Saturday Question: What Are You Reading?

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Portia

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Hello Fellow Fumies,

Every Saturday we have a Question, an idea purloined from Olfactoria’s Travels. Everyone gets to chime in with an answer, chat with other responders and it is a fun event each week. Taking sides never means taking offence and everyone keeps it respectful and light, even though we can sometimes trawl the depths.

The idea is you’ll see it on the weekend or chime in through the week. Hopefully you will come back and see if anyone has responded to your comment and you can reply to them.

Saturday Question: What Are You Reading?

Maybe I’ve bragged about this before but I’ll do it again. When Jin bought me a kindle he also linked it to his credit card. Effectively he has bought me a never ending supply of reading material. It is an incredible gift.

Interestingly though, because I know Jin is paying I am far less likely to indiscriminately buy books than I would be if it were my own money. I know how hard he has to work for every single dollar earned and I feel very naughty when I’m profligate with his money.

My Answer:

Book Depository

The Kindle is currently on The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood. Everyone is talking about the TV series and I wanted to read the book before I watched it. In my head I thought it would take me a couple of nights to read but I’m finding it a hard slog, extremely slow and it hasn’t yet resonated on any level with me. I find myself choosing other entertainments instead. So instead of a couple of nights we are now into week three.

Book Depository

Tara from A Bottled Rose sent me a paperback of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. It’s the next on my list to delve into. Looks fabulous.

My Saturday Question to you is:

What Are You Reading?

 

 

Bitching, Blind Buying A Bottle, Three Books

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Val the Cookie Queen

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Midsummer Greeting APJ

Coming to you from the lake.

Bitching, Blind Buying A Bottle, Three Books

The Bitching

I have come across three similar posts over the last fortnight on various Facebook perfume groups going something like this: “I ordered a sample pack of 20 new frags – and none of them smelled good. What is wrong with my nose?” And yesterday on Twitter: “Something weird is going on. I´ve tested several perfumes in a row that smell like “dryer sheet” scent variations on my skin. I´m worried ….” Dearhearts it is not your nose, nor your skin, nor the weather, there is a lot of really crappy perfumes around. Lazy top notes over ISO – have- no- idea middle notes, on a bed of base note chemicals, cheap vetiver and worst of all straight up frankincense. Eau de Niché and I hate it. And it´s not just niché …… Is it possible that folks try and convince their noses that what they are sniffing is good and that they just don´t understand it? Or are they rubbish? Hmmmmm? Now don´t get huffy, it´s only my opinion – I say it´s them, not you.

A Blind Buy

I can´t say I broke my rule of no blind buys because I never made one. When I saw the Guerlain Black Perfecto by La Petite Robe Noire bottle, I had to have it. I ordered the small one. Simple as that. I have not tried any of the other nine LPRNs, no interest whatsoever. Monsieur Guerlain wrote very favourably about the Black Perfecto perfume so I hoped I might like the contents of the bottle too. Black tea, black cherry, black liquorice, a touch of almond, slightly smoky, and not the sweet bomb I expected. Dead chuffed, it´s really nice. Reckon it´ll be great in cold weather. And yes, it is worth having for the bottle alone.

Three Books

We are having a heatwave here which means I spend time at the lake and read more.

Book Depository

You might wanna be careful with Donald Ray Pollock´s Knockemstiff though, if you have trouble with dry dark humour, kids raised on abuse, alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. Eat your heart out Deliverance. This is Knockemstiff, Ohio. Dr Fox, my ever-loving therapist told me to read it.

Book Depository

I had Donna Tartt´s The Secret History around for about three years and not picked it up. How was I to know it would turn out to be one of the best books I have ever read?

Book Depository

Just started Burnet´s His Bloody Project, set in the Scottish Highlands, 1869. Murder and violence. Recommended by Lady Jane Grey. I´m just off to the pool to read some more.

SOTD is Malle´s Eau de Magnolia.

If you have any bitching to do, blind buys to share, or indeed a book I should read, drop me a comment.

Sweltering Bussis
CQ

APJ Crew: What We Loved In 2016

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Post by APJ Crew

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Hi APJ,

The end of the year hurtles towards us faster than I was ready for. A year filled with fun and adventure, a year fraught with political upheaval, a year of fragrance, travel, friends and families. For many 2016 has been the year of war, displacement, challenge, heartache and despair. Most of us have had a year of good and bad, a year of work, home and regular life with its ups and downs, drama and spots of magic that make it all worthwhile.

Here’s what the crew at APJ loved the most in 2016. Not all of it fragrant. I hope you enjoy a little look into what we rated high. The order is the order the pieces came into my inbox.

APJ Crew: What We Loved In 2016

skinceuticals-retinol-1-0-1-oz

Claire Vukčević

Honestly? Apart from perfume, the biggest discovery in 2016 was how brilliant Tretinoin is. Northing I’ve ever used before has had such an effect on my skin – small wrinkles minimized, pores reduced, overall skin texture improved. I love the stuff. I can’t find a doctor to prescribe it to me here, so I will have to source it out on the Internet – always a crapshoot, no? But still, it’s great and I will take the chance. For 2017, I am also excited about exploring a more extensive, Korean-style skincare regime. Next year will be all about getting that chok chok, or Korean glow. We’ll see. I just turned 40 and I think that Irish skin might have a finite stock of chok chok and that perhaps I used mine all up in 1997. Call me in 2018 to see how that works out for me.

Galop d`Hermes Hermes Fragrantica1

Sandra
Hey APJ! Wishing ya’ll a very happy and safe holiday season and hoping that 2016 was a good year. 2016 has been tumultuous for me but we survived and we are currently setting up our house in Rotterdam. My favorites for 2016 are not necessarily new but new experiences for me.
Perfumes: Rahele by NVC, Galop and Muguet Porcelaine both by Hermes, discovering the pure decadence of Shalimar in all its variations and last but not least finally getting my hands on the gorgeous Dior Privee Bois d’Argent.
Movies: watching A Christmas Story with my son and hearing his squeals of laughter.
TV shows: I enjoyed Narcos and The Crown (I know – two wildly different shows!). Flowers: finally smelling a vanilla orchid.
Books: all the Robert Galbraith crime novels and rereading Roald Dahl books with my son.
Bring on 2017! Sandra xoxo
Week July 2016 #25 CHANEL Boy

Robert Herrmann

Phew. 2016. What a tumultuous year it was and all I can say is “Buh-bye 2016! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out! A year of highs and lows, and what got me through much of it was perfume. Always there at my beck and call…

In 2016 there were in excess of 1100 new releases averaging out to almost 100 a month. Did I try even 10% of them? Possibly, but not likely. There were some standouts that I ended up loving. So in no particular order, here’s what was new to me in 2016….

Boy by Chanel, a VERY unisex Fougere Cologne. Addictive.
Amouage Lilac Love, a truly gorgeous non-lilac lilac.
Amouage Opus X, “The Red Violin” in a bottle. A weird and wonderful rose.
Aroma M Voluptuous Nostalgia and Camillia Extrait, two of the finest contemporary but vintage-style perfumes. Gorgeous!
En Voyage Rainmaker, like walking through the Pacific Northwest rain forest. Amazing.
Dusita Infini, One of the finest oudh’s. Really. Even if you’re not an Oudh fan, try this, it’s stunning!
MFK’s Grand Soir, my new cold weather go-to. Gourmand heaven.
Zoologist Civet (releasing Dec.31st) exquisite. I can’t even.

streets-with-people-in-havana-cuba

Anne Marie

I had fun in 2016 exploring Cuban culture. I can’t remember what brought this on, but somehow I got interested in Cuban food, music, literature and of course, Cuban-inspired perfume. It’s easy to get carried away by a romantic idea of old Havana so the quite gritty novels of Cuban writer Leonardo Padura Fuentes brought me down to earth with a thump. Still, I taught myself to make mojitos, discovered the Lecuona Cuban Boys, and bought a Cuban cookbook (more read than cooked from, I have to admit). Of course bottles of Guerlain Pour Homme and Aramis Havana were obligatory!

doblis-hermes

Val the Cookie Queen

Seeing MUSE on the Drones Tour. After having attended hundreds of gigs in my lifetime, including so many in the mid seventies punk era, to see MUSE at aged 56 and be absolutely blown away was the definitive highlight of 2016.
Celebrating my grandmother-in-law`s 100th birthday gathering was a great privilege. She can still tell a joke to turn your hair white. We have had a close relationship for nearly 25 years. I love her.
Fragrance wise would be receiving a bottle of Hermès Doblis as a gift. The humorous side to this was having to Google it to see exactly what I had. It is the prize possession in my small ( but not as small as it used to be!) fragrance collection.

icons-ii-inferno-4

Erica Golding

2016 was the 10th anniversary of my favorite perfume house, NAVA (Nocturne Alchemy). They are poised to revamp their website and packaging over an extended winter hiatus, and like most fans I went on an ordering spree in December! My favorite 2016 NAVA release was the now Sold Out limited edition Icons II: Inferno, a luxuriously smooth and resonant amber oudh that is in a league all its own.
This year, the novel City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin was finally released, completing a long-anticipated trilogy. His writing is infused with vivid poetry and complex character development, elevating a storyline that could otherwise be classified as Sci-Fi. Deeply moving literary fiction, highly recommended!

TinaG

My travels this year took me to the Islay Festival, or Feis Ile, a whisky festival on the Scottish island of the same name. I fell in love with Islay, not only because of the wonderful people and magnificent whisky, but for the wild island itself. My cottage was 9 kms from Port Ellen along a windy single track road which took my past Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Ardbeg distilleries (for those who know their whisky) and then along little beaches & craggy coves. One of my favourite things to do on my way home was to pull in at one secluded beach, and sit for a while watching the local seals. It was ridiculously cool to hear them slapping the water, blowing bubbles, and chasing each other around. Just me & them, chilling out enjoying the last few rays of the golden evenings. Magical.
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Tina’s Ireland cottage
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Seal Bay
15435648_10154621357945115_144390778_nThree distilleries near thecottage

Portia

What did I love this year? I particularly loved everyone who took time to read and comment here on APJ. Thank you. Loved all our contributors, I know how hard you all work to continually pull interesting posts out of the hat. BRAVO!
Perfume: The things I purchased most of this year in mls are Granville and vintage Miss Dior by DIOR, vintage Mitsouko by Guerlain and BOY + Misia by CHANEL. New niche faves for me have been Morn To Dusk by Eau d’Italie and Rahele by Neela Vermeire.
Travel: Jin & I had a great time in Japan, we also loved seeing Venice with Tara of A Bottled Rose and our friend Anna-Maria. Unforgettable times.
Books: The Herland Trilogy by Charlotte Perkins Gilman blew my mind, can’t stop thinking about it. Erin Watt’s Royal Trilogy is non-stop pot-boiling reading, could not put this terrible trash down and did nothing except read them for a week. When It Rains and How To Get There are two books by Australian writer Maggie MacKeller on her dealing with grief and moving on, all set against the backdrop of the Australia that I know & love.

Venice'16 #6

What did you love about 2016?
Portia xx

Bookworm Portia: Fragrance & Novels

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Post by Portia

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Hello Bookworms,

Lately I have been back reading books. For a while life was just too hectic and my head felt too full of whirling stuff to be able to fully give myself to a book. Thankfully life has calmed down to a mere roller coaster ride and I’m finding some space to get my read on. Books have always had a special place in my life. Mum & Dad used to read us to sleep every night and we were always told that when the world got too tough losing yourself in a book was an excellent cure. So, many of my books have been read and reread since my childhood and every time it’s like seeing old friends. Here though are a few of the fragrant books I’ve been reading this last few weeks.

Bookworm Portia: Fragrance & Novels

The Scent Trail Celia Lyttelton BookDepositoryBookDepository

The Scent Trail: Celia Lyttelton

The Scent Trail: How One Woman’s Quest for the Perfect Perfume Took Her Around the World. I enjoyed this book immensely and Celia Lyttelton must have spent a small fortune going on this grand journey around the world, meeting amazing people who grow, harvest and distil the fragrant ingredients that she had made into a bespoke scent. If you ever wanted to know more about where the natural ingredients are sourced then this book will give you enormous insight. Every now and then I had to go back and reread a page because I was lost in jealousy at her great good fortune.

Jitterbug Perfume Tom Robbins BookDepositoryBookDepository

Jitterbug Perfume: Tom Robbins

I have had this damn book for years and would read the first chapter or two and put it down in bafflement. This year I was determined to read all the way to the very last page, and I did. Tom Robbins leads us a merry dance and the story of finding immortality through scent is spellbinding, once you push through the first few chapters. I find that after reading it I look back on it with more admiration that I had while doing the reading. Jitterbug perfume needs to be reread and savoured next time.

The Perfume Garden Kate Lord Brown BookDepositoryBookDepository

The Perfume Garden: Kate Lord Brown

To be honest my initial thought was that I would hate this novel. Turns out I couldn’t put the damn thing down. A story told across generations with simultaneous narratives from all the protagonists, happening over a 70 year period. Basically a couple of love stories and a family torn apart by war. Mainly set in Valencia, Spain and there is a lot of fragrant talk because two of the main characters are perfumers. Really enjoyable, if slightly predictable read.

The Perfume collector Kathleen Tessaro BookDepositoryBookDepository

The Perfume Collector: Kathleen Tessaro

An estate, a perfume store, an inheritance, lost love, drama, found love. It’s all here in a very entertaining book. There is something about the writers style that irked me a few times but the story rolls along inventively enough and I ended up invested emotionally in the characters, though they are mostly only mildly likeable.

Two honourable mentions:
The Perfumed Sleeve by Laura Joh Rowland: A fabulously salacious murder mystery set in old Japan with a few fragrant references. Who knew old Japan was such a sexual hotbed of lies and deceit?
The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal: Indian widow and family nearly lose their family shop but the dictatorial oldest brother comes with his business partner to help. Few fragrant references but a cracking good read. My second reading, it was even better this time.

What are you reading?
Portia xxx

Fragrant Books

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Post by Ainslie Walker

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Hello Fragrant Friends,

Today I’m talking fragrant literature, as I have some new, beautiful books in my clutches. My “fragrant library’ brings me so much pleasure. If I remember to stop, breathe and read I always feel inspired.

Fragrant Books

FRAGRANCES OF THE WORLD 2016$195 Fragrances of the World

Fragrances of the World 2016

Released this year in May and even better than last year. Gorgeous photography and floral art, utilising fragrance ingredients, by Grandiflora’s Saskia Havekes and Gary Heeley. Charming forward by amazing and witty Luca Turin. I love spending time highlighting the fragrances from my collection under their Fragrance Families. Then I oooh and aaaah about which fragrances are under the same subheadings of the same group. For example just this afternoon I was comparing Naomi Goodsir’s Or du Serail with Olfactive Studio’s Ombre Indigo, both classified as Dry Woods and subdivided under Rich/Profound. Two of my favourites, completely different and yet somehow so similar in style. I am in awe of both Michael Edwards and Erica Moore who have categorised pretty much every perfume known to mankind and actually agreed where each belong. This year the book also has a separate ‘discontinued’ section so we can clearly see what to stock up on and hold onto from our collections! Available from Fragrances Of The World (incidentally they have just launched their fabulous interactive website – well worth taking a look)

An Odyssey of Flavours and Fragrances – Givaudan BookDepository$64 Book Depository

An Odyssey of Flavours and Fragrances – Givaudan

Released early this year featuring photography from Denis Dalilleux and Lilli Roze. With accompanying, fascinating and informative prose by the likes of Annick Le Guérer, Caroline Champion, Brigitte Proust, Sean Rose, and Percy Kemp. Beginning with a 70-page history of Givaudan, photo essays on Jasmine and Tuberose from Tamil Nadu, Southern India. Madagascar Ylang Ylang and Vanilla from the Comoros. Mouth-watering images which interpret and present a ‘snapshot’ of fragrances such as J’Adore, 1 Million, Shocking, Angel, L’Air du Temps and Opium. Discussions on Natural vs. Synthetic. Niche vs. mainstream. Production – from raw ingredients to bottled fragrances. Tasting, smelling and sensing in general. This will bring HOURS of pleasure and make an amazing gift for anyone into scents, taste, flowers and flavours. Just beautiful! I got mine from Book Depository, which delivers to Australia for free!

Why Does Asparagus Make Your Wee Smell? And 57 Other Curious Food and Drink Questions BookDepository$14 Book Depository

Why Does Asparagus Make Your Wee Smell?
And 57 Other Curious Food and Drink Questions

For those of us curious about everything smelly, be it good or bad this Andy Brunning book features scientific snippets exposing all! Not just aromas but full of biochemistry and facts. Why does garlic make your breath smell? Why do Durian fruit smell bad? What causes blue cheese to smell so strong? It’s all in here and more! I read some of these to my friend’s kids whilst babysitting…!

Transports of Delight BookDepository$72 Book Depository

Transports of Delight:
An Aromatic Journey in Verse from East to West on the Wings of Perfume

Transports of Delight – David Pybus “An Aromatic Journey in Verse from East to West on the Wings of Perfume” is a cute anthology quoting verses from literature, all linked back to smell. Each evoking memories, emotions, romance and adventure from all over the world. Translated from Japanese and about one of my favourite fragrance notes: Fragrance of the Orange

“ Fragrance of the Orange,
Flowering at last in June,
Wafts through the summer night
The memory of scented sleeves
Of someone long ago”

I hope you find some of the above and enjoy them as much as me. Feel free to recommend what’s in your fragrant library?

XX Ainslie

Boxwalla: Interview with creator Lavanya

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Post by Lavanya & Portia

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Hey there APJ,

Lavanya is a fellow perfume nut, blogger, APJ reader and commenter. So when Val the Cookie Queen told me about her new venture, Boxwalla, I really wanted to find out what goes into a Boxwalla box and how it was different to the others. What better way than an interview with the creator to give us an insight into the Boxwalla idea which launched this week. See, we are all over the new stuff here at APJ.

Boxwalla: Interview with creator Lavanya

BoxWalla071915_0023

APJ: Hey Lavanya, since this is a place for perfume junkies I thought we’d start with your first scent memory.

Lavanya: Ah- the first scent that pops into my head when somebody speaks of scent memories is the smell of tuberoses wafting in the living rooms of my childhood. I grew up in India and we moved from place to place, living all over the country but my first memory of smelling tuberoses is in Delhi. A friend of my father’s when invited for dinner would bring my mother a bunch of tuberoses, as a thank you (It is her favorite flower). And then for the next few days this cold, elusive scent would float through our living room, wafting in the night breeze. It has been my favorite flower too, ever since.

APJ: OMG! One day we need to sit down and chat about India. So tell me what made you start Boxwalla?

Lavanya: The long version of what led to us creating Boxwalla can be read here. ‘The shorter version is that we wanted to create an online platform that would allow us to showcase artists, artisans and all the beautiful things we love in a way that allowed people to also experience those things easily. Things that are not as well known, as they ought to be: be they film or books or a perfect dab of scented lotion that melts into your skin.

APJ: OK so how does it work?

Lavanya: We have four categories of boxes that one can subscribe to: Beauty, Books, Film and Food. You can subscribe to any of the categories. And you can switch between them. Every two months you will receive a box, in the category of your choice, filled with things curated around a theme. To make it just a little bit more fun the contents of the box will be a surprise. We try to make sure that the total retail value of the box exceeds the cost of the subscription so that people will be encouraged to take a chance on us and experience the work of these wonderful artists and artisans. We also have a cut off date before which one needs to subscribe to receive a particular box. The cut off date for the December boxes (which will ship in the beginning of December) is November 10th.

APJ: How is Boxwalla different from other subscription boxes?

Lavanya: In a few ways, actually. One, we want to encourage a deeper connection with things that people buy, use and experience. Which is why, for example, most of the products included in our beauty box are full sized (or travel sized) so subscribers can use the product extensively before deciding whether it belongs in their life.

Next, we understand that people are multifaceted with multiple interests and we wanted to provide an easy way for people to explore different interests within one subscription. If you think you have had enough of one category and want to know more about another, you can switch!

Third and most importantly, our focus is on the artists and artisans that we feature in our boxes. We want to showcase them and their work. We have a dedicated page for each of them. We also don’t stock inventory of individual products but encourage people to directly buy from them to maximize their returns.

APJ: Thanks Lavanya!

Lavanya: Thank YOU Portia, for letting me talk about Boxwalla in this wonderful space you have created.

Dab or Spray? Life

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Post by Val the Cookie Queen

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When I mentioned to Portia a few weeks ago that it was sometimes tough to come up with something to write about, he said to write whatever I´d been up to and include the perfume I had been wearing. That would do it. Let´s test it out.

DAB OR SPRAY?

Murmurings from the Uninspired.
Featuring fragrances I have added to my small collection.

THINGS THAT I HAVE BEEN UP TO

    1. Read an undisputedly utterly brilliant book. All The Light We Cannot See. Anthony Doerr.
    2. Set up a date with APJs Azar in September. We´ll be having tea in Seattle very soon.
    3. Gave up Red Bull and Monster and started to drink water.
    4. Helped my son move into his apartment.
    5. Completed my .vero.profumo. collection with the Rozy Extrait and the Onda Voile d´Extrait.
    6. Located a bottle of Cuir de Lancôme. Purchased it.

Val Onda VdE

LONDON VISIT

Finalised a pefume tour party blogger lunch and cake feast not forgetting the epic ice-cream, kind of thing. In London. Getting to hangout with Volatile Fiction, Olfactoria´s Travels, Perfume Candy Boy, Nick Gilbert and more. Amongst other groovy things we are going to visit Penhaligon`s, the new Bloom, the Chanel Store and the new Malle Store. I am of course taking my daughter the BlondesWunder with me and she will report back as to her second experience of hanging out with a bunch of old perfume freaks.

Les senteurs Val 2014 #3

(Yes Portia and Michael, my heart aches that you won´t be there.)

DAB OR SPRAY?

Wearing a lot of extraits, and only dab them. I love the sensuality of using a glass stopper to apply the perfume. I do like to spray the back of my neck though. However, spraying everywhere gives me a grand mal seizure, and since my kids do that to me anyway, I prefer to keep them to the minimum. I reckon I might be in the minority though. This is a much discussed subject but what do you APJ readers do? What interesting application techniques do you use? I stand in front of a mirror and conduct my perfuming ritual. I do not like perfume on my clothing at all and make sure I get nothing on it from the application of the fragrance. Clothing goes on after the perfume.

Am about to start a new book. A Brief History of Seven Killings. Marlon James. “It´s like a Tarantino remake of The Harder They Come but with a soundtrack by Bob Marley and a script by Oliver Stone and William Faulkner ……..” New York Times. And a lot of it is written in Jamaican Patois. I spent some time in Kingston but that is another fragrant story. 😉

Burlesque Maria Candida Gentile FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Blood orange
Heart: Iris pallida, rose
Base: Incense, patchouli

Have been wearing Maria Candida Gentile´s Burlesque for the last two days. Alluring. Gorgeous. Ordered.

Irie Bussis
Peace and love
CQ