5 Things I Smelled Today

This post is pretty much going to be what it sounds like: a list of 5 things I smelled today.

Don't get all excited, thinkin' this is going to be some regular thang here on This Blog Really Stinks. I don't do "regular". I am way to scattered for that nonsense. Besides: I'm a stay-at-home-most-of-the-time Mom. There's not a ton of variety going on except for the perfumes I spray. I want to challenge myself to pay attention to various smells, though, so hence this semi-regular-when-I-feel-like-it brand-spankin'-new not-series!

So let's hit it. Five things I smelled today.

  1. Sausage. 
    Kid #1, who I will call "Lulu" (which is actually her name because that's the only way I'll remember her pseudonym) asked for "saus" for breakfast. Voila! One of the most disgusting things a vegetarian can cook. Ugh.

  2. Stinky Dog. 
    I had to go sit at our rental property while a plumber plumbed. Boring. The only bright notes were that I got to read a bit more of The Help (yes, way behind the times there) and I got to pet (and pet... and pet... and pet) our tenants' dog, Beauty was more than down for a lot of lovin'. Big old fat and stinky beagles make my day!

    Beagle. Pre-fattening-up. 
  3. Burning Dust.
    The heat kicked on at home and a dust bunny must have gone up in smoke. For just a few minutes I was very aware of that distinctive smell. Do you know the one I'm talking about?

  4. Stinky tennis shoes.
    Yup. Kiddo #1 (AKA Lulu) inherited the tendency to stink up shoes fair and square. Sorry, doll!
    Click here to learn how to clean those bad boys!

  5. Feria conditioner.
    Did you know you can buy that at Sally Beauty Supply? It's got silicone in it, so I don't use it all the time, but it's invaluable to keeping my colored hair smooth and shiny. Kid #2, who I will call Ara (yup, you got it: that's her real name - I am not clever at all) gets hella tangles, and this really helps those knots slip out. We've been out of this conditioner for awhile and I just picked some up yesterday. As soon as I opened the container, I thought "there it is"! Funny the scents you remember.

    What did YOU smell today?

Karma Chameleon: Lush's Karma Soap plays dress-up

You don't really have to be a patchouli lover to get into LUSH's Karma soap, but you do need to love LUSH...

Karma is one of the brand's more popular scents and comes in several different varieties. I have the perfume, in a solid, and I get the soap as often as I can! There's also a Bubble Bar, which got mad props from the girls, a liquid perfume, a bath melt, a body lotion (mental note: gotta try that one!), and a shampoo bar.

They all have the Karma scent in common:

Spicy patchouli is complemented with refreshing lemongrass, orange oil and pine to create a clean and lovely smell that lasts on the skin for ages after you've washed. If you've been mindful and brimming with loving kindness, this is the soap to reward you. One whiff and you'll be hooked - for this life and the next.
And hooked I am. I find the scent really, really centering in the bath (is it the soothing Lavendin oil and pine oil?). It's as great a way to start a day as it is to end one. As an added bonus, the entire washroom smells great for the rest of the day!

I get mostly orange and pine and lemongrass from the Karma products, though there's definitely more patchouli coming off of the perfumes than there is off of the soaps. That citrus blast is one reason I like Karma best in the morning - it invigorates while it soothes you. Yes, that sounds like a paradox, and it probably is, but I don't mind. Seems fitting for something called "Karma", doesn't it?

Karma is minimally-lathery and soft on the skin. I wouldn't say it's particularly hydrating and moisturizing, but neither does it strip the skin or leave it dry. A nice, basic soap that does its job well. The scent lingers a bit, especially in the bathroom, as I mentioned. As for skin, I have found that after a half an hour or so I can put on almost any perfume and it won't clash with the Karma. Naturally, popping a citrus or patch scent will draw those last Karma molecules out just a little bit longer.

For the LUSH haters (I know there are some of you out there!), this probably not going to be the one to change your mind, but who knows? It's not quite as technicolor-herbal as many of the product from the line, but it is strong and it isn't subtle and it definitely doesn't smell like something you can get at a department store (except that you can because there are little LUSH kiosks at some of the departments stores, but you know what I mean, don't you? Please say yes...)

To celebrate the dawning of the Chinese Year of the Dragon, LUSH has transformed their Karma soap into a ferocious and hideous dragon* and given it a delightful and festive golden coat! The golden sparkles were not noticeable on my skin, in case you're worried. Then again, that is kind of disappointing. ;)

Pick yours up soon if you love the dragon idea! And check out the rest of the Karma line while you're there... let me know how that lotion is!

The Red Dragon Soap is Limited Edition. $7.95

*It's not ferocious, unless you loathe LUSH.
 It is kind of hideous looking. It only mildly resembles a dragon, at least to me. 

gif maker

Men: Skip the 20 questions game with these great Alibis!

image source

Tired of coming home to the endless questions? "Where have you been all night?" "Why are you late?" "Why did you miss dinner again?!"

Skip the hassle by stashing one of these great scents in your glovebox - and give yourself a good spray before walking in the door!

Pick your Alibi:

My Car Broke Down - with the scent of fuel, burnt rubber, grease and steel
We Were Out Sailing -with the scent of fresh ocean spray, sea salt, aqua and cotton rope
I Was Working Late -with the scent of coffee, wool suits, cigarettes and ink
Dodge the questions with one whiff and avoid that "in the doghouse" scent!


Ha! Ya'll thought I was joking, didn't you? Nope - it's real.

These genius (?) idea comes courtesy of Mavericks, a "gentlemen's club" in Cape Town, South Africa. Only time will tell if this genius idea will travel to other shores...


2 Polite Leather Perfumes

If I had to pick two scent families that really work for me, I'd have to say that I almost unfailingly fall for chypres and leathers. I love the rich, earthy base of the former - but mostly when oakmoss is used, the heavier the better. The latter I love in almost every form.

I have no compunctions about wearing whatever I want, almost any time I want. There are exceptions, of course. I will wear close-to-the-skin scents around those who are allergic or sensitive. I will wear "polite" scents in offices and at funerals. I will not wear anything dirty or skanky when doing someone's makeup. But those are pretty much the rules. Other than that, I'm an olfactory free-for-all. Sweats and a t-shirt? That won't stop me from wearing a Big White Floral. Jeans and a turtleneck? What, you think my vintage chypre is too much? So what! Antiquing on a rainy Sunday? A skanky nose hair-singer suits me, even if it makes no sense to you!

My scent choices are mostly driven by mood. Sometimes, they're driven my someone else mentioning a recently-ignored bottle, too. Perfumed friends are good for that!

When I wear one of my badass leathers,
this is what I look like (inside). 
At times, my mood calls for leather. OK, a lot of times my mood calls for leather. There are lots of nuances to this mood and perfume genre, so it's not really straightforward in my convoluted, perfume-addled mind. Take, for example, "the barn leathers" that smell of saddles and horses and maybe even cowboys. Then there are "the boot leathers", often heavily dipped in birch tar and smelling of old-fashioned, sturdy and shiny leather. I can't forget "the purse leathers" that remind me of a new handbag in an exclusive boutique. Some of what I think of as "purse leathers" are often what others would classify as scents reminiscent of the scented gloves of yore -- but not all of them. Basically, if you sniff that perfume and it smells like sticking your nose in an expensive and brand new handbag, that's a "purse leather" in my book! And there are a select few leathers that are just a little bit more naughty. Those remind me of a confident, sexy woman walking purposefully through life in her knee-high boots, dressed all in black. A little goth, a little sexy, and all woman. She's got that air about her that has just a little undercurrent of "naughty", which is thrilling! Those are my "badass leathers". I love those the most. There are a few other leathers, and even some scents that others call leathers that don't speak to me of leather at all. The nose is a funny thing.

Some times that I'm drawn to what I call "my polite leathers". These are perfumes I can wear anywhere without offending anyone. They are close-to-the-skin. They are lightly floral. They are feminine. They are not at all badass.

Here are two of them...

  1. Cuir de Lancôme
    I have no idea what Lancôme is thinking, burying this baby at the discounters and not featuring in prominently on the line's counters! This gorgeous scent was created in 2007 as part of the La Collection. Named after a vintage leather, it apparently smells nothing like the original (also called "Revolte", a name that is unfortunate at best). Maybe that's why it has been tossed aside? Or maybe the decision-makers at Lancôme are too busy focusing on lipsticks and eye shadows? For whatever reason, this beauty is underrated even by the company who produced it. Very sad.

    Cuir is not a ball-buster leather. It's not going to make anyone think of S&M or punk rock boots or even saddles and horses. The only image I get when I sniff it is the beautifully-worn suede interior of a perfectly-preserved vintage handbag.

     The top notes are brief and gentle, the mandarin present in a delectable way. The florals are feminine and gentle and the patchouli is a silent partner the best I can tell. The soft, smooth, and slightly-dry leather base goes on and on and on without ever overstaying its welcome. Some leathers are a bit medicinal, even eye-wateringly so, but that's not at all the case here. Cuir is too ladylike for that kind of behavior! Nor is she powdery; she's a little too butch for that!

    I can't think of any place where this perfume would not be appropriate, unless perhaps the temperature were terribly high. But really, one wouldn't choose leather in those circumstances, anyway.

    Topnotes: mandarin, saffron, bergamot 
    Heart notes: patchouli, hawthorne, jasmine, ylang Basenotes: orris root, birch, styrax

  2. Bottega Veneta
    If Cuir was our flashback scent, Bottega Veneta is clearly the new kid on the block. Born just last year (2011), the work of Michel Almairac, Bottega Veneta is solid where Cuir is soft. The Lancôme scent is vintage leather, softened with age. It has a slight coziness about it. Bottega Veneta is a stiffer leather, newer and... fresher, perhaps?

    The opening notes of the famous leather purveyor's signature scent vibrate a bit, as if in anticipation of what's to come. The florals are well-placed and share the spotlight well with the leather. Neither is pushy, neither takes over. Angela at Now Smell This describes both Bottega Veneta and Cuir de  Lancôme as exhibiting "good breeding."1 I can't think of a better way to put it!

    This perfume is a subtle but well-behaved trickster. The notes hail Lily of the Valley, patchouli, and jasmine as key players, but I can't find them. Sure, there's that floral-leather combo working hand-in-hand, but I can't pinpoint the flowers specifically. That's good. I like a well-blended mystery! Many people praise the fruit notes in Bottega Veneta, which you'll not find in the official notes listing. I've seen plum, apricot and peach called out. I smell them, too, especially the apricot/peach nuance. And then there's the controversial oakmoss... Yes, it's there but not in that overdose way (that I, for one, love). Instead, it's a soft padding in this supple leather handbag.

    There is without a doubt a softness about this perfume. Maybe "a fuzziness" as some people have noted. It has no hard edges, no angles. It is not shiny or black or stiff, rather it is supple and warm and even has a little glow.

    As I can't imagine a situation inappropriate for Cuir de Lancôme, I can't imagine a time or place where Bottega Veneta wouldn't suit. Of these two soft-spoken leathers, Bottega Veneta is the softer. I find it hard to believe one could wear "too much" of this one. Spray with wild abandon! In fact, feel free to layer up, from shower gel to lotion and body cream to eau de parfum.

    Top Notes: Pink peppercorn, Bergamot, Lily of the valley Middle Notes: Jasmine, Leather, Patchouli
    Base Notes: Oakmoss

    ETA: Well, ok then! There's jasmine in this here perfume. I realized it as I sat here virtually basting in Bottega Veneta (yeah, I really like it). The wind kicked up as I went to get the mail and I smelled it on myself and yup - that's jasmine. Interesting that it took massive overdoses of the perfume to pick that out (or at least for my nose to pull it). But that's that. Jasmine. Yup.

So maybe what I consider to be "polite leathers" are sueded leathers? Whatever you want to call them, they are luxurious, smooth, elegant, and pretty.

Psst... did you notice? Both of these scents are "mainstream" and not hard to find. And they won't make your wallet bleed, either. Whoa! 

I wanted to ask you about leathers! Do you like to wear them? What kind? Do you have odd little names for the different categories, like I do? What other "polite leathers" might you suggest for me?

Gypsy (Opus Oils)


I met a Gypsy once. Actually, I met a handful of Gypsies. It was at a bar in Baltimore, and I'm not even sure how the conversation got around to the whole Gypsy thing, but a Gypsy he was, as were his brothers. I'd have loved to keep talking to him (what? he was interesting AND hot! that doesn't happen often!) but his brothers yanked him away and his promise to come back was never fulfilled. Such is life amongst the travelers...

To be more socially correct, the people known as "Gypsies" prefer the term Romani (or Romany). They were originally from India, long ago, but often were thought to have been from Egypt, hence the name "gypsy".

Nowadays, people associate the Romani with traveling, horse drawn carts, bright colors, fortune telling, music, and dancing. Many immediately imagine beautiful, long-haired women with long dark locks and hoop earrings; dirty-faced urchin children; and swarthy, boisterous, and slightly dangerous (possibly drunk) dark-complected men. They were known to sell various things out of the back of their carts, sometimes being referred to as "tinkers". But it wasn't just their reputation as peddlers that proceeded them. The Romani were often considered thieves and con-men.

As with many minorities, especially those who were nomadic by choice or circumstance, the Romani have been persecuted. They've been chased from one region to the other, banned by monarchs and rulers and of course The Church.

According to an article I read, today "there are five or six million Gypsies living in Europe. Over one million live in Romania; half a million in both Bulgaria and Hungary; a quarter of a million in Russia, Spain, Serbia, and Slovakia."1

If you're at all interested in reading about the Romani/Gypsy history there's a great history here (not written terribly well, but quite informative and an easy read). A defense of the Romani people can be found here.

Gypsy by Opus Oils

I first heard of Opus Oils when I tried Kedra Hart's Wild Child in the Summer of Patchouli Love project. In fact, that's the scent that won the top honors!

Gypsy is one of the scents in Opus Oils' Burlesque collection, which features vintage beauties and themes: Kitten, Starlet, Charm, Tramp, Siren and Gypsy herself. The scents are also available in body lotions, body oils, bath salts, and body butters in addition to several perfume size and bottle choices.

Gypsy is a spicy sweet opulent floral scent, with a yummy gourmand dry-down.  Rich, exotic & wildly seductive.  Very long wearing and complex, opens strong, floral & spicy, eventually softening into a bewitching enigmatic sweetness. 

Key Notes include Mandarin, Passion Flower, Orchid, Ylang Ylang, Tunisian Amber and Tonka Bean. 

I was lucky enough to win six samples of my choice from the Opus Oils library, and Gypsy is one of those samples. I wasn't sure what to expect when trying these perfumes since, quite frankly, Wild Child wasn't my favorite from the Summer of Patchouli Love. 

I shouldn't have worried. Of the sample vials I have tried, two have already hit my "to-buy" list, though one was a big no-go. I'll review all 6 eventually, so stay tuned.

But back to Gypsy...

I need to be honest, here. I'm not really sure what this scent has to do with Gypsies. I would have envisioned something mysterious, maybe resinous, perhaps smoky (don't gypsies dance around fires? maybe?). 

What I didn't expect was one of the more beautiful florals I've ever had the pleasure to wear!

Gypsy opens with a mandarin splash and moves gently into a rich and round floral with my beloved ylang-ylang featured prominently. I'm sure there's a dancing gypsy metaphor here somewhere, but I don't feel like reaching for it. 

The ylang is not rubbery or plastic. It's full and lush - the best of ylang. The passionflower keeps this perfume a little on the fruity side, but in a very pleasant, non-cliched, don't run away without sniffing it kind of way. It's billed as spicy (see above)  but I don't pick that up at all. And the drydown is a sweetened amber that's arm-snuffling good.

I can't tell what the "throw" or projection on this perfume would be, since I'm working from a dabber sample. Sometimes I get the idea that, if sprayed, projection would be more significant. That's the feeling I get here. As for longevity - I enjoyed the floral stage for an hour or two with that lovely drydown hanging on for a little over two hours after that. 

I fully intend to pick this up not only in perfume but also in body butter or lotion or oil. Gypsy is a beautiful scent now, in January, and I can only imagine how glorious it is in Spring and Summer!

For some beautiful fashion shots inspired by the Romani people visit my other blog, Simply Pretty!

click images for source
Samples provided by the perfume house and were won in a contest on Facebook.
Thank you Kedra! Thank you Carlos!

My lavender favorites

Hi, everyone. This blog really stinks in that I haven't updated in ages! The holidays were fun but hectic, and they kind of kicked my ass a little bit, causing a fibromyalgia flare that still has me struggling. Hopefully your holidays were as happy as mine and 2012 is treating you well.

So anyway, let's make things a bit more fragrant around her, shall we? 

I was smoothing on some of my favorite skin soother today (the crazy weather is beating my skin up something fierce!) and started thinking about how my olfactory palette has expanded since I started on this perfumista journey. There was a time where lavender was one of my least favorite things to smell. I equated it with dusty potpourri. Sometimes lavender had a medicinal bite that tingled my nose.

Now, while it's not necessarily my favorite fragrance note, it's certainly one I enjoy.

I thought I'd take a minute and share just a few of my favorite lavender goodies.

The Soothing OneDream Cream (LUSH)
I mentioned that skin soother, and this is the one. It's not straight-up lavender. There's chamomile in there, too. Despite the fact that this is a perfume blog, my fondness for this is not just about the way it smells - which is, admittedly, not for everyone. It's also about what it does for your skin. It is a skin cream, after all! Ingredients like oatmeal, rose oil, olive oil, cocoa butter, and tea tree oil pitch in to help the chamomile and lavender soothe skin. Dream Cream helps smooth bumpiness, calm irritation, and minimize redness. Oh, it hydrates, too! While the slightly medicinal and distinct scent may be off-putting to some, I kind of like it. And it's short-lived and close-to-the-skin doesn't throw off my perfumes, which is important! And the fact that my kids like it really makes me smile.*

*It also reduces the girls' and my keratosis pilaris
 (those bumps on the back of the arms and legs)
and Lulu's slight case of excema.
That's not at all scientifically proven, but I know it to be true.

The Weird One
Gris Clair (Serge Lutens)
[image source]
Evocative. Interesting. Maybe even haunting. Gris Clair reminds me of a thunderstorm. Nope, there are no notes of rain or ozone. What is there, though, is a meeting of opposites. A thunderstorm is caused by an airmass is overly warm in the bottom layers, overly cool on the higher levels, or sometimes when both of those things happen. And of course, more duality is obvious when considering the coolness of falling rain drops and the heat of lightening. In Gris Clair, the herbal bite of cool lavender sits up on top followed by the warmer bottom notes of amber, incense and tonka. In fact, it's possible lightening struck this scent, because the there's an ashen, burned tinge to Gris Clair that I find particularly unique and enticing.

Some people find thunderstorms soothing. Other folks find them unsettling. Still others find them to be a little bit of both. I bet the same can be said of Gris Clair.

The Surprising One
Lavandula (Penhaligon's)
One might be tempted to write-off a scent like Lavandula. After all, it's a lavender perfume (read: boring) from a staid, historical company (founded in 1860). But Lavandula is neither stodgy or old-fashioned. It starts with a peppery, surprising bite of lavender with a green stalk. Once she has your attention, Lavandula calms your startled nerves with the cuddly calm of tonka, vanilla, and musk. This perfume never really sits still until the far drydown. Instead, she is constant but gentle movement, keeping you on your toes. My daughters both adore it (it's their favorite sleep scent). I do, too. 

Note for my bruthas:
Certainly, Dream Cream isn't just for the ladies.  I also do not consider Gris Clair or Lavandula to be strictly feminine scents.  I think men could pull of either of these perfumes. All three of these are a little unexpected, perhaps a bit odd, and definitely not potpourri- or bouquet-like. There's no reason men shouldn't try them. And remember, lavender is a focal point in the most famous of men's scents: the fougère!

So how 'bout you? Are you a lavender fan?
Share your favorites in the comments, or tell me why you like -or don't like!- lavender. I'd love to hear your thoughts!