Moving Back!

It’s been almost 7 years since I’ve blogged Muse in Wooden Shoes here at WordPress.com, rather than a self-hosted site … and now I’m baaaa-aaack!

Or, rather, I will be soon, with those seven years of blog content to be migrated back here. This is just to say that you can look for La Muse here in the future.

woman doing hand heart sign

Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR on Pexels.com

Moving Truck

(Image from leobard at Flickr.)

And we’re ready to roll over to the new site!  Please join me there as of January 11, 2012:

The Muse in Wooden Shoes

(*Please update your blogrolls as soon as possible – I’d consider that a great favor.)  This site will remain active but no new posts will be added as of January 10, 2012.  Also, please note that I have now closed comments for all posts on this site.  ALL CONTENT from this site is now up at the new site, so I’d love it if you came to comment there!

This is the latest round of Serge Lutens testing, with results as follows. Blue, I love. Pink, I like. Green, I dislike. Purple, I despise. Beyond La Myrrhe, there’s not a single SL fragrance that I am dying to own – so far, anyway.   Thanks again to everybody kind enough to send me samples… and you might have to remind me who you are, because my older emails are just buried in this insane pile…

Arabie – curry spices and amber and woods, very rich and almost edible but almost sweaty, too. I like smelling it, but not on my skin. I’d rather smell this smell in a house where I’ve been invited to dinner.

A La Nuit– the Perfumes: The Guide review says “Death by jasmine,” and it’s quite correct. JasminesR-us. All jasmine, all the time. Jasmine Overload. Now if it were “death by tuberose,” I’d probably like it. I don’t hate A La Nuit, but I don’t like it either. If you like jasmine, have at it. You can have my share.

(Sidenote: Is it not freaky, weird and/or strange that I should love tuberose so much, and have a mild aversion to its partner-in-smell, jasmine? But there you go: it’s how I feel. Tuberose? gimme more. Tuberose with other white florals (including jasmine)? yes, please. Jasmine on its own? I’lllllll…. just back away. I’ll be over here sniffing my Vamp a NY, thanks. Or the Fracas, or Beyond Love, or Carnal Flower, or Tuberosa d’Autonno. You can keep the Tubereuse Criminelle, though.)

Fille en Aiguilles – the first moments are very camphoraceous, then it’s piney spice. I like this a lot, and at the same time, I’m not sure I could really enjoy wearing it on my skin. I’d love to have it as a candle. After an hour’s time, it’s very enjoyable, a pine-spice-incense thing that is very pleasant, but half an hour after that, it picks up a sour, wet-ashes acridity that I’ve noticed before in other scents (Paestum Rose, the Aedes de Venustas fragrance, and Comme des Garcons White). This seems to be a nexus of cedar and incense, with possibly some rose involved. I never, ever like this accord, and my word for it is unbearable. Luckily, three hours after application, the Fee en Eggwee is pretty much gone. This perfume swings from “dislike” to “mild enjoyment” to “greater enjoyment” and then veers straight for “Dear God, No!”  This one doesn’t quite approach the KillMeNow hatred that I have for those few Lutens (Tube Criminy comes to mind), but it’s pretty close.

Boxeuses – This one seems… unstable. Could be my perception, could be my skin, but the components seem a hairsbreadth away from just falling to pieces instead of joining together the way I thought they would. You know how if you let a ripe peach just sit and dry out for awhile, it gets leathery? And how good leather has that soft peachskin texture to it? Makes sense to me that peach and leather would hold hands and get along. But in Boxeuses, they don’t. I don’t know why. Also, I found it animalic in a disturbing way.

Fourreau Noir– Lord help me, this is evil lavender. Instant blinding headache… wait, now it’s shaving cream covered in maple syrup… Okay, this one is KillMeNow hatred. I could not wait for the drydown, I had to scrub within ten minutes. I was shaking with nausea. Couldn’t face the concept of a retest, either.

This was not a good set for me. (Duh, ya think?) You can see my reactions to other Serge Lutens fragrances in Part 1 and Part 2.  What I’d be interested to know is, was anybody surprised that I didn’t like these, given my usual tastes? I try to be unbiased, I really do – I sincerely try to just grab a sample out of the basket and put it on for the first time without looking at the name or the notes, only looking at the vial when I have a preliminary feel for what’s on my skin. Repeat testings, of course, can’t be done this way.

And of course there’s always the fact that the Lutens line is heavily weighted toward accords that I am not instinctively drawn to. We all have our preferences, and I’m not willing to say that certain preferences are more worthy than others (especially when it’s my preferences that are going to get some scorn!). I’m not big on curried fruit and cedar-incense and Bold and Weird, I’m just not, and I refuse to feel guilty. I like what I like. It’s interesting to me that La Myrrhe is both Bold and Weird, and yet seems so absolutely perfect. Go figure. Other than being Bold and Weird, it’s not in the usual Lutensian style, I suppose.

There are more Serges to test, so there will be more reviews here soon. Oh, and we move the blog tomorrow! There will be a link here to forward you to the new site. Hope you’ll join me there.

Image of Arabie from  Fragrantica.

Montane Birch Forests in Torkilstoten (winter), by ArildV, from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, Jan. 2: Back to school! I managed to stifle my evil laughter as I dropped off the slaves (children) at school today. We put away the rest of the Christmas decorations, and I worked on a post or two. It is very cold and windy, with a high temperature of 30F, wind chill making it feel like 22F. Brrrrr. I did go get the boys from the bus stop, which is half a mile from the house. Hope the track team is running inside today.

No single SOTD today – I’m testing several things, including By Kilian Love (don’t be shy), DSH Marzipan, and a few other things I can’t remember now. Oh, yes – Amouage Honour Woman and SL Fourreau Noir.

We’ve had snow, starting at about 5pm and going through the evening, with about an inch of accumulation. I’m sure school will be delayed tomorrow. SOBedtime: DSH Chypre, which goes well with the wild wind outside and the warm covers on my bed.

Tuesday, Jan. 3: Woke up to two inches of snow and the snuggly leftover amber base of Chypre. The county schools went on two hours delay, which meant that Governor’s School was canceled, so poor Bookworm was able to get another couple of hours of sleep. It’s the dry, granular kind of snow, though, so although temperatures are in the low 20sF, the wind will blow most of it away as the day goes on.

SOTD: By Kilian Back to Black. It’s lovely rich honey-gingerbread tobacco for awhile, and then it goes cherry-Play-doh heliotropin. No.

I’m struggling a little bit with working on a novel set in a sticky Virginia summer, while snow swirls around outside and my windchimes are gonging away. (I love my windchimes – they’re large and tuned to a pentatonic scale, so that they are pleasant to listen to, not tinkly like the cheap ones.)

SOTEvening: Givenchy Organza Indecence. Yummy stuff. I made Joe Chicken for dinner (see recipe here), and then we watched Virginia Tech play Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. It was a nerve-wracking evening. (VT wuz robbed! Danny Coale caught that TD pass in bounds!)

Wednesday, Jan. 4: As predicted, the snow has mostly blown away. Temps are in the upper teens, though, and the wind chill factor makes it feel like 7 below zero. (Brrrrr!) SOTD: Carnal Flower. Omigosh, it’s so amazing. I only have a small decant which I treasure.

I’m working on porting my blog over from WordPress.com to webhostinghub.com. You’d think that it would be as easy as it was when I moved from Google Blogger (www.musesinwoodenshoes.blogspot.com) to WordPress’ blog host (https://museinwoodenshoes.wordpress.com) – but it isn’t. Arrrrgh! The new site actually exists now.

Thursday, Jan. 5: Frosty in the a.m., warmer by noon. I got a perm and my hair stinks, but it’s the price of beauty… SOTD: Amouage Honour Woman. First community chorus rehearsal of the new semester; we’re doing Haydn’s The Creation, which is early baroque stuff. Probably more interesting for us than for our audience, and although I love singing Bach and Handel, Haydn’s a little… well, obvious. He’s like early 50s rock-n-roll as compared to, say, Springsteen – the form was simpler when he was writing, so he hits you over the head with the classical approximation of “three chords and a bridge.” Oh well. SOTEvening: more Honour Woman.

Friday, Jan. 6: After dropping the boys off, I got drafted by The CEO to help move some cow-calf pairs from the Seven-Acre Field into the Barn Lot, because today’s weather was going to be nice, with temps in the upper 50sF and he needed to give them pour-on dewormers and their annual vaccinations. So I helped some and got yelled at a lot (“Bring ’em up! Don’t let those get past you! Go faster!”), and The CEO and Jeff worked 80 pairs today while I wrote a (quasi-) review of Amouage Honour Woman. Exhausting.

SOTMorning: Honour Woman. This was, obviously, before I had to go outside and chase cows. SOTAfternoon, post-shower: By Kilian Love and Tears, which smells very nice but bores me silly. Not a big jasmine fan. SOTEvening, right wrist: Anne Pliska, which strikes me as being something like Organza Indecence on steroids.

We indulged ourselves, and ate Little Caesar’s pizza for dinner tonight, along with green beans and salad. Yum.

Saturday, Jan. 7: Warm weather like yesterday. The CEO headed off with Gaze and Cory (who lives in the mobile home on the farm and sometimes helps us on weekends) to get up a cow-calf pair and treat them for a health problem. Bookworm left early this morning for an indoor track meet. I kept Cory’s little boy, Ty, who’s two. Taz helped keep Ty occupied, so the normal Saturday housecleaning took awhile. SOTD: Anne Pliska vs. Organza Indecence throwdown.

Sunday, Jan. 8: Weather still nice. SOTD: Sweet Redemption. The CEO and Gaze are deeply, deeply into playoff football, while Taz keeps clamoring to watch his new Harry Potter DVDs… Bookworm is off to church with PETBoy, and then spending the day with him. I think he’s even cooking lunch for her and his family today.

Still working on the new site and whipping it into shape. Just uploaded a new header photo taken with The CEO’s new camera, and it looks pretty good. The ads will not appear right away, but I’ve gotten the posts transferred and the blogroll rewritten.

If you know of any well-written, consistently-maintained blogs that I’ve missed, please do let me know! There are several I’ve added recently, and I dropped a few that are not being maintained, while leaving a few that have no new posts but which are so well-written that I still enjoy consulting them. (I really miss Rita of The Left Coast Nose – she might be my Evil Scent Twin as well as my ideological opposite, but I appreciate her passion and her personal investment in her blog, and while she’s in… Bolivia?… her sniffery blog is lying fallow. Perhaps she’ll take it up again at some point.)

Perfume Review: Amouage Honour Woman

Date released: 2011

Perfumer: Alexandra Carlin and Violaine Collas

Sample provenance: sample purchased from Aedes.com, 2012

Sub-category: Summer-weight white floral with tuberose

The following never happened. But it could have…

Mals was having an amazing day. She was walking down a city street, the heels of her new brown leather boots tapping on the sidewalk, shopping bags swinging by her side. She was musing to herself that the cashmere sweater she’d found on sale was just perfect – simple, classic, a lovely soft shade of gray-blue. And the boots! Will wonders never cease? The boots were perfect, too. Butter-soft, the right heel, they fit her ankles, and they didn’t make her feet ache. She’d worn them out of the store. And that tablecloth, that was a wonderful find for $10… White linen with drawn-thread work, just the size for her harvest maple table, guaranteed resistant to the tiniest food stain, machine washable. Perfect.

A storefront caught her eye: The Dream Perfumery, lettered in a clean but flowing script above the door. Her eyebrows went up, and she dodged across the lanes of oncoming walkers to have a closer look. The building itself seemed to be made of marble, and the interior was softly lit. The heavy glass door swung open when she put her hand up to it, and then she realized that someone inside had opened it for her.

Thank you,” she said in faint surprise to the young woman holding the door.

Oh, do come in,” the young woman said. “Lovely day, isn’t it? I’m Graciela, and we’re so pleased you stopped by.”

Mals blinked. This was not what the kind of treatment to which she was accustomed. And the inside of the shop was absolutely luxe, with a whisper-soft carpet and walls hung with fabric in rich colors. It smelled of many mingled scents, as a perfume shop should.

Continue Reading »

Woman cooking in a kitchen, from Wikimedia Commons

Mals has been cooking up something!

First: after hours of slaving over a hot computer yesterday, I managed to set up my blog at its new webhost and port over all the posts.  Yay!  I will need to do some tweaking of it, like adding the sidebar widgets, updating the blogroll, and choosing a new theme (since this one is no longer available, for some reason).  I’ll also be adding page breaks so that a longer list of posts will appear on the main page; to read the full post you’ll need to click once on the title or the “click here to continue reading” jump link.  

The new blog will probably go live next week.  I’ll leave a redirect up on this site.  I plan to maintain this blog site rather than delete it, but no new posts will appear at this location after the official move.

Second: ads will appear gradually on the new site.  I plan to keep them confined to certain areas, like sidebars, headers or footers, and will not use pop-ups because those things annoy the fire out of me. They will be content-linked, so I assume they’ll relate to perfume and books.

Also, I have a new weekly posting plan.  When I started blogging in 2009, the plan was to offer three reviews a week.  If you’ve been reading for awhile, you’ll notice that that idea fell by the wayside about the time that I started doing NaNoWriMo in November of that year, and from time to time all I’ve regularly posted has been Scent Diary.  However, since I would like to get back to posting more frequently, I have worked up a new schedule, as follows:

Monday Scent Diary: the previous week’s happenings in my Scented Life.

Tuesday Roundup: a collection of two or more mini perfume reviews.

Wild Wednesday: a random-topic post. Could be a rant, a FAILblog image, or a ramble about cows. Might be an excerpt from my in-progress novel. I’m not guaranteeing a full post by any means; if I’m busy, it might just be a cute picture of kittens. Who doesn’t need more kittens in their life?

Thursday “TBR”: Thursday Book Review and/or Thursday Blogger Recipe.

Full Review Friday: an extended perfume review.

Now: it’s Thursday, and I have a favorite recipe to share, so without further ado, here is the inaugural TBR content:

Joe Chicken

This is my husband’s favorite favorite recipe for chicken, bar none. I found it in an old cookbook under the name Herb-Broiled Chicken, but over time it took on its current name as The CEO’s favorite dish.

4 chicken breasts, bone-in and skin on

Olive oil cooking spray

Salt and pepper

3-4 Tbsp. (yes, tablespoons, and you might need even more depending on how big your chicken pieces are) of one of the following dry seasoning options:

* Italian – a mixture of Italian herb seasoning, minced garlic, paprika, and grated Parmesan cheese

* Cajun seasoning

* Chicago-style grilled chicken seasoning

* Lemon pepper and dill

* Other seasoning mixture of your choosing (5-spice Chinese might be interesting, or curry)

If you can, buy smaller chicken breasts because they tend to cook more evenly. Preheat broiler to its highest setting, and put oven rack down as low as it will go. As always, be mindful of washing hands after handling raw chicken, and make sure to use separate utensils for handling chicken after it’s cooked.

Place chicken breasts skin-side down on a broiler rack. Spray lightly with olive oil spray. Scatter about half the seasoning on the chicken, and press down lightly with your hand so that it sticks to the meat. Broil the chicken on the lowest rack of the oven for about 13-15 minutes, keeping oven door slightly open and hood fan on.

Remove pan from oven and turn chicken pieces over with tongs. Season as before, omitting oil spray and placing the seasoning between meat and skin. Leaving the skin on keeps the chicken very moist and juicy. (I usually remove the skin after cooking, but The CEO loves eating crispy chicken skin!) If you absolutely must, you may remove the skin altogether before broiling, but if so, spray a little oil before sprinkling seasoning on skinned breasts. Broil for 11-12 minutes on lowest rack of the oven, as before.

Remove pan from oven again and cut into the thickest piece to see if it is cooked inside. If it’s only slightly pink, slide the pan back in for another minute or so, until the skin is crisped. If the inside of the thickest piece is still raw, cut the breasts in half horizontally and season the insides liberally, no need for oil spray this time. Broil for 4-7 minutes longer, or until juices run clear yellow with no trace of pink.

Place chicken on a clean serving platter. Enjoy with a tossed green salad or plenty of green vegetables and a starch suited to the seasoning you chose – for example, Italian works great with spaghetti aglio et olio, Cajun with red beans and rice. Baked potatoes are wonderful with Chicago grill, and I like the lemon-pepper/dill with white and wild rice. Don’t forget to pick the meat off the bone. Yum.

Skinless and boneless chicken is probably better for you, but it never has the same tender juicy quality as bone-in with skin. And it’s getting harder to find small chicken breasts, so I usually wind up cutting them in half partway through the cooking process. I tried several times to make things easier by cutting them in half before broiling the first side, but they just got tough. Don’t even bother trying it.

For the sake of your heart, do not sop up the seasoned chicken drippings in the bottom of the broiler pan with a piece of good bread, although The CEO insists that you will want to do so.


Uhh... I HOPE not. (Image from despair.com.)

I will probably be moving to a new hosting platform soon, with an accompanying change of domain name. I have been concerned for some time about the wisdom of having my brain-property on a site not owned by me. The free blog hosting sites like WordPress.com and Blogger actually own the content of all the blogs they host, so if for some reason I get on somebody’s bad side at WordPress.com and they decide to yank my platform, then I will not be able to own, control, and/or access my own blog. Copyright issues may be at stake here, too (though I’m not positive about that).

I am looking into monetizing my blog by adding something like AdSense. Since I’m not working at the moment, I could use a little income boost. The content on this blog will continue to be mine, not directed by any other agency whatsoever, and I’ll continue to love or like or have mixed feelings about whatever it is that I want to write about. I haven’t sold out. I do notice that several of the major blogs, like Perfume Posse and Now Smell This, have sponsors and allow ad placement, and although I am far, far smaller than those blogs, nobody’s thinking that Robin and Patty and their teams of respected reviewers are anything less than objective about what they choose to review and how they review it. I hope I’ve got that kind of credibility, even if I don’t (yet) have that kind of readership.

Look, I blog because I want to. I just feel that when I’m spending time researching and writing for my blog because I want to do that, it’s not wrong of me to want to pick up a little bit of spare change for doing what I would have done anyway. That may help to support the family while I am working on the novel. We go through a whopping four gallons of milk every week; you can think of the ads as sponsoring my family’s calcium intake, if you like.

These changes will probably occur gradually over the month of January. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll be changing the theme; I like the one I picked two years ago and I’m inclined to stick with it. But who knows? I may find another theme that suits me better.

I’ll also be getting back to more regular posting and more frequent reviews. In some cases, this may be collections of mini-reviews. Look for a return to the Tuberose Series, as well. I’ll also include recipes and literature reviews from time to time.

And now, the announcement of the winner of the Harvey Prince full bottle giveaway drawing: RusticDove. Please email me with your mailing details and I’ll forward them to the Harvey Prince people to send you the bottle of Eau Flirt.

I will be asking for feedback as the changes occur, and I hope readers will stick with me. Thanks so much for reading this far!

Orange blossom image from theflowerexpert.com


Okay, okay, okay. Okay, all right?

I surrender. There. I said it. Are you happy that I have turned into a cheese-eating surrender monkey*?

No? That’s not good enough?

(heavy sigh) Okay, but I’m only going to say this once.


(* No, no, I like the French.  And I love cheese, too.  Everything is fine.)

See, I used to hate orange blossom. Well, not so much hate it as be horribly bored by it. Orange blossom still has a tendency to go all soapy on me, and I really intensely hate the idea of buying perfume, only to smell like hygiene products. NO. THANKS.

There are tons of perfectly lovely orange blossom fragrances out there that people love and that are adorably orange blossomy and smell very nice. Except on me. The following are just examples of Orange Blossom scents that went straight to Nice Floral French-Milled Soap on me:   AG Eau du Ciel (it smells like sheets freshly dried in the sun in the backyard, which is a wonderful smell but I prefer it as a linen spray), Bvlgari pour Femme, Jo Malone Orange Blossom, John Varvatos Artisan, L’Artisan La Chasse aux Papillons, SSS Femme Jolie, Caron Narcisse Noir (reformulated), Hermes 24, Faubourg.

Even Robert Piguet Fracas and Karl Lagerfeld Chloe, with all their tuberose and va-va-voom, luxurious, sexy qualities, seem nearly dominated by as much about orange blossom as tuberose to my nose, and they veer somewhat soapy on my skin. (AHA! The answer to the question of why on earth my mother, who deemed most white florals “too mature” for a teenager, let me go out of the house wearing Chloe: on me, it smells like floral soap. Mystery solved.)

Then this past fall, I tried Elie Saab Le Parfum, and I really enjoyed the tender, smiling orange blossom in the topnotes. Huh, I said to myself. Maybe it just didn’t have time to go soapy since the OB lifted off so fast. And in the middle of my Serge Lutens self-challenge (oh, yeah, that’s ongoing and I have more Lutens reactions to post at some point), I found that I enjoyed the unabashedly-floral Fleurs d’Oranger. Pretty, I said to myself. Of course, there is a bunch of tuberose in that one, too.

And Donna, who reviews at Perfume-Smellin’ Things, and who is the one perfume blogger who might have the greatest amount of preferences in common with mine**, loved Sweet Redemption. (For the record, Donna loves green chypres, and I don’t. But we’re both suckers for Big Diva Roses, violets, lilies, muguet, Big White Florals, gentle floral chypres, and bosomy florientals as well as a number of truly-vintage fragrances, so we’ve got a lot of overlap.

** Other bloggers with whom I share some preferences are Musette at Perfume Posse and Abigail at I Smell Therefore I am.)

Aaaaand there was a drawing at Perfume Posse for a handful of By Kilian samples, which Musette kindly sent to me… they arrived just before Christmas. I sniffed Rose Oud and thought it pleasant, but I was busy with Christmas stuff and vainly attempting to write reviews of Prada Candy and Bottega Veneta (which I have yet to actually write!). So I set them aside until I could get some time, and promptly forgot about them. Oops. So when I mentioned on my “Year 2011 in Fragrance Review” post that I didn’t get to try Sweet Redemption, she reminded me that she’d sent me a packet and that one should have been in there. It was.

Not to mention that way back in October, I “liked” By Kilian on Facebook, and the company had promised to send a set of samples to anyone doing so before a certain date. I hadn’t received them, had almost forgotten about them and had concluded that I had missed the deadline after all… and then they showed up on the very last day of the year.

Sweet Redemption was the one I seized out of that envelope from France and sprayed on immediately. My eyes rolled back in my head with WOW.

When I was first married and had leisure time, I spent a goodly amount of it with Ruth Levy Beranbaum’s wonderful book The Cake Bible, making cakes and frostings and custards and jams and confections I’d never even heard of before, including sugared blossoms such as violets and rose petals and lilacs. I suspect that orange blossoms are too thick-petaled and waxy to respond well to the sugaring treatment, but I know that orange blossom water is commonly used in delicacies across the world, and it’s not a stretch to imagine an orange blossom I’d like to eat. Sweet Redemption opens up with an accord that is as close to a delicate, tender, sugared orange blossom as I could possibly imagine. It’s romantic and sweet and gorgeous and I just want to wipe happy tears from my eyes with my white lace-trimmed handkerchief as I smell it.

It’s also fairly fruity. My youngest child sniffed me and, confused, asked if I was wearing Jell-O. I was confused myself, wondering where this grapey smell was coming from since By Kilian seems to pride itself on high-quality raw materials. The grape effect seems to be engendered by methyl anthranilate, mentioned by Luca Turin in his P:TG review of Giorgio and explained further by Denyse at Grain de Musc in her review of Sweet Redemption as being an aromachemical that is naturally produced by orange blossoms and tuberose. This aromachemical is frequently added to grape-flavored items such as Kool-Aid and Jell-O to enhance the grapiness, thus leading Americans to perceive it as being a synthetic smell (see my review of I Profumo di Firenze Tuberosa d’Autonno).

After this stage, there enters a hint of floral bitterness that reminds me just a bit of marigolds, and perhaps of the bitter inner pith of orange peel. It’s something of a surprise in a fragrance that up to this point has been sweet as little baby kittens; I like it. It makes me think of the Mediterranean tradition of giving sugared almonds at a wedding reception – although there’s no almond at all in the smell, its combination of bitter and sweet, “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health,” makes me emotional.  I’m guessing that it’s the bitter orange leaf and myrrh that give this bitter effect to the sweet orange blossom.

As the scent develops, I pick up a spicy note underneath the orange blossom. Eventually, there is a lovely accord of orange blossom and resiny, vanillic benzoin, with that kind of sweet myrrh that I like. There is not a single trace of soap anywhere. Instead, it’s almost a gourmand floral. It makes me think of Honore des Pres Vamp a NY, that tuberose-spice-vanilla delight that, despite being made of all-natural ingredients, caused a fair number of people to exclaim, “Bubble gum! Root beer!” I’d hesitate to say that the two are built on the same structure. Vamp a NY is a lot more radiant and outspoken than Sweet Redemption, and Vamp is a good bit more weighted toward the vanilla-tolu balsam end, while Sweet Redemption stays floral longer and heads for benzoin instead of tolu. All the same, it’s perhaps not surprising that I love both of them.

The By Kilian website does not actually list Sweet Redemption on its L’Oeuvre Noire section, much less give its detailed notes formula (that I made fun of in my review of Beyond Love), but you can find it in the “shop online” section. From what I read at LuckyScent, the PR release for Sweet Redemption is fully as florid as those for the rest of the house’s scents and just as confusing, so I’ll provide you with a list of fragrance notes and completely ignore the mentions of Baudelaire and Jim Morrison. (No, this is good: I have nothing to say about Baudelaire, and my thoughts on Jim Morrison are unhelpful. Be thankful I’m not writing about them.) Notes for Sweet Redemption, from Bois de Jasmin blog: bergamot, broom flower, orange blossom, bitter orange leaf, cinnamon, vanilla, myrrh, opoponax, benzoin. 

This scent was composed by Calice Becker, who also did Beyond Love and a number of the other By Kilians.  I’m getting quite fond of Ms. Becker’s compositions; they seem clear and full of light and air, never heavy, not overdone, but not evanescent or stark.  Favorite Becker-authored scents include the first Ines de la Fressange and Cuir de Lancome.

I documented my feelings on the pricey-packaging By Kilians in my review of Beyond Love, but in a nutshell: I’m not a packaging gal. I don’t buy anything for the pretty bottle, much less a fancy-pants bottle in a satin-lined box with a key, for heaven’s sake! However, the quality of Beyond Love is stellar, and I have no qualms about buying a decant of something expensive that I really love. Can I really complain about a 50 ml refill bottle of, say, Beyond Love, at $150, when I think Guerlain Vega is glorious, and it retails at 100 ml for $325? Not that I own a bottle of either, but I do have a small decant of Vega, and I’m starting to think I need a bit of Sweet Redemption. Hmmmm. I do have a birthday coming up… 10mls of Sweet Redemption would be a lovely present.

Other reviews of Sweet Redemption: Donna at Perfume-Smellin’ Things, Jessica at Now Smell This, Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, Mark at CaFleureBon, Olfactoria’s Travels, The Non-Blonde, Scent of the Day, Daly Beauty, ScentSate.  I had read Donna’s, Jessica’s, and Victoria’s (BdJ) reviews before testing and discovered the others later; reviews are generally good, although not everyone loved it. 


Image from lorislighteddlites.com

Monday, Dec. 26: Busybusybusy, mostly cleaning up from Christmas. SOTD: Um… nothing. Forgot. (Forgot! That’s just crazy.)

Bookworm was packing up her stuff for the marching band’s trip to the Champs Sports Bowl in Florida, where they’ll join several other bands to provide the halftime show. They’re also going to see the Blue Man Group, eat dinner at Medieval Times, go to the Universal Studios themepark and Islands of Adventure, and march in the Mini Macy’s Day Parade at Universal, as well as attend the bowl game and play the halftime show. Fun trip – for them, anyway. (You could not pay me enough to induce me to go as a chaperone to 72 teenagers, but there are plenty of parents going, such that there is one parent for each group of four kids. Better them than me, I say.)

Curiosity and Primrose came over and spent much of the day here with us, the kids playing football out in the yard with their cousins. That was lovely. Bookworm and PETBoy went out on another of their mysterious outings in which they go to visit his mother’s grave, and then they came back to have dinner with us and watch a DVD on the new big-screen TV.

I did put on a bit of B&BW Dark Kiss lotion before bed, which I like very much but have to limit my access to since it’s become Bookworm’s default fragrance. Had to get up at 2:20 a.m. to take Bookworm to the high school; the band bus was scheduled to leave at 3:30. Aargh.

Tuesday, Dec. 27: Slept late. Who wouldn’t? Broken night, and rain in the morning… good sleeping weather, as they say around here. SOTD: Amouage Memoir Woman. I had been considering Bottega Veneta. I’m determined to finish this darn review, even though I keep getting stuck on it. Is it better to review something new and well-done I don’t particularly like, or to go back into my stash and talk about something that isn’t all over the other blogs? I think it depends. I think I should discuss Bottega Veneta and how nice it is to see a mainstream release that’s not mindless – and also why I don’t like it.

I have something of the same feeling about Prada Candy. Although I like it, it doesn’t induce rapture, and I don’t think I have much of interest to add to the discussion of it. I think perhaps instead of separate reviews, I may do a post on gourmand fragrances in general, with mini-reviews. I love writing mini-reviews anyway.

I packed up all the Christmas wrapping stuff and put it in the attic. I reuse gift bags and tissue paper and bows if at all possible, only throwing them away when they’re irretrievably battered. This approach is slightly greener than wrapping everything in paper and throwing it away when used, but then I’m not terribly green (as in environmentally conscious) except where it is economically sensible and/or convenient. I recycle, of course, which involves taking paper/plastics/aluminum to the town recycling center once a month, which is neither convenient nor economically sensible, but rather a civic duty, in my opinion. But I won’t go so far as to insist on wrapping everything in dish towels. I like gift bags.

Wednesday, Dec. 28: SOTD: Champagne de Bois. Gaze helped The CEO move a bunch of cows and then doctor them (anti-pest pour-on medication to get them through the winter without worms and lice, and the annual disease-preventing shot).

Watched part of “Men Who Stare At Goats” (George Clooney, Ewan MacGregor) with The CEO. We’ve seen it before, and it’s just So Bizarre that I couldn’t take it and went to bed. SOBedtime: Havana Vanille.

Thursday, Dec. 29: Frosty-cold. Happy 17th birthday to PETBoy! SOTD: Amouage Memoir Woman. I must have worn this thing six times by now, and I still can’t figure it out. It’s wackalicious.


PCHS marching band in Orlando, photo by Nicole Ward. Bookworm's fourth from the left in the front row, with her gloves tucked up in her left epaulet strap.

We watched the Champs Sports Bowl (Florida State vs. Notre Dame) to see if we could get a glimpse of Bookworm and the PCHS marching band, but no dice. I hate it that you never get to see the halftime show when you watch a televised football game – except for the Super Bowl, but that’s not my kinda halftime show. You know me: I like marching bands, not the Black Eyed Peas.

The CEO and boys took down the Christmas tree today, because it was starting to get a little crunchy. We left up the garland and the electric candles in the windows, as well as the nutcrackers, which I usually leave on display until the second week of January because I lurves them so much.

Read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and enjoyed it very much. A strange novel, but delightfully strange (like Memoir, perhaps). Detractors on Amazon’s review pages don’t seem to like it because it “doesn’t make sense,” but it’s fantasy, people, it’s not supposed to “make sense.” The story’s coherent; just because you can’t explain what happens in it doesn’t mean it’s worthless. I was reminded of the bizarre and inexplicable and wonderful things that happen in Roald Dahl’s delightful classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Have these people never read Dahl? Probably not. Or they excuse the fantastic elements by saying, “Oh, it’s a kids’ book.” In any case, the author mentions Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab on her acknowledgements page, and I found that delightful as well. I hope that doesn’t mean that I’ll have to go and snap up BPAL imps now, which I have been avoiding doing. It would be so much better to go and sniff those in person. If they’ve got a Night Circus sample, I might have to get it. I’m guessing it would have notes of caramel apple and bonfire and popcorn, maybe the candles from the Wishing Tree, or the roses from the Ice Garden…

Friday, Dec. 30: My little desk, the one I keep my laptop on? It’s walnut. Well, it smells like Memoir Woman. Not surprising, of course, since I’ve worn it several times this week, but nice.

We took delivery of a new young bull today. The CEO wants to call him Hamlet, because his ear tag says… well, you guess.

I kept forgetting to put on perfume today, mostly because Memoir has stuck to me, even through a shower. Also, I am easily distracted when everybody is home. Aargh. The kids start school again on Jan. 2, so I won’t have to keep running the dishwasher twice a day. I finally put on a bit of Liz Zorn Centennial not long before bedtime. Cozy.

Saturday, Dec. 31: Warm today, in the low 50s. Fed the calf, cleaned the house. SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum. The day’s mail contained a package from France (squee!), with a sample package of some of the L’Oeuvre Noire scents and all three of the Arabian Nights scents, because I had “liked” the By Kilian page on Facebook way back in October when they were offering this sample set. I’d been thinking about Sweet Redemption, so I nabbed that one right out of the package and spritzed it on. Whoa. Full review coming up (and I mean that this time, not like with Prada Candy and Bottega Veneta, which I really should review but can’t seem to find the enthusiasm for).

Bookworm came home this evening! So glad to see my girl; I missed her. Her brothers would say they didn’t miss her at all, but I notice they were pretty huggy with her.

Sunday, Jan. 1: Happy New Year! Church today, followed by the removal of most of the Christmas decorations, our New Year’d Day family tradition. SOTD: Sweet Redemption again.

My parents came by for a visit and took us all out for dinner, and that was lovely. SOTE: Mary Greenwell Plum. You know, I went back over the past year’s Scent Diaries and counted up the number of times I wore fragrances, and Plum was the thing I wore most often. (Duh, right?) The fragrance next on the frequency list was Alahine, and I wore Plum twice as often as I wore Alahine!

Well, at least in part.

I’ve never done one of these posts, since it’s rare that I’ve even tried more than three or four released-this-year fragrances. But thanks to several shopping trips and a few decants, and some really lovely fumie friends, I’ve tried several of the year’s releases and can actually comment on the ones I’ve tested.  This is a new experience for me, as I’m typically behind the times.

It was a grab-bag sort of year.  I’ll divide the new fragrances I tried into categories, depending on my reaction to each one.

Well, Duh: new fragrances that I didn’t like, but then I didn’t expect to like:

Justin Bieber Someday; Jessica Simpson I Fancy You; Taylor Swift Wonderstruck – all three of these were simple, fruity, lowest-common-denominator kind of scents. I rather like Taylor herself, but I can’t imagine wearing any of these sugary fruitbombs on my actual skin.

Sonoma Scent Studio Fig Tree – what can I say? I don’t like fig scents. It was kind of Laurie to send me a sample to try, anyway, and this one is getting raves from lots of people. So it’s me.

Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude – anything with a “skin scent” descriptor is likely to disappear on me within an hour. This one’s no different: laundry musk and plastic.

L’Eau d’Issey Florale – the original is so reminiscent of industrial cleaner that I was sure that tossing some “light” florals like freesia and peony on top wouldn’t improve things much. I was right. 

Why Did I Bother?: new fragrances that I expected to like, but didn’t like:

Shalimar Parfum Initial – well, I didn’t hate it. But it doesn’t seem related to Shalimar in the least, and bored me silly. Not that I’m a huuuuge Shalimar fan, but still. Dull.

Chanel No. 19 Poudre – I like powder, and I love No. 19. I was hoping for the equivalent of No. 5 Eau Premiere, an updating that didn’t dumb down the original. Nope. 

Even Steven: new fragrances I thought I’d like, and did

Oscar de la Renta Esprit d’Oscar – a cold-cream-and-face-powder floral that is both dressy and comforting. 

Sonoma Scent Studio To Dream – I adore the oaky opening.  The rest of it is rose and violet and woods, very pretty.  A little fainter than I’d have liked it to be.

Disappointment: new fragrances that I expected to love, but merely liked, or found unimpressive:

Serge Lutens Vitriol d’Oeillet – I was hoping for those angry carnations to come through for me. It’s nice – a dry, spicy, woody thing that I find very enjoyable. Yet it could have been so much more that I was disappointed.

Cartier Baiser Vole – a green, romantic lily? Yes, please! On a card, it’s wonderfully refreshing. On my skin, it’s not green at all; rather, it’s flat and soapy. 

Elie Saab Le Parfum – the prettiest orange blossom I’ve ever smelled, in a glowing, sparkling tulle confection.  I wanted more aldehydes and less patchouli, though.

Illuminum White Gardenia Petals – Three words: boring, boring, boring. Sigh.

DSH Pandora – essence of green floral chypre sounded so lovely! And it is, right up to the Ghost of Youth Dew time. The rest of you, please enjoy it copiously. I admire Dawn’s work very much – including this fragrance – but this one is not for me.

Bottega Veneta – I give up. I can’t even review this thing. I almost like it a lot, but there’s a raspy, Tang-dust thing in there, and then there’s all that patchouli too.

Tom Ford Violet Blonde – raspberry-violet-cashmere musk? Sounds great, thanks. But it smells like SweeTarts to me. No, thanks.

Parfumerie Generale Praline de Santal – I can’t remember which blogger loved this thing and induced me to jump in on a tiny split portion, unsniffed. I like it. It’s nice. However, after the almost-nauseating immortelle bit (oddly, I still like the smell of immortelle, but it makes me feel a little queasy), it goes all linear to creamy woods. It doesn’t move me.

Surprise, surprise!: new fragrances I expected not to like, but wound up enjoying:

Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau – burnt-sugar palmier pastries. What fun! A wonderful blend of childlike and sophisticated, and never fails to make me want a bitter espresso to highlight its deep roasty sugary pastry thing. Won’t be buying it because it’s a) weird, and b) retailing at Serge prices. Oh, well.  And anyway, where would I wear it?

Prada Candy – I expected this to be too sweet, too linear, too meh. Instead, it’s warm and rich and comfortable and fun. I think I’d rather have Hanae Mori Butterfly, but still.

CkOne Shock for Him – I wound up buying a small bottle of this for my son, since I kept hearing that it might echo Chanel Egoiste, at a much lower price. It does smell cheapish, but that’s okay. That suits the wardrobe of a teenage boy, and I like smelling it on him.

True love: new fragrance that I thought I’d love, and I do:

Tableau de Parfums Miriam – there’s either too much to say about this one, or not enough. I adore it – its perfumey-ness, its wistfulness, its warm sandalwood. So gorgeous.

Candidates: new fragrances I wanted to test, but didn’t get to:

Atelier Vanille Insensee

Lubin Black Jade (despite all the hoo-ha about Marie Antoinette and whether this is actually a long-lost recipe for her perfume or not, the notes sound right up my alley)

Juliet Has a Gun Romantina

Amouage Honour Woman (Amouage does White Floral?? I have a sample coming my way now)

Possibilities: new fragrances that got some blogger love and that I might explore if the chance comes about:

Annick Goutal Le Mimosa

Annick Goutal Mon Parfum Cheri par Camille

By Kilian Sweet Redemption

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Jasminora

Angel eau de toilette (I hate the original; merely curious about this one) 

I enjoyed the opportunity to try some new scents while they were brand new.  That was exciting. However, I don’t feel that I’ve got anything to say about the year’s releases as a group. As with most of the perfumes I’ve tested – new or old – it’s a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Your thoughts?

Image is from thegiftexperience.co.uk.

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