Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Prefumed Primary Project: Arizona & Michigan

Current Fragrance: Saguaro Cactus La Vida Latina from Demeter Fragrance Library
Currently Listening: "Blister In the Sun" by Violent Femmes

Before we get started, I have a little confession to make: I currently am an ENORMOUS cliche'! Why you ask? You see, I had a two hour window today between getting off of work and my dinner plans, so I thought I'd fill my time by writing today's No Disassemble Charlie No. 5 in that gap. I'm sitting in a Starbucks on my laptop, blogging. I'm now one of "those" people. Yup, an enormous cliche'. Wonder if I'm going to get any strange looks when I pull blotters and bottles from my purse and start sniffing....

It's primary day in both Arizona & Michigan. It's been a while since the last installment of the Perfumed Primary Project, and I'm still trying to wrap my head around how exactly I'm going to handle Super Tuesday next week without having the longest blog entry known to mankind, but I supposed that's another problem for another day.

The Grand Canyon State
The Great Lakes State

First up, Arizona and the Saguaro Cactus Blossom. I was pretty skeptical on finding this as an element in a perfume, so I went straight to the Demeter Fragrance Library's website and found it there!

Saguaro Cactus Blossom

I like Demeter, it's quite fun! I mean, where else can you find perfumes that smells of "singular scents" such as Clean Windows, Holy Smoke and Tiger Lily and it not smell like complete rumpus! (Note to self, some fragrance combining with this line could yield some interesting results.) I really enjoyed wearing the Saguaro Cactus today, it was light and effervescent, and honestly reminded me a lot of Demeter's Gingerale that I went through quite a few bottles of in later undergrad/early Master's days. It's not earth shattering, and isn't going to change the face of fragrance forevermore (oops, sorry I just gave a death stair to a 3 year old rolling on the floor in front of my table), but sometimes fragrance can just be fun and light. I wonder how close it smells to the actual Saguaro Cactus blossom? Any readers in the dessert want to sent me one??? Wait, that's probably against the law. Moving on to colder climates.....

Michigan's state flower is the Apple Blossom. For this I went with Marc Jacob's Daisy Eau So Fresh, that is one of the CUTEST BOTTLES EVER. I think all the Marc Jacob's (well, the Daisy's and the Lola's are ADORABLE!)

Apple Blossom

The Marc Jacob's website lists MJDESF's notes as the following: (top) natural raspberry, grapefruit, pear; (middle) violets, wild rose, apple blossom; (base) musks, cedarwood & plum. It's light, fluffy and kind of effervescent - yet not nearly as Demeter's Saguaro Cactus. I quite like MJDESF, actually a good deal more than the original Daisy. Reed Making Warrior wears it from time to time,  I gave it in a set w/ Daisy and Lola to the Non Nordic Avocado for her birthday last year, and bribed my sister with a roller ball of it for happy cooperation when shopping for job interview clothes for her when I was down in SETX for her Quarter Life Crisis last fall. If you like something that's light floral, clean, with a smidge of fruit - this is worth a sniff. Again, not going to change the world, but it makes me smile.

*Currently Listening: Joy to the World by Three Dog Night

**Photo Credits: 1) http://nostalgia.esmartkid.com 2) zazzle.com 3) statesymbolsusa.org 4) history.com 5) demeterfragrance.com 6) sephora.com

Monday, February 27, 2012

Squint Your Eyes and Look Closer....

*Current Fragrance: A layering of LUSH's Vanillary & Dirty
*Currently Listening: Valerie - Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse

...I'm not between you and you ambition
I am a poster girl with no poster
I am 32 flavors and then some...

I kinda get the feeling that with my helping out with the Top 20 project, that No Disassemble Charlie No. 5 may be getting some more traffic, so I thought I'd take today to talk a bit more about myself and my background. This is a bit of a terrifying proposition, as I start to really talk about myself candidly, I can't help but wonder..."just how bat-sh#t crazy am I going to come off to everyone?" OH WELL!

So often people get asked as a lead question to conversation, "Like, who are you? What do you do?" I've realized that this really annoys me. So my response shall ever-more be the following: "I'm a person. I live life." While that sounds very esoteric and makes me sound like an a$$ hole, it's universal, and I think the most important part of life. I think that my twitter profile sums things up pretty well (lord almighty did I REALLY just type that?): "Somewhere between musician and what's next. Wife. Cat lover. Sister. Friend. Gets loud. Champagne enthusiast. Perfume blogger. SweetTart fiend, Snark-tastic!"

While I live in Boston now, I'm not a native New-England-er; I am a Southern Gal, from the oh-so-interesting nexus of where Texas, Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico meet. Proud of my Southern roots (mostly of Cajun decent), I couldn't WAIT to completely leave SETX. While I have lots of dear friends from the region and 97% of my family (I'm guesstimating here) still live there, I never quite felt that it was the place for me. I feel like so much of what I have done and been drawn/attracted to in my life in some part of my brain would help propel me to my goal of leaving SETX for good. I understand that sounds VERY opportunistic, OK...it is, but it's also very real and honest.

Quick time line on my life: Born and raised in SETX, lived in the same town from the age of 1-19, commuted to University for the first year, started as a Music Education Major, met my now husband on AOL (curious about more of that, you should read this post), ran-away to NC between the fall and spring semesters of my "Senior Year", got married, lived in NC for another year after getting married, came back to TX my tail tucked between my legs, started back to school eventually, changed my major from Music Education to Clarinet Performance, graduated with my B.S., stayed at same school for a Master's in Clarinet Performance, moved to Boston to get a Graduate Performance Diploma that should have taken two, but took three due to some health issues, about two months before graduating from Conservatory got Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (they let me graduate anyway...THANK YOU!), wallowed in self-misery, confusion and an odd sense of relief for about six months, got on as a holiday hire at a local LUSH Shop (and they KEPT me!), and started No Disassemble Charlie No. 5 in mid-December of last year, which brings us up to present day with a sentence long enough to make Hemingway's head spin right off.

Through all of that, I've grown into a person that I really do like. Not to say that it wasn't a sometimes soul-wrenching journey. Outwards, I'm a pretty sunny person, (Yes, sunny and snark CAN coexist!) but inwardly I've dealt with a lot of dark. Through lots of time, self-reflection, and yes therapy, I've finally got it drilled through my skull that the darkness and the light are a part of my life. It makes me uniquely me; and how I choose to deal with that is a part of my the rest of my life. Shades are grey are perfectly acceptable, and while "fine" and "good' are four letter words, they are not "four letter words"

There's a certain degree of peace I've found in my early 30's to relax, and just enjoy life for what it is. I must say, being able to enjoy where you are in life 100% while always knowing there could be better (ok, or maybe worse) days ahead is incredibly freeing and joyous. I've always said that "What a Wonderful World" was my favorite song, now I really buy into it.

Those are the nitty-gritty, yet wide-sweeping details. If you have any questions about my life that you are just itching to ask...go ahead, I'll be as candid as I feel comfortable. :-)

Now, to the cast of characters: the only people that will mention by name are myself, my husband Al, our cats Harley and Ezra, my Mom, my sister (I don't know if I've used her name), and my all four of my Grandparents. I don't really talk about my Dad all that much in this blog...but he really doesn't have a lot to do with the perfumed part of my life. Everyone else gets initials or nicknames, but more on that later. First some pictures....

Al and I getting ready to go out for to celebrate my turning "30 for the 3rd Time"

My baby sister Allison & I celebrating her "Quarter Life Crisis", and looking remarkably related

Allison and I looking a lot more like ourselves; shining examples of our own personal styles and personalities!
My parents, out for crawfish, celebrating Dad's birthday earlier this month. Dad texted this photo to me. Upon my father's learning to text, well...my life has never been the same.

Al and I do have two children. Yes, we do. They've got A LOT of hair, 8 legs between the two of them and go "meow"....

The rest of the cast of characters in my life that I have spoken about on No Disassemble Charlie No. 5.....

D.F. "Dear Friend" - My closest friend in the Boston area, my partner in crime, if Al's my male soul mate (I don't know how I feel about the idea of "soul mate's" anyway), she would be my female one.

N.N.A. "Non Nordic Avocado" - Another close female friend, trust me...the name makes sense to me.

R.M.W. "Reed Making Warrior" - Another close female friend, all of our conversations that I initiate, start something like this: Me, "What are you doing?" R.M.W. "Making reeds."

P.P.P. "Pretty Pretty Princess" - My husband's best friend and college room mate. He really IS a Pretty Pretty Princess!

M.P.M.S.M. "My Pop Music Soul Mate" - Boyfriend of Pretty Pretty Princess, who really IS my Pop Music Soul Mate.

Bartles & James - Friends of ours that live in NYC that were raised in the same corner of the world I was.

I think that's enough for today... Tomorrow is the Arizona and Michigan installment of the Perfumed Primary Project, Wednesday I'll write more about my deep love for perfume and music, as well as why they two are so linked in my mind, and I'll finish up the week with more of the Top 20 by tackling the three Chance's on the list.

I'll finish this post by sharing the rest of the lyrics to Ani DiFranco's "32 Flavors"; if I had a theme song....THIS would be it!

...and I'm beyond your peripheral vision
so you might want to turn your head
cause someday you're going to get hungry
and eat most of the words you just said

both my parents taught me about good will
and I have done well by their names
just the kindness I've lavished on strangers
is more than I can explain
still there's many who've turned out their porch lights
just so I would think they were not home
and hid in the dark of their windows
til I'd passed and left them alone

and god help you if you are an ugly girl
course too pretty is also your doom
cause everyone harbors a secret hatred
for the prettiest girl in the room
and god help you if you are a phoenix
and you dare to rise up from the ash
a thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy
while you are just flying back

I'm not trying to give my life meaning
by demeaning you
and I would like to state for the record
I did everything that I could do
I'm not saying that I'm a saint
I just don't want to live that way
no, I will never be a saint
but I will always say

squint your eyes and look closer
I'm not between you and your ambition
I am a poster girl with no poster
I am thirty-two flavors and then some
And I'm beyond your peripheral vision
So you might want to turn your head
Cause someday you might find you're starving
and eating all of the words you said

*Currently Listening: Philosophy - Ben Folds Five

**Photo Credits: All photos my own.
****Lyrics to "32 Flavors" - azlyrics.com

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cashmere Mist: The Top 20 Women's Fragrances of 2011 - A Scents of Self Production

*Current Fragrance: Boyfriend by Kate Walsh
*Currently Listening: Sh-Boom (Life Could Be A Dream) by The Chords

By this time, we all know the drill - so I'm just going to jump on in. Today's specimen in the Top 20: Cashmere Mist by Donna Karan.

1) Prior experience: No, nope. Not even a little bit.

2) Thoughts now: For some reason, I didn't expect to like Cashmere Mist. I don't know why, and yes - I completely realize that just not expecting to like a fragrance for no good reason is both completely silly and outright snobbish. But, life is about growth and growing I am. I really did like Cashmere Mist a lot. I think it had quite a bit to do with the emotional place I've been of lately. (Nothing outward going on, always inward - nothing BAD, just mulling things around in my brain & hashing things out in my own mind. I'm CONVINCED that everyone has conversations with themselves in their own brain, and if they don't...well, I'm MUCH MORE ODD than I ever conjectured.) I found Cashmere Mist to be comforting, not in the big vanilla and amber hug way I so often find when I want to be comforted and "hugged" by a fragrance, but in a quiet, pretty and reassuring way....Cashmere Mist reminded me of my Mom.

My Mom, three Christmastimes ago, while they were in the process of rebuilding after Hurricane Ike. Isn't she adorable!?!
My fragranced memories of my Mom was a big inspiration of this blog, as I outlined in NDC#5's inaugural post. She wore Charlie when I was a young girl, and I would steal her almost empty bottles and hide them about my room, a fact that she didn't find out until reading my blog. (Also as I a young girl, I learned how to unwrap and re wrap my Christmas gifts with almost criminal-like precision and stealth. I've said before that I HATE surprises. My parents knew about this one, so I'm not divulging some deep dark secret today, sorry.)

But I digress, Cashmere Mist reminds me of what I remember my Mom smelling like when she wore Charlie, but less "sparkly". Wrinkle your noses up if you will, but this is a form of high praise coming from me. Cashmere Mist wore close to my skin and was quiet, like we had a secret conversation going on. Nothing elicit, just not anyone else's business type of thing. My Mom's about THE MOST steadfast person I know. Far from being aloof, she's not highly emotional. That being said, when she lights up she's like a little ray of sunshine and gets excited about things in the fashion of a 13 year old girl who has their bedroom done in all pinks and yellows (it's totally adorable and totally endearing).  My mom is not rash or judgmental, she looks at things thoughtfully and pragmatically. I wish I could be more like my Mom. I tend to be pragmatic in desperate attempts to shovel myself out of the proverbial s#(t that I have inevitably stepped in.

Again, digressing: Sephora (where I got my sample of CM) lists the notes as the following: lily of the valley, suede notes, bergamot, ylang, jasmine maroc, sandalwood, orris, amber, vanilla, cedarwood, patchouli and musk. I feel like the bergamot did a good job from turning the white florals into "Going to the Chapel" land, while the patchouli and wood played nicely with everyone. The musk isn't "musky" but clean and rounding. The only thing I wasn't a fan of was the "suede notes"; fine at first, but as they wore on, got just a little to powdery in context for my tastes.
I think CM would be a good office scent, also perfectly suited for public transit. I'm starting to understand why it's on the Top 20, and feel like such a snobby witch for thinking I wasn't going to like it. Is it earth shattering in a way that Keats would have wanted to write epic tomes about it? (I just pulled Keats out of the air, no big referential statement.) Not everything needs to reinvent the wheel, there is big merit in being "fine" or "good" and I think Cashmere Mist does just that.

** If you've known me for longer than oh, say a year - I used to have BIG ISSUES, with "fine" and "good". I viewed them a "shades of grey" words and therefor mediocre. Sometimes, you are what you are. I have replaced my view of the middle not to be mediocre, but steadfast. See y'all, I'm evolving! :-)

Myself, Mom and my little sister waiting for the T when they came up for my first Christmas in Boston.

3) Could I see myself wearing this perfume? If so, for what ocassion? Yes, I could see myself wearing this. I think it's a good close quarters perfume as it had a very minimal silage. Crowded concert halls, church pews, family gatherings. I could see this working well for classroom teachers.  Wait....but back to me.....I can definitely see myself wearing this one to concerts at Symphony Hall. You're packed in there in quite close quarters and you want to smell nice, but you don't want to smell so strong that you hinder another patrons experience. On me CM also read "grown up" without being "old".

4) So Kathleen...would you actually buy a bottle? Yes. I'm not going to run to the mall and buy one now, but my eye will be out for a good discount opportunity.

5) What did Al think? Crap! I forgot that part. It's been a busy few days. I'll get that done over the weekend and report back on Monday.

6) What about the smelling strip? After spritzing the smelling strip at Sephora and storing it in a labeled back and taking it back out five days later...nothing. (BTW - Sephora, I don't really like your blotters, please make the blotter thicker. THANKS!)

Have a great and fabulously fragranced weekend lovely readers!

*Currently Listening: The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss) by Betty Everett

***Photo Credits: 1) thescentsofself.com 2) www.donnakaran.com and 3 & 4) my own

****Mom, I know you're reading this - on your way home from work, swing by the mall and smell some. I think you'll get what I'm talking about! Hell, buy yourself a bottle!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

And the Winner of the Pure Grace Giveaway Is....

*Current Fragrance: Donna Karan's Cashmere Mist
*Currently Listening: Lazy Eye by Silversun Pickups

Many congrats to Laura! YOU are the winner of the Pure Grace Giveaway! Please email me your address at dscharlieno5@gmail.com and I will have it in the mail to you in a timely manner. Thanks to all that entered! :o)

The only picture I have of my Grandma at the piano. (My Great Aunt Lou is standing holding papers.)

*Currently Listening: The Way We Get By by Spoon

**Photo Credit: My lovely little sister

Prada Candy: The Top 20 Women's Fragrances of 2011 - A Scents of Self Production

*Current Fragrance: Nothing Actually
*Currently Listening: Saint-Saƫns Clarinet Sonata, Movement I. Allegretto - performed by Martin Frost

With today's post I'm a quarter of my way there! If you'd like to catch up on my previous reviews of the Top 20, please click on any of the linked fragrance names: Angel, Aromatics Elixir, Beautiful & Burberry Body. Curious about what The Scents of Self and other bloggers playing along are writing about the Top 20? Swim around Ari's page a little, she's been posting round-ups for us!

1) Previous experience: Having heard about Prada Candy, I was curious to smell it, so off to the mall I went, and did a little spritz, spritz from the counter....and nothing. Well, not NOTHING; if it were up to me, I would have named it Eau de Sugar Water instead of Candy. On me it smelled like very diluted humming bird food.

2) Thoughts now: When I was visiting the Prudential Center and Copley place getting ready for this weeks posts, I thought to myself, "Well, maybe I got a dud bottle of Candy to sample the first time. Let's try this again. Lord and Taylor....sugar water. Interesting. *washes right hand* (The left was reserved for Beautiful's development) Side note: You try washing you non-dominant hand ONLY in a public restroom, and see if YOU don't get some strange looks! Go to Saks...spritz, spritz wait....sugar water....DAMN IT! Find another public restroom to one-hand-non-dominant-wash.... Off to Neiman Marcus. I spritz it on as I'm walking out, cross the street, get on the T and go to dinner. Pasta, wine and good company were calling my name. I'm willing to accept the fact the one tester bottle could possibly be a dud, but three in the same day? I'm not buying that one! Then I start thinking, "It's not you Candy, it's me..." DAMN IT! Is my nose busted, cause this is bad!!!! No, I don't think my nose is busted; maybe it's just my skin. I can wear fragrances that others think of as cloyingly sweet and don't go all Willy Wonka on me, so perhaps it makes sense that Candy (which has been touted as a non offensively saccharin gourmand by so many) reads as sugar water on me. Further testing I kept sniffing during dinner, on the T home and once I got home. STILL sugar water. The blotter test will determine if it's my skin or my nose. I know you'll be waiting for me to talk about that with breath that is baited. All this really doesn't explain what it was that Body by Burberry did to me....

3) Could I see myself wearing this anywhere & if so, where? If I wanted to smell like sugar water, I'd make some sugar water and splash it on myself. I'd be like human lickable wallpaper!

I'm skipping number four, I trust you to have excellent skills of deduction as to if I would buy a bottle of Prada Candy....

5) What did my husband say? Sitting down on the couch after returning from dinner, I lifted my right arm to his nose. "Smell," I say. "What? Ummm...Sugar water?," his response. A HA! My nose it NOT BUSTED!!!!

6) How does it smell on the blotter paper? Well, the blotter paper plays MUCH nicer with Prada Candy than my skin does. It smells of caramel...light caramel. I feel like the light musks and benzoin turn it into caramel made with a sugar substitute. (This is after the blotter paper has been sitting in a plastic zip-lock baggie for five days.)

I really feel the need to take some time and comment on the video advertisement on the website, that you simply must view by clicking here. It just makes me laugh so much! 1) That girl, would NEVER wear those panties in real life...I'm just saying. 2) Also, in real life I'm pretty sure she would have FAILED Applied Piano for those antics. Can you even imagine. Oh, it makes me giggle! 3) Dear Seully Hall, how about that color scheme rather than the yellow on yellow, I'm just saying. At a school whose colors are Microsoft Word Icon Blue and Lime Green, you can TOTALLY paint your main recital hall hot pink and gold!

*Currently Listening: Gran Partita, Mvt III. Adagio by W.A. Mozart

**Photo Credits: 1) thescentsofself.com, 2) myfacehunter.com & 3) alicia-logic.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Body by Burberry: The Top 20 Women's Fragrances of 2011 - A Scents of Self Production

*Current Fragrance: Liaisons Dangereuses by Kilian
*Currently Listening: Just A Closer Walk With Thee by Kermit Ruffins with The Rebirth Brass Band

First let my start by saying HAPPY FAT TUESDAY! Being of strong Cajun decent on both sides (and that my Granny was born in New Orleans, later to be raised in Arkansas), I rather enjoy this holiday! It's not about the booze, the bead, and the boobs. OK, it is about the beads & I TOTALLY plan on wearing some to work tomorrow....

For me, Mardi Gras is about being proud of my Cajun Heritage; the food, the making something out of nothing, my ancestors little part of the American immigrant story. So, lassiez les bon temps rouler! I will be celebrating Fat Tuesday by wearing my beads, as much purple green and gold as I can while still staying in work dress code, and EAGERLY awaiting the delivery of a King Cake to work courtsey of Husband Extra-Ordinarie!

For you dear reader, I'll let you and Professor Longhair Go To The Mardi Gras!

Now...perfume time!

Today will be number four out of 20. For my takes on Angel, Aromatics Elixir & Beautiful, please click on their corresponding links. Today's focus: Body by Burberry.

1) I had never sniffed Burberry Body before getting ready for this entry, but I DID used to wear Burberry for Women (I'm a sucker for blackcurrant) back when returned to school to finish my undergraduate. Burberry for Women reminds me of Percy Grainger's Lincholnshire Posy.

*Nerd alert* At the time, I was in the middle of working on a research project of commercially available recordings of "the Posy" and comparing them to Grainger's "intent" with the score. I got to present my research at a conference in Hawaii, so....here come some not really that embarrassing pictures of my past. (Which is turning into a theme in the Top 20 posts)

The view from my hotel window with me in it.
Kayaking in the Pacific Ocean. (Being a city girl, kayaking is the one outdoorsy activity I truly love.)
2) I didn't read any reviews on Body before writing my own; just did enough digging to find out that it was released on September 1st of last year.  I really didn't want anything to sway me into writing anything differently from what I'm about to, by me thinking maybe I was just in a funky mood....because Burberry...WHAT HAPPENED!?!?! Having Body on my skin was truly one of the worst fragrance experiences I've had in a very, very long time. Burberry's website lists Body's notes as fresh green absinthe, illuminating peach and delicate freesia (top), floral notes of natural rose absolute, iris and warm sandalwood (heart) and woody cashmeran, creamy vanilla, amber and musk. Let me translate this into what I smelled in Kathleen Land: cloyingly sweet peach cobbler with sandalwood crumble topping, sprinkled with freesia and a smidgen of jasmine petals. This would have been fine I suppose, but with this came an instant head ache, nausea and a burning in a few places where I applied the fragrance. I was able to keep it on my skin before I had to scrub it off....TWICE. I know they can't all be winners, but this one offended me. Look at the release date; and I bet you and I will come to the same conclusion as to why it made it to the Top 20, but more on that in the final round up post.

Burberry Body bottle (say that five times fast)

3) Nope - couldn't see myself wearing Body. I'm not really into intentional headaches, nausea and skin burning.

4) Would I buy a bottle? I have some masochistic tendencies, but that's REALLY stretching it for me....

5) Al's thoughts: "It's sweet. Like sickly sweet. People with diabetes just shouldn't put that on their skin."

6) Sorry, after knowing how I reacted to it on my skin, I just couldn't make myself make a blotter of it to see how it stands up to the blotter test. Just couldn't do it.

Oh Burberry...your purses are so cute, but Body is not! (Glad I bought a Burberry bag on impulse and not Body...)

If Burberry for Women is Lincolnshire Posy, then Burberry Body is Go Tell Aunt Rhody played on a plastic Bundy clarinet with a quarter size chip in the bell.

Oh, one last thing! There's one more day to sign up to enter a bottle of Philosophy's Pure Grace in the giveaway linked to the post in memory of my Grandma Grace by clicking here.

*Currently Listening: It's Later Than You Think by Kermit Ruffins with The Rebirth Brass Band

**Photo Credits: 1, 3 & 4) my own, 2) thescentsofself.com, 5) us.burberry.com and 6) stylefrizz.com

Monday, February 20, 2012

Estee Lauder's Beautiful: The Top 20 Women's Fragrances of 2011 - A Scents of Self Production

*Current Fragrance: Velvet Rose by Sonoma Scent Studio
*Currently Listening: Big Chief (Version 2) by Professor Longhair (I'm all in the Mardi Gras spirit!)

In case you happen to be keeping score, we're now on three of twenty: so far I've covered Angel and Aromatics Elixir. This will be a full week, with Estee Lauder's Beautiful, Burberry's Body, Prada's Candy, Donna Karan's Cashmere Mist & Chanel's Chance. (Why yes, I DO enjoy the structure that alphabetic order provides me!)

Friday before going to dinner in the North End at Dolce Vita Ristorante with Al, the Reed Making Warrior and her parents, I took a 1 hour sample getting, blotter making, wrist & scarf spraying whirl wind trip through the Prudential Center and Copley Place that took me through Lord & Taylor, Sephora, Saks & Neiman Marcus. That's A LOT in one hour! Also, there is a Legal Seafood right next to Sephora...I wasn't really in the mood to smell clam chowdah right before sniffing perfume. I did give myself an olfactory desert though, but more on that in the coming weeks. Before I move on to the actual review I need to today, I have to share: I'm a sucker for flower shaped things and pretty paper goods, so Cartier really got me on this one. I actually made it back to my apartment unscathed.

As you can tell, I'm knee-deep in an Instagram addiction

And...onward we go with Estee Lauder's Beautiful....

1) I didn't outright remember/realize if/that I had any prior connections with Beautiful, but when I first sniffed it in the store, I was immediately transported back to the mid 1980's and Christmas get-togethers for my dad's side of the family. Beautiful reminded me of the smell of one of my Aunt's bathroom. I was well acquainted with the bathroom. My cousin closest to my age (also female) and I would spend a lot of time in there, where we may or may not have tried to pierce one of our younger cousin's (NOT female) ears with a pair of my Aunt's earrings that we had heated the posts up on a curling iron. Oh, don't worry...we were totally sterile, I rubbed doused eveything with rubbing alcohol first! There is a lesson in this to all you parents and grandparents out there: don't let one child open their gifts and make the others wait, they get...ummm..."creative." Beautiful reminds me both of that time, my Aunt and all the Bob Mackie Barbie's I wanted, but never got.

2) When I first spritzed Beautiful on and walked around for a little bit (I wish I would have taken a picture of the ridiculously awesome fur mittens I tried on) I thought, "Well, that's just very pretty isn't it!? It smells so perfume-y, in a good way." I think I equate "perfume-y" to be the mix of aldehydes and florals. (Which now is making nervous about how I'm EVER going to get Chanel No. 5 on my skin without be clobbered by a knitting needle from the heavens by my Granny...) The Lauder website describes the scents feel as "Rich, Romantic, Luxurious" - yeah, I get it...sorta. If I were writing the copy it would be "It, Smells, Like, Pretty, Flowers" Yes, I understand there are other notes in there, but for the majority of the wear it smells like flowers. It's pretty. (I just realized, I don't use the word "beautiful" very often as a descriptor.) The florals listed by Lauder are rose, lily, tuberose, marigold, orange flower, muguet, jasmine & ylang-ylang. I've gotta say, I get carnation too, there's GOTTA be carnation in there.

Admittedly, I really don't have much experience with the Lauder fragrances. I just don't. Perhaps it's a bit of a snobbery thing on my part. Yes. I CAN be a snob. I blame it on my "get me the HELL out of SETX" complex. That's why the Top 20 project is so good for me! :-D You know, my Dad tells my Mom she's a snob; and if my Mom's a snob...then I'm totally cool with being her kind of snob. (You must know my parents to fully understand the layers of "stuff" that goes along with that...)

Given my lack of knowledge about the Lauder's, I was curious to The Muse in Wooden Shoe's objection to the Lauder base on her skin. I get it a bit, the fragrance just sorts to smell sad on me after a while. Like the flowers are wilting and dying. NO, NO, NO! For all that floral-y goodness, I don't want an uber-perfumery-trickery sort of thing and make the bouquet go all bloom-flourish-die on me...NO! Those flowers are supposed to live forever (or settle into some mosses, ambers and other deeper things): the real world is scary enough, don't pop my happy perfume-land bubble! Let my marvel of modern chemistry flowers bloom...BLOOM I SAY!

Needless to say, I'm very curious to see how the other Lauder's in the Top 20 (Knowing, Pleasures and Sensuous Nude) work.

3) I really don't think I could see myself wearing this perfume. I do like it (with the exception of the wilting at the end), but it's just not very me.

4) Given that I don't see myself wearing it, why would I buy a bottle?

5) Al didn't get to smell this one on me....sorry...perfume blogger fail! :-/

6) This one is new. I'm calling it the "Blotter Factor". I have this theory (OK, a hunch) that how the fragrance stays on the blotter is a big contributing factor to how the fragrance sells. This one holds up remarkably well! Smells just like my Aunt's bathroom circa 1985! Translation: It smells like the fragrance smelled about 5ish minutes after spraying it on. It still smells like Beautiful. Not "Beautiful & Paper & Old", which I think some fragrances tend to do.

Here are some other takes on some of the Top:

The Muse in Wooden Shoes had done two sets of mini reviews: one and two.

The Unseen Censor tackles J'Adore.

Our fearless leader at The Scents of Self puts forth her opinion of Dolce and Gabanna's Light Blue.

*Currently Listening: I Need A Dollar by Aloe Blacc

**Photo credits: 1) thescentsofself.com, 2) my own photo, 3) esteelauder.com, 4) tinyzippers.com & 5) imageof.net

Friday, February 17, 2012

Clinique's Aromatics Elixir: The Top 20 Women's Fragrances of 2011 - A Scents of Self Production

*Current Fragrance: 25:43 by Lush
*Currently Listening: Awake My Soul by Mumford and Sons

Let's dive right in shall we? (I explained the list of questions I'd be examining in my post yesterday.)

1) Prior experience: I can't think about anything Clinique without thinking about High School. So many green and white swirly compacts, so many silver ridged tubes of red lipstick. (The red lipstick was for twirling, yes twirling. Do I need to explain this somewhat odd "sport/art" to anyone? *The grass in my parents front yard has FINALLY grown back between my sister and I.* There will be a semi-humiliating picture in just a bit...) I KNOW I had a bottle of Aromatics Elixir when I was in High School, though I'm not exactly sure why, as my fragrance world at the time revolved around Victoria's Secret Raspberry Glace' and B&BW Sun Ripened Raspberry. (Not gonna lie, I really miss the Raspberry Glace', no shame in my game!) I'm guessing it was a combination of all the time I spent at the Clinique counter in HS and the fact that I'm pretty sure I thought it smelled "mature." I had a big ol' chip on my shoulder during my time in high school and wanted to be ANYWHERE other than where I was, and for that, I knew I had to be older.

In the stands for a football game in my field uniform, complete with red Clinique lipstick.
 2) My thoughts now: It smells spicier than I remember, but the nose can forget quite a bit in 15 years, I suppose. After awhile I started to smell a much more prominent rose than I was anticipating. In my fragrance journal I made the following note, "I like this a lot more than I remember." I must have spritzed Aromatics Elixir very close to my fragrance journal while it was open, because the paper smells very strongly of it. Dare I say that I like it more on the paper than I like it on my skin...? I get chamomile, rose, moss and a little patchouli (I'm actually going to add a smelling strip element to the rest of my smell tests, as I think I may be onto something having to do with fragrance popularity; forcing me to go into stores with nerdy pre-labeled baggies to keep things organised and "sterile") In my mind, CAE is what women smelled like in the late '70's. Well, I may be onto something as it was originally released in 1971.

3) Could I see myself wearing this perfume? If so, for what occasion: Yes-ish. For a serious meeting or for Church if I were visiting my parents at home. It's a bit on the serious and austere side to me, still like I would be trying to be someone I really wasn't. "No really everyone in the town I grew up in, I promise - I really am a grown-up! See!?!? I mean...Sniff!?!?!" More on that in the next question....

4) Could I see myself buying a bottle of this now: No, not really. I don't think that CAE is really my cup of tea. I'm looking for a chypre, but I don't think this is MY chypre. This doesn't smell like me. I like it, but it's not me. I get why it sells, and I'm curious to to how long it's stayed in the top 20 fragrances since its' introduction. I'm going to apply a bit of my South East Texas logic to it (because I know my own person fragrance logic isn't the best to go with): it's middle of the road luxury, "You can't get it at Wal Mart, you have to go to the mall. It's something familiar, but not "designer-y." I see its market.

5) What did Al say: "You know, it smells like perfume. I guess it sells because it smells like....it smells like every other perfume out there." I find there to be something astute to his thinking with this. I'm just curious that he's going to say when he smells Wonderstruck and Someday?

Seriously though, Aromatics Elixir does smell elegant whenever I turn a page in my fragrance journal.

*Currently Listening: Never Going Back Again by Fleetwood Mac

**Also, don't forget to read this entry in memory of my Grandma Grace and enter the awesome givaway.

***Photo credits: 1) thescentsofself.com, 2) my own, 3) clinique.com

Thursday, February 16, 2012

And we're off! The Top 20 Women's Fragrances of 2011: A Scents of Self Production (Angel)

*Current Fragrance: Clinique Aromatic's Elixir
*Currently Listening: "Young Folks" by Peter Bjorn and John

As I talked about in an earlier post, I'm helping the lovely Ari from The Scents of Self in a project to get as many people as possible to examine the top twenty women's fragrances of 2011. In a effort to keep things "scientific" (read formulaic & to prevent me from straying too much of topic), I've given myself a set of five things to explore.

1) Prior experience: This means more than just, "I spritzed it on me once walking through Dillard's 15 years ago." I've either had to have owned it, seriously sampled it or had a very close connection with someone who wore the fragrance up for review quite a lot.

2) Thoughts now: Well, that's pretty self explanatory.

3) Could I see myself wearing this perfume? If so, for what occasion?

4) Given a yes to number question 3, would I actually buy a bottle of this now?

5) Al's thoughts. He's not really "fragrance fussy" so his opinion is good to get. Don't worry, if he's not available, I'll find someone else  to offer up their "snifferpinion."

Once I'm done reviewing all the fragrances, then I'll start taking my guesses as to why  they are all so popular, collectively.

So - I raise a...ummm....pint glass with a quote about beer by Ben Franklin filled with Coke (no, seriously) to toast this 20 post process....

Raise Your Glass!

1) I've spoken about Angel before, when I did my review of Womanity. Here's what I had to say: "So, Womanity. It was actually the second Thierry Mugler fragrance I've tried. I feel that if we're going to talk about any Mugler, we should say talk a little about Angel. I initially bought a bottle of Angel probably around 9 years ago. I was in love with it's heady gourmand scent as we as its' striking star bottle. For quite some time it was my 'I'm going out' scent. Somewhere along the way I developed a not so healthy relationship with Angel." It'd like to think of it as a 'patchouli and chocolate pound cake' - heavy, dense, on the verge of being COMPLETELY gluttonous. It was, I think, 'the scent that launched a thousand gourmands'. I feel the same way about Angel the same way I feel like mayonnaise, honestly. I say I don't like it, then I crave it, then I overdose on it (mental image of myself laying sprawled across the floor with empty mayonnaise jars and Angel bottles surrounding me...pretty damned funny!), and end up swearing it off again until I crave it."

For the fragrances I have prior experience with, I'm trying to find pictures from that time in my life. This will be fun for all of you, and at times outright mortifying for me. Enjoy!

Our Rehearsal Dinner
 2) My thoughts now. The first thing I wrote in my fragrance journal when I first spritzed it on was, "It smells like Angel." No Sh%t Sherlock!! Perhaps I should elaborate; I feel like a lot of things smell like Angel, but Angel doesn't really smell like a lot of other things. My nose picked up the the tropical fruits in Angel a lot this time around. The best way I could describe it now would have to be patchouli & caramel cotton candy with daiquiri powder sprinkles, but I kept looking for a better descriptor, something a bit more esoteric...then I had it.... in BIG letters...

You Better Work!
 Yup, I'm putting it out there, that I think Angel is the perfume equivalent of a Drag Queen: awesome, loud, proud, and just a little too much. (Although I think I really do like Drag Queens more than I like Angel, truth be told.)

3) I could see myself wearing Angel now, but I've got other things in my arsenal that I really do love that fit the same fragrance bill. (More on that later.) What for? NOT for daytime wear. Out to dinner...drinks. Nothing overtly casual. Chic, but FOR SURE not stuffy. On me it would go well with an all black outfit (it's loud enough on it's own), but with bright colored accessories.

4) I really don't think I would by a bottle of Angel now: I've already explained my propensity to overdose on the stuff from time to time, and given my addictive personality, I don't think it's wise. (Come on, my vices are perfume, sweet tarts and champagne...) I recently purchased a pocket spray of Bond No. 9's Nuits de NoHo, which I've nicknamed "Icy Angel." On its' first night out it went for drinks with DF at the Omni Parker House. (Outfit: all black (billowy top and slacks) - very Halston 70's with nude fishnets, all gold accessories and a floppy black fabric clutch.)

5) When I first let Al sniff it Angel, he automatically recoiled, "What's that!? It's much stronger than what you normally wear." 

I recounted with, "Angel, I used to wear it out a lot right around when we first got married." 

"Yeah, but it's really strong. Stronger than anything you normally wear now."

"Dude, I wear Lust out to dinner ALL the time." (Yes I call my husband "Dude" from time to time. Also, I feel that I should introduce Al's best friend PPP & MPMSM who are often our dinner companions and always comment on how nice I smell when I wear Lust.)

Angel (one of my favorite bottles)

*Currently Listening: 38 minutes into MPMSM's 70 minute self done Whitney Houston House Mix. "It's Not Right But It's OK"

**Photo credits: 1) thescentsofself.com 2-5) my own, 6) sephora.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

[Amazing & Pure] Grace Byrd

*Current Fragrance: Liaisons Dangereuses by Kilian
*Currently Listening: Waltzes, Op. 34, No. 1, "Valse Brillante" by Chopin - performed by Arthur Rubinstein   

Reading the definition above, I don't think my Grandma could have been named anymore perfectly; my Great Grandmother was one super intuitive lady! I woke up this morning knowing I was had plans to write this entry; and because I was going to write it, there would be crying involved. (I just got done with a horrible stomach bug. Stomach bug + crying = a not good combination) This blog is going to get pretty personal (more personal that most), but as I've said before: "Perfume...It's Personal."

Grandma & I in her kitchen. I look to be about 5.
 You see, my Grandma Byrd (maternal grandmother) is pretty much my hero. I've talked a little about her in this post when she quietly gifted me some jewelry that had belonged to her mother (my Great Grandmother, who I supposedly just like) the last Christmas she was alive. Grandma has made an another appearance early on in No Disassemble Charlie No. 5, when I spoke of my deep love of Christian Dior. (For the sake of clarity: I was lucky enough know all four of my grandparents very well, and have all of them in my lives until my freshman year of college. When I say "Grandma", that's Grandma Byrd. "Granny" is Grandma LeBlanc, who was my last living Grandparent - who passed away close to a year and a half ago.)

I don't feel like I can really talk about her without first sharing my clearest memory. It's actually not a singular memory, but a constant thread in my life every Saturday from my absolute earliest memories until I was about twelve years old.....

It was a thirty minute drive from where Mom, Dad (and 8 years into my life), Allison lived to my Grandparent's house. Every Saturday my Mom would put myself (and later my sister) into the car or suburban and head to Grandma and Grandpa's, always getting there between 11 and 11:30am. As soon as the car door opened, you could hear my grandmother practicing the piano. (She is the only other trained musician in the family. All I know is she went to music school in Arkansas; and taught piano for years in her house...the things I wished I would have asked, but I thought I had all the time in the world...) What we heard he playing depended completely upon what time we got there: if we got there on the earlier side it was something out of the Methodist Hymnal that she needed for Church the next day; but if it was later and her work was "done", she would be playing something by Chopin (normally a waltz) for "fun". Chopin was her absolute favorite.

Once out of the vehicle, we'd walk through the garage, and you'd be hit by the smell of pot roast cooking. It didn't matter if that's what was on the menu that day. Pot roast was cooked on Saturday's...it was just the rule of Grandma-land. Upon the click of the doorknob of the door from the garage to the kitchen, the piano would stop and you could hear my Grandma, "There are my Grand babies! Oh, I LOVE my Grand babies!" (They say you loose the sound of people's voices once the die. I suppose I'm one of the really lucky ones.... This memory never seams to fade. I attribute it to the fact that happened so consistently for so long.)

She would greet my sister and I first and then my Mom. My Grandpa, Uncle Gene & Great Aunt Lou would all most likely be sitting at the kitchen table, but it was some sort of unwritten code that Grandma got us first. By that point in her life she would be wearing some sort of patterned silky stop and coordinating colored pants that she made herself. My Aunt Lou, mysteriously enough would be dressed similarly, but not too similarly - nor clashing for that matter. I'm convinced they called one another every morning and coordinated outfits. Grandma had intimate knowledge of my Aunt's wardrobe as, Aunt Lou paid her to sew all her clothes for her.

Since this is a perfume blog, I guess I should talk about the way she smelled. I don't particularly remember her wearing a lot of perfume. I know she had lots of skin sensitivities. (I remember the sun, NOT being her friend...I can relate!) I do remember unearthing a bottle of both White Shoulders and the original Emeraude in her vanity. (Which my sister now uses in her room. I have the bedroom suite that she and her two sisters used growing up. She was the middle child, it went: Inez, Grace, Anna Lou.) What I DO remember my Grandma smelling like was Coty Airspun powder. :-D

I know I'm rambling, and I could go on and on and on and on and on.... So I'll try and reign it in. While we're talking about my Grandma - and tying her name to the post and in turn to perfume - I have to tell this story: She was born February 12, 1910 in Parker, LA to Cecile Domingue and John Alcee Wiltz. She was baptized Grace Wiltz. WHAT!?!?! No middle name!?!?!? It was February and cold, and my Great Grandmother had given my Great Grandfather a first middle and last name to their new daughter to tell the priest; but my Great Grandfather shall we say...was trying to both stave off thirst AND the cold. By the time he made it to the church all he could remember was "Grace Byrd". So, my Grandma had no middle name...until she was oh...about 77/78, which was when my baby sister was starting really communicate.

Grandma & Allison when SHE was about 5. (The more I look at this, the more I see myself in Grandma.)
When Allison was first starting to speak, she gave my Grandparents new names: Grandma became "Dow", and Grandpa became "Pow Pow". Where in Allison's mind this came from, we really don't know, but Grandma, excuse me...Dow got a big kick out of it. "I've never had a middle name before," she'd say, "and now I do! Grace Dow Byrd!"

I could write an entire entry on just the love my Grandma and Grandpa has for one another and how downright sweet it was (and I probably will once I find a way to link it to fragrance). They were the cutest couple ever! They weren't saccharin...they were just them. Grandma was dynamic. Grandpa was steady. Sounds a little like another couple I know....

Grandma and Grandpa on their 50th Wedding Anniversary, about a year before I was born.

Al & I.

Grandma was loving and kind and accepting, but at the same time fiercely protective. Those are the things I look up to her the most, and really, REALLY do try to emulate in my life.

In honor of my Grandma's birthday I'm doing a giveaway of a fragrance namesake for her. Up for grabs is a 2 fl. oz. (new in box) spay Eau de Toilette of Philosophy's Pure Grace. Philosophy's website describes the fragrance as "a soap and water scent, Pure Grace is an infinitely clear fragrance designed to make you feel like you just stepped out of the shower." I think this is an EXCELLENT description! Sephora lists the notes as: bergamot, water lily, lavender, jasmine, cool greens, musk. I really think the prose-like description of Philosophy is MUCH better. If you are really a "non-perfumey" type, this one could really be nice for you.

 To enter comment below, or like or comment on the Facebook link, or retweet the link about the post on Twitter. I'll keep the entry period open until noon EST on Wednesday, February 22; then I'll draw the winner at random.

*Currently Listening: Waltzes, Op. 64, No. 1 "Minute", in D-flat by Chopin - performed by Arthur Rubinstein   

**Photo credits: First photo; thisnext.com, final photo; philosophy.com, all other photos; my own

***Disclosure: The perfume available in the giveaway was part of a gift set I received from a family member for Christmas. It contained two different bottle of Pure Grace along with several body care products. With all the perfume I own, I simply won't make it through that much of any one fragrance. I just want to share the love!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Down With the Sickness

Photo credit: playle.com
I am quite literally "Down With the Sickness"...UGH! That's about all I could think of whit wise, so clearly you can understand me not writing a proper blog. What WAS going to happen: blog about my Grandma Grace and Pure Grace giveaway (Sunday night, post Grammy's), kicking off my helping Ari with The Scents of Self Takes on the Top 20 with my review of Angel (Monday), and  linking by Kilian's Beyond Love to the best warm fuzzy song of all time The Rainbow Connection (Valentine's Day). Instead I'll be picking up on Wednesday with the homage to my Grandma and reviewing Angel on Thursday, then it's business as usual. Since there will be no "Valentine's Blog", I give you an awesome video of an awesome awesome song about loving, dreaming, and choosing to believe in the impossible.

See you Wednesday, dear readers!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Perfumed Primary Project: Maine (Karma by Lush)

*Current Fragrance: Nothing at the moment; I was wearing Liaisons Dangereuses earlier this morning, and I'll wear either Lust or 25:43 to work this afternoon
*Currently Listening: Teardrop by Massive Attack (Can't possibly communicate about Karma without listening to Massive Attack!)

Happy Weekend Dear No Disassemble Charlie No. 5 readers! It's time for the Maine instillation of the Perfumed Primary Project. For the Pine Tree State (also known as The Lumber State, the Switzerland of America, The Polar Star State, The Border State & The Old Dirigo State....WHEW!) it's all about the white pine cone and tassel or pinus strobus, linneaus.

For a fragrance with a pine note, I decided to go with Lush's "signature scent" Karma. Lush lists its notes as the following: orange, patchouli, pine, lavendin, lemongrass, elemi, and cassie. One of my favorite things about Lush's fragrances are the stories that are behind them, as well as a musical inspiration much of the time. The UK version of the Lush website describes Karma as perfumer Mark Constantine's "ode to hippies and head shops - and another one of his creations heavily influenced by music. He reminisced about going to the Kensington High Street market in his twenties when 'people were bonged out on God knows what' and weaved in the 'layers and layers of creamy sound' from listening to Massive Attack."

 At first sniff Karma didn't really say, "Hey Kathleen! I'm SO for you!" It's a bit on the outdoorsy side. Which, if you know me - isn't really me. (Ironically though, I DO really enjoy kayaking.) However, some days Karma is just what I need. It's mellow on my skin. The orange, patchouli & pine mix in to this relaxed and mellow blend that is quite soothing. It like to wear it on days that I am just relaxed and my world is moving at a slower pace. It's a t-shirt, yoga pants, 10 year old hoodie, not a lot of makeup, hair hasn't been washing in three days so I'm going to put it up in a pony tail unbrushed sorta scent. Coincidentally, I find myself reaching for it when I'm visiting my parent's house and am just lounging around doing nothing.

After finding out it was inspired by Massive Attack, I have this almost synesthesia-esque reaction when I smell Karma; immediately hearing this:

I should point out that I WISH I actually had synesthesia; but that is another conversation for another day!

Stay tuned tomorrow, dear readers for an AWESOME giveaway and Monday I start chipping away at helping the Scents of Self with her Top 20 Project. I'll be starting with Angel, Aromatics Elixir, Beautiful and Burberry Body.

*Currently Listening: Five Man Army by Massive Attack

**Images (in order of appearance) credited to: moodyscollectibles.com, 50states.com & lush.co.uk