It’s giving Tuesday, and uncharacteristically, I have a giveaway!
Before I get to the stuff to give to you, let me share some other ideas for giving. I read that perfume is the #4 most common holiday gift, and if you look at the blogrolls on this site you’ll find a ton of gift-giving ideas; I’ve noticed already a fun gift-giving guide from The Scented Hound and there are always epic gift guide posts from Now Smell This (containing the latest in scented gift options!) and EauMG (who does these epic themed lists, like this one for hipsters. Why you’d be buying presents for hipsters, I don’t know. But if you did.)
But I know that “Never give perfume” is still one of the most popular posts ever here at the Unseen Censer, and I agree with Suze Orman that most gifts are things people don’t want, and candles or shower gel may well be at the top of that list. I say this, with a straight face, as someone who has already wrapped up, this year, for half her gift list, scented shower gels or candles. Or both. I know.
If you know your giftee is going to love it, do it. Especially if it will be a small personal gift, and for something larger, you can give them something more meaningful.
My two favorite gifts that keep on giving:
I’ve raved about Kiva.org before. It lets you give small loans, typically $25, to small business entrepreneurs all over the world. I love it for a lot of reasons. Microfinance works. Paradoxically, it helps lift groups and regions out of poverty more effectively than large chunks of national aid (though those are needed too). Amartya Sen, Nobel-prize-winning economist, has written a great deal about ethics and economics. I recommend him too! Kiva.org lets you choose people to give gifts to easily, and you can easily give a Kiva.org gift card electronically.
Not everyone “gets” Kiva. What you’re giving is the chance for the giftee to loan to someone else! Most people who give a microfinance loan through Kiva never give it again. They don’t get how it’s designed to work! When your entrepreneur pays the loan back – and they most likely will – you loan it AGAIN. You can always add more money to your account, and keep on loaning. It’s investment in small business, not gifts.
Some people I know object to the fees Kiva sometimes takes, or the very high interest rates charged by the banks on the ground to the small businesses. Well, Kiva needs some operating funds to work (you can also donate just to Kiva.org – that’s a donation, not a loan); and the banks on the ground who actually disburse the funds Kiva gives charge those interest rates based on the market value of the loan and the repayment rate in the area. Again, most small businesses do pay the loans back, and quickly; and based on their reports, the loans do seem to have a positive effect on their businesses. And this is a way for people who are interested in making a difference to do microfinance easily on their own without, say, owning their own bank. Personally, I think it gets a lot of bang for the buck, and I love it. (It’s nerdfighter approved!) It’s also a great tool for young people to learn about investing – you invest in businesses to help them grow, not to get rich. (Though in real investing you should see a return on your investment, and with Kiva.org, you won’t.)
It’s fun to help a taxi driver in Mongolia, or a seamstress in Nairobi. But what if you want something closer to home?
Many of you know how important I believe food is. FeedingAmerica.org is the United States’ largest cooperative food bank and food distribution network. A donation to them gets a lot of bang for the buck, because they always are arranging partners who will match or expand on your donation. Today, for instance, your $1 equals nine (9) meals.
Why does this matter? Because one in five households with children in the U.S. – the United States, the richest country in the world – are “food insecure”. That means they don’t know if they’re going to have enough food to eat three meals a day. If that doesn’t impact you, it impacts me, especially in a year when Congress has cut funding for food for those same people. As a kid, I ate some meals bought with food stamps (now called SNAP, I suppose to hide the fact that legislators are cutting food stamps, which hurts kids and veterans and everyone in the poorest 20% of households), and I can imagine what it must feel like not to know what you’re going to feed your kid because you don’t have anything to feed them. FeedingAmerica.org is the simplest, quickest way to donate and have the most impact in that area, and you don’t even have to volunteer at a food bank.
Brilliant! Don’t you wish it were always this easy to be this brilliant?
To celebrate the easy acquisition of brilliance, and Giving Tuesday, I am giving away a full set of Sweet Scientist Squees from ZOMG Smells. Yes!
The Sweet Scientists are a line of scents celebrating genius scientists from all over the world. This is the line that brought you scents based on the Oort Cloud and the Hadron large collider – so this is as nerdy as it gets!
ZOMG calls their 1-ml samples “squees”, and I have a full set of Sweet Scientist Squees to give away! These include the following:
- Al-Astrolabiya: cumin, salt-cured lime rind, benzoin resin, red cedar, and sandalwood.
- Alice Ball: sweet lemon curd topping on warm vanilla pudding, with resinous amber.
- Copernicus: gingerbread! allspice-cinnamon-clove, ginger, vanilla, cognac, molasses and cake.
- Isabella Cortese: amber, copal and fresh pine sap with kindly hemp.
- Lilavati: mango, lime, ginger, a touch of hot pepper, and lightly fragrant wood.
- Tapputi: ambergris, tamarind, frankincense, red currant and white grapefruit.
- Wang Zhenyi: milk chocolate, smoked bark, lychee, palmarosa.
Just reading the different histories of these scientists and their contributions is fun!
I haven’t tried all of these, but I’m going to, because I also got a squee set of these for myself! I’ve been really enjoying my “full bottle” purchase from the same shipment (can you call a wee 5 ml bottle of oil a “full bottle”?), called “Dr. Zomg’s Patent All-Weather Scurvy-B-Gone”. It no longer seems to be available among Dr. Zomg’s patent cures (some of them based on real old-timey recipes for tonics), which is a shame, because I want to brag on it. How much can I brag on it when it’s not available anymore? Here I’ve been spending days trying to figure out how to describe it, and lighting on “It feels like being in the room with citrus fruit, without technically really smelling it.” And “If you want something fresh, but don’t like galbanum – or if you do – try All-Weather Scurvy-B-Gone – it’s green, but only shyly, almost secretly.” When I put this thing on, it just makes me smile.
Sometimes I need to reach for something that doesn’t smell like a commercially produced perfume, but isn’t too “hippie mixed in a headshop” either. The formulations from ZOMG are unique and sophisticated. Everyone has their favorite pocket niche producer; ZOMG is probably mine. They take forever to mail your package (somehow, it always “coincidentally” gets sent right after I email them and ask what’s up with my shipment?), but you won’t smell anything else like these anywhere else. And they’re creative, and interesting, and yes, serious perfume. Take a look at those notes – these are not all über-sweet, or childish, or amateurish. ZOMG Smells has been around for years and I think they are getting even better.
My other favorite from ZOMG Smells is Coronal Mass Ejection, which is also a delightful pick-me-up in the winter and features one of my favorite descriptions of perfume of all time: “Pink grapefruit, Tunguska pine, two ambers and the distilled fear of everyone working in telecommunications…by which we mean tolu balsam.”
If you just want to support a small business this Giving Tuesday, you could do worse than supporting ZOMG Smells!
So now the giveaway. You know the drill – leave a comment, and I’ll do a random draw. I’m leaving comments open till Thursday at midnight , Dec. 5. That’s enough time, right?
Unlike many giveaways I feel no need to dictate the content of the comment. However, if you leave a comment, you are consenting that I use the info in the content (either the email attached to your gravatar, or you leave an email in the message) to contact you to arrange mailing.
Yes, I will do international mailing, though not to the U.K. because they won’t let me. Sorry!
YAY! A giveaway! Happy Giving Tuesday!
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Top image is “Gift“, from asenat29, via Flickr.com. Used under Creative Commons License; some rights reserved. Second image is promo image swiped from from ZOMG Smells at zomgsmellsshop.com.
Next to storage porn, there’s nothing that interests me more about other people’s perfume habits than picking something to wear. I love seeing other people’s Scent of the Day on Twitter or Facebook partly just because it gives me ideas about what to wear when, their associations with it or reasons for picking it, the occasion for which they pulled out the special bottle.
I find myself thinking mostly in categories, and true to memory theory, I can only remember a certain number of things per category that I might want to wear. (And in fact, I can usually only think of a certain number of categories.) This is part of the reason phone numbers are no longer than about ten digits no matter where you are in the world – that’s about the most you can remember. Maybe, in a stretch, plus a three digit country code.
Here are the families, and the perfumes, that just spring to my mind this morning when I’m thinking about picking a SOTD. As you’ll see, I tend to trail off after about three options in any one category.
Roses (I’ve been on a rose kick lately) – Lyric, AG Rose Splendide, Ava Luxe Roses
Patchouli (ditto the patchouli) – Loree Rodkin Gothic II, Psychédélique, Jalaine Patchouli
But then my brain goes farther afield…
Lily – Diorissimo, Donna Karan Gold, Lys Fumé (I’ve been thinking about lily lately but not wearing it. Isn’t that odd?)
Coffee – because I found my bottle of Eau du Navigateur recently, I don’t usually wear this, but I could also pull out the excellent La Via del Profumo Milano Caffé, or get nuts and pull out an oldy but goody like Café Noir (and then I get confused between DSH’s and Ava Luxe’s) or Hilde Soliani’s terrific Bell’Antonio, one of my all-time favorites.
And then I think kind of randomly of things I’ve been meaning to sample – Piquet’s new Rose Perfection; Micallef Red 1 and 2 (still on the rose kick).
And then I think of things I’ve tucked here and there around the house because either I’ve BEEN enjoying wearing them, or I just got them and haven’t worn them yet. Amouage Fate, Loree Rodkin V, SoOud Nur.
And then I think about the favorites that just sit out where I can fall back on them at any time, because they never fail me and I love them. Angel Touch of Leather, Boadicea the Victorious Divine, Psychédélique (and here we have come full circle).
Then I have to decide what is going to determine what I wear today.
Am I going to continue the recent trend (roses) or is it time for a change?
Often at this stage if I’m wandering about, my eye may just light on something. I keep bottles on my bureau that I like and want to wear more often; that Andrea Maack Smart has been calling to me lately — and sometimes I just pick one up and put it on.
Sometimes though I go through all the considerations above and then something will occur to me because of a random thought or something I read on one of the perfume boards. I have some vintage Hypnotic Poison that I haven’t tested yet, I’ll think because someone says something about Poison or Hypnotic Poison, and I’ll decide to wear that (even the night before). I’ll remember that I haven’t tried the Benjoin 19 yet and I’ve been meaning to try it for the Le Labo piece I’ve been meaning to write. I’ll remember I have a rotten day coming up and that I’ll need something soothing that always makes me happy, like Piguet Notes, or Amouage Opus I, or even a very old friend like Montale Vanille Extasy. I’ll remember I’m going to see someone, like my brother, who compliments when I wear Organza Indecence. I’ll remember I need something gentle because I have a lot of meetings in close quarters, so I’ll go back to something I know will work but also be light-handed, like Divine or Geir Ness’ Laila. Or I’ll remember that all needs can be met by a VERY old friend and dig out something that’s so familiar that I seldom wear it any more, but that I know will make me happy, never go wrong, never offend, and have many pleasant associations with it, like my beloved Beth Terry Creative Universe Element of Surprise.
Then I’ll think of an offshoot of that – well, if I’m going to wear tea, why not Bulgari Black or Eau Parfumée au Thé Blanc?
And then sometimes I’m off again.
This is not full brainpower, you understand. This is almost like a subroutine running in the background. What I pick to wear might well be a function of when I hit the subroutine. If any one of these perfumes is what’s occurring to me while I’m going past the Most Perfume Is Stored Here place, I’ll pull it out and wear it. Sometimes I’ll open a drawer or look on a shelf for something specific and get distracted by something else, pull it out and wear it. (This is the activity that most often leads to the biggest dissatisfaction, because it isn’t a scent I’ve been thinking of wearing or that fits the day, or it’s something I don’t always enjoy, which is why it wasn’t in my brain rotation, and it’s the wrong day for it *cough*Beloved*cough*.)
And after all that – because, Dear Reader, that’s just this morning – I’ll probably get up and put on Bois du Chocolat, because it’s one of my favorites and it’s in my mind because I saw somewhere online that DSH is bringing it back for the holiday this year, and that makes me happy, because I know there are people out there like me who love it and were sad that it was gone. So all that thought is attached to it in my head, and it’s the reverse of weighing it down – the more thoughts attached to it, the more it will float to the top and get worn. (Though I might remember that Jardin Clos, another one of my favorites, is stored with the Bois du Chocolat, and if I feel like the Bois du Chocolat is too heavy for this stormy grey day I may ending up wearing that always-makes-me-happy floral instead.)
Sometimes, to refresh what all’s in my head, I have to paw through the drawers and storage or through my inventory spreadsheet just to remind myself of what I own. The spreadsheet is to prevent me from duplicate buying (“I’ve been meaning to get that for a while. Did I do it already??”), but also serves to remind me of what I own but haven’t worn lately.
There, in years of writing about my perfume habits that’s probably the best description of my process of picking out a scent of the day I’ve managed.
Feel free to comment and tell me I’m crazy or explain how YOU pick a SOTD!
Stay dry and warm and if you are United Statesian, enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!
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Image is “hard to choose” by schietparkiet, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license; some rights reserved.
Dita von Teese promo image for original Dita von Teese Eau de Parfum
Due to an alert Facebook aficionado, I found out that HSN now sells all the Dita von Teese perfumes in the U.S. And so now I have them!
Here’s a first report, for those of you who’ve been hearing about DvT’s surprisingly good-though-inexpensive perfumes and wondering if you should bite the bullet and try them. (HSN.com offers a gift set of the three 20 ml bottles for $57 right now.)
There really is a lot here for perfume lovers to love. The original Dita von Teese is a wonderfully rich wood/floral cocktail that has a small touch of what I call Laundry Musk in the base (this is usually what I fear most in inexpensive perfumes) but uses it wisely to make something wearable that otherwise might be too heavy. The floral notes aren’t made of finest Grasse jasmine, but instead they are really expertly blended. There’s nothing jabby or unpleasant about this formula, but it isn’t nondescript and boring either. It’s proof positive that perfumes like L’Extase are boring because they want to be boring. You can do a beautiful inexpensive wearable perfume; here, Dita von Teese (in conjunction with the company Luxess) has done it.
The 20 ml bottle is a great size, and the jewel shape is surprisingly comfortable in the hand and actually quite pretty. Instead of futzing with a cap (almost always the weakest part of a perfume bottle presentation), DvT has taken the Montale route of shutting off the mechanism by sliding a small metal sleeve around its neck, keeping the spray top from depressing. The lovely tassel is attached to this little metal collar, encouraging you not to lose it!
Dita von Teese Rouge
There is a flat side to the bottle, so it won’t roll on your bureau – something else I feared before I got to see the bottle in person. All in all, this is well-thought out packaging: black for the original Dita von Teese, red for Rouge, and purple (sparkly purple!) for Fleur.
I’m really wondering why the non-standard sizes – the smaller 20-ml jewel bottle, or the taller sizes in 50 or, oddly, 75 ml. There must be a reason. I’m delighted that the company offered the 20 ml size; for any real perfume lover, it’s so great to get juice in a smaller, affordable size; the 20 ml lets the bottle be even less expensive than a 30 ml/1 oz bottle would be, just by holding less (like the way half gallons of ice cream are now 1.75 quarts – but in a good way). They are, I think, sturdy enough for purse bottles, if you’re so inclined.
Of the three Rouge is the least to my taste, and that’s only at first sniff; after the perfume sets up it’s pleasant enough, but it just doesn’t call to me; it’s heavy and sweet and while it wants to grow up to be Shalimar it has nothing as distinctive as bergamot in it, it’s more of a melange and less well blended than the other two right out of the bottle. Rouge also has a red velvet bow tie instead of a tassel! It’s adorable and I will undoubtedly try it on skin. But probably last.
Dita von Teese itself is the one I would wear most. This is a flat-out beautiful, wearable perfume, in the category of White Diamonds (which I’ve also written about before, and which I love). It is somehow a little sexier – appropriate from Dita von Teese the brand, but I’m not sure exactly what makes it sexier. It might be the tiiiiiiiniest touch of indole in the floral note, a little bit of body – not skin, body – that fills out the bouquet and keeps it from being too clean. I like it very much.
(Maybe toes. Clean toes. Or the back of the knee? Hey, you picture your body kink, I’ll picture mine.)
Dita von Teese Fleur
The original is an EdP, as is Rouge. I’m not sure why they’re EdPs and Fleur gets to be an Eau de Toilette – they’re all pretty strong, as less expensive scents tend to be, and I’m sure they’ll wear like iron – unless it’s just that the company wants to give the “fresher, lighter” connotation to Fleur so as not to scare anyone who might actually be frightened of Dita von Teese the original, or Rouge.
24 hours later, on paper, these perfumes leave their core essences: Fleur is powdery with a light floral touch, Rouge is a slightly woody sweetness, and the original, Dita von Teese itself, still retains the most of its original character – that body-touched bouquet. On my skin Dita von Teese is rounder, less sweet, with a touch more obvious musk and slightly fatter, less ethereal flowers. The tropical edge (the note they report is “tiare” but goodness knows whatever molecule it might be) reminds you that it’s not meant to be No. 5; it’s more sultry. But the jasmine and rose heart is there.
Fleur would undoubtedly be my second choice – I love florals and I’m a sucker for a summer white bouquet. Fleur hits a great balance for me between things that are too light and tween-ish, like the Toccas, and something that’s really too heavy for summer, like Rubj or Chanel No. 5. In fact probably the thing that Dita von Teese the original could be most closely compared to is Chanel No. 5 (that aspect of a warm body somewhere in among the flowers that made the original Numero Cinq so shocking), so it’s appropriate that Fleur is the version where we just got the bouquet, maybe not the happy ending.
I can see Fleur being too Tampax Fresh Accord for some people, though – it is cleaner and lighter. But for younger girls it might be a lovely choice that keeps them off the Britney Spears juice for a while longer. Fleur is a great starter scent in the line for them. I’d admire the teenager who can pull off Dita von Teese the original. I’m in my forties and I’m not sure I can carry it off. It’s unabashedly feminine and sexy, just like all the other websites say.
I’m sure gonna try, though.
Images all swiped from promo sites. No editorial creativity here, sorry.
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One of the gifts in the goody bag at Sniffapalooza’s Fall Ball last year was a lovely mini of Nest’s new fine perfume line. The packaging for these was so gorgeous that one could well covet a bottle even if one didn’t like the juice – and the juice is lovely too. (Ca Fleure Bon . . . → Read More: Why you need friends: NEST body products and perfume
Adorable wee sample bottles.
I’ve been so digging my perfume sample box from Profumo.it, I had to squee about it with you all. What what brand, I hear you say? Well, exactly.
One of the reasons we don’t talk more about Profumo perfumes is that it’s not particularly well branded. The company actually appears to . . . → Read More: Samples. Italy’s doing it right, akshully.
Ruth Chatterton in “Female”.
I love movies from before the Hays Code. They make you realize how insane the fifties really were. Women in these movies aren’t so different from women of today: they have unsuccessful love affairs, they have careers, they make mistakes, and they have sex lives. Bravo.
My beloved will usually watch . . . → Read More: Do you watch pre-code movies too?
Actually I am an eternal optimist. For instance, I keep ordering samples along with my order from Sephora even though they consistently send me whatever random stuff they have next to the door, not what I ask for.
Why am I optimistic? Because sometimes it works out. In this latest order, for instance, Sephora sent . . . → Read More: Cranky Censer is cranky; boring perfume causes it.
I believe people love what they don’t grow up around. Or maybe it’s just that they love what they lost. I was a big beach child when very small, and then we moved away from the beach and I’ve been trying to get back to it ever since. Where I live now I’m 20 minutes . . . → Read More: My beach is better than yours
You know why I’m including this photo of the ladybug on these tarragon leaves? Because that’s as feminine as this juice will get.
The perspicacious Undina asked in my review of yard sale perfumes what was in the third bottle – Voilá! The third bottle was an intriguing little number called Gigember Estragone by Dr. . . . → Read More: I said HERB!