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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

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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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I love nutcrackers.  You know, the brightly-painted, vaguely-Germanic Christmassy decorative nutcrackers?  I collect them.  (So far, I have managed to avoid also collecting nutcracker rugs, nutcracker trashcans, nutcracker shower curtains, nutcracker plates, and the like, by dint of much insistence.   Okay, I now have a nutcracker rug that once belonged to my late grandmother.  And I have some nutcracker ornaments that really started the Whole Nutcracker Collecting Thing.   But that’s it, I swear.)  Here’s a pic of my collection.  Please note that every single one of these guys has a name.  That was Taz’ idea several years ago, but it was mine to insist that they all have Teutonic names, just Because.  SO I have Wolfgang und Karl und Siegfried und Josef…

My favorite?  It’s the guy on the second row, far right, in the blue.  He’s getting older, and his paint is chipping, but he’s still Karl and I still lurve him.

And I love the Sunday Sweets posts over on CakeWrecks.  Well, I love CakeWrecks posts in general, especially the Mithspellings ones, but I especially love to look at beautiful cakes.  So when I saw this one, I HAD TO SHARE.  Enjoy!  He’s CAKE.  How could anyone eat such adorableness?  It’s beyond me. 

I’d probably manage that, anyway, because, you know, he’s cake.

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Christmas parade (Taz in foreground, in red shirt)

Monday, Dec. 12: Clear and cold again. News flash: you know, Neutrogena Rainbath shower gel in the original formula still smells really good. Why don’t they make a Rainbath EdT? I’d wear it.

This is the last week of school before winter holidays – the boys are joyous. Bookworm is too stressed, with a report due for her science project class, and exams in her other classes, to be joyous now. By Friday, though, I’m sure she will be over the moon with relief. Final community chorus concert this evening.

SOTD: Harvey Prince Ageless on one wrist. Harvey Prince has offered a giveaway (see here), and sent a coffret of six small roll-on bottles of their scents, so I’ll be reviewing them.

Concert went okay. We totally blew it with going flat on one song (my favorite one, of course)… I still don’t know what went wrong, but I think it started in the altos and we just never recovered. The brass players (four kids from the high school band, including PETBoy) did great, though, and I think that particular song went even better than yesterday. I dabbed one wrist with a drop of DSH 1000 Lilies parfum, and no one complained – probably because it didn’t radiate much.

Tuesday, Dec. 13: The Christmas presents I ordered online are starting to roll in now, and I’m almost done with the shopping. SOTD: Etat Libre d’Orange Like This. I loved this sniffed from the vial, all gingery-spicy-pumpkiny goodness. But on my skin, not-so-much. I’m not sure why. Immortelle overdose, maybe. It smells… flat on me, not the lively joyous thing that I smelled in the vial. I’ll try it again.

SOTEvening: Harvey Prince Eau Flirt. This one’s supposed to drive men wild. We shall see. (For the record, I am skeptical.) The CEO said, “I like it! This smells like… the hair salon. I don’t want to say old ladies, but… you know. Like when you go to get your hair cut and they’ve been doing perms.” After the topnotes went away, he said he liked it better, but that now it smelled more like an average department store perfume. Not distinctive. “Nice,” he repeated, “very nice. But not unusual or special.”

We have another orphan calf to bottle-feed. He’s staying in the Guest House (see last week’s Scent Diary for a picture of said Guest House) and getting a quart bottle morning and evening. We’ve named him Samuel, and he’s a cutie.

Wednesday, Dec. 14: Weather is warming up – the high today was 58F. The kids are counting down the days until winter break; at breakfast today, Gaze looked earnestly into my eyes and asked, “Is today Wednesday?” I nodded. “Two more days after today!” he exulted. Taz is looking forward to Friday, when his class will bring snacks to share and watch “The Polar Express” on video. And Bookworm has a rough academic week: big paper due for her science project on Monday, Chemistry exam Tuesday, Statistics and American History exams today, Advanced Math and English exams tomorrow and also the band winter concert tomorrow night. She’s pulling for Friday for all she’s worth!

The CEO is home grading papers; he says it’s difficult to transition from teaching college classes to farming and back. Also, we have a heifer who jumped a fence and broke her leg the other day, so I’m going to have to clear some space in the freezer. The CEO is chagrined because we’ve lost several animals to injury or disease this year: a bull to peritonitis, a cow to a broken pelvis following calving (this is unusual – usually calving problems lead to calf death, not injuries to the cow), two cows to unexplained disease (not communicable, apparently), months apart, and this heifer to a broken leg. None of these were preventable, except possibly the peritonitis; it’s common for owners of really valuable purebred cattle to feed them each a small magnet, so that if the animals accidentally ingest something sharp, like a nail or a piece of barbed wire, the metal will stick to the magnets in their stomachs instead of trying to navigate the intestines and poking holes there, leading to peritonitis. The magnets aren’t guaranteed to work, of course.

SOTD: Harvey Prince Coupling. The company claims that its notes are “proven to arouse.” Uh-huh. Again, we’ll see. Review of all of these Harvey Prince scents coming. SOBedtime: Shalimar Light.

Thursday, Dec. 15: Warm again today. SOTD: Bottega Veneta, still for review. Drove Jeff the Hired Guy to the John Deere dealership to pick up a tractor, and then went to see if I could finish the Christmas shopping. I didn’t quite get finished, but I’m close. I bought a few scented gifts at Belk, and while I was there I spritzed some Esprit d’Oscar, which is every bit as nice as I remembered it. I had commented on a couple of blogs that a Prada Candy mini might be my next purchase, but honestly – I think I’d enjoy the Esprit d’Oscar much better, on the whole. Mowed the grass for the last time this year.

Went to Bookworm’s band Christmas concert and thoroughly enjoyed it! PETBoy had a couple of solos and did a beautiful job with them (no surprise there), and the band sounded terrific. SOTEvening: Iris Poudre, so elegant.

Friday, Dec. 16: Rainy day. Busy, too: Gaze’s class is doing what’s called a “Pet Project,” and students were invited to have their parents bring their (well-behaved) pets to school for a brief time today. Hayley, after a bath and a brushout, went on leash and behaved very well. Also, The CEO got “sworn at,” as he jokes; he took an oath of service to the School Board today. I’m fighting off a flulike sort of bug and really feel horrible, so I did as little as possible today. SOTEvening: Serge Lutens 5:00 au Gingembre, quite nice.

Bought just a few things online today and the shopping is DONE. DoneDoneDoneDone!

Saturday, Dec. 17 Bookworm got new personal records in both her track events today, running 3:24 in her 1000 m race and 12:26 in the 3200.  I’m so proud!  The CEO got his Christmas present early – he’s been wanting a fancy new camera for at least a couple of years now, so he tracked down the one he wanted and found it on sale. So we bought it. We also bought a new 50” plasma TV (yay, we’ve gone digital!), but the one we wanted wasn’t in stock, so we’ll pick it up next week. 

CEO put the tree up today and added lights, but no decorations yet, mostly because I’m still recovering and not feeling up to it. SOTD: 10 Corso Como, for a joint blogging project to be posted Dec. 21. As it faded, I topped it off with some Tableau de Parfums Miriam.

Sunday, Dec. 18: Got up luxuriously late (8:30 am!) and made chocolate-chip-pecan pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Then we decorated the tree, I put a roast in the oven, and we went to church in the late afternoon. SOTD: Alahine, beautiful Christmassy thing.

The kids will be home all this coming week. Feel free to pray for me if you’d like. Eep.

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Posting delay

Sorry – I’ve had a tummy bug (recovered now), and it’s been madly Christmas here for the last several days.  Scent Diary and some reviews will be up this week, including a joint blogging project entitled “O Tannenbaum” on Wednesday, Dec. 21.

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Remember this post I wrote about two years ago, when Bookworm was new to the high school marching band?  It’s still true.  I am still a Marching Band Junkie.  Cadence still makes my blood itch.

First football game of 2011; photo by David Gravely Photography.

This Friday night, I’ll be riding Band Bus #2 as a chaperone as we head off to another away game.  (Chances are, the football team will go home with their record at 0 for 8.  It’s been a baaaaad year.)    Just heard: the band director has decided we won’t be going to the football game.  It should be chilly and windy, and with several kids either sick or recovering from illness and the big competition tomorrow, he thought it would be wiser to just hold a short practice and then let the kids go home for some rest.  I think he’s right.  Bookworm was going to have to leave and go home with her dad after the pregame show anyway, to get some rest before the District cross-country meet Saturday morning.

And all day Saturday,  I’ll be working at the marching band assessment/ competition our high school band is hosting, monitoring the lower gate by which bands will enter the stadium one by one, on their way to take the field and present their shows for judging.  I’ll be able to hear the bands really well, but not see the shows; this option is more fun than working the registration table or the concession stand, where you can’t see OR hear anything.

I’m addicted: gotta get my band fix every week.  It’s not just the way that my feet start moving on their own when I hear the drumline.  It’s not just the way that the soloists make me proud and the music swells my heart; it’s not just the way that I gasped with delight the first time I saw the show with the horn flips added in (so cool!).  It’s the kids, too.  It’s been great fun getting to know the kids this year:

Cody, head drum major, in Serious Mode.  His mouth is closed.  This is unusual.  Rode a bus for two hours a few weeks ago, with him sitting two seats behind me, and he never, I mean never, stopped talking.  At the last home football game, I happened to catch him directing the band in a stands tune and talking to his girlfriend (Britney, a 2010 graduate, former alto sax section leader) in the bleachers at the same time.  I didn’t even know that was possible.  He plans to attend community college, and eventually to become a state trooper.  Active with Boy Scouts. Plays trumpet.

This is Charlie, drum major, warming up the band for playing at a football scrimmage in August.  Charlie attends Governor’s School and was instrumental in encouraging Bookworm to apply for it.  She’s a smart girl and a real sweetheart, one of Bookworm’s best buds.  She’ll be able to enter a really good college, but hasn’t settled on one yet.  She’s dating a former drum major, 2010 graduate Robbie, who’s now serving in the US Army, posted in Germany.  Loves her cellphone because he texts her every chance he gets. Good friends with fellow DM Cody.  Plays clarinet.

Anybody recognize this guy?  Yep, it’s PETBoy, Bookworm’s swain.  The first time I talked to him was at the marching band competition we hosted last fall, long before I noticed any glint in his eye with regard to her; he was serving as a bike courier and carrying stuff around from band room to stadium or registration table, and vice versa.  First thing I noticed was that he had beautiful eyes.  Second thing I noticed was that he was helpful to the nth degree, polite, friendly, and very responsible.  Last spring, I started hearing his name pop up a lot in Bookworm’s conversation, particularly during drum major tryouts.  The next week, his mother, who had graduated high school with The CEO, died suddenly after a very short illness.  Every band member who could manage it went to the funeral, and I notice that there’s an ongoing, unofficial Take Care of PETBoy movement among the trumpet section and the low brass players.  Bookworm’s grandfather (The CEO’s dad) died only a few weeks later, and I think that led to some serious conversations and increased trust between PETBoy and Bookworm.  In a lot of ways, they’re kindred spirits.  I don’t know of a single band parent that wouldn’t adopt him in a heartbeat.  One of the two trumpet section leaders, along with Cooper (you can see part of Cooper in this photo, just to PETBoy’s left).

This is TJ.  First band kid, other than my own, that I met.   Never met a stranger.  Makes me laugh.  Staunch friend of PETBoy’s, from elementary school on; they attend the same church and TJ often sleeps over at PETBoy’s house.  The only percussion section member who assists in loading the equipment truck with stuff other than his own instrument.  Bass drum.

This is Brittany.  (You can also see half of Bookworm’s face peeking out from behind the band director’s shoulder in this photo, with Rebecca and Gage, tenor saxophone players, in the background.)  Brittany runs cross-country and track with Bookworm.  Honor student.  One of the few kids whose skin is fair enough to turn red when she runs, just like Bookworm.  Loves M&Ms.  Unfailingly cheerful, even in extreme weather conditions.  Flute section leader.

This is Grey.  Goes by his middle name (actually, so do PETBoy and Tuba Dakota; you’d think the place was Redneck Soap Opera).  Runs cross-country with Bookworm, and plays soccer in the spring.  Can be wickedly funny.  Boy Scout and honor student.  This photo shows him at a band carwash fundraiser, after he cut his hair. You should have seen it when it was really long, it needed its own zip code.   Likes to show off his muscles by going shirtless as often as possible.  Once had a crush on Bookworm – which may be why he decided to run cross-country! – but as she said to me, “He’s like another annoying younger brother,” and that wasn’t going to work out, PETBoy or no PETBoy.  Currently dating Mellophone Taylor, who I think has good taste: brains, brawn, sense of humor.  Tenor sax, also plays alto sax.

This is the tuba section: LowBrass Ben*, Kalep, and Tuba Cody, holding Tuba Dakota and about to bust a gut laughing.   I can’t look at this photo without laughing, myself!   The saxophones started this “pick up a section member” stunt, when the Band Booster President was taking pictures of the sections, by picking up Bookworm, their smallest section member.  Then the trumpets picked up Amy, the flutes picked up Brittany‘s leg – she’s really tall, they couldn’t lift her whole body – and the mellophones picked up Courtney.  The tubas, who have more testosterone than they know what to do with, picked up their largest section member just to be funny.

Ben’s been one of Bookworm’s best buds since middle school, when they were in nearly every class together.  He also plays baritone horn and trombone. He’s the kind of person who doesn’t talk a lot but notices everything, and can come out with some really witty saying when you least expect it.  Was dating Holley, from the color guard, but that fell apart recently and Ben is currently dating mellophone section leader Courtney (Bookworm swears she saw that coming two years ago).  Kalep volunteers with the fire department and is a huge history buff.  Currently dating former flute section leader and 2011 graduate LoriDakota and Kalep have been best friends forever – yes, really, BFF! – and despite dressing and talking like rednecks, are honor students along with Ben.  The three of them, along with slender Alto Sax Ben, were responsible for “The Great Chicken Nugget Massacre of 2010,’ when the four of them ate 100 McNuggets in about 15 minutes, on the way to some marching competition.  Cody I know less well, but I know he loves practical jokes.  He’s currently dating mellophone player Stephanie, also known as “Snax.”  All four tuba players are Boy Scouts.

*There’s also Drumline Ben and Alto Sax Ben, as well as Low Brass BenTuba Cody is distinct from Drum Major Cody; there’s Tuba Dakota and Trumpet Dakota.  There’s Trumpet Alex (female), Baritone Horn Alex (male), and Color Guard Alex (female) as well as Mellophone Taylor (female) and Drumline Taylor (male).  This makes me really, really glad we picked a less-common name for Bookworm.  And it’s no wonder Grey and PETBoy use their middle names; their first names are ubiquitous at that school!

I didn’t even introduce you to Jolly, Jamie, and Li’l Bill (“li’l” no more as a 5’8″ sophomore, though he was just topping five feet when he first joined the band as an 8th grader and got his nickname).  Or twin sisters Teddie and Kasey, who went to preschool with Bookworm.  Or Marissa, who’s determined to wring every ounce of innocent enjoyment out of her senior year.  Or Michael B, or Jessi, or Tristen, or the rest of the 72 marching members of the band.

Good kids.  If you’re worried about the future of the country, go meet the kids in your local high school music department.  You’ll be heartened.  Or come visit me and meet “my” band kids – they’re so great!  I’d take every single one of them home with me and let ’em stay.

WBHS Letter Squad, 1984. Photo by Mrs. Manseau. That's me standing, third from left.

I miss my own friends from marching band.  Some of them are on Facebook and I can chat with them whenever I want; some are not and I’d love to check in with them.  I miss Amy and Tracey; I miss Ricky and Steve and Beth.  I miss Sean and Don and Tammy.  I miss Mary-the-walking-blond-joke.  I miss Tommy, AKA “Fig.”  I miss Kelley.  I miss Angela, AKA “Woolly.”  I even miss Jayson and Tana.  I miss my Letter Girls – especially Jackie, Carlynn, Angie, and Trudy.  We had some great times, didn’t we?

Found this prose-poem about marching band the other day:

Marching Band

The glimmer of the stadium lights
reflect again and again from the medals of shakos
proudly bearing their loyalties
and the night falls on the shoulders of those
dark conquistadors in their black and gold
buttons polished, backs straight, ready for inspection
they stand at attention
chins up and eyes cold and dark
faces like stone work
personas engraved in marble
their hands clutching their instruments like weapons
aggression in the crook of thumb and forefinger
and a certain solemnity in their expressions.
This family of midnight strangers
in practice of the night
greet their futures
beneath a blanket of stars.

-Lauren Hatch
September 19, 2007

All photos by Nicole Ward, unless otherwise attributed.

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Gaze is sick with some virus thing.

I’m taping and painting Taz’ room.

I hope to post this review later today.  Check in again to see if I have managed to get my ducks in a row and/or herd my cats…

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