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The moving truck is loaded up!

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!

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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.

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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!

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I knew very little about Harvey Prince when I received an email from a PR representative, offering a giveaway on this blog. Right away, I went to the Harvey Prince website to scout around a bit.

The website says that HP was founded by two brothers who didn’t want perfume to be “overwhelming, overpriced, and full of toxic chemicals,” and after composing a fragrance found inspiration in the person of their mother. The website also points out that certain smells have certain effects on our mental processes, and that each of the Harvey Prince scents have been created to take advantage of these olfactory receptor-to-brain linkages in order to affect behavior and perception.

While I am not opposed, in theory, to this version of aromatherapy, some squinty-eyed part of me is rather skeptical. Does this sort of thing actually work, I wonder? And whether or not, as reported by scientific study, men actually become, um, interested in a woman smelling of lavender and pumpkin pie, will these scents actually smell good?

Because I have to say, I don’t think I want to throw this Man Bait lavender-pumpkin-pie scent out there on my skin and having guys follow me home. I’m quite certain The CEO would not approve. Sure, I’ll try it on him and see what he says. Or does. (I may actually report the results, depending.)

I’ll also point out that although the website claims that the Harvey Prince fragrances are hypoallergenic, and do not contain “parabens, phthalates, PCBs, BPAs, GMOs, sulfates or other toxic chemicals,” these do not seem to be all-natural perfumes as that category of fragrance is usually defined. They do not smell like the natural fragrances from independent perfumers that I have worn before, coming far closer to smelling like mainstream perfume house releases. And to be honest, the marketing research is so all-pervasive that the “no synthetics” spiel comes across as a ploy to appeal to customers who like the idea of their fragrance being different than all those accessible scents that just anybody can buy at Walgreen’s, or at Macy’s.

But I put aside my skepticism to test these scents and judge as dispassionately as I could how they actually smell, and whether I would buy them for myself. The results were mixed; I’ll explain.

The six samples sent to me so kindly by Harvey Prince were:

Ageless. Meant to make the wearer seem younger, “smell as young as you feel.” Notes: pink graefruit, pomegranate, mango, jasmine, tuberose, ylang-ylang, sandalwood.

I have been unable to ascertain whether Ageless is a version – reformulated or not – of the fragrance Ageless Fantasy by Harvey Prince, which Luca Turin called “pear-melon version of Tommy Girl,” in Perfumes: The Guide. However, since Ageless Fantasy is described in the same terms as Ageless, as being able to make the wearer seem approximately eight years younger, I have to assume that the two are at least related in some way.

Pink grapefruit and mango are supposedly antidotes to that “old age” smell that skin gives off as certain fatty acids break down. Oh-kay. Seems that grandmother-smell has a basis in scientific fact, and the Harvey Prince claim could be true. It just seems to me that it wouldn’t necessarily work on fairly young people; for example, it’s not likely to make a 32-year-old woman smell as if she’s really 24. If you’re 70 and you wanted to smell 60, that might make a difference.

But enough of the scientific angle (which I can’t prove or disprove on my own): what does it smell like? I offered sniffs from the bottle to my teenage daughter and son (the tween-age son refused), without any context. Gaze said “shampoo” immediately, and then – because he’s a sweetie – added, “nice shampoo.” Bookworm, who’d been in another room and hadn’t heard her brother’s comment, sniffed and said, definitively, “shower gel.”

And I concur: a functional fragrance meant for use in a personal care product. Oh, it’s rather pleasant – fruity but not sweet, floral but not overpowering, fresh and clean and minimal in a modern just-out-of-the-shower, won’t-offend-anyone-on-the-city-bus kind of way. And it does smell young, completely innocent, as if someone had lifted 40% of the top- and heartnotes out of Marc Jacobs’ Daisy. On skin, the waft as I move my hands about or sniff two inches from my wrist is actually very pleasant. Smelled closer to, with nose to wrist, the scent is considerably less pleasant: very chemical, with lab-created jasmine and woody notes and something that reminds me of the cucumber-melon kind of shower gel that everybody loved so much in the 1990s. (Also: tuberose, my foot! I’d bet the farm that this thing has not been within six hundred miles of an actual tuberose flower.  But there speaks the tuberose fan, for what it’s worth.)

Eau Flirt. Meant to attract the passionate attention of men; “this perfume flirts for you.” It’s also described as “seductive, sparkling, wicked.” Notes: lavender, pumpkin pie, citrus, jasmine, freesia, ylang-ylang, nutmeg, cinnamon, ambers. This is the fragrance that garnered mentions in the New York Times and Cosmopolitan. Also, according to Harvey Prince, as reported on the CBS Early Show, Eau Flirt was “the clear victor versus a popular, classic Chanel perfume” in a “blind smell test among men.”

My assumption is that the “popular, classic Chanel” is No. 5. But which version – edt, edp, or parfum? It matters. And did the men undergoing the sniff test smell the fragrances immediately after spraying? On skin, or on a card? I’m going out on a limb here to say that most people, 85 years after No. 5’s debut, are going to prefer light-and-fresh citrus topnotes to the overdose of aldehydes that No. 5 is so famous for. Aldehydes are difficult – and I adore them, but I know that most people don’t. This may be the reason that Chanel updated No. 5 to create Eau Premiere, by adding a lot of citrus, more soft rose, and a big slug of friendly warm musk. Would the test results have been different if the men had smelled the perfumes after two hours? I’m betting they would. And would Eau Flirt have beaten Eau Premiere? There’s no way to tell unless someone does that study.

I’m also betting that the public at large doesn’t know that the way a perfume smells in the first two minutes isn’t the way it smells after two hours. (No. 5 is truly lovely in its heart-to-drydown phase.) As for the specific appeal to men, I can only say that The CEO shrugged with indifference. It didn’t appeal to me much, either, being a sort of “bottomless” fragrance with very little base, just a faint soft ambery sweetness. But then I’m not much of a lavender fan, either, and I found these light florals very insipid.

According to my offspring (offered sniffs from the bottle, independently and at different times of day), Bookworm found it “boring and sort of… weird. Like it’s falling apart.” Gaze, on the other hand, said, “Oh, I like that one. I really do. Can I smell it again?” And he may be a small guy, but he’s definitely a guy, so maybe there’s something to this theory – not that every man will find Eau Flirt magnetic, but at least a few do.

Eau Fling. Meant to attract and excite men; “a modern-day love potion.” Notes: lavender, blackcurrant, plum, raspberry, apple, jasmine, nutmeg, cinnamon, musk, rare woods. I think this is another one of those lavender-pumpkin pie nexus fragrances, but I like it a great deal better than Eau Flirt.

It is fairly fruity on the open, but Fling is darker than Flirt, and I think the dark fruits transition better to the spicy notes. From the spices, it moves on to a generically woody base that is warm and comfortable. It lasts longer than the two HP fragrances I tried earlier, settling down for a good four hours on skin.

Gaze said he found Fling pleasant but had a strong preference for Flirt; Bookworm liked Fling better and so did I. The CEO commented that it made him think of the smell of the hair salon at first, and then it calmed down and became more snuggly. He was noncommittal on whether he liked it.

Coupling. Meant to engage the romantic, sensual interest of a man. This fragrance seems to have been based on a Glamour magazine poll looking at the kinds of fragrances that turn men on. The winning smells were “the clean, fresh scents of gardenia, freesia and cucumber, and sophisticated, spicy scents of patchouli, cinnamon, amber, and nutmeg.” Coupling, according to Harvey Prince, combines both [clean/fresh and sophisticated/spicy].

This one, judged strictly from the notes, looked like a train wreck to me. Notes: gardenia, cucumber, pumpkin, nutmeg, jasmine, marigold, patchouli, vanilla. I mean, if you asked me my favorite things to eat, you’d get (at various times) some combination or other of “caramel, parmesan cheese, broccoli, cinnamon rolls, mushrooms, Jonagold apples, tilapia, Mom’s beef-vegetable soup, tomato sandwich on white bread with plenty of mayo and freshly ground black pepper. And cheesecake.” But all at once? That’s just wrong.

But if you served me a meal of several courses that included my favorite foods – starting with a bowl of soup, adding that ‘mater sammich and some grilled tilapia with mushrooms and broccoli, and finishing up with either the cheesecake or the apples and cinnamon rolls, it might make sense.

That’s what Coupling does. (Thank goodness.) You start off with a cucumber note that gradually segues into a light white-floral heart, not too sweet and heady, and then Coupling slides into a white-floral/spice accord that I like a lot. Eventually it goes (“clean”) patchouli-vanilla, and that sticks around for several hours.

The CEO’s verdict was “Nice. I like it. It’s kind of faint, and I like most of your other stuff more, but it smells nice.” I agree. This one might be my favorite of the six Harvey Prince scents I sampled.

Eau de Lite. This is meant as a diet aid. Yes, you read that correctly. Eau de Lite is supposed to be “positive reinforcement for your weight loss goals,” and looking at the notes, I couldn’t see how this could possibly smell anything other than unappetizing: peppermint, green apple, vanilla, spearmint, fennel, jasmine, rose, sandalwood.

I’m right. The entire thing smells inedible, in a rehab-clinic, antiseptic sort of way, chilly and not pleasant at all. Sure, it might keep you from using your teeth to tear into that emergency package of Ho-Hos you keep in your desk, but it would probably keep all your coworkers within smell range from enjoying their lunches, too. Like most of the other HP fragrances, it’s light and unobtrusive, and if you want to be able to actually smell yourself, you have to apply generously. It might be better, if you truly want Diet Armor, to carry the roll-on bottle with you and sniff it whenever you have cravings. I would be suspicious of anyone who wanted to smell like this throughout the day.

Eau de Crème. This is, as you might guess without even knowing anything about it other than its name, a gourmand. Gourmands are always iffy for me anyway, and the only true gourmand scents I like are the original Hanae Mori(Cotton candy! Berries! Almond! Vanilla! FUN! Where’s the Tilt-a-Whirl?), Prada Candy (Whee, I’m wearing CARAMEL!) and the extremely-strange, I-don’t-know-why-I-like-it, Jeux de Peau by Serge Lutens (Burnt-sugar palmier pastries! I feel like a child, but a sophisticated European one! I need an espresso!).

This one, however, is a bit of a mess. The Harvey Prince PR on Eau de Crème says that it’s based on a scientific study that found “ice cream’s allure resides in its unique combination of taste and texture: the creamy sensations brought about by its tantalizing transformation from icy solid to melt-in-your-mouth bliss.” Notes: citrus, passion fruit, rum raisin, vanilla, patchouli, chocolate.

The tart citrus-like topnotes mixed with the extreme sticky sweetness of fudge and rum raisin creates a bizarre effect that reminds me of being six years old and carsick. It makes me want to tell the story of my late father-in-law, his sick daughter, and the glass of tomato juice. (Don’t worry, I won’t actually tell it.) My least favorite of the bunch, and considering my reaction to Eau de Lite, that should tell you something.

Other scents, not included in my sampler pack, that the website offers:

Submariner (for men): “Aquatic notes of Bermudian island spice and vibrant South Pacific tonka bean inspire vigor and vitality.” Notes: citrus, nutmeg, amber, tonka, blonde woods.

Yogini: “the fragrance that calms the mind, soothes the soul, and frees the spirit.” Notes: sandalwood, golden amber, sensual incense, Egyptian myrrh, pink grapefruit, blackcurrant buds, lily of the valley, star jasmine, rose petals, ylang-ylang, cardamom, madagascar vanilla.

Let’s Tryst Again (unisex): “a smoky unisex fragrance for that special rendezvous.” Notes: pepper, fennel, jasmine, rose, balsamic, amber, sandalwood, tonka.

Nightshift: “created for the night-blooming, fun and flirty female.” Notes: night jasmine, night phlox, moonflower, evening primrose, bergamot, mimosa, honeysuckle, vanilla, musk.

What’s really nice about the Harvey Prince fragrances is that they are offered in small 8.8 ml bottles, for a quite reasonable price: about $21 for the roll-on, $26 for the spray.  The $60 “holiday set,” sent to me from Harvey Prince, contains six small bottles, and seems like a bargain.   Check it out here.

Harvey Prince has kindly offered a giveaway drawing of a 1.7 oz (50ml) bottle of Eau Flirt.  To enter, please follow my blog and “like” Harvey Prince on Facebook.  For extra entries, you may follow Harvey Prince on Twitter, or mention this giveaway in a tweet or blog post.  (Please delineate which extra options you’ll be adding, if any, in your comment.)

The drawing will be open from Tuesday, Dec. 27 through Friday, January 6, at 11:59 pm EST.  Good luck to you!  The draw is now closed.

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Final total wordcount: 60,681.

Month-of-November wordcount: 50,701.

(Edit: those are the NaNoWriMo official wordcounts.  My Open Office software says that my total wordcount is 63,789.)

I hope to catch up with emails and packages and posts (and Christmas stuff, eep!) in the next week.  Thanks for bearing with me this crazy-busy month!

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LINDALOO!  Come on doooooowwwn!  

Update: Linda is in Canada, and to boot she won another sample elsewhere.  My bad, totally my bad… can you tell my brain is half gone?  Anyway, she’s urged me to redraw, so I will.  The new winner is RusticDove.  Congratulations!

Please email me your mailing details at my gmail address, and I’ll get this out to you.  Can’t promise it will be before the end of November… but I’ll try.  🙂

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Winner of Pandora drawing!

(So sorry I forgot to post this Wednesday.)

The winner of the Pandora sample is hemlocksillage!  Please contact me via the gmail address listed on the “about me” page, and give me your mailing details.  I promise to mail it out to you as soon as possible, and I’d love to hear what you think about it.

Thanks to everyone who commented, and to Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and Jen at This Blog Really Stinks for providing the sample.

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