Archive for April, 2009

I’m jumping into perfume reviews with a favorite: Vanille Tonka. I read the notes for this one on a perfume blog: lime, mandarin, cinnamon, carnation, vanilla, tonka bean, and frankincense – and immediately went looking for a sample. It’s rare that I guess correctly whether or not I’m going to like a fragrance, just considering the listed notes, but guess what? I was right. That doesn’t happen often enough in general, so just the fact that I was right (once!) is cause for celebration.

The other cause for celebration is that this thing makes me giddy. Every time I spray it, I get happy. It seems perfect for chilly weather. I haven’t worn it in warm weather yet, and I’m not sure I’m going to, but the happiness factor guarantees that I’ll at least try it once. It starts out with a burst of tangy lime, and a hit of cinnamon oil. Remember those cinnamon-oil toothpicks the boys used to bring to middle school and pass around, before school authorities figured out how dangerous each and every thing brought onto school grounds can be? Those toothpicks smelled great, and if you chewed on one, it burned your tongue and cleared your sinuses. The cinnamon in Vanille Tonka isn’t quite that strong, but it’s not very foody. Likewise, the vanilla is not your average sweet marshmallow/custard/ice cream vanilla; it’s smoky and restrained. The carnation is present, only vaguely floral, underneath the vanilla and tonka base, and the whole thing is covered in a veil of frankincense, with its dry, lime-y, smoky depth.

VT is not universally loved – March over at Perfume Posse said she’d rather stick a fork in her hand than ever smell it again, and Luca Turin, in Perfumes: The Guide, calls it dull next to Patricia de Nicolai’s first perfume, Number One. (I’ll comment that VT reminds me more of Sacrebleu than it does Number One, which has a vaguely chypre-ish groove.) But it does have its fans: Robin at Now Smell This, despite not being a vanilla fan, calls it “lovely,” and Victoria at Bois de Jasmin comments that it is “sophisticated” and “comforting.”

For me, though, Vanille Tonka is all about lime and vanilla, and I always get this mental picture: tipsy limes staggering around, dancing through the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick forest, laughing their heads off every time they bounce into a giant carnation. Sophisticated? Well, maybe next to a vanilla fragrance like Jessica Simpson’s Fancy. When I wear Vanille Tonka, it’s because I want a little fun.

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Dream, Create, Believe

I live in a newfangled farmhouse on the edge of a cattle farm in the mountains of Virginia. Like most farmhouses, it’s designed more for comfort than for impressing the neighbors, and contains more than its share of dirt and chaos. When we were building this house, my husband commented that he didn’t want a fancy-looking house. “It should be homey,” I said. “Yes,” he replied. “The house should appear to be saying, ‘Come in and have some soup.'”

Blogging is new to me. And since this is the inaugural post for Muses in Wooden Shoes, it would make sense to lay out my expectations for this blog — its floorplan, if you will. The plan is that I’ll post three blogs a week, with the possibility of more, on subjects that interest me: novels, poetry, perfume, memories, the senses, music, God… Comments will be welcome. (Please, come in and have some soup!) I just ask that you keep your language such that your mother could read the blog without embarrassment.

On the top floor of this Homey Farmhouse is my so-called Sewing Room. It’s a small room which contains a twin bed, a nightstand with a lamp, a table with a sewing machine on it, and a chair. It’s crowded. It’s messy. But on the walls are three plaques with vital messages:


These vital messages are all expressed as verbs, and that fact in itself is a vital message. If one wants to BE, one must DO. That’s my hope for this blog: that as I Dream, Create, and Believe, I become more myself than I’ve ever been. Here’s to the journey.

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