Sunday, February 18, 2018

Amouage Discovery Set

Currently Listening: "La Traviata" Act 3: Prelude by Giuseppe Verdi
Currently Wearing: Lust by Lush (RIP old black bottled that I spritzed the last of this morning.)

Welcome back y'all! I'm honestly blaming my absence last week on the Olympics. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. This discovery set was a gift to me some Christmases ago from my husband. For whatever reason I spritzed a little here and there but never full bore tested the entire set. Again, life.

Amouage is not necessarily what I would be drawn toward, but many I know of in my fragrance community absolutely love it, so I figured it was worth my delving into. Here's what has to say on Amouage's background: "His Highness Sayyid bin Hamoud al bu Said had a dream to restore the great Arabian art of purfumery to the region. Amouage  is a luxury perfume house established in Oman in 1983 by the Sultan of Oman. Amouage uses traditional for the middle east perfume ingredient such as agarwood, incense, musk, rose, and spices. . . . Almost all of the perfumes are in traditional Amouage bottles: bottles with the woman's scents recall the shape of the Palace Ruwi Mosque (Oman); bottles with men's scents have a shape of Khanjar, the traditional dagger of Oman."

But Kathleen, musk? I thought you tried to be cruelty free. I have asked many more knoweldgable about perfumes than me, and they said in modern perfumery is mainly all synthetic music. Using actual musk is simply not cost prohibitive. With the exception of some Middle Eastern attars, which can get next level expensive. I try to live cruelty frees, I am not perfect, but I do try. 

For me in this set, there were some hits and some misses. Let's delve deeper shall we?

Gold - Upon first spritz I thought "grown up fancy lady with some powder." I could defiantly pick out the base of woods (Sandalwood and cedar wood.) The lily of the valley was very predominant. The dry down could best be characterized as woodsy and soapy. I could see myself wearing this in maybe 20 years, but it just seamed too mature for me. Luckyscent describes Gold as,"Gold Woman is a marriage of French tradition and Omani luxury that no 1903's movie, no matter how glamorous, could top." I couldn't get the emotionality out of it. I couldn't get any real feelings associated with it. I like it technically and objectively.

Reflection - A little fruity, nothing special. When we get into this price point territory, but better knock me over with how special it is. This was my least favorite as I thought is was the least special. There was something very mass marketed about it. Almost TOO delicate for my liking. Magnolia is supposed to be the main star of this perfume. This makes sense. I love a fresh off the tree magnolia blossom any day, but that does not translate in perfumery for me. The main thing I said about it was, "it's pretty".

Jubilation - I quite like the interplay of lemon and tarragon, very grounding. This literally has everything and the kitchen sink in it. My nose is not refined enough to pick everything out. Maybe it will one day, because I'm going to teach myself how to become a perfumer as a run my roadside boiled peanut stand in North Carolina during my retirement. I found the dry down to be very complex and pleasing. In my notes I wrote, "this isn't what I look for in a fragrance." Again, I like it objectively. It hard for my to wax emotively when I don't have an emotional connection to the perfume. Luckyscent calls it, "discretely sensuous and truly compelling." We have different definitions of truly compelling.

Epic - This one I really life! As evidenced by the empty spritzer vial. My nose picks up on cinnamon, tea, rose and geranium. All notes I love. Given Amouage's heritage, this is what I thought more of the fragrances would lean towards. (Although it seam that they have something for every taste. Epic was inspired by Puccini's "Turnadot". There is not an opera composer I love more than Puccini. It's FATE that I loved this one. Interesting enough, this is one of the few fragrances that my husband has turned his nose up to in quite some time. Clearly his taste for drama and mine are not on the same level. This surprises NO ONE who knows us. Here's Luckyscent's take, "The sensuous, honeyed and dark blend of rose, tea and geranium in the heart of Epic evokes Turandot herself, the femme fatale beauty who lured love-stuck princes to their death." See, dramatic.

Honour - This perfume is inspired by "Madam Butterfly". I feel that the attempt is only half baked. I get the beauty from the jasmine, gardenia and tuberose. (I LOVE tuberose!) The drama is missing for me. The fragrance is quite pretty, but a little too "nice" for what it is trying to evoke. Master perfumer that I am, I would have kicked out the leather and added in oud to give it more depth and darkness. Luckyscent explains, "How could it not be emotional when it's based on the story of a heroine who kills herself when the American soldier she's pined for returns to her homeland to take their child?) 'Death with honour,' proclaims the heroine before dying, 'when one can no longer live in honour.'" Again, it's pretty, but it missed the mark for me with drama.

Memoir - Again, this smells a little "mature" for what I normally go for, but I really fell for it. There are certain scent combinations that I know I just like. Cardamom, rose and leather - plus a whole host of other notes - I know I like. I had fun with this on trying to pick everything out and sometimes failing miserably. Luckyscent describes memoir as a "scent of shadows". It think that is very appropriates. Certain notes lay cloaked and veiled by others. I wrote in my notes that maybe this it my perfume for when I go see "Elektra" at the Met next month. Clearly, it MUST be special and have a certain amount of refineness to be put on that short list. I image that Memoir is what a fancy tea house in the East smells like.

There are male versions for all the above mentioned scents. I would be curious to a side by side comparison and let my husband have the spoils. 

Currently listening: Overture to "Fidelio" by Ludwig van Beethoven

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Honey Dipped Roses: Parfait de Roses

Current Fragrance: Love by By Kilian
Currently Watching: The Kitten Bowl

I love rose jam. Both the Lush version and the Harry Partch version. I normally wear the Lush Rose Jam body spray to work, as I consider if incredibly off brand to wear another brand's perfume to work. I quite like it. I have it in every other interaction it comes in: soap, shower gel, shampoo bar, massage bar, body conditioner, bath bomb and bubble bar. I love the interplay between Turkish roses, geranium, and lemon can evoke a beautiful rose jam. I love that the body spray can get a little boozy in excess. I have to be careful that I don't get too much of a good thing so I reached out to my Facebook fragrance group and got MANY suggestions for a jammy rose.

One of the suggestions that peaqued my interest was Maison Lancome Parfait de Roses. I didn't know that Lancome's perfume had gotten "fancy". All I really knew of Lancome was Tresor. Maison Lancome "has appointed some of the greatest contemporary perfumers to pay homage to Lancôme’s founder, Armand Petitjean. The result is Maison Lancôme, a new collection of fragrances that so exquisitely touch upon and carry on Petitjean’s dream, and the essence of the House itself." It was easily for my to go to Saks and get a sample to try. (I never trust a spritz in the store.) I LOVED it! It like taking a beautiful pink rose, rolling it in honey, then a little of good mixed berry jam, and dusting it with a kiss of powder.

Parfait de Roses is a little pricey for my right now. (I love it, but I'm not in love with it.) So a full bottle is out for right now. (Plus I want to try all of Maison Lancome before I decide on a favorite. I have a sample of Oud Ambroisie in my sample quest to try.)

I was lucky enough to find someone of my Facebook group that was selling splits of Parfait de Roses so I was able to buy a 10 ml spritzer. Soon I will write a face on how to love high end fragrance on a budget. It's doable.

Parfait de Roses and light, romantically cheerful, slightly gourmand, and the key word for me - nostalgic. It's like baking something sweet in the kitchen of your childhood home with a vase a fresh cut roses sitting on the counter, and somehow the entire memory got sprinkled with baby powder. Right in my wheelhouse.

Currently Watching: STILL the Kitten Bowl

Friday, January 26, 2018

Got Me On My Knees - Laila

Current Fragrance: Laila
Currently Listening: Running on Faith from Eric Clapton, Unplugged

I have been on a rather intense "perfume nostalgia" kick as of late. Particularly I have been drawn to the scents I wore right around the time Hood and I got engaged and married. Laila is one of those scents. Laila, I'm pretty sure, was the scent I wore when we got engaged, but let me back up a bit.

I VIVIDLY remember the day I bought my bottle of Laila. We were working in a newly opened mall outside of Raleigh, NC and my work was 63 steps from Nordstrom. (Think I shopped there a lot?) I had a good working relation ship with one particular fragrance SA (it was fragrances and shoes....still is). I came in to see if there was anything new. I was wearing my black dressed and dress-length jacket that was trimmed in turquoise. (Don't anyone ever tell me that scent and memory aren't closely, CLOSELY linked!) She showed me Laila. Said it was inspired by the wildflowers of Norway. It was extremely pretty and somewhat chilled. Naturally I left with a bottle.

Now onto our engagement. This is how I remember it. It has been over 15 years, and Hood might challenge me on some of the details, but the whole evening was such a fantastic blur. We had talked marriage over, what I'm remembering, was a super fancy early dinner at the Golden Corral. Later that evening, he suggested we go take a walk around campus. I hadn't really spent that much time ON campus, just around it, and thought a walk on campus would be nice. It started dragging me from point to point in a rather rapid pace, and was acting rather odd. It was when we ran into some of his fraternity brothers and he acted REALLY odd that it stuck me, "he's going to propose! OH MY GOD!" And propose he did, in front of the Old Well. Basically THE spot on Carolina's campus.

Over winter break we went back to Carolina's campus and stayed a stone's throw from the Old Well at the Carolin Inn. We took the trip to see the Tar Heel's beat Boston College, visit family, walk around campus, and very importantly eat at Carolina Brewery, Bojangles, and K&W Cafeteria. My time in North Carolina, although brief, was one of the happiest and most care free times in my life and I cherish getting to go back.

Laila is available only online and in Nordstrom stores, so we went back to the Nordstrom store where I purchased my bottle those 15-some years ago. One spritz and a while host of memories came flooding back. It was glorious! White flowers, wildflowers, watermelon and a bit of ice. Gier Ness did a LOVELY job with Lails! It is so innocently alluring. It is somehow simple and complex at the same time. As I'm saving for the big New York City basketball/perfume trip over Spring Break, I did not buy a bottle, but soon my pretties, soon. I did walk out with several self made sample vials to tide me over, and will say that the hand is body cream is exquisite with excellent longevity!

I think I would classify Laila as one of my all times favorites. It's just so lovely, and I have such history to it. It's not generally what I go for, as I tend to lean towards roses and gourmands. Scent is a powerful time machine and this one brings me back to a time and place that I'll always want to stay just a little while longer.

Currently Listening: Layla from Eric Clapton, Unplugged

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Atelier Cologne - Perfume Palette

Currently Wearing: Silky Rose by Jovan
Currently Listening: Point of No Return by Expose

I love a good perfume sampler. It's a great way to try out a brand you don't know much about. I impulse bought this on in the line at Sephora for just $18. Atelier Cologne can be a little pricey for me (although there are varying sizes and price points and the do offer a "Discovery Set" on their website for $35), so this is a really good way to see if it's worth it.

Atelier Cologne was started by Christophe Cervasel and Sylvie Ganter. Here's a bit of their story. I find it sweet:

"We met for the first time in New York in 2006 and very quickly we fell in love. We discovered that we share the same passion for the legendary Eau de Cologne and that we were on the same on-going search for a Cologne of character, elegant and fresh at the same time with exceptional long lasting power.
Together, we decided to create the first fragrance house entirely dedicated to cologne. Our dream: to create colognes to be worn as Pure Perfumes. After many years in the making, our dream came true. We gave birth to a new olfactive family: the Colognes Absolues."

I had fun testing this one. I did one fragrance a night for 8 nights. The results are as follows...
Orange Sanguine: It was described as "Bitter and fresh blood orange from Italy with sweet sandalwood." I got a very pure scent of freshly squeezed orange juice with a herbal swizzle stick. The sad thing about citrus scents is that they burn off so quickly. Orange Sanguine was fleeting.
Clementine California: "Sunny composition built around clementine from California: fruity, green, and sweet." My nose can distinguish between many different types of citrus, but different types of oranges and clementines it cannot. To me it was a sweet citrus. Like walking though a citrus grove with a citrus and rosemary lollipop. When the citrus burns off, you are left with a bouquet of bright herbs, that I visualize being tied with raffia.
Vanille Insensée: "An unexpected vanilla from Madagascar, fresh and woody." This is the only one of the lot I have smelled before, so I knew I liked it. It's comforting like a hug. Very inviting yet sophisticated. It's like a milk punch made with good Bourbon and vanilla vodka.
Cafe Tuberosa: "An addictive espresso coffee accord blended with an elegant tuberose from India." I went MAD for this one! It's SO lovely, and unexpectedly elegant! Coffee and tuberose in equal parts. Reminds me of getting all dressed up to go to the bar at the Taj (my favorite bar here in Boston) and having the perfect cup of decaf as a night cap.
Santal Carmin: "Sweet, creamy sandalwood from New Caledonia with a bold accent of saffron." I like it objectively, but its' nothing I would choose to wear. I think the saffron makes the sandalwood smell brighter. Not the sandalwood profile I'm used to. I want to smell this on my husband. He has 2 bottles of fragrance, I'm encroaching on 100.
Oud Saphir: "Dark oud from Malaysia, smoky leather and sparkling bergamot." This one may have changed my mind on our, I found it to be GLORIOUS, I couldn't stop smelling my wrsit. Very "clean". The oud is nice and not heavy-handed. Often-times oud will make my head hurt. I think the bergamot makes it. It is "sparkling". It's such a departure from what I normally wear, but tastes change and evolve. It was a nice surprise. It's the perfect blend of woody, smoky and sparkling. I can't come up with an anaolgy for it.
Mandarine Glaciale: "An icy mandarin spiced by sweet ginger." This one way WAY too fleeting for me. Most likely my least favorite of the lot. I also wanted the ginger to be much more sharp.
Cedre Atlas: "Crisp blue cedar from Morocco enveloped by amber." This one confused me greatly. In my notes, all I have is "why does this smell like my beloved Jo Malone Orange Blossom?"
So that's it. My first real post back! I think I'm going to add bottles of Cafe Tuberosa and Oud Saphir to my ever expanding full bottle wish list. I have an Ormonde Jayne and an Amouage sampler to wade through, but I want to do a few single fragrance entries so I can live with things I little more and weave some better fragrance stories and analogies for you.
Until next time...OOO,
Currently Listening: Bootylicious by Destiny's Child

Sunday, January 14, 2018

So It's Been A Minute

Current Fragrance: Atelier Cologne's Vanille Insensee
Currently Listening: Carolina Hurricanes v. Calgary Flames

"I need a hobby." I thought to myself both mentally and physically exhausted from the Fall semester. Yes I have my Sunday evenings in Cambridge, but I needed something to do alone that feeds my soul. All work and no play makes Kathleen a very, VERY dull girl. As I've said before and will say over and over again, "you can't pour from an empty cup." I really do need to practice what I preach.

Over the break I had more me time, and I had special events over the holidays where I would need to "scent" myself that took my back into my collection. Then the day before the husband and I left on vacation I went to both Sephora and Saks and sniffed what I had missed. I ended up with several samples, which I'm sure I'll end up blogging about at some point, and purchased the Atlier Cologne's Perfume Palette for the budget friendly price of $18! I had forgotten how much enjoyed thinking about perfume on my own time, and how happy it made me.

So I thought resurrecting the blog would be a good idea. My goal is to write one entry a week. I think I can hang with that. If there comes a week that I'm too swamped, that's ones's going to die.

It is also worth noting that I've been on the project of amassing all the perfumes that I wore when Al and I were first married. This'll take awhile, but I will blog about them as I add them to the collection.

Some of my current favorites from Andy Tauer and By Kilian

If you haven't read the ORIGINAL incarnation of NDCN5 (it was a weight loss blog for a bit), I know you must be thinking, "but Kathleen...why perfume?" Simple answer: I love perfume and it makes me really happy. I think perfume is truly a form of art. NOTHING can take me back to time and place like a scent can. Furthermore, perfume (like jewelry) doesn't care what size you are. Any while some of the perfumes I like can be pretty pricey, there are many things in my collection that I truly love that were about 12 bucks.

I remember my perfume journey very well. It started with Luv's Baby soft that I bought with saved  money from my allowance, I remember getting Debbie Gibson's Electric Youth and Exclamation for Christmas when I was seven. Then when I was eight, I saved quite a bit MORE allowance money and bought Elizabeth Taylor's Passion. That's a whole lot of perfume for an eight year old girl. I didn't care. I was "fancy". 

Growing up my mother wore Charlie. (More on that later.) My maternal grandmother wore Emeraude and While Shoulders and my paternal grandmother wore Chanel No. 5 and White Diamonds. See what I mean about fragrance and memory?

I am firmly a child of the 80's. In my mind, the 80's had really great everything. (Or really great everything that the brain of a 2-12 year old take in.) The blog name is an homage to both my mother's signature scent during the 80's and one of my favorite movies growing up, "Short Circuit."

So that's where we are. What you can expect is a lot of love for fragrances I truly love. I see no point in writing about things I don't like. (Unless it's discovery sets, those are never 100%.) Snarky, sass, nostalgia, the opinions of my cats, some giveaways, and maybe by reading you'll learn something about fragrances you didn't already know or find some fragrances you want to try.

Thanks for reading!

I hope you'll be back!

- Kathleen

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

M is for Motivation

I put it out there on Facebook on what to write for an upcoming blog entry, and it was requested  to write on Motivation. I think it's something important to talk about, as in has implications in just about every facet of life. I wrote something earlier this week for the Challenge group I'm co-leading about goal setting, and I think that the two have a whole lot in common.

I'm a big ol' nerd, so when I want to figure out anything new, I open up a book to figure out what's going on. So let's go to the dictionary:

noun: motivation; plural noun: motivations
  1. the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.

    "escape can be a strong motivation for travel"

    synonyms:motive, motivating force, incentive, stimulus, stimulation, inspiration, inducement, incitement, spur, reason;

    "his motivation was financial"
late 19th century: from motive, reinforced by motivate.
I read that and distill it to one simple thing, "the why." I want to loose weight, but why? I want to become a nurse, but why? I want a million dollars, but why? I want a puppy/a second cat, but why? (These are all from my own life.) None of those things are ever, EVER going to come to a fruition if you can't come up with a real and relateable. Notice I say real and relateable. I say this because "because I want to," and "just 'cause." are cop-outs. If you can't think of anything any better than "because I want to" and "just 'cause," then you haven't put in enough time and energy into thinking about your potential life changes. I'm going to venture to guess, that at this stage, they just aren't going to work out. 

If motivation is the "why", then goals are the "how". Now I can, and pretty much have, written a whole post on setting goals, so I don't want to post too much about them. I will point out this: they are your road map. You will get nowhere very quickly. Make them specific and attainable and WRITE THEM DOWN. (Like with a pen or paper.)

You're motivated to start, you've got your goals and you're off to the races. Everything is going great, and then the breaks are quickly applied. SHIT! What just happened? Where'd my motivation go? Before you throw in the towel and quit realize this: anything worth attaining is not going to feel comfortable all the time, you're not always going to feel good and happy go lucky. That's just life. Life's tough. Changing yourself is even tougher. In this instance think of yourself as iron walking through the fire, it's only going to make you stronger, and that's where the real change takes place.

This is just the way it is. There's no panacea for loss of motivation and plateaus other than gritting your teeth and knowing that if you stick to your plan you WILL reach your goals, no matter how long it takes. Remember it's not magic. It's hard work. Also, there's this....I always, ALWAYS watch this any time I'm feeling suck:

There are also things that we can do to help us along there way. There are two that work for me. One is my weightloss rewards. (I like stuff. More specifically, I like pretty jewelry). Every 5 pounds I lose, I buy myself something that will work within my budget. For me this stems from ending the cycle of rewarding myself with food every time something went right in my life.

The second thing is music. It almost drives me to tears thinking about what a run would be like without my Running Playlist. Going every fifth song it contains: Eminem, Fort Minor, MIA, Kanye & Jay-Z, Foo Fighters, Beyonce, RuPaul, Van Halen, Blackcherry, Macklemore, and Miranda Lambert. Pretty diverse. This taps into all the music that gets my brain, heart, and the athlete in me going. I also, honestly, listen to this type of music most of the time on my commute so I can come across as the best version of myself when I'm around the general public. Let's face it, the not so good versions of myself are no picnic. 

Big take away. Find your "why" and don't let it go. No matter what happens. That's going to get you going and keep you going. Also remember, that why is going to come from the deepest places of your soul. Don't be scared, that's where all the good stuff is kept!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Metaphorical Carrots...the 60 lb edition...yet again!

Let me review the rules! Every 5 pounds lost, I reward myself with a little something, and every 10 pounds lost I reward myself with something a little bigger. (Sometimes I do have to shift this a budgets dictate. Normally I've found that these rewards come in the way of jewelry and I can wear them as a constant reminder of what I've accomplished. That, and I really like jewelry...a lot!

As you may or may not know, I am back down to 60 pounds lost. This is a significant milestone as that puts me HALF WAY to my goal weight. We have been here before, however. Last time I bought a beautiful moonstone ring from Sikara.

Many times I have something in mind as to what I'm working for. I've got my eyes on these moccasins, but its just way too hot. Maybe at 70 pounds.

I had my last weigh in on Saturday, with plans to go to the SoWa Market on Sunday. PERFECT! I'll find something there. I went with my friend Mike - I can't think of a clever nickname for him - plus, there are about eleventy billion Mike's in the it is. I was looking for a particular booth that belongs to a gentleman who sells jewelry from around the world, but he wasn't there. =( We did a lap, and I stopped and checked out just about all of the booths that sells jewelry. I cam back to, and settled on these....

I got them from from MPrint Jewelry out of Portland Maine. They are cast from vintage coins from The Netherlands. Very, very cool in my opinion! I enjoyed wearing them to work yesterday, and they for sure will make it into my earring rotation.

Stay tuned for the next "carrot update" in 5 pounds.