with my favorite prayer, from the end of each Sunday’s service:
Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
May we all enjoy a peaceful, happy 2018! What went well for you this year?
Like many of you, I’m sure, I spent most of yesterday (Thanksgiving) in the kitchen, happily cooking my way through a number of favorite recipes. One of them is a fragrant chutney I discovered a few years ago, made with cranberries and an excellent replacement for the ubiquitous cranberry sauce that lingers, uneaten, on too many Thanksgiving tables.
Cranberries are considered one of the quintessential Thanksgiving foods, probably because cranberries are native to North America and were known to have been eaten by the Native Americans, and by English settlers in North America as early as the first half of the seventeenth century, according to Martha Stewart. They are highly nutritious, a true superfood with a lot of nutrient bang for the caloric buck as they are low in sugar. However, traditional cranberry sauce recipes tend to add a lot of sugar to this otherwise healthy fruit. As a lover of Indian food, I was happy to find several different recipes for cranberry-based savory chutney; the version I make includes much less sugar, and one of my favorite spices/fragrances, cardamom.
Cranberry Chutney recipe (adapted from Food and Style):
It has been a while since I posted my weekly “three blessings” on What Went Well Wednesday, but I feel the need to do so in light of the tragedy in Orlando last weekend. It is so easy to feel overwhelmed by the evil and anger that prompt such an act. But it is better to remember to light one’s candles in the dark. My three blessings this week:
- I go to an amazing church that rallied quickly to hold a beautiful service of remembrance on Monday night, to mourn and honor the victims in Orlando. And it was straight clergy who did that, understanding that our LGBT congregants were so grief-stricken that they needed our community’s love and support.
- At that service, our extraordinary Bishop spoke eloquently, lovingly, passionately, inclusively, about how evil is real but God is much, much more real.
- I have been reaching out to students and getting very appreciative responses, which reminds me of what I enjoy about my work.
Do you have “three blessings” to ponder in this week of sadness?
What went well this week?
- My husband and I went to see the most glorious display of daffodils — literally millions of them in full bloom, at a place called Gibbs Gardens. Because I told him a while ago that I’d like to do that, to give him time to process the idea, and because when I reminded him, he sweetly said right away, “Let’s go!”. The flowers were spectacular, winding through the woods and up and down hills.
- We spent last week at the beach! Because we decided with a lot of travel planned for the summer, we would have a more relaxed spring break. We are so lucky to be within driving distance of beautiful beaches.
- We shared the city of Charleston with dear friends, and they loved it. Because, after all, what’s not to love in Charleston?
Have a great week and count your blessings!
This week’s three blessings:
- Vacation with my family! Because I am overdue for a restful break from an often stressful job, and my favorite thing to do is spend time with my family.
- Seeing old friends. Because two dear friends from our grad school days came and spent part of this vacation week with us; and no one understands you quite like the friends you made when you were young.
- It’s really spring! Which makes me very happy because there are more and more flowers blooming every week, including some of my favorites like daffodils.
My “three blessings” this week:
- My dear husband is coming home tomorrow from a long business trip instead of having to extend it for several more days! Because he misses us, and we miss him.
- The daffodils are starting to bloom. Because I took the time to plant a few dozen bulbs of early-blooming varieties to add to the ones already in the garden.
- The massive international event my husband helped run this week went very, very well. Because he and his colleagues are creative, experienced and very hardworking.
For some reason, it has been a little harder this week to remember to count up my “three blessings”, although it hasn’t been a bad week. In fact, it was a GOOD week, because we had a lovely Valentine’s Day. So here goes:
- We had a lovely Valentine’s Day! And actually a whole Valentine’s weekend. Because my dear husband couldn’t wait for Sunday to give me a bouquet of red roses, so he gave them to me early; and because we and the kids made a luscious brunch together on Sunday.
- My special programs at work this week are going well. Because my small team worked very hard to get the daily wellness events and details right, and people are responding to them.
- I had a short chair massage! Because in the midst of carrying out wellness programs for everyone else in my workplace this week, I was reminded to take a break for myself too — I had forgotten how great even a short massage feels!
There. It has been a pretty great week after all; remembering that is the whole point of “What Went Well”, so I guess it worked!
- I took one of my daughters and a friend of hers to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Company perform — wow! We’ve seen them before but they amaze me every time, especially their signature piece, “Revelations.” Because the creative spirit is a gift and we are blessed to have such artists among us.
- I planted twenty lily of the valley pips before the temperatures dropped into the 20s! Because I love lily of the valley, was lucky enough to find fresh pips in our local garden center, and made the time to plant them.
- One of my staff won a great award in our workplace. Because he works hard to help other people.
Pretty good week! How about you?
Alvin Ailey “Revelations”.