Ambre Gris


At first it seems Ambre Gris is a heady, if exceptionally well blended scent (Pierre Balmain 2008) but it stealthily and quietly demures into a self-possessed serenity…  The pink pepper is grand and flanked by benzoin, myrrh, luscious florals, and a brilliantly certain but subtle guaiac wood…  It’s sweet, warm, almost salty, earthy and yet very refined.  Ambre Gris is really quite stunning…

Nose: Guillaume Flavigny.

Top notes: pink pepper, benzoin, myrrh, and cinnamon.  Middle notes: tuberose and immortelle.  Base notes: ambergris, white musk, guaiac wood, and benzoin.

Ivoire De Balmain

A gorgeous, green aldehydic opening in Ivoire De Balmain (Balmain 1980) is romantic, passionate and exotic.  Soon afterwards, a spicy floral, raindrop kissed scent emerges that is earthy but refined.  This fragrance is a great example of a paradox – it screams “natural” while hinting at something extremely civilised and urbane.  It’s not a fragrance to be missed…

Top notes: aldehydes, chamomile, asafoetida, mandarin orange, violet, artemisia, marigold, bergamot and lemon.  Middle notes:  nutmeg, carnation, cinnamon, narcissus, pepper, orris root, jasmine, Turkish rose, neroli, ylang-ylang and lily-of-the-valley.  Base notes: sandalwood, tonka bean, amber, patchouli, musk, raspberry, vanilla, oakmoss, vetyver and incense.

(This is a vintage sample)



Miss Balmain

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Vintage Miss Balmain by Balmain (Balmain 1967) opens with a smoky shock of green aldehydes.  Then it drifts into a fizzy semi sweet bouquet of flowers.  It’s very fresh, powdery, green, floral, bright and glamorous in an Audrey Hepburn wearing late 60’s Paco Rabanne sort of way.  It bounces off of the skin and glitters a bit.

Miss Balmain was aptly named.  This is a youthful fragrance, regardless of how late 60’s it is.  It’s edgy.  It’s fun.  And it’s very pretty…

Top notes:  aldehydes, coriander, gardenia, lemon and green notes.  Mddle notes: carnation, narcissus, orris root, jasmine, rose and lily-of-the-valley.  Base notes: leather, amber, patchouli, coconut, oakmoss, vetiver and tonka bean.

I’ve been listening to Passion Pit a lot lately.  Their most recent album has been growing on me – Passion Pit isn’t quick consumption music.  Every time I listen to it it gets stuck in my head, simmers and then I come back and want to hear it again.  So I decided to read a bit about the band, and in the process of that I ran across a lot of articles about the lead singer, Michael Angelakos.  His openess about his battle with being bi-polar is horribly moving.  I’m glad he decided to let people see that side of him.  I think it can be very humane for celebrities to be real about their pain.  Some people won’t understand but other people will see a deep truth and be comforted by it.  I’m sure he and his wife have taken a tour of hell and come back many times.   It seems like beautiful people are often cut on the jagged edges of this life.  And as corny as it sounds, I hope they’ll both be ok….

I’ve also been listening to Coldplay from the early 2000’s.  It reminds me of when I went to a music store in a mall in 2002, and bought their second album, “A Rush of Blood to the Head.”  The young man working behind the counter who was around my age (I was still a teenager) spoke so excitedly about Coldplay, “I think what really turned me on to Coldplay was when I saw their music video for Yellow.”   His eyes lit up.  I could hardly wait to get home, open up my new cd and listen.

That music store doesn’t exist anymore and I’m sure he’s in his 30’s…  Life moves so fast.

Have a nice rest of your Friday.  🙂

(While I actually prefer the rain…  I love this song.  🙂  )


To my surprise and my delight
I saw a sunrise, I saw sunlight
I am nothing in the dark
And the clouds burst to show daylight

Ooh, and the sun will shine
Yea, on this heart of mine
Ooh, and I realize
Who cannot live without
Ooh, come apart without daylight

On a hill top, on the sky-rise
Like a first born child
On a full day and a full flight
Defeat darkness breaking daylight

Ooh, and the sun will shine
Yea, on this heart of mine
Ooh, and I realize
Who cannot live without
Ooh, come apart without daylight

Slowly breaking through the daylight
Slowly breaking through the daylight
Slowly breaking through the daylight

Vent Vert

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Vent Vert by Pierre Balmain (Pierre Balmain 1947) is a luxuriously crisp, bright, green masterpiece.  This is a classic, 1940’s floral with spices, citrus, and fruit notes.  It breezes on the skin with a light, but far short of cloying, sweetness.  It’s effervescent and stunning.

The florals (jasmine, freesia, orange blossom, neroli, violet, hiacynth, marigold, rose, ylang ylang and lily-of-the-valley) are powerful.  Matter of fact, outside of 1980’s loud florals, I don’t think I’ve ever smelled a fragrance with such a dominating bouquet of blooms at first.  But, that’s the beauty of Vent Vert – it is far from overpowering even in its vastness.

In the drydown when it becomes more green, fruity, and citrusy it transforms into a particularly feminine emphemeral beauty.  It is truly an iconic, “must smell” scent.


When I was a little girl I used to dream of being fluent in every language.  And ironically, of course, at that age it would have been easier to learn other languages than it is now.  There is so darn much that I will never know.  And I HATE that.  I love knowing things.

Knowledge often is a very redeeming asset, in my opinion.  It helps you make wise decisions and can often put an illuminating perspective on pain…  And in the void of understanding, pain can have a dull, haunting quality…  Be it relational, or physical, being able to see what something is, or was or whatever, is often very helpful.  But sometimes we’ll just never truly know.  At least, not in this life.

There are occasions though when I’ve been so desperate for answers that I’ve gone so far as to take an “artistic liscense” with the truth to get information out of people (especially when you suspect that they’re afraid of hurting you by telling you things they don’t think you want to hear)…   For example, my first true love was a young man who died before we had any chance to pursue a life together or even declare our feelings for each other, although, (rather dramatically) I discovered his feelings after his death (we’ll call him Nick).   He had the most fantastic blue eyes, (so does my husband – I love blue eyes).   And, once, to get a guy I had been unofficially “dating” (we never went on any dates or actually defined our relationship) to confess to me that he didn’t love me as deeply as he potentially could love someone else, I stretched the truth about Nick.  While at different times in my life, I’ve felt like my heart belonged to Nick and I still loved him deeply (even though he was dead), I made it sound like he was still a physical presence (even though in my heart, soul and mind he was still a very real presence).   And since we had never discussed the existence of Nick as he actually was (dead), it seemed to “work,”  (or perhaps this gentleman was starting to deeply dislike me for reasons he never told me and had nothing to lose) but of course, no matter how litterally true something is, intent counts as much as the actual words used. I was, in fact, being dishonest regardless of how confused I was or how much I wanted him to just let me go if he couldn’t truly love me.  Lies are lies…

But, far and away, the most confusing time in my life was when my husband and I were first together. There were a lot of profoundly troubling moments of deep pain (as sometimes happens in romantic relationships).  It felt a bit like drowning at times…  But then, slowly, over time, things started to become clearer and we both started gaining perspective.  Sometimes there were hard, painful truths to face, and I can’t say I was always happy with what I realized, but I was extremely glad to be out of the woods.

Florence and the Machine’s, “The Dog Days” was popular when things started making sense (for better and worse) and I remember hearing that song and totally identifying with the sense of relief she expressed. I suppose though, that we were incredibly fortunate, because, for whatever blessed reason, we managed to always be able to be friends no matter how much pain was there.  We still are…  like I wrote yesterday.  I think that the joy I heard in “The Dog Days” was as much about finding that as anything else.  Everyone needs someone they can trust.

See I told you I would eventually be more specific.

Thanks for reading…  Hopefully there was something you can relate to.

Until tomorrow.

Jolie Madame

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I’ve decided to post on Mondays now.  I realized that I want to post more, and Mondays just seem like the best day to do so.  So, now I’ll be posting Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday – Sunday will be my “weekend” post.

I tried a bottle of vintage Pierre Balmain, Jolie Madame and it’s an instant favorite. Related or not, it’s also the sexiest scent I’ve ever smelled…  Of course a lot of perfumes are labeled “sexy” but, in my opinion, this one is the most sincerely magnetic.  The thing is, it’s not obvious or cloying and it doesn’t dull your senses or insult your intelligence.  Jolie Madame is stunning, smart, breezy but warm, earthy, and more than anything passionate.

Launched in 1953 by Pierre Balmain it’s top notes are artemesia, coriander, gardenia, neroli, bergamot, petitgrain and cloves; middle notes are tuberose, narcissus, orris root, jasmine, rose, orange blossom, violet leaf, and lilac; base notes are leather, patchouli, musk, coconut, civet, oakmoss, vetiver, cedar and tobacco. I think the notes that emerged most to my nose were leather, vetiver, oakmoss, narcissus, tobacco and violet.*

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*found on

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My husband has been suggesting that we try either an estate sale, or a gallery that sells items from estate sales to find vintage perfume.  For some reason I didn’t think we would find much that way, but I was thankfully very wrong. He picked a promising local gallery and we found a bottle of Nina Ricci, L’Air du Temps edt, almost full, in perfect condition, from the 1960’s for a shockingly low price.  It was fantastic.  I will never buy from eBay again, unless I’m truly desperate…

Anyway, we also bought a bottle of Everclear and I added it drop by drop to a bottle of  gooey vintage Miss Dior, the Hové samplers, and a bottle of Evyan, Most Precious with delightful results.  I also created my own fragrances with Everclear using essential oils of Rose Otto, Lavender, Ylang-Ylang and Patchouli.  Needless to say, I had fun.  🙂

During all that enjoyment I wore two vintage campaign buttons I picked out from the pile pictured below:

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I bought these buttons at an antique store somewhere in Wisconsin years ago on my way to a wedding.  It was a long drive and my mother, my cousin and I stopped at an antique store to stretch our legs.  At the time I was a politics major (my college’s version of a political science major) and was very passionate about politics in general.  I still am somewhat, but not as much as I was then. In any case, I love these buttons…  I love thinking about who wore them and what their lives were like – the tension, anxiety and excitement of the campaigns.  It’s all so wonderfully fascinating.

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Ray Short and George got my endorsement.  If I can’t find a candidate I like for any given election this Tuesday I’m going to write-in Mr. Short or George.  Seriously.

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At the gallery…


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“History of the Civilisation of Scotland”

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And there’s my bottle – hiding…

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$7.50 a bottle!

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tan Marc Joseph driver shoes, Express jeans, Hayden gray wool turtleneck sweater, light brown vintage 1940’s/50’s wool jacket, Kate Spade black diaper bag, and vintage campaign buttons

Despite my less than serious buttons I was thinking today about the actual elections a fair amount.  In our home state there’s a man running for governor, an incumbent, who I met when I was in high school – he gave a political group I was in a lecture for some reason I can’t remember.  Anyway, I remember being in the party opposed to his at that time, and one of my friends, (who shared my political beliefs) peppered him with question after question post lecture.  They actually got into such a vivid discussion that she had to walk with him as he headed to his car in our parking-lot…

I remember my friends all poking fun at him quietly from a distance as he stammered slightly in response to her verbal attack.  She was quick, witty and full of the sort of confidence and energy that one has when you’re young enough to be a little too sure of things, but old enough to speak with an adult-like coherence.  At the time, I thought any man who could be so overwhelmed by a teenage girl’s meanderings shouldn’t be a senator, governor or anything of the sort.  He seemed sweet, fatherly, smart and even humble but definitely not glib…

Looking back at that conversation now, I realize that what I was seeing was an older adult who was trying to take time to have a real, thoughtful and very complex conversation with a difficult teenage/young adult voter.  I see a man who was sincere and likely “in it for all the right reasons.”   He wasn’t glamorous or charming like other politicians we so often idealize in our culture, but he had ideas that made sense.  I think our state has benefited from his term as governor.  I’m sure we will in his next term too, and I hope that on Tuesday politicians like him win, regardless of party, by a landslide (however unlikely that is, sadly).  We need more stammering, kindly, wise adults in office – the sort that listen to teenagers and don’t offer just the mindless, but attractive responses….

Until Wednesday.