Violette Précieuse

I’m in awe of this vintage fragrance from the 1910’s (Caron 1913). It has moods. It’s a little like L’Heure Bleue and Mitsouko in that way… For example: I tried Violette Précieuse first over a month ago on a cold snowy/rainy day and it was somber, haunting and green antique violet… Today, with warmer, sunny weather it’s warm, effusive, opulent violet. There are other slightly spicy, delicate florals in the background but sultry, free-spirited, elegant and bright violet dominants the entire course. That’s not to say that the other notes aren’t present, i.e. orange blossom, lily-of-the-valley and vetiver… But airy violet is beyond nostalgic and entrancing… It’s supposedly very hard to find vintage Violette Précieuse these days but I hope to someday have a full bottle. My gosh.

Top notes: violet flowers, iris, violet leaves and orange. Middle notes: jasmine and lily-of-the-valley. Base notes: raspberry and vetiver.

Nose: Ernest Daltroff


Shanghai (Lenthéric 1911 and 1936) is a sweet, beautifully powdery citrus at the opening. But there’s also a spicy, herbal quality. Neroli is glazed. Lavender and rose are very cheerful. And a gentle, amber tinged styrax plays very well with the aldehydes. Intriguingly it’s almost too sweet for a hot summer day but only almost as it’s reminiscent of Aqua Di Parma Colonia and it refuses to be saccharine. 

Top notes: aldehydes, bergamot, cinnamon, clove, and citronella.  Middle notes: carnation, jasmine, Bulgarian rose, geranium, and lavender.   Base notes: frankincense, cedarwood, tonka, vetiver, oak moss, myrrh, benzoin, amber, musk, and sandalwood

Le No 1 


Of course I can’t help but be reminded of Chanel No 5 when I smell Ernest Beaux’s historic Le No 1. for Rallet (Rallet 1913 & 1923) but I am also reminded of Coty L’Aimant and Le Galion Sortilège.  Le No. 1 in the formula  I managed to procure is creamy and peppered with florals drenched in poignant aldehydes.  A smokey, and very vanillic drydown creates an undoubtable warmth.  It’s deep, lovely and perhaps more elegant and complex than most other fragrances reminiscent of Chanel No. 5.

Nose: Ernest Beaux

Lieber Gustav 14


Lieber Gustav 14 (Krigler 1914) starts out smelling like a good gin and tonic, then Shalimar eau de cologne, then there’s a crisp, bold and very vintage lavender (English Lavender) note, and then it settles into a peppery, smooth, manly drydown of woody notes that to my nose are a sweet sandalwood and elegant vetiver.  In the late drydown smoky, vanillic notes that remind me of cedar and patchouli take center stage.  And, all the while, although it’s not listed I keep thinking I detect a fresh, almost seductive citrus hovering in the background (the gin and tonic, and Shalimar…).

Lieber Gustav was worn by Ernest Heminway, Marlene Dietrich in the 1930’s, and Zelda Fitzgerald purchased it for her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald who wore it while he wrote Tender is the Night.   And, while it may not be particularly unique in its individual notes it is very unique in presentation…

Notes: leather, lavender, black tea and woody aromas. 

Narcisse Noir

I have recently had the pleasure of trying both the current eau de toilette and the vintage parfum extrait of Caron, Narcisse Noir (Caron 1911).  And, since I forgot to post on Saturday, here’s a combination review for both.


The eau de toilette opens with a mixture of orange flower and narcissus in sharp but genteel assertion, reminiscent of a tart Earl Grey.  At the heart, fruity jasmine blossoms in tandem with a creamy, translucent rose, while a warm but very soapy background quietly sets the stage.

Narcisse Noir in the current edt is breezy, nostalgic, sweet, moving and tremendously pretty.  In fact, the late 19th Century, early 20th Century ideal of femininity, the Gibson Girl, would certainly have worn this…


Now, vintage extrait…  well…  it’s mesmerizing.  It’s smoky, luscious, sexy and overwhelming beautiful.  A wild, totally untamed but very sweet floral bouquet blossoms alongside a clear and refined, yet audaciously romantic vetyver, musk and sandalwood. And yet, it somehow manages to be clean and almost soapy like the current edt in a way very similar to vintage Estee Lauder Private Collection.  It’s basically an old fashioned, genuine and sensuous romance in olfactory form…

I’m smitten by Narcisse Noir.  It’s probably my second favorite fragrance ever to Chanel No. 22.  Even above Shalimar…  And that’s saying something my dears.

Top notes: African orange flower and narcissus.  Middle notes: jasmine, orange and tincture of rose.  Base notes: vetyver, musk and sandalwood.

So, I haven’t written anything personal for a long time…  Sorry about that.  My life has been crazy.

Our son was diagnosed with something very serious and scary, but he’s being treated and we’re working on getting him well.  He’s such a brave, fun, kind and strong little person.

I’m currently in the process of doing my first compilation/rewrite of the novel I’ve been working on for a over year.  And every time I start writing or rewriting the portion I’m at right now I think about a guy I dated while I was seeing my husband…

Well, there were two guys I dated actually.  One of them was the son of a customer at the coffee shop I worked at and the other was a guy I met while riding on the bus…

The son of the guy at the coffee shop (I’ll call him Steve) was a really nice guy.  He was sweet, caring and sensitive.  He was an artist.  He was kind…  And yet we just didn’t click much at all, although he was still interested in me…  But we just weren’t compatible.

The other guy was smooth,  intelligent, very handsome and very passionate.

Looking back at it…  and this is where I feel like shit…  I often wonder if I missed out on and messed up a good match, if he was just a masterful, manipulative jerk…  or I don’t know what.  It was only a mediocre match and I’m not missing anything much?

He seemed to be really, genuinely interested in me for a while, but then things changed. Now, that could seem like a pretty clear emotional narrative for someone who was just getting something from me and then walking away… but it’s not that simple…

See, I was totally emotionally in chaos because of the crap going on with my husband, then guy I was “seeing” (he was seeing seven other people,  refused to commit to me but wouldn’t let me go, and it’s complicated…  and was extremely painful…  and I’ve discussed it before.).  I wasn’t fully emotionally present on my dates with this guy (I’ll call him Frank).  And I suspect it’s possible that Frank sensed there was someone else I was dating or at the very least sensed my emotional distance.

Oh and, why, you may ask was I dating all these people at the same time?  Well, I’m not proud to say so, but it was because my husband thought it was a good idea to date a lot of people all at once.  Crazy.  I know (again, I discussed this before)…   And after he told me he didn’t care if I saw other guys and thought I should, these two lovely men came along. He now regrets his old philosophy (as I’ve said before) and the impact it had on both of us in different ways, but at the time I was so impressed with him and he was so sure of himself that it all seemed wise and worldly.   And, most importantly, I thought I was just a naive, inexperienced girl so I didn’t trust myself enough to listen to my better judgement. I thought I was very uncool in regard to romance and needed to wise-up and stop being so emotional, idealistic, old-fashioned, romantic and…  tender.  I’d often like to go back and thoroughly shake myself silly for believing that utter bullshit my husband would say.

And…  I really really liked Frank, but I never gave myself a chance to truly open up to him or fully engage in that relationship  even though we were physically involved. I never really let him in…  and I think that it’s possible that that might have hurt him or really pissed him off if he sensed it.   I was one numb, sad, tired and very confused lady.

He totally blew me off eventually and when I tried to see him again he responded in a short, heartless text that we didn’t have any chemistry…  And again, I often wonder if that was his way of being crass, cold and very common or if he genuinely thought that.  And if so, I worry it was because of my gobsmacked, messed-up emotional state.  Sadly, I think we had an enormous amount of chemistry…  and if we did, not being able to fully experience that with him is one of the biggest regrets of my life.  He was great.  Or, at least, I thought he was great…

I even tried to Facebook friend him once out of a bit of curiosity and an enormous sentimental longing to hold on to something that never was but maybe could have been… He never read the message for whatever reason and I eventually left Facebook entirely.

And I suppose, if he was incapable of seeing my heart in the midst of the chaos, or trying hard enough to find me that he likely wasn’t that interested.  And, I know if someone isn’t interested that the stupidest thing to do is to try to convince them otherwise or hold on to them in any way.  At least, that’s true for me.  Often, I think, people aren’t interested not because of a lack or flaw on anyone’s part, but because the people in question are really just not meant to be together.  But I still sadly wonder…

Anyway, I’ve been writing a lot lately and it feels good to have at least some semblance of a book on paper.  And looking back at that very painful and messy time in my life for the purpose of creative writing is actually really healing…

Thanks for reading.



Quelques Fleurs


Quelques Fleurs (Houbignant 1913) is citrusy, with a definite note of orange blossom and as it progresses it floats into a sugary sweet fresh floral with a particularly refined tarragon that adds depth and mystery.  Oakmoss and civet also do not disappoint as they lend sophistication and punch to the very vintage flowers.  In particular heliotrope, orchid, violet orris root, and ylang-ylang are noticeable but really, more than most fragrances, it’s possible to find each and every floral note.  With the base notes of tonka bean, honey, sandalwood and vanilla this scent finishes with a pleasant airy softness.

Top notes: orange blossom, green notes, tarragon, bergamot, lemon and citruses.  Middles notes: carnation, tuberose, orchid, lilac, orris root, jasmine, heliotrope, yang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, rose, violet and iris.  Base notes: sandalwood, tonka bean, amber, musk, civet, oakmoss, honey and vanilla.

Last night I drove around our neighborhood and the surrounding areas and discovered a Whole Foods.  The was strangely comforting… And I saw the Puget Sound from a closer view. I love water…  I love big bodies of water.

And then as I was headed back to where I now live I found myself missing St. Paul again.  I’ve never experienced anything like this before…  I’ve moved about eight or nine times since I was born including college when I moved to the other coast…  I didn’t miss St. Paul, Minnesota, or even the Midwest back then.  I was glad to go.  But this time…  I stayed in St. Paul just long enough and lived in just the right place to let it get to me.

I miss the way the land felt under my feet – nearly level, solid and unchanging but with a gentle, elegantly placed hill here and there.   The trees seemed relaxed, and weathered by age but grand and soul searching.  The air felt dense and heavier but equally mysterious. And all those old brick and stone buildings…  All that history.  I miss it.

I do see the enormous amount of beauty here though.  It’s not that…   Not at all.

Sigh. More later…


Three Flowers

2015-06-26 14.34.42Created by Richard Hudnut  (1855-1928) in 1915, Three Flowers (Richard Hudnut 1915) is a light floral scent.  It’s gentle, a bit sweet, a bit herbal and quite spring-like.  While I can’t fully decipher each note my guess is that there is definitely lilac, rose, and perhaps carnation.  It’s fresh, emphemeral and a bit romantic.  There’s joy in this fragrance…  Nothing heavy. And while it’s deep, it’s not somber.  Too bad it’s no longer made and too bad there’s nothing like it…

Today has been a long day… but the sun is shining and the air is cool and crisp.  I love fall…

I hope you’re having a nice weekend so far dear reader.

Tiara Bouquet

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Tiara by Lenthéric (Lenthéric 1913) starts with a fresh, moving green floral burst and then proceeds to warm into a powdery, floral charm.   It smells a little soapy too.   Tiara is a vintage scent, but it’s not heavy or terribly unaccessible…   The crispness of this fragrance is particularly pleasant, especially in warmer weather.


There is so much going on my life right now, and yet I have many hours of the day to write, ponder and get lost in thought. It’s a strange combination.  I have a very hard time not letting my mind wander away because there’s so much to process, but then I feel guilty for not getting enough done.    I’m sorry I’ve let this blog go…  I sincerely hope to stop doing that.

I’ve realized that when I become overwhelmed or moved by something in life I tend to sink inward and become quiet, serious and a little sedated…   And while I feel creative, the creativity only comes out incremementally until it pours out, and when that happens I often feel much better because in that quiet time I’ve often learned something and in expressing it everything fits together again.

Make sense?  Maybe not.  🙂  But thanks for reading.  How was your week?

April Violets

2015-03-03 09.52.44 (2)April Violets (Yardley 1913) is a bit like Choward’s Violet Mints or Devon Violets in its clear violet note but with a certain green woody tinge it could almost be described as a chypre.  There’s an elegant complexity at first to this slightly sweet retro violet.  It’s very pretty.

But then, with notes of pelargonium, jasmine, vanilla and musk it alters itself from demure to an edgy, Art Nouveau ghost. I found that this fragrance almost became creepy.  It reminded me of exploring an attic in an old Edwardian mansion.  At first, it’s just old and dusty but enjoyable, but then something about all the uncovered boxes and shuffled things changes the feeling of the place and as the sun starts to go down and shadows fill the room everything starts to look sort of menacing.   Vintage Yardley April Violets is like if a Toulouse-Lautrec painting were to actually come to life – colorful and mesmorizing but totally phantasmagoric when brought out of context.   Some fragrances from the past seem “old ladyish” to people but this one is more like a haunted house.  Yet, it’s still quite lovely…

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And speaking of things feeling eerie, I don’t believe in reincarnation, but I totally get the idea.  I mean, things do repeat themselves in our world with an intensity…

Life loops over and over into itself.  That is sort of a theme of existence I think.  The same thing happens over and over again until… we learn?  Or until we let go?  Or what?  We just keep falling down and getting up again as a species.  And on a personal level it’s more tangible, and at times excruciating.

And then there’s those moments, especially when you’re young when it feels like you might escape the ugly rhythm and just be able, if you try hard enough, to move forward.  It seems like you can grasp the best and it will just keep leading somewhere, and then somewhere else and you’ll find yourself where you want to be…

In my life it’s been a mixture.  At times I feel like I’ve conquered obstacles and found my way out of the circle, and other times it seems that I just get stuck in the mess.

And, like I said last time, the ideal is so beautifully ideal.  And by ideal, I mean the things you dream about as kid.  I mean the stuff that strikes you as most beautiful about this world before all of the suffering and the chaos and the nonsense of life gets to you.

As F. Scott Fitzgerald ended The Great Gatsby, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Can my boat please move forward now though?  Ha…  Anyway, I promise to be less cryptic eventually.  I promise.

Until Friday.  🙂


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Mitsouko is intensely romantic.  At first it is a fruity floral chypre with a green quality.  Debuting in 1919 (Guerlain 1919) there is definitely something of the World War I/post World War I pensiveness in Mitsouko.  Images of lovestruck, emotionally wrought young women with their soldier (hopefully returning from war) come easily to mind.  In the late drydown, powdery kisses with spice evoke misty moments of a long lost love.

There are many moments when you wear Mitsouko.  It changes wildly over time, almost as if it is telling a story, and since it was inspired by a romantic heroine from the novel, La bataille by Claude Farrère I suppose that makes sense.

The thing is, as fragrantica says, “Mitsouko is a mysterious fragrance, not allowing everyone to see its beauty.”  And, apparently, Mitsouko has decided not to allow me to see it’s beauty.  Yes, I know, that sounds ridiculous because how could someone who generally loves Guerlain and classic vintage perfumes not see the splendour of such a glorious fragrance with a majestic past.  But, I tell you, while I appreciate it a great deal and I see how it’s charmingly gentle yet fierce with it’s start of cool yet sublime citruses leading the way to the striking drydown of a spicy warm embrace, it doesn’t inspire the same happy awe for me that say, Shalimar or L’Heure Bleue do.  😦  Or even some of the more recent Aqua Allegoria fragrances either really…  I’m not happy about it, but I have to be honest.  Even though I can see that Mitsouko is a brilliant masterpiece I don’t really like it all that much.   Sorry.   I feel like a movie critic who doesn’t like the Godfather…

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This week it’s been a bit “cray cray” as the kids used to say a few years ago…  My son was sick, so sick that the on-call nurse noted that he met the criteria for measles and we had to bring him to the hospital where they put him in a special room.   He didn’t have measles thankfully, but the experience renewed my feelings about vaccinations (I won’t totally hijack my post and discuss that right now, don’t worry).  Now I’m fighting the virus he did have, and so are my mother and husband (my mom took care of our son this week).  And to top off that drama, after my father-in-law texted my husband and me about coming to visit my husband realized that he had signed-up for the wrong actuarial exam.

Now, if any of you know how time consuming and difficult each of those exams are you likely know how totally beyond frustrating it would be to think that you had signed-up for the wrong test and wasted hours and hours and hours of time (and energy and emotion) on something that would have to be postponed for months.  Yup.  My exhausted husband tried not to feel very defeated as he considered the situation (as did I).  But, thankfully the folks at the CAS (Casuality Actuarial Society) were forgiving and allowed my husband to sign-up for the test he actually needed to take (not one he’s already passed and certainly doesn’t have any interest or need to ever take again).  So, it’s all settled.

Anyway, I feel like this week has been about running around in circles screaming a little on each passing.  Circles and circles.  I feel a little worse for the wear…  Sadly, this weekend won’t be a “real” weekend though.  We’ll be busy.  Busy. Busy.  Boo!  A commonly repinned meme on Pinterest comes to mind, “Stop the glorification of busy!”  I agree Pinterest.  I agree!

Until Sunday.  🙂