Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Not So "Vanilla" Vanillas

*Current Fragrance - Vanille Insensee from Atelier Cologne
*Currently Listening - It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year sung by Amy Grant

Photo Credit:
I crave vanilla fragrances 1) when I'm depressed and 2) when it's cold and I want to feel safe and cozy. Well...I live in Boston & it's cold y'all! I did some research and ordered 5 samples that I thought I might dig. Here are my thoughts on those not so "vanilla" vanillas.

1) Serge Lutens' Un Bois Vanille: I had high hopes, but all I can say is, "meh." I smells too much like Sand and Sable for me to get all excited about it, and quite honestly. It just wasn't what I was looking for. It was the least "me" of all the vanillas that I tried. Anyone who really loves this one, please pipe up!

2) CB I Hate Perfume's 7 Billion Hearts (in the absolute): I wanted so desperately to love this one! I LOVED it when I first put it on, but sadly as I wore it my eyes water like MAD. This is not cool, since I have trouble keeping waterproof mascara on as is. Maybe I just need to try the water concentration. It is stunningly gorgeous! Sweet "vanilla extract-esque"plus the woody/incensey smell that reminds my of my Grandparents old Church. Damn! It's beautiful. Perhaps it needs another spin.

3) M. Micallef's Note Vanillee: You know what this reminds me of...? J'Adore minus any flowers. It does. Call me crazy. I thought that all vanilla's had some cuddle factor. Nope. Not this one. It's vanilla mixed with booze, plums and apricots. It really didn't read overtly cloying on my skin. I'd totally drink something that smells like this. I'd wear this perfume. Just not when I need some olfactory snuggles. This would be a great LBD perfume.

4) Le Labo's Vanille 44: This fragrance took my breath away at first sniff. It's beautiful in its simplicity. This is Zen Vanilla. I wore Vanille 44 the last time I got my hair cut, and no sooner had my lovely hair dressers hands hit my scalp..."what perfume are you wearing?" To my nose it's a slightly sweet vanilla with a touch of smoke. Just smoke though, there's no evidence of what's been burning. Perhaps it's the vanilla that's on fire. It's delicate, which makes it beautiful. Sadly's delicate which makes it fleeting. Too fleeting. Had there been more staying power, it would have been at the top of my list.

5) Atelier Cologne's Vanille Insensee: There is just something so cuddly, snuggly and Holiday-esque about this one. I feel as though I should be wearing it with a really ugly Christmas sweater (in the best possible way)! The vanilla isn't sweet at all in here. Well, it's slightly sweet...perhaps sweetened w/ pine sap. The evergreen element must be what makes it so Christmasy. To expand upon Luckyscent's thoughts....I feel like Vanille Isscensee is a snow globe of a mountainside town with its evergreens, flowing sap, and amber glowing fireplaces. It's snowing in the snow globe, and its snowing vanilla scented snowflakes.

Have any thoughts on the five fragrances above? What are some of your favorite vanillas? Please let me know in the comments.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Scenting Your Holiday Office Party

*Current Fragrance: Back to Black from By Kilian
*Currently Listening: White Christmas sung by Frank Sinatra
Oh the Office/Workplace Holiday Party... Yep, it's that time of year again! Forget visions of Sugar Plums dancing in your head (that's an UPCOMING blog post), and belly up to the possibilities of your boss with a lamp shade on his/her head, the know-it-all that got YOUR promotion losing her eggnog, or finding yourself under the mistletoe with that cute guy from several cubicles over.
I've been to my share of lame holiday work parties, but then again I've been to my share that are flat out fabulously fun. There's so much you CAN'T control, you should relish in what you CAN control: looking and smelling fab! I'm here to help you with the smelling part. :-) As for the looking, just click my heels and your mouse on over to my lovely collaborator on this project, The Boston Fashionista. (As I'm collaborating with another Boston Blogger, I've taken special care to list fragrances that Bostonians can walk into a store and sniff TODAY!)
Not all office parties are created equal (in mood level of awesome/lame), just as not all perfume wearers needs are created equal: so, I tried to pick three vibes that I think encapsulate how wearers would want to feel or portray themselves at these Holiday parties.
1) Get Rid of the Grinch - Perhaps your work environment is a bit on the aggressive side. No one wants to carry that into a party environment. If I were faced with a situation like that, I'd reach for a bottle of an emotional bolstering. I think something like By Kilian's Love would be perfect. Love is a cozy, sugar dipped orange blossom that doesn't go TOO zesty or TOO cloyingly sweet. Think of the imaginary olfactory nexus of where a pomander ball and Dewdrop's (from the Nutcracker) costume. This is working under the assumption that Dewdrop's costume is made entirely of sugar cubes and orange blossom flowers..... Love from By Kilian can be found at Saks 5th Avenue, and you can read my review here.
2) I'm Not Myself Tonight - It might be something as finding yourself under the mistletoe with that cute guy from several cubicles over, or as broad as just being "someone else" for the evening. One listen of the X-tina song by the same name...girl don't wait, take the mistletoe to HIM! you want to vamp it up a bit, please vamp it up to the amount that you'll still have a J-O-B come Monday morning. I suggest on enlisting a little help Material Mother Madge and spritz on some of her Truth or Dare. Truth or Dare is a vampy tuberose with a tender edge. (Remember - you want to KEEP your job, as well as Monday morning under-the-breath-jokes to a minimum!) Truth or Dare is JUST gourmand-y enough to encapsulate the holiday vibe, while still letting you be a little vampish. It struts the perfect line between naughty and nice! (Gotta have all those bases covered!) Madonna's Truth or Dare can be found at Macy's, and you can read my review here.
3) Pass The Stapler and The Sparkling Cider In The Plastic Flute Please - Sometimes it just happens (although it makes my supremely sad), your workplace chooses/has to celebrate IN the office...DURING the work day. I'm also going to guess that this is an office where scent isn't necessarily celebrated. Don't worry Cindy Loo! We won't let them stop your holiday office party sniffy merriment from coming, we just need to be more mindful! Enter Jo Malone's Blackberry and Bay. Jo Malone's fragrances are notoriously on the lighter-handed side, so they're PERFECT for this type of shindig. Blackberry and Bay take very ripe photorealistic blackberries and both tamps down any excessive sweetness and gives a slightly spicy twist with the bay. Perhaps not your everyday scent, but PERFECT to kick it up a notch for that 9-5 holiday party. Jo Malone's Blackberry and Bay can be found at Saks 5th Avenue and Neiman Marcus, and you can read my review here.
I hope you enjoyed this little Office/Work Holiday Party Fragrance guide and find it useful! What fragrances have you enjoyed or had success with at your holiday work parties? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments!!! Now, click on over to The Boston Fashionista to read her post!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mamma I'm Coming Home

*Current Fragrance: Lonestar Memories from Andy Tauer
*Currently Listening: Should've Been A Cowboy by Toby Keith

L: Country Mouse (My Sister) R: City Mouse (Me)
The longer I've lived in the city, the more I come to appreciate certain aspects of "country" living. I put country in quotation because I wasn't exactly raised in the sticks. I think it's safe to say that I was raised in a small town. Every so often I miss that slower pace I also miss food that is properly spiced. WHAT is wrong with people up here!?!? Perhaps it's just that my Cajun taste buds have mutated over time. I will pack clothes only suitable to hand around horses in (as well as other assorted barn yard lovelies). I will HOPEFULLY get to drive down to the beach and stare at the Gulf for the first time in ages, I will eat my fill of that Gulf seafood. I will get to spend time with my crazy family. I will get to eat my mother's cheese grits and whatever my dad's latest food obsession is; as well as play with my sister's new kitty. I will do all these things while smelling flippin' fabulous! You can take me out of the city; you can take my nice bags, shoes, and scarves; but you can pry my perfume from my cold dead hands! Hey....I'm only bringing four. Aren't you proud?

1) Tom Ford's Tuscan Leather: All your 'fume-heads are probably asking, "But why not Lonestar Memories!?!?!" That's just way too literally. Look...I live in Allston/Brighton, I've lived in this neighborhood for four years...some of the hipster irony was BOUND to rub off on me. Also, I find TL to be deliciously saucy. I definitely makes me feel my oats. In this case my honey bunches of whit filled oats... Which I need for sparring with my father.

2) By Kilian's Liaisons Dangereuses: This one is my beloved. How could I possibly leave it at home!?!? It's like my very own olfactory American Express. Besides, my parents house was where I feel head over heels in love with LD on New Years Day of this year!

3) Serge Lutens' Gris Clair: Good ol' Uncle Serge. He'll keep me from murdering anyone or stomping out of the house in a tizzy (I am nothing if not practical thinking things out ahead.) For me this is a calming lavender nectar of the gods. Also good if my stomach gets queasy from too much rich food that I KNOW I'm going to gorge myself on.

4) LUSH's Orange Blossom: This one just feels right. Plus, all the neroli in there will keep me in a good mood. It smells like a sunlit field of flowers. I hope my trip holds up to that beautiful and positive of a thought. Sunlight, happiness, things that are alive, thriving, and familiar.

Until next week.... :-)

*Currently Listening: Zydeco Et Pas Sale by Clifton Chenier
**Photo Credits: Both photos my own

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gypsy Cowboy: Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille

*Current Fragrance: Wait, Isn't That Completely Obvious?
*Currently Listening: Map Tap by The Devil Makes Three

Tom Ford's fragrances reveal themselves to me in a rather poetic and "imagintangable" ways. Remember the experienced and worldly woman that was Cafe Rose? Then there's Tuscan Leather: two silver screen characters rolled into one.

Tobacco Vanille doesn't stray far from my Tom Ford fold.

He's the sexiest man you'll ever meet. What makes him so sexy? Clearly you're dying to know.... There's a darkness and danger there with the tobacco, but it's sweet pipe tobacco to not too harsh. No one wants a complete neanderthal. Sweet to the (ALMOST) point of honey, but not quite. Its overripe quality is almost eyebrow raising. The almost sexual pungency is paired with the comforting sweetness of the vanilla, making it so welcoming and familiar than any trepidation that was felt by the prowess of the tobacco envelopes you in its comforting swath.

Yes. Tobacco Vanille is a Gypsy Cowboy. Here's where he exists, somewhere between Eastern Europe and the posh saloons of the Old West. Everything is in sepia and yellow, and our Gypsy Cowboy is dressed in delicious pinstripes and brocade. Wrapped in his embrace you are simultaneously aroused and mollified.  Oh the poetic duplicity!

Plus there's nutmeg and a scant of cardamom. I'm absolutely convinced!

How it wears reminds me of how food color behaves in a bowl of water. The water being the skin/air and the fragrance being a single color of food coloring. Once the fragrance hits the water, it doesn't completely disperse. It's very "there", concentrated in once spot. If the motion in the water = time on the skin, that's what takes it to where it's going to go. It actually takes it there pretty quickly. The food coloring permeates the water but doesn't delete until the water is dumped out.

So many delicious descriptors tonight. Must be in the snow.

*Currently Listening: Lover Of The Light by Mumford & Sons
**Photo Credit:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sweet Thoughts for Harley Kitty

*Current Fragrance: Tobacco Vanille from Tom Ford
*Current Candle: Leaves from Bath and Body Works
*Currently Listening: The Gambler by Kenny Rogers

Scent people, I have learned, are also cat it won't come as much of a surprise when I explain that my absence in blogging has been due a to sick kitty. Luckily, my husband is better at this than I. He's chronicled Harley kitty's ups and downs on his blog; in addition to some top notch (IMHO) political analysis. I'll repost the Harley parts here....

"Sorry about the absence, blame the fact that since Sandy came through it's been both busy at work and then busy on the home front for completely unrelated reasons.  Mostly, it was our good friend who was in town for an extended stay, and then Thursday turned into a night spent over with Kat's Dear Friend.  So, all in all, up until Thursday at around 11, it was for great reasons that I didn't open up the laptop to post here.

Kat ended up spending the night over at KDF's house, mostly because she was already so tired I didn't want to have to try and get her up to the apartment, and she didn't face anything until a lesson at 4.  This turned out to be a good call.

Rewind a little to Tuesday, I had been relaxing in the apartment when Kat came home, and pointed out that there was a spot of blood next to where Harley had been resting his head.  I was a little concerned, but didn't see any open wounds, and thought maybe he had accidentally cut his mouth scratching.  I made a note to keep an eye on it.  On Wednesday, no other incidents.  In fact, he rested for the night on top of me, and nary a drop.

So, I get home Thursday and I see Harley is basically covered.  His fur is matted with it, and there were  a couple areas where you could tell blood had seeped out of his mouth.  He still seemed himself...still walking around, eating, following me, and when I gave him a bath to clean his fur he definitely showed a ridiculous amount of strength.  I still never saw any actual open sources of this, but at this point, I knew he needed a vet.  Because he had reacted with so much energy to fight me off for his bath, I knew he wasn't so bad that he needed an emergency room. so I cleaned up what I could, made a note to keep an eye on him, and wearily slept that night. 

On Friday, I woke up, saw that there was a little more, but not a lot of, blood that had seeped out.  I knew he would be OK for a little while longer, and...frankly, we were so short handed at work thanks to a bad combination of events, I knew "sick cat" wasn't a reason to miss the day.  After I got to work, I set about to try and set a late evening vet appointment, and took the chance to let Kat know what was going on.  It was a good thing she had stayed at KDF's house, and that I didn't tell her that night because Harley would probably have gone to the Emergency Room.

After poking and prodding, I found the  Brookline VCA Hospital, signed up on-line to try and get an appointment, but their website was screwing up, and before I could call, I was sidetracked due to work.  Luckily, right when I had a small break, they called me to see if I was interested in setting something up.  They told me they were open late on Fridays, and getting a 6 PM appointment was no problem (I love living in a big city).  Kat eventually came home and kept her eyes on him.  He was sluggish through the day, but still ate, and didn't really seep that much more blood, although there was some.

So, it was with trepidation I came home to put Harley in his case and took him to the vet.  I've alluded before to how Harley was abandoned by his first family.  Well, that history means that whenever we try to put him in his carrier, he cries something awful, because he always thinks he's about to be torn away from his family.  It's the main reason why we don't board him when we go somewhere, because frankly, no matter how nice the place, I really think he would feel like he's being surrendered again, and the older he gets, the more I don't think he'd be able to handle it.  Still, we had to get him to the vet somehow.

Our Doctor was great.  Very friendly, obviously very knowledgeable, and gave us a pretty strong interrogation about his habits, eating, stuff around the house...nothing was out of bounds.  A blood sample was taken, and the Doc pointed out that Harley had some pretty bad teeth.  While we may need to talk about getting that done, the problem was...he didn't see any bleeding coming specifically from the gums.  We set our expectations to come back on Saturday, and left...only to be called back because the preliminary test done on his red cell count showed it pretty dangerously low.

The fact that it was this low and he wasn't showing that many symptoms meant that this was something that had been occurring over time and he had adjusted.  The Doc decided to give Harley a Vitamin K shot to see if it would help (it won't hurt, so lets try it), and he said he'd call back on Saturday with the results.  We brought Harley back to the house, and what we noticed was a cat who very quickly started to have a bit of a bounce in his step.  He seemed a little more energetic.

I woke Saturday to, again, see no blood, and to a cat who was obviously feeling better.  He walked around with more energy, his eyes were always wide open, and he just seemed to be doing better.  We were hopeful that we had stumbled on good news.  The Doc called us back to tell us that, sadly, the blood work was really inconclusive of anything, and that he'd like to bring Harley back in for an X-Ray to see if there was any sort of mass visible.

If you read that post introducing you to the cats, you'd know this is the point where we lost Singer.  The X-ray revealed a huge mass, which before the vets could remove, Singer decided she was done and passed away.  Of course we were worried that we were about to have a replay of this, but we had to do it.  We had to know.

I took Harley back to the office, and while I was waiting for the results, Lee Ann Womack's "I hope you dance" came on the radio in the office.  Why do I point this out?  It was the song that I chose to dance with Mom at our wedding.  So...I'm sitting in the office, waiting for an X-Ray of this cat that has been with us for 10+ years, with a song that reminded me of a happy moment with Mom...yeah, kinda started to cry there in the office.  I did what I could to hide, wondering off, looking at the food they sold, and after a little bit I finally composed myself.  If anyone noticed, they didn't say anything.

Finally, the Doc was ready with the news.  No visible masses on the X-Ray, and that while the Vitamin K shouldn't have worked (it basically was only meant for a clotting disorder for when he ingested some poison), he agreed that in the less than 24 hours since he had last seen Harley, there was a marked improvement in his attitude, energy, and most importantly, no visible blood coming out of his mouth.  So, while he couldn't really explain it, he gave Harley a prescription for more Vitamin K, because "If it works, we might as well roll with it."

So, the plan for now is to have him take that Vitamin K for a few days, and on Wednesday we'll go back to have just the red count tested again.  If there is an improvement, we'll keep on this route, shrug our shoulders, and say that must have been it.  If not, then we have a decision to make on the next step, neither of which is particularly appealing.

Basically, we can either opt to take him for an endoscopy and an ultrasound to see if there is a mass that just isn't showing up on the X-Ray...which won't be cheap, to say the least.  In other words, we either will spend a lot of money to either show nothing or show something we wouldn't like, leading to spend more money to treat something.  All of this for a cat that is 11 and a half years old (or, according to a chart we found in the vet's office, a cat that is bordering on "geriatric").  Or, we could try a medicinal approach, trying a couple of medicines to see if his numbers improve, basically resigned to not knowing for sure what it is.

For what it's worth, today has been another good day.  Again, no blood after he slept on top of me overnight, has been wide-eyed while walking around, and, in general he seems to be getting better.  I honestly think that if this trajectory continues, the blood work on Wednesday will show a cat with a better red cell count, meaning for whatever reason he just had some sort of clotting disorder that got worse over time.  If this is the case, a month of Vitamin K should be all he needs to get over this, and go back to being the ball of cute he's always been.

So, if you all could, please keep a thought in your mind for Harley.  Tomorrow's post will be a little more about the election, but I figure I should put a better explanation out there for those of you wondering what was going on with the kid.

***11/5 update***
Since this writing, not much has changed...his energy seemed to go down a little bit overnight, and we did have an incident where we found some new blood at the end of the day yesterday.  However, he slept fine, and we didn't find any more overnight. 

The worrisome thing is that he didn't seem all that eager to eat today, turning down treats and not exactly lapping up his food.  Kat and I are just going to keep our eyes on him, and hopefully we will know some more Wednesday."


"I posted this on Facebook, but I figured I'd update what's going on since Sunday for those of you who are concerned about our little guy.
Taken a few months ago!  FEED ME!
So, since Sunday things have gotten better.  We had a minor setback where some blood was visible on Sunday night, it had us concerned, but we stayed the course and kept giving him vitamins.  The other thing was that he wasn't eating.  It's not that he didn't want to, he just didn't really take the effort to go.

On Monday night, after another bloodless night, I tried feeding him again, but he wouldn't have any of it.  I suspect that something in his mouth hurt and he just didn't want to each crunchy food.  So, I stopped by Stop and Shop after work and picked up a can of moist food.  I'm not a big fan of the stuff, but if it means he'd eat, I'd sure as Hell try it.

As soon as I got home, I pulled out the can, and Harley tears after me, wide-eyed, meowing like he hasn't before, and as soon as I put some out in a bowl, he sucked it down. would seem that we stumbled on something.

Yesterday was a great step forward with something that you would think would be bad news.  After "feeding" Harley his vitamin, he threw up.  Yes, this was bad news, but the good news was that it was all liquid, no food...and no blood.  So in about four days, he had made a huge turn around and was eating.  That made us actually look forward to the vet today.

The vet again remarked about the fact that he looked amazingly better, and that when he looked inside Harley's mouth, there was no blood coming out.  He stressed that this shouldn't really have worked, because the vitamins were supposed to help with a clotting disorder, usually only given in the case of ingesting rat poison, which I know we didn't put out.  Also, his red count hadn't really gone up since Friday night, so we are still facing questions.

Here's what we DO know, the fact that the bleeding has stopped and he has obviously improved, plus the fact that the X-Ray was clear has taken (most likely) cancer off the table.  Meaning, no tumors, no Ultrasound or endoscopy even needs to be considered.  There are still things that this could be, but they can be treated with medicine, and our doctor (whom I love because this is his approach) has decided to just keep going with this treatment.  Why add steroids or antibiotics if this is working?  So, the plan, as we see it, we will try the vitamins for the next two weeks, and have a follow up to see how the red cell count is doing.  If there is no real change, then we will start adding medicines.  If, however, things look better, we will be officially out of the woods...and maybe talk about doing something with his teeth.

So, thank you all for your thoughts for Harley.  That picture, while taken back in February, is pretty indicative of how he is doing now...and we couldn't be happier." 
Harley's continued to look and act great throughout the day today. So that makes me really happy! 
Not a whole lot has been going on fragrance wise with that. I've been avoiding putting real thought into fragrance. My thought being, if something bad happened...I didn't want to ruin a note or type of perfume for the future. This evening all I'm feeling is vanilla, vanilla, vanilla. I want that comforting that's embrace leaves you covered in its "coo-ing" fragrance. Yes. Vanilla coos. Didn't you know? More soon!
I also should explain all the Country Music. I'm making myself ready for my trip home to TX in less than a week! :)

*Currently Listening: Southern Comfort Zone by Brad Paisley