How I Met Portia. My Five Year APJ Contributor Anniversary. And a Lemming.


Val the Cookie Queen



I think it was around the end of 2012 that I read the APJ post where Portia announced that he was coming to Europe; along with the cities and dates that he would be around. So happy to see Vienna on the list, and not only that, I was actually gonna be in Vienna the day he was there. I emailed him asking if he’d like to meet up and I would bring cookies. We arranged to meet at the Café Mozart. I asked my daughter (the future BlondesWunder) to come along with me, as I was a bit out of practice at meeting random Aussie drag queens.

How I Met Portia.


Some of you know this story, you can skip the next bit. We had absolutely no clue as to what Portia looked like, nor if he would turn up in drag. It was a biting cold day as we stood outside the Café Mozart. As each person approached BlondesWunder and I would be staring like crazy women, wondering if it might be Portia. To no avail. We walked Into the Café to take look, but no one stood out as Portia Turbo Gear. Nope. Back outside we went. And then my phone rang, with and Australian calling code, Portia
telling us he was in the Café, over to the left of the entrance, and could be found wearing a M&S style vaguely Christmasy woolly. Which is of course exactly what I was expecting. I still laugh.

I know this picture has been used any times, we have no other one really from when I met Portia, but let’s look a little closer. Between Portia and my head, in the mirror is Hannah BlondesWunder taking the pic. To the right of Portia`s head, also reflected in the mirror, is Jin busy taking a few shots too. Behind the sugar shaker is the Chanel bag I had bought 31 Rue Cambon in a few months early. You might notice the bag is pimped with an armadillo sticker, and it was packed with cookies. And if you look really closely you can see that my ear is red. When I get nervous, or over excited, it does that. So annoying and a dead giveaway to those who know me. 🙂

My Five Year APJ Contributor Anniversary.

“Its been five years, my brain hurts a lot …..“ Bowie

APJ had not even had its first birthday when we met. As we drank tea and talked I said to Portia, hey, I could write something for APJ huh? I thought maybe once or twice. He´s like yeah, totally. And now it has been five years to the very day. Tuesday 13 March 2013 – Tuesday 13 March 2018. Five bloody years of running around like the proverbial chipmunk on crack, wondering what to write, and if I can meet my deadline. It was on this day in Vienna that I became Cookie Queen. It truly changed my life, and opened so many doors for me, I wouldn’t know where to begin. Portia, please may I say another five?

And a Lemming.


Christian Dior Oud Ispahan – A Lemming

Before Christmas I met up with APJ`s Sandra and the lovely Lady Jane Grey. LJG gave me decant of seven or eight mls of Dior´s Oud Ispahan, and I have used the lot. I have wanted to get into this oud thing but never liked it. I find the stuff very interesting and was privileged to to try a number of pure ouds when I visited Ellen Covey in Seattle a few years ago. But never say never, and I have totally fallen for this Dior. I don’t care if it is real oud or not real oud, the perfume is gorgeous. And I want it. Do I want a whole bottle? You can bet your ass I do. But as I have grown older I have gained a little wisdom so here’s what I am gonna do. LJG has offered to refill my bottle. (It is now empty). If I continue to wear it the way I have been, then yeah, I will buy a bottle. Portia said they do 40ml bottles in Paris, anyone know if they do that I all the CD boutiques?

Thanks to every single reader and commenter over the years. I love the APJ Family.

Celebratory Bussis

Moving: Vienna To Rotterdam 2016




Happy New Year APJ! May 2017 bring peace, love and joy to our lives.

Let me just come right out and say it. Moving is terrible. Leaving the comfort of my flat and all the luxuries of the known has been the most challenging aspect. Please do not take this post as a complaint, rather as a funny side to the moving experience.

Moving: Vienna To Rotterdam 2016

The bandaid has been ripped off and we landed safely in Rotterdam. The movers got us into the house and then promptly abandoned us at 2 pm stating that they did not want to unpack all the boxes because there was not enough flat surface to place the items on! WTF?! Seriously – we have four floors!!! Too emotionally spent to argue with them, we let them go home. Now, imagine us climbing, sometimes on all fours, the three crazy steep stairs with boxes – no stairmaster is needed. We have it in the house and no health club membership will be necessary.

One major challenge with which we are faced is figuring out what foods are safe for my allergic son. To give you an example – the first night in Rotterdam we mistakenly thought that a sushi restaurant would be safe. The waitress tried telling us to leave because she could not handle my request. All I wanted to know is why there was egg in an avocado maki! The manager came and told me it was because all the sushi has mayonnaise. Really?! I kindly requested that he makes the maki without the mayo and voila we have safe food! So, it will take us several weeks to get our bearings and figure out which grocery stores have the right foods for us and which restaurants we can visit.


On another note, I know that I am short – but I feel positively elflike here. Both men and women tower over me! We needed to buy a step stool to actually climb into the bath tub – my legs are just not that long. My husband placed one step stool on every floor as there are even light switches I cannot reach on tippytoe. Don’t even get me started on the cupboard space in the kitchen – I don’t remember what I placed up top and cannot even see all the way up there from the ground.

With all the stress and now culture shock setting in, I have two favourite perfumes giving me the much needed comfort and hugs.

Knowing how stressful this would be, I decided several weeks before the move that for the five or six days that it would take to pack, move, stay in a hotel and then move into the house I would be fragrance free.


Once unpacked, I spritzed Shalimar EdP lavishly and was in scented heaven. It has grounded me when I found myself wanting to whimper in a corner.


At night I require an extra dose of sugar and reach for Spiriteuse Double Vanille which sends me off to dreamland with its wonderful boozy vanilla cloud.

All in all, I am excited about the adventure and am looking forward to discovering new places and meeting new people. The Dutch are some of the friendliest people I have ever met. People smile and are willing to help us and most go out of their way when we explain that we are newly implanted foreigners in their country.

Here are a few pictures of the last night in Vienna and then my first impressions living in this vibrant city. If you are interested, you can follow my Instagram (vienna_living) to catch a glimpse of my latest discoveries.










Christmas in Vienna 2016: Photo Essay


Post by Sandra


Hiya APJ! I hope ya’ll are doing well and enjoying the holiday season.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a kid once a year when the holidays come around and that I love every moment. This year is a weird year as we are moving to the The Netherlands on 21 December and into the house on 23 December. Santa will definitely have to show up but how much decorating will get done depends largely on how many of the decorations I can find. My priority this year is to mark a box which will contain my son’s presents so that he at least can enjoy some of the magic.

Christmas in Vienna 2016





The holidays are an onslaught to my senses in Vienna and this year is no different. The streets are finally all decked out (they prepare for weeks) and lit, brightly lighting our way. It sure makes the darkness of winter seem more friendly and inviting. The Christmas markets are full of bright coloured ornaments, toys and knick knacks which bring grins to many children and panicked faces of their parents trying desperately to ensure that nothing breaks (picture my son reaching for one snowglobe in a stand with over 100 snowglobes). However pale I may be from fear of breaks, I still love seeing his face light up and his eyes twinkle with joy. There are stands selling hot mulled wine all over the city too. The kids can have warm spiced juice and enjoy the delicacies of roasted chestnuts and cookies. Magic is in the air but also the despair of so many who live on the streets. And with this despair I also see strangers performing random acts of kindness on an almost daily basis.






sandra-christmas-in-vienna-2016-10My son and his friend Maxi who were great sales assistants at the Christmas market today.

The holidays are a feast for my senses but especialy for my sense of smell. The caramelized almonds, roasted chestnuts, hot mulled wine, ornaments made with cloves, anise, cinnamon and dried fruits, incense in the cathedral and even the smell of pine needles all around are pure sensory overload. How do I find a perfume that wraps up all of these into a perfume that is even wearable? I have not found a perfume that suits the holidays yet, but I tend to reach for gourmands and vanilla or almond notes. So I tend to veer off on a tangent and think of what perfume would I like to receive for Christmas and I then go and have a sniff.

Chanel Misia Chanel FragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Powdery notes, violet, iris, orris root, Turkish rose, Grasse rose, Laos benzoin, tonka bean

Well, needless to say I have found two that I would love to see under the tree – so let me dream please. How about Chanel Misia EdP and Chanel Beige EdP please – and if Santa is being more than generous I would love Chanel Boy too.

I did not read about the Chanel EdP releases because I wanted to form my own opinion and to be perfectly honest with you – I like several of them more in the EdP strength. Beige and Misia smelled pretty similar to the EdT but lasted quite a bit longer. 31 rue Cambon I am torn about – something is different but it does somehow resemble the EdT and yet it lasts. I wore both versions of Coromandel on the same day and even though the EdT has more incense I liked the EdP quite a bit.

What are your scents for the holidays – be it culinary, perfumed or floral? Do you have any perfumes on your wishlist?

Wishing you all a joyful, peaceful and safe holiday season.
Sandra xoxo

Cookie Queen + Portia on Tour: London/Vienna 2016


Post by Val the Cookie Queen


Greetings APJ Readers.

Each time I attend some perfume related gathering I intend to take lots of pictures.

Cookie Queen & Portia on Tour

London/Vienna 2016

Fact is I suck at it. I am overwhelmed by everything that is going on and never quite get it together as I planned. Still, the following pix will give you an idea of what went on. Tara has covered the event brilliantly on both A Bottled Rose and Australian Perfume Junkies.

Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Val Judith LondonDr Fox, partner-in-crime, therapist, and she’s driving me to Milan.

Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Val Portia Poppy'sPoppies Fish & Chips, Spitalfields.  Second visit together. ?

Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Portia glassesSpitalfields Market.

Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Portia ready? PLL“How do I look Val?”

Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Portia Karen Andrew Val Bonkers Lady Jane Grey PLLBonkers, Lady Jane Gray and me way in the background.

Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Portia Lila Val Grant Antonio PLLGrant (Basenotes).  Antonio Gardoni (Bogue). Lila (Perfume lovers London). Val & Portia. Chris the Cookie King taking photo.

Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Portia Kirk PLLMy dearest friend Kirk about to get a nipple twist.

Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Portia lady Jane Grey PLLLady Jane Gray.  Smitten.

Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Portia PLLMy favourite shot.

Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Vienna Portia Neela PicholaPurchasing a bottle of Neela Vermeire creations: Pichola at retail in Vienna.

Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Vienna Portia Vero KikiVero Profumo: Kiki.

Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Vienna Anna Maria, Sandra, Val Portia GREEKVal, Anna Maria, Sandra, Portia at a fabulous Greek restaurant

Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Vienna Val, Anna Maria, Sandra, Portia trying Le GalionAfter dinner sniff of the newest Le Galion: Cologne Nocturne.

Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Vienna Val, Sandra, Anna Maria, Birgit, Portia Le Bol
Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Vienna Birgit Portia brunchVal, Sandra, Anna Maria, Birgit and Portia brunching at Le Bol.

Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Vienna Portia tea
Val Cookie Queen 2016 Europe Vienna BlondesWunderBlondesWunder arrives in Vienna 22:00.  To a Portia welcome of donuts & tea.

Around the time that you are reading this I am either packing my bag or on the road to the Esxence in Milan. I have a theory. Three days in Milan, six decent pictures each day, eighteen pictures. That ought to do it. Plus some pictorial updates on social media. My hands are shaking already.



Cookie Queen in Vienna: December 2015: Photo Essay


Post by Val the Cookie Queen


I have just returned from three days in one of my favourite cities. Time spent with my daughter and friends. Sniffing, shopping, eating delicious food.

Cookie Queen in Vienna: Photo Essay

December 2015

Vienna is a beautiful city, now uneasy and troubled. There is no way of ignoring the refugee crisis. Make no mistake, it is very uncomfortable.
Guerlain exchanged my broken bottle of Shalimar Extrait and I gave a man and his dog who found themselves having to beg, a little money. Perplexing.

Start with the Vienna Christmas Lights

Val Christmas lights #1

Val Christmas lights #2

Val Christmas lights #3

Val Christmas lights #4

Val Christmas lights #5

Val Christmas lights #6

Val Christmas lights #7

The Flower Shop in Stephanplatz

Flower shop Stephansplatz #1

Flower shop Stephansplatz #2

Flower shop Stephansplatz #3

Hannah: Blondes Wunder

Val  Hannah cunningly disguised as a student


Kiki: Vero ProfumoVal Kiki Vero Profumo


Neela Vermeire CreationsVal Neela Vermeire creations


DIOR HandbagVal DIOR HandbagInto the Vienna cobbled alleys

Val Vienna Alley


and churchVal Christmas Vienna


and refugeeVal Vienna Refudees

Good will to all

Cadjmere by Pierre Guillaume for Parfumerie Generale 2007

Hello Frag Family,

It was very early in 2014 and Michael & I were traveling through Europe, first stop Vienna in Austria where we met up with Birgit and Sandra of Olfactoria’s Travels and Val the Cookie Queen who writes both for OT and APJ. Vienna is its most beautiful in winter but sadly 2014 was not so cold as previous years and there was almost no snow, to make up for that loss we did get loads of rain which meant the city was greener than I’d ever seen it while maintaining its bare branches on the trees. Basically, though we were there in winter it felt like we had arrived in spring, a very pleasant way to see Vienna especially for Michael’s first glimpse of Europe.

Of course, what is it that perfumistas do when they are in a new city? We shopped fragrances! I did a fair spend at the CHANEL store there and a couple of vintage finds in the smaller, niche hole in the wall stores that Vienna seems to have an abundance of yet also these places seem to have stock from 60 years ago too.

Cadjmere by Pierre Guillaume for Parfumerie Generale 2007

Cadjmere Parfumerie Generale FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Myrtle, cypress, Brazilian rosewood, blood mandarin, vanilla, sandalwood, coconut milk, amber

Amber, vanilla and something green burst off my skin as soon as I spritz Cadjmere. They turn almost immediately to this weird, funky almost nasty curdled green leafy milk. It’s interesting, intriguing and awkward: LOVING IT! The notes really aren’t correlating to what I am smelling, what I get here in my head is a bakery in a plant nursery and lumberyard that’s in turn right next to a tip. There’s something of that compost sweetness, rotting vegetation and plastic. Ha ha ha ha! I have just read back what I wrote. OMG! I make it sound dreadful but it’s not.

SONY DSCPhoto Stolen WikiMedia

Pierre Guillaume has a way with fragrance and often combines beautiful sweet notes, comfortable and comforting notes with something dark, less desirable. What then happens for me is that I will happily smell the sweetness and every so often I will be surprised by an off kilter piece of the puzzle that will draw me in again, searching for it.

Into the heart of Cadjmere I find most of the sharp edges rounded nicely and we are in sweet woods territory, I don’t know if Pierre Guillaume  was using Australian sandalwood or a chemical sandalwood but it has some of the lovely eucalyptus menthol hints that the Australian one displays (or it could be some of the greenery). I don’t know and am often getting stuff wrong note wise, it doesn’t matter.

Cadjmere Parfumerie Generale Red Sandlewood WikiCommonsPhoto Stolen WikiCommons

What does matter is that Cadjmere is ridiculously gorgeous, a totally beautiful fragrance that will warm the cockles of your heart and give you comfort if you are low. Later on I get a fabulously animal fur and resins mingling with the woods, glorious.

Longevity is above average and for the first couple of hours sillage is moderate, you are fragrant without skunking, after that Cadjmere hums along quietly for hours and hours. If you spray your clothes they will still smell fabulous next day MMMM MMMMMM!

Further reading: Olfactoria’s Travels and The Non Blonde
I was given my sample at Le Parfum in Vienna, Austria
First In Fragrance have €95/50ml
Surrender To Chance have samples starting at $5/ml

Have you tried or bought Cadjmere? Are you a Pierre Guillaume fan? Do you have a favourite?
Portia xx

Vienna Take Two. Photo Essay 2014


So have taken you on our flight to Vienna through it’s stops and starts, shown you Michael eating a schnitzel bigger than his head and now we are up to the meeting up with mates section We sampled fragrances, ate, drank, laughed and Michael shopped up a whole new wardrobe because he’s 6 foot 4 inches and whippet thin so Austria is the first place he’s been where they cut for his shape.

Birgit, Sandra (both of Olfactoria’s Travels), Michael and Sandra’s sweet and hilarious son Sean made our stay so fun and we saw Vienna the city to live in as well as the tourist city. I was so happy to have dinner with Birgit’s gorgeous husband again, he is sharp, handsome and funny and I am completely smitten.

You may wonder why there’s a dirty great ginger cat but Sandra took us to a Cat Cafe, where people who can’t have pets of their own can spend some time with a bunch of glorious cats. This was my favourite and reminded me a little of Undina from Undina’s Looking Glass cat Rusty, except this one would NOT pose.

Again we stayed in the Hotel Royal on the Stefansplatz, a very comfortable and affordable option in the heart of Vienna that serves an excellent breakfast. These are my three criteria for accommodation: Comfortable, Affordable, Excellent breakfast. Also add to that: Near the station.

Here are a few pics, enjoy a glimpse of Vienna, Austria with us.
Portia xxx

Hoffburg Vienna

Hoffburg Stairs

Church Vienna

Model of Church Vienna

Salzburg #2

Belvedere Gardens Vienna

St Stephan's Vienna

Salzburg #1

Sandra Michael Vienna

Cat store 2

Sandra, Michael, Portia Cat Store

Birgit M & P Vienna

Birgit & Michael

Michael OT & Portia Vienna

Wien Museum

Sacher Torte

Le parfum Vienna