A Scented Advent, Day 1

A Scented Advent, Day 1

I know some of you have been drooling, as have I, over the luxurious Advent calendars several cosmetic and fragrance brands sell as this time of year. Some of us were chatting back and forth about this on our blogs, and lo! a plan was born. I have a refillable Advent calendar, and I have placed in it some of the surprise samples sent by a kind perfumista — the remnants of a “traveling box” of perfumes that circulated among a group of enthusiasts, each adding some to send on the the next recipient. So I won’t know what I’m going to get on any given day, since I won’t look (I promise!) other than to make sure it will fit.

Refillable wooden Advent calendar
My fragrance Advent calendar

I’m going to try to write an Advent blog entry every day of December until Christmas, about the surprise fragrance of the day from the calendar. Wish me luck! They will be short posts, out of necessity. I love the Advent season, when the Christian world awaits the arrival of Baby Jesus and the renewal of hope. I love everything about it: the floral and evergreen decorations wafting their scents through the air; the special foods; the outdoor lights; the glorious music; Christmas trees! Now I have one more reason to enjoy the season.

Day 1’s scent is Nice Bergamote, from Essential Parfums. Created by Antoine Maisondieu and launched in 2018, it is classified by Fragrantica as a “citrus aromatic.” Notes listed there include bergamot, jasmine, ylang-ylang, cedar and tonka bean; the brand website also mentions rose petals.

Bottle of Nice Bergamote eau de parfum with ingredients
Nice Bergamote, by Essential Parfums; image from brand website.

At first sniff on my skin, this is a very pleasing bergamot-centered fragrance. I think it would appeal equally to women and men, on themselves and on each other. I wouldn’t call it highly distinctive, though. As soon as I sniffed, I thought “I’ve smelled this before — where?” Alas, I haven’t been able to dredge up a specific scent that this resembles, but it might be Commodity’s Bergamot. Be that as it may, Nice Bergamote is clearly a high-quality fragrance with a terrific juicy opening and a pleasant dry-down.

The fresh bergamot note lasts a surprisingly long time on my skin; those citrus top notes usually leap out of the gate, make their presence known, and gallop off in a froth of lightness after as little as ten minutes. I think there’s an herbal note in this structure, not listed, that has the effect of extending the longevity of the bergamot top note, with its green astringency. It’s a bit like basil, but it’s not basil.

Advent Day 1 summary: Nice Bergamote is nice, but I don’t feel the need to rush out and buy a bottle. I’m very glad to have this sample to try, though! And if I did yearn for a full bottle, the price is very reasonable: 72 euros for 100 ml, which includes a 20% VAT. The brand also sells 10 ml travel sprays, which I always appreciate. Nice work, Essential Parfums!

Perfume Chat Room, November 26

Perfume Chat Room, November 26

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, November 26, and it is “Black Friday”, the day after Thanksgiving in the US and traditionally a major launch to the holiday shopping season. As usual, I encourage supporting independent or small businesses, and as usual, some wonderful independent perfumers have holiday promotions.

First up is DSH Perfumes, by perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. To get 20% off sitewide (except for one fragrance), use the code light20. This includes her annual set of Heirloom Elixir fragrances; if you haven’t previously subscribed, you can buy the whole 2021 set!

Next is 4160 Tuesdays, the company founded and owned by English perfumer Sarah McCartney. Today, which Sarah calls “Hot Pink Friday”, you can buy two, get a third free — and the third one can be the most expensive of the group! In Sarah’s words: “This is how it works: It is for 30ml, 50ml and 100ml bottles of 4160Tuesdays and OML perfumes. Here’s the unusual part. The free bottle can be the most expensive one. All three bottles in the offer must be the same size. You buy two bottles of perfume, then write the name of the third one in the notes as you finish the checkout process. You get a free perfume for every two you buy. This happens until 30th November.” Sarah and team can ship 30 ml bottles to the US.

Rogue Perfumery, owned and run by perfumer Manuel Cross, has 25% off at his Etsy site, November 26-29.

Do you have any recommendations or codes for weekend sales by independent perfumers or perfumeries? I include perfumeries, because they’ve had a tough time during this pandemic, and their support is crucial to independent, artisan, and niche perfumers.

Row of shoppers with bags
Black Friday shopping; image from waldengalleria.com
Perfume Chat Room, November 19

Perfume Chat Room, November 19

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Thanksgiving table decorations
Thanksgiving decor; image from nemacolin.com

Today is Friday, November 19, and my thoughts have turned to Thanksgiving! It is one of my favorite holidays, because I love to cook and I love feeding my family. All our kids will be here. My husband and I both got our vaccine boosters within the last week, and now that we’re over the side effects (mostly a 24-hour period of sleeping and chills), we’re looking forward to a family gathering. It will be just the five of us, unless one of the kids brings home a friend. We haven’t traveled for Thanksgiving since our oldest child was born in November; all of our family live a plane flight away, and with two fulltime jobs and limited time off, it was always going to be too stressful and challenging to drag children through airports on the busiest travel days of the year here in the US.

After last year’s plumbing disaster and this year’s restoration of our house, we finally have a functioning dining room again! I’m excited to be able to celebrate the holidays properly once more. AND the new garden helpers I’ve hired have cleared out the massively overgrown summer vegetable garden, so I can now plant the cool season and winter vegetables in my raised beds. So those are my plans for the next week: cooking, gardening, enjoying my family. Oh, and a couple of days of work next week, but it should be very quiet as most students and faculty will take those days off.

Fragrance-wise, I haven’t been very adventurous lately, though I did succumb to a purchase of a dramatically reduced bottle of Aura. I quite like it, and I do love that green bottle. I would call it a strong like, not a love. I know many people are huge fans of Mugler fragrances — do you have any favorites?

Green bottle of Aura perfume
Aura, by Mugler; image from wwd.com.
Perfume Chat Room, November 12

Perfume Chat Room, November 12

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, November 12, and I’m taking my husband to get his booster vaccine later this morning, after physical therapy (he’s recovering from knee surgery and can’t drive). Wish us luck! The Christmas ads are proliferating, as are store decorations. In the past, I was a bit irritated by the displays that went up the day after Halloween, but this year I am enjoying them! I’m really ready to celebrate a more normal holiday season, as evidenced by a recent errand I ran to Target, which is completely overrun with holiday-themed everything — and not only did I not cringe, I beamed.

I keep seeing ads for gorgeous Advent calendars with lovely miniatures of various cosmetics and fragrances. The ones from Chanel, Dior, and Guerlain are spectacular! I’m not really tempted, though, because most of the calendars include many products I probably wouldn’t use. I’ve only ever bought one such Advent calendar; it was by Atelier Cologne, and each daily offering was a sample or mini vial of one of their scents. I may create my own Advent calendar for fun, and just fill one with minis and samples I haven’t tried yet, which would encourage me to work my way through more of them!

Have you ever bought a fragrance or cosmetic Advent calendar? Which one? Are you tempted by any of this year’s offerings?

Collection of beauty product Advent calendars, 2021
Advent calendars; image from oprahdaily.com
Perfume Chat Room, November 5

Perfume Chat Room, November 5

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, November 5, and I am remembering that it is Guy Fawkes Day in the UK! That only occurred to me because I was making sure I had today’s date right, and “Remember, remember, the Fifth of November” popped into my head. I’ve written here before that my late mother was English, so my childhood had an odd mixture of American and English books, stories, and traditions. Most American children probably never hear of Guy Fawkes Day! We never celebrated it, though.

This week also marked the launch of “Scent Semantics”, a fun collaboration between me and five other bloggers, organized by Portia (of Australian Perfume Junkies and A Bottled Rose). It’s a word game! I love word games.

This weekend, we in the US will set our clocks back an hour for the annual end of daylight savings time (“fall back, spring forward”). I don’t actually mind, because it was so dark this morning at 7:30 that I will prefer having that occur earlier, at 6:30. The weather has gotten downright chilly at night, quite suddenly, so it really feels like fall now. We’ve now entered the period that I used to call “the forced march” between Halloween and New Year’s Day, which was such an incredibly busy time when my children were small. From all the holidays beloved of children, to two family birthdays (one in November, one in December), to the end-of-semester work crunch, it all got a bit overwhelming at times. We simplified matters years ago when I decided we wouldn’t travel for Thanksgiving or Christmas, dragging three kids through crowded airports, especially since there were years when I was working right up to December 23.

Last year was so strange, though, even just celebrating at home as we always do — on top of the pandemic isolation, we had the plumbing disaster that damaged much of our living room, so it was off limits for celebrations of any kind. All three of our kids were living back at home, and one was recovering from COVID (she’s 100% fine now). There were unexpected outbursts of emotions on a regular basis, and the conflicts to be expected when five adults are living together in close quarters with limited outlets for interaction. Whew!

So I’m actually quite looking forward to this holiday season, with our house now almost fully restored to lovely order — repaired, replastered, repainted, refurbished. The young adults have been able to move out and relaunch, which makes them very happy. They live nearby, which makes ME very happy. My husband had a knee replacement almost three weeks ago, and he’s recovering very well, so he should be in great shape by Thanksgiving and thereafter.

He very sweetly suggested that I should pick out a really special perfume gift I’d like to have this Christmas, as a thank-you for all the care-giving and household tasks I’ve been handling since his surgery. Any ideas, perfume friends? What’s on your wishlist?

Guy Fawkes holiday, costume, gunpowder
Guy Fawkes Day; image from http://www.csmonitor.com
Scent Semantics, November 2021

Scent Semantics, November 2021

The inimitable Portia has come up with a new game for us perfumistas, to take place on six different blogs, every month! The chosen day for “Scent Semantics” is the first Monday of each month. The bloggers will take turns choosing a single word, then write a fragrant reflection on it. That could be a memory, of a scent the word evokes or something else, an actual name of a scent or note, a favorite work of art, whatever comes to mind. And readers can play in the comments, or just comment on the post!

The participating blogs are: Scents and Sensibilities (here), The Plum Girl, The Alembicated Genie, Eau La La, Undina’s Looking Glass, and A Bottled Rose. I hope you’ll all check out the Scent Semantics posts on each blog!

Scent Semantics blog list

Portia chose the first word: “brave.” I have a fragrance I like to wear to feel brave, on days when I want a little confidence boost. It is Chanel No. 19. I hadn’t really thought of it that way until I started reading more about fragrance a few years ago, and learned that many people find it challenging, elegant but remote and even, one might say, a bit bitchy.

I feel it helps me straighten my shoulders and stiffen my backbone. This is just a conceit, of course, but No. 19 is undoubtedly cool, elegant, a bit unapproachable. I wear it when I anticipate conflict of some kind, especially at work. It reminds me to stay cool, and use my intellect instead of my emotions while I navigate whatever the conflict is. The version I have is the vintage eau de toilette, which means that the galbanum and oakmoss are full-force presences. I love both of them, there is just something about their bitter greenness that appeals to me (I also love bitter greens and vegetables, like arugula, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, etc., and we know that the senses of taste and smell are closely linked). Bergamot is another astringent note, one that I also associate with the color green.

Bitter greens; image from Splendid Recipes

Among No. 19’s floral notes are also some of my favorite flowers, which I think my subconscious must find comforting as well as empowering: hyacinth, iris, rose, lily of the valley, narcissus. Perfumes aside, those are flowers I grow myself, and grew up with, since my parents were avid gardeners. The heart of No. 19 is not bitter, or particularly green although the galbanum continues to make itself felt, but the most prominent flower notes are cool ones, like iris, orris root, lily of the valley, and narcissus. This is the stage when I think many perfume lovers find No. 19 lovely but remote — a bit standoffish.

The base notes are stern, dominated by oakmoss, vetiver, and leather. Minor players are cedar, musk, and sandalwood — all warmer notes than the dominant ones. Taken together, No. 19 gives me a quick burst of energy at the start, with bergamot’s brightness and galbanum’s assertiveness, then comes a heart phase that is more cerebral than ebullient, finishing with the formal base of its chypre structure. If that won’t stiffen a woman’s resolve and backbone, I don’t know what will! All of these impressions align with the presentation of my vintage EDT; I have the tall, refillable spray canister, with its square but rounded edges, its sleek columnar shape, its brushed silvery metal casing. If I had to pick a female incarnation of this fragrance, it would be another fashion diva, sometimes compared to Chanel: Diane von Furstenberg as she was in the 1970s, building a fashion empire on a simple wrap dress.

Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg in office
Diane von Furstenberg, 1974

What fragrance or fragrant memory might you associate with the word brave?

Perfume Chat Room, October 29

Perfume Chat Room, October 29

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, October 29, and I have exciting news to share! Portia from Australian Perfume Junkies, now posting on A Bottled Rose, has organized a group of us bloggers to engage in monthly “Scent Semantics”, when we will post on the same day (first Monday of each month) a fragrance-related reflection on a single word, linking it to a particular scent. We’ll take turns choosing the “word of the month.” You’ll have to check back on Monday to find out which word is first! And I hope you’ll join in this word game in the comments!

Portia provided this wonderful definition, by way of explaining the name of the game:

Scent Semantics, from “Semantics (Ancient Greek: σημαντικός sēmantikós, “significant”)[a][1] is the study of meaning, reference, or truth. The term can be used to refer to subfields of several distinct disciplines, including philosophy, linguistics and computer science.”

I love this name because in college, I majored in Classical Languages and Literature, with an emphasis on Ancient Greek. My official WordPress account name and email is The Wise Kangaroo, which is a mnemonic used by English speakers to remember a particular Greek metrical pattern from Ancient Greek lyric poetry and drama, about which I wrote my thesis.

The participating blogs are:

Scents and Sensibilities (here), The Plum Girl, The Alembicated Genie, Eau La La, Undina’s Looking Glass, and A Bottled Rose. I hope you’ll all check out the Scent Semantics posts on each blog next week!

In other excitement this week, Halloween is coming up on Sunday and here in the USA, public health officials have given a green light to the traditional trick-or-treating. As they noted, it is by definition an outdoor activity that usually includes masks, lol. So now I have to stock up on candy, because our neighborhood of old houses placed close together and linked by sidewalks is a very popular destination for families with treat-seeking children. Not only do we get kids from the neighborhood itself, other families drive here, park, and walk around with their kids. All are welcome! Even the long-leggedy beasties.

Halloween costumed dogs
Dogs as long-leggedy beasties

Do you have any Halloween plans? Any favorite scents to wear on Halloween? I think I may have to pull out some of my spookier samples from Solstice Scents.

Colorful jack o' lanterns with face masks
Pumpkins with face masks
Perfume Chat Room, October 22

Perfume Chat Room, October 22

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, October 22, and the business of this month continues in our house! My husband had knee surgery this past Monday and is confined to the lower level of our house, which has a bedroom, full bathroom, and his home office (including his beloved large TV and a sofa from which to watch it). I’m mostly on leave this week, though with daily interruptions from my own workplace (ugh). I’ll be working from home again, as I did before August, as he can’t be left alone all day, uses a walker for now, and will need to be taken to daily physical therapy. But he is in great spirits, the pain is manageable, and he is very optimistic that he’ll regain a lot of function in that knee, which has been a problem for decades since a high school sports injury.

I’ve taken some advantage of our currently separate sleeping quarters to try out some more adventurous fragrances at night, after he has settled in for the night downstairs! I’m working my way through some samples, which is a welcome activity after busy days. He, on the other hand, is taking great comfort in using his habitual after shave every morning, and I must say that I too find it comforting. It adds some normalcy back into what is a novel situation for both of us. The power of scent!

What is happening in your lives, fragrance-related or otherwise? And speaking of knees, do you ever apply perfume behind them, as illustrated? (There aren’t many ways to link the topics of perfume and knees, but I’m trying, lol!).

Photo of Marilyn Monroe used to demonstrate perfume placement around the body
Perfume placement; marieclaire.com
Perfume Chat Room, October 15

Perfume Chat Room, October 15

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, October 15, and we are back from a New England beach town where our niece celebrated her wedding last weekend! It was a great getaway, and one of the real pleasures was that the rental house where we stayed had a huge stand of Rosa rugosa right by the front entryway. These are the classic “beach roses” you see all over the New England coast (and other coastlines) and they are highly fragrant. This one smelled rosy and spicy, with a very clear accord of true cinnamon. It was just gorgeous, although I do have mixed feelings about cinnamon (usually when it is artificial). And as the regulars here know, I do love a rose fragrance, lol!

We also gloried in the gusts of fresh sea air right off the ocean, with all the notes of seaweed, sand, driftwood, and seaside plants. The “beach fragrances” we didn’t sense were the ones associated with suntan lotion, because it was cool enough that we and everyone else stayed bundled up. What a tonic for body and spirit! We stayed for a full week that included the actual wedding weekend, as it was quite a long trip to make from the South, and we’re so glad we did that. We don’t get to see the ocean as much as we would like, since we live at least a five-hour drive from the coast down here, and this weeklong visit was just what we needed.

Do you have any favorite scents you associate with the ocean or seaside?

Rosa rugosa
Perfume Chat Room, October 1

Perfume Chat Room, October 1

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, October 1, and I can’t believe September is over already! Retailers are in a frenzy of Halloween and harvest, and I’ve started to see displays of Christmas wares. My husband and I are excited about an upcoming trip to New England for a family wedding later this month, though we’ll have to try to remember what layers of clothes we’ll need, as we’ve lived in the South for almost 30 years now. I’m really looking forward to a few days off work, it has been a busy and hectic semester so far.

I mentioned a while back that I had been asked to work with a playwright and composer on a “scent score” for the musical they’re writing; there will be a staged reading of the play this month (without scent for now), which will be exciting. I’m having coffee with the playwright this weekend for an update on the project.

What are you looking forward to this month?