Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pork Chop Debate

Savoir Faire is French for ‘know how to do.’ Know 'how to do' in social situations, know how to keep a secret, know how to empathize with others. (related to finesse, discretion, poise.) I never knew exactly what it meant until I looked it up just now. I'm great at keeping a secret but fall short on the empathy, poise & finesse part.

Savoir Faire was a perfume introduced in 1947 by Dorothy Gray Cosmetics of Fifth Avenue.
The playful mask enameled on the bottle represents both evenings out, (the masked ball) and the masks people wear when they know they want to be friendly and courteous to people they don't really care for. Oh well, we all know what that's like.

I guess the name of the perfume says "I'm well-mannered but I can party like it's 1949."

(My Aunt told me that Savoir Faire was a Mitsouko wannabe that just didn't make it.)

This Flickr photo by Truegod sparked a debate between Chedwick and Dennis. Which would you choose~ pork chop or Bob? Dennis loves a pork chop, and would choose that. Chedwick chooses Bob because he is better than a pork chop which would only last a short time anyway. Dennis admits that the joy of chop is certainly more fleeting.
"Dennis cannot resist pork chop, though!" says Dennis.

Perfume Photo: Ched
(that's Cergie's blog on my computer screen~ a photo she took of an iced window pane)

Pork Chop Dylan Photo: Truegod @ Flickr. I tried to link Truegod here but failed.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Trip to France?

One of my friends took a trip to France, sort of. (She took many photos of these Guerlain topiaries for me.) It all started when she decided to plan a romantic trip to Paris with her husband. Just the two of them ~ the honeymoon they'd never had. Her husband mentioned it in passing to his mother who took over the plans and my friend ended up at EuroDisney with two small children and her parents-in-law. (At the last minute her husband bailed out.)

Depressed, but not quite suicidal, at first my friend spent as much time as possible by herself at the French pavillion, watching a movie about France. She was there, but not there at the same time. She tried to shop, looking at all the French goods for sale, but found herself unenthusiastic. She sampled some perfume at the Guerlain shop and bought a bottle. She sat around in the Disney bistro and watched the French Disney characters who hung out in the Pavillion. At one point the person in a furry Beast costume (from Beauty & the Beast) sat near her and after a long silence muttered in French that he was in hell and needed a cigarette.

Her kids were too young to know they were in France and her in laws were happy to be in the most American place in France. They had gotten a great deal on the travel package where most everything for the kids was free and they could take their time exploring both Disney parks. My friend smiled, took lots of photos and decided not to be frustrated. When her in-laws were exhausted and needed a full 36 hours of rest, she enjoyed exploring the parks with the kids, and when the in-laws were perky again, she plotted to get to Paris, but without success. After all, she was their guest on this trip, and there was so much to see and enjoy right there.

When she got home she eventually told her husband she'd still like a romantic trip to Paris, just the two of them, and he said "What? You've already been to France! We'll go someplace else."

(Photo of bottles with Simone's original topiary photo in background: by Ched)

If you took a trip to France, where would you go? Would you want to go to EuroDisney?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dare to be Different

A rainy grey day and I'm thinking of warm cozy scents, or scents that remind me of sunny days. Unusual bottles too. If I can't have sunshine, I can wear something warm and golden like *Tocade.

I'm also thinking of Roger Ebert's review of a film about dreams, illusions, and an assortment of struggling family members who do love each other much more than they realize.

A gentle family satire and a classic American road movie, "Little Miss Sunshine" harks back to the anti-establishment, countercultural comedies of the 1970s such as "Smile" or "Harold and Maude" -- satirical fairy tales that preached the virtues of nonconformity over the superficiality of conventional American values.
"Little Miss Sunshine" shows us a world in which there's a form, a brochure, a procedure, a job title, a diet, a step-by-step program, a career path, a prize, a retirement community, to quantify, sort, categorize and process every human emotion or desire. Nothing exists that cannot be compartmentalized or turned into a self-improvement mantra about "winners and losers."

~Roger Ebert

"The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you except yourself." 
~Rita Mae Brown

"If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing." 
~Anatole France

"I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas.  I'm frightened of the old ones." 
~John Cage

*Tocade was created for Rochas in 1994 by Maurice Roucel (The genius behind the lovely scents 24 Fauborg, Insolence, Envy, Castelbajac and L'Instant)
The head notes include bergamot and bourbon rose. Heart notes of jasmin, rose, orchid , and magnolia blossom, and the
soul notes include amber, iris butter, patchouli, and vanilla. This is a warm sweet oriental best in cool weather or on chilly summer evenings. The quirky bottle (Tocade wears a pointy red hat) was designed by Serge Mansau.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bambi & Etch A Sketch

Disney sells a lot of fragrances, so I thought I'd try one. On the box it clearly states that Bambi is a fragrance for women. This I suppose protects Disney from lawsuits stemming from little Madison spraying Bambi in little Joshua's face. It was never meant for children. I can't see anyone over the age of ten wanting to wear this fragrance, but then you never know. The box also tells me that this product is not suitable for children under age three, as the cap and atomizer parts are choking hazards. So, if you are woman, age four or older, this might be the fragrance for you.

Anyway, it's fun and it did remind me of my childhood~

as did seeing this Etch A Sketch art blog.

The Etchasketchist did this artwork of Bob Dylan.

The Etch A Sketch was invented in the 1950s by Andre Cassagnes, a French electrician. He called it his Telecran. Ohio Art bought the rights and began selling the drawing toy as the Etch A Sketch.

Sadly, on the day before Christmas Eve 2000, Ohio Art closed their workshop to let a factory in China manufacture the Etch A Sketch toys for them. They explained that parents thought the toy was too expensive, and they could cut costs by closing the Ohio plant and letting the more than fifty employees go.

Bambi Eau de Toilette is made in Spain by Rebelde Perfumes.
Head notes include lemon and orange essences
Heart notes include spices, violet, green notes
Soul notes include woodsy & herbal notes, tonka, vanilla

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bob Dylan Sketches

Dennis & Chedwick discuss Bob's simple sketches.

Dennis: "Dennis could do these if he had opposable thumbs! What's the big deal?"

These are the small sketches that were eventually reworked into large watercolor paintings shown in the art exhibit, Drawn Blank. This was my only non-perfume birthday gift. Another book showing the finished paintings is also available.

Chedwick: "There's a sketch of a naked lady in here!"

Friday, April 25, 2008

Party in the Sky

Yesterday we were hanging from a cable alongside (and above the roadway of) the Queensboro Bridge (The Feelin' Groovy Bridge from Simon & Garfunkel's 59th Street Bridge Song.)

Later we hovered over the trees in the south end of Central Park.

The convergence of a major holiday week, bloggers ( Letty & Betty ) visiting from across the Atlantic, and summer weather in April turned yesterday into a party.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Chillin' with Chedwick

A branch from the Maple tree in my yard.

Chris Elliott uses an interesting method to try and hitch a ride. Would you stop for him?

What I'm reading right now~ The Hard Road to Klondike.

Micky MacGowan left his home in the Donegal gaeltacht for adventures in North America, which he certainly got. He worked his way across the states, and eventually went to the Yukon, where he took part in the Klondike gold-rush. He returned to Ireland in 1901 for a quick holiday, but fell in love and stayed to raise a family, buying a piece of land with the money he'd made from his gold-rush adventures. Micky died before his journal was published, but in 1958 it won the Oireachtas Literary Competition. The book was translated from Irish into English in 1962.

Some dainties. I'll bet that Kurt makes a mean tray of dainties. (including his famous micro mini clafouti.)

Just Chillin' ~ just keepin' it real, that's all I'm sayin'

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tahitian Gardenia

Gauguin describes the intoxicating scent of the Tahitian women in his personal journal. “A mingled perfume,” he writes, "The perfume of their blood and of the gardenias."

The Book Lust for Life by Irving Stone was made into a movie in 1956. Vincente Minnelli directed Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn (as Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin)

While sitting alone on set working on a painting, Quinn clearly heard a voice telling him how to paint the gardenias.
Quinn asked, “Who are you that I should care what you would do with this little flower?"

“Ah,” the voice replied “you know who I am.”
Quinn looked around and then wondered, could it be Gauguin's spirit? No, of course not, he thought.

Days later the voice was giving Quinn more directions as he painted, even telling him to hold the brush properly. Quinn tried to convince himself it was Minnelli or Douglas joking around. "You guys say something?" Quinn kept asking, looking up from his canvas. Minnelli and Douglas would shake their heads. Minelli later asked Quinn just what was troubling him, and Quinn finally told him.

"Oh, a ghost? Well, wonderful!" Minnelli smiled and told Quinn to paint the way this ghost instructed. Quinn said he felt Gauguin's presence very strongly at this point, and decided to just accept it.

A solid perfume from Pacifica ~ a blend of gardenia, ylang ylang, orange flower water, and jasmine. All natural essential oils. This goes on smooth, and is light but fragrant. (The cat leg is for scale.) You can find Pacifica (all natural) products at Whole Foods ~ soaps, candles, perfumes, lotions: most everything is priced under $10.

Top Art: Paul Gauguin
The gardenia photo was e mailed to me, original source unknown.
Product photo: Chedwick

Monday, April 21, 2008

Carnations & Clove

Why does the Carnation flower smell like clove? The carnation (Dianthus caryophyllata) contains eugenol, the same scent molecule found in the oil of clove. (Oil of clove comes from the the dried flower bud of a tropical tree, and has pain relieving properties.) The two plants are from distinctly separate botanical families but both of them carry eugenol. This is why some people call the carnation a 'clove pink' flower. The absolute oil from the carnation may contain different properties and a lower concentration of eugenol, so the oils would be different. Eugenol sort of knocks out that acrid note that makes perspiration turn into body odor ~ not completely, but it does help cancel it out, so carnation & clove scents are extra refreshing in the summertime.

I like saying Eugenol in a lousy French accent. Now I imagine that Balzac's character, Eugenie Grandet smells like carnations.

And now to expose Cergie's secret. She makes pomanders -- oranges studded with whole cloves to scent a certain room in her home.

My mother taught us to make them when we were kids. It was way worse than making paper chains because the cloves were pointy and sharp. My "martha stewart-like" sister loved doing it and could smugly make 3 perfect pomanders in the time it took me to make one sad looking one. For a few years my mother thought the answer to my defective pomanders was making me work on a wide variety of crafts. ( practice makes perfect!) After a while she realized I could only produce ugly and misshapen crafts, and I was just wasting precious crafting materials. I was free to go outdoors or read a book while my sisters labored on. My mother put pomanders in a closet with the bed linens, so our sheets smelled like eugenol, which was nice.

Photo: L'Heure Bleue by Ched. (L' Heure Bleue contains eugenol.)

Happy Birthday and a drop of carnation absolute to Pod.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fleurs de Chedwick

A bouquet from Ched's garden. Even if your garden is terribly neglected, the spring flowers still appear.

My dad loved lilacs and told me how his grandmother always wore corsages on Sundays. He recalled her showing him how to make one out of lilac and white flowers one spring, and from then on he liked white flowers and lilacs best. I've planted over a dozen lilacs and have many patches of these white dicentra~ 'Dutchman's Breeches' (aka Lady in the Bath.) One lilac on the sunny south side of our house blooms early, some years as early as April 1st. There is also a white daffodil in the picture.

My paternal grandmother just loved pink dicentra (aka bleeding hearts.) There is sweet woodruff in the background of this picture with teensy fragrant white blooms. I try to plant it as a ground cover here and there. As a kid, tulips and apple blossoms were among my personal favorites, and I associate lily of the valley with my oldest sister, who was mad for those tiny fragrant bells.

Now that I have tended them, I really appreciate roses. Merle's roses have been blooming like crazy, but I'll have to wait patiently for about a month to see the rosebuds opening up in my garden. The red rose was my mom's favorite ~ my other sisters prefer spring flowers like daffodils and hyacinths, Easter Lily and crocus. My oldest brother loves a bright colorful bouquet of gladioli, and my other brother is color blind, so many flowers just look grey to him-- he goes by scent, the shape of the flower and petal texture, and so appreciates flowers in his own way.

In the Catskills everything is 2-3 weeks behind us, the lilacs there are no where close to blooming. If I time it right, I can enjoy the first spring flowers all over again as these slowly fade.

Tip: take a small bucket of water with you when you pick flowers (especially roses and peonies) dunk the head of the flower into the water~ this removes all of the bugs from the blossoms. Then cut the roses a second time under water before putting them in a vase. They'll last longer if the stems suck up water during cutting instead of just being exposed to air. If anyone has any other flower tips, please leave them!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fragrances of Ireland

Sharon is taking orders. "Alright then, you're ordering two bottles of Inis, a bottle of Connemara..."

Joan would like to drive your box of perfumes to the Oifig an Phoist down the road.

"Well, Pet, I'm off ... as soon as those sheep clear off the road!"

But here's an even better idea ~ visit Ireland, and you can sample the Fragrances of Ireland at your leisure while enjoying a grand holiday in one of the most lovely places on earth. (Under Video Links I have a County Donegal tour--check it out if you want to see some of the best places in Ireland, wild and beautiful.)

Everywhere I went in Ireland I found these scents. They are all well crafted but my favorites are Inis and especially Inis Arose.

Inis is one of the very few oceanic/marine scents I can wear, as I sometimes find oceanic notes to be overpowering or false. Not so with Inis which actually captures the atmosphere of an Irish beach.
Head notes: bergamot, neroli, lemon, and ocean notes.
The heart of Inis is a soft simple floral bouquet.
The Irish refer to bottom notes as the soul of the perfume: sandalwood, spices and musk.

Inis Arose has head notes similar to Inis, but a heart made of a variety of roses blended together and a soul of sandalwood, patchouli, amber and vanilla. Both scents were created by perfumer Arthur Burnham who passed away a year ago.

Photos: Fragrances of Ireland

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Tree Grows In The Bronx

A Magnolia Tree Grows in the Bronx... Actually the Bronx has many, many, many magnolia trees.

We went walking around with a friend last weekend and saw magnolias peeping out from back alleys, standing around in groups behind large apartment buildings, or displaying their beauty on wide busy thoroughfares. One was blossoming in the center of a weedy vacant lot with a black cat lounging underneath.

Even Saint Brendan the Navigator had his own personal magnolia.

At the corner news stand I was not really surprised to see a small selection of fragrances on display behind the register. The newsagent's personal favorites? That's easy ~ he has two grown daughters ~ one wears Angel and one wears Escada. So those are his favorites. I asked him if any of the grand old drugstores with perfume counters still existed in the borough, and he said they had pretty much all been replaced by the characterless CVS stores.

The magnolia was named for Pierre Magnol, a French botanist.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Champion Feathersticker

Curse you, featherstick!

It takes nerves of steel to be a champion feathersticker.


I've been working hard at being the best feathersticker in the tri-state area. It's one of the most difficult and physically demanding sports ever! The rules change from moment to moment so it's always super challenging.

Finally, something for le bébé ... le chaton chic.

This fragrance starts out with hesperidic notes... I thought hesperidic notes were always citrussy, but even though hesperidin is a flavonoid found in citrus fruits, it can also be found in the leaves of the Buchu, a shrub native to South Africa. (Buchu leaves have small glands full of essential oil-here the hesperidic scent is similar to a blend of rosemary and mint.) Hesperidic notes can be almost peachy smelling, as well as earthy, herbal, or vegetal; it all depends on the source. Certain plant roots, cedarwood and the leaves of black currant, valerian and other plants are harvested for their essential oils which contain hesperides.The name is from Hesperideae, an archaic name of an order of plants .

Head notes: Orange, hesperidic notes, lemon and lavender
Heart notes: Mimosa, jasmine, damacena rose
Bottom notes: Vanilla, sandalwood, tonka

Love the mimosa, which really stands out, and there are a few confusing mystery notes that I can only think come from the hesperides--light earthy, warm notes, like those you smell when you step into a garden on a summer day, the freshness of the vegetation, the herbage. The citrus adds the right amount of freshness. The texture is creamier than perfume when you apply it. Probably because the version I have is alcohol free.

Created by Jean Paul Guerlain for his grandson.
Bottle design: Robert Granai

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


While browsing in an old bookshop, Princess Haiku found a piece of paper with these words written on it. I enjoy wondering what these things are all about.
(Using Reya's "Blog Kin" theory, Princess is my sister.)
Mercurie might recognize this if it is from a book. It makes me think: what if you were at a huge party and you liked a lot of the people you were meeting, and then you discovered that everyone except you at this party had once been employed as a tele-marketer for a few years (and they were employed during the years when tele-marketers were always calling you and annoying you.) You might look into someone's eyes and wonder if you had hung up on them, chatted with them, or worse.
You could not be certain.

My only experience with notes in books was when a friend called me a few years ago, and said: "Hey Ched! go to the Bookstore X, at Grand Central, and in the back on the left is a huge book on Spanish Architecture~go and look, because I wrote you a note and left it in that book, it would be interesting to see if it is still there!"
So I went to the bookstore and I found the book, and there was the note: Dear Chedwick, I am fabulous, You should buy me this book, Love, Sam. I started to leave the store, but turned around and went back, placing another note in the book with his original one that said: Dear Sam, you're OK, the book is too expensive, Love Chedwick.

Then I called him and in a fake excited voice, said: "Oh wow, you have to go back and look at that book again! someone else has left a note in it, and it looks like it might be for you. I didn't really understand it, but I left the book exactly where it was on the shelf, you have to go look at it!" He said "Wow! Really? I wonder if people are going to start leaving notes in that book! That would be so cool!" ... he called later to say he got my note & bought the book himself.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mignonette (For Kurt)

I just received this beautiful gift. (It was not given to me by Kurt, who sometimes says he thinks he is allergic to me.) This post is about more than perfume because I have added a little story for Kurt because even though he did not bother to give me a birthday gift, he still might. And it also may snow in NYC next week. We'll see.

Mignonette by Voluspa is crafted using the finest essential oils. Every bottle comes beautifully wrapped (like an elegant valentine) in a silky pouch. Mignonette blooms, lavender, leaves, almond milk and rosewood were some of the raw materials used to compose this fragrance. This is a really nice scent ~ it is Mignonette in full bloom. I had never even heard of Voluspa before. They make their products in small batches, mixed by hand.

My father had a book of O.Henry stories and would either read or tell them to me when I was young. This was back before children were being dumbed down. If I didn't understand something he would stop, explain, and re-read the paragraph. He would define some of the unusual words as he read without losing the rhythm of the story. I used to wait for the twist in the story. When I was able to read at that level on my own I discovered O. Henry's The Furnished Room ~ you can read it here.

I am guessing Kurt likes the works of O.Henry ~ (at this point Merle will shout out William Sidney Porter!)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Robert Granai

Robert Granai came into my life a long, long time ago. His sculptures were always close at hand, (and always appreciated.) Often I carried one in my handbag. Here is Robert in his studio with what he calls his square eye.

Granai has designed many perfume bottles for the house of Guerlain. He looks beyond the plaster and sees ellipses, circles. he can see light flowing through glass. He works at his lathe, creating the models of perfume bottles. These are lined up on shelves for later study, and the process continues.

The red Samsara bottle was inspired by the costume and posture of a Khmer dancer.

The Vetiver bottle looks stunningly simple, so I placed it on its side to show another angle.

Granai by M. Ducruet
Bottles by d. Chedwick

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Anisia Bella

Anisia Bella-- perfect to wear while sitting on a sunny terrace somewhere in Italy or daydreaming about sitting on a sunny terrace somewhere in Italy.
(Notes: Orange, bergamot, star anise, spearmint, violet, jasmine, exotic woods.) What makes Anisia Bella so bella is the way the notes are blended. The Anise notes are mainly in the background and stay just beneath the lively citrus & mint notes. The violet adds a slight sweetness. In the mellow drydown an exotic earthy note of liquorice wood appears briefly, before the scent fades. The scent is light and lasts only about 3 or 4 hours. Unisex.

see other Guerlain scents with refreshing spearmint in them here.

Although the flavor of its seeds is derived from the essential oil anethol (the same oil that gives anise seed its pronounced flavor), star anise has a different heritage altogether --this tree belongs to the magnolia family. It is used to flavor the liqueurs Galliano and Pastis.

Mirror Photo: Chedwick
Star Anise Photo:

This post was inspired by Tony. He has gotten me interested in essential oils and how they are harvested.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Dennis has the sort of moustache that went out of style during WW2.

Chedwick has half of a Salvador Dali moustache.

The boys are not related to each other and Dennis is 2 years older.

Scary Thing

What is that thing outside?

Gahhh--- it's big and scary and it's in my yard!

Oh, wait... it's just an Alien perfume sales rep.

Sales Rep: (in hypnotic monotone voice) ALIEN is out of this world. The fragrance from Thierry Mugler is inspired by otherworldly things. A Woodsy-amber floral with a touch of vanilla, green and SOLAR notes and a dash of orange blossom. BUY SOME.

Ched: Take me to your liter!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Nahéma, Daughter of Fire

Nahéma was inspired by the French actress Catherine Deneuve, (the real Catherine, not the characters she played in films.) Jean Paul Guerlain admitted to having a great crush on his friend, Ms. Deneuve. And yes, Catherine still frequently wears the perfume Jean Paul made for her back in 1979.

"You can't always have great passion, passion can be sort of destructive. It's something that takes you. It's something that drives you, it's not something that you drive." ~Catherine Deneuve

Head Notes: Peach, bergamot, hesperidic notes.
Heart Notes: Hyacinth, Bulgarian rose, ylang-ylang, jasmine, lilac.
Bottom Notes: Balsam, vanilla, vetiver, sandalwood, tonka.
Nahéma is lush and romantic, and with its peachy rosiness it seems like a scent perfumer Sophia Grosjman would love, but it is definitely a Guerlain; and when I use other Guerlains like Insolence and L'Instant, I can see how the perfumer who created those scents (Maurice Roucel) must have been impressed by Nahéma. When I wear it I also think of L'Heure Bleue. Shared notes in the background, adjusted just so, a shared harmony. If you sample new perfumes patiently, using tiny amounts, you are much more likely to get to know the scent and appreciate it. You want to smell the delicate notes and be able to recognize individual components, and enjoy the perfume as it slowly evolves. Nahéma has a beautiful dry down with some of the heart notes still perceptible.

Not easy to find in the States, but Bergdorf Goodman often has it.
And an outake from Ched's Nahéma photo shoot. The End.