Boujee Bougies – Mini Reviews

Nick and Pia of Olfiction launched their luxury scented candle brand Boujee Bougies this time last year. Lockdown turned out to be the perfect time as sales of scented candles went through the roof. I’m not surprised because after only buying a single candle in my life, I purchased four – one being a Boujee Bougie.

They were kind enough to send me all five mini candles recently so I got a chance to sample the whole line.

Queen Jam

Tart berries, purple roses, flashes of green

Named after a Finnish conserve, Queen Jam was exactly what I was expecting: a rich rose jam scent. I normally swerve gourmand fragrances but I found this hugely comforting and can quite imagine many finding it addictive. Juicy berries and rose petals are swirling in syrupy jam. The overall effect is that of a jammy, fruity rose edged with leaves and this greenery contrasts beautifully with the sweetness. Queen Jam is full of character and a great sense of fun. It also has a tremendous amount of throw, I could smell it at a distance even when unlit.

I burn it when I feel life is a little too austere and I’m craving a bit of guilt-free indulgence.

Cuir Culture

Old books, worn jackets, pup masks

Genius name alert! I love leather but wondered if this would be a little too much on the skanky side for my prim tastes. This was purely going on the description which talked of it being raw and raunchy. Up close it does smell like a tough, spicy leather. However when lit, I actually find it to be rather low-key with a subtly sensual quality. It’s quietly reassuring and perfect for a chilly winter’s evening.

Imagine being curled up in a worn leather chair in a dusty old library with a good – somewhat racy – book. That’s Cuir Culture.

Succulent

Houseplants, jungles, joy

The name says it all – the scent of cacti bursting with moisture. This is a bright green scent with a distinctive tomato leaf note. I don’t know how Pia managed to make this fragrance so dripping with sap. Underneath the the tangle of greens there is a fuzzy white musk which amps up its radiance. This is not a deep, dark green aroma (my usual preference) but one of plant stems full of vitality, straining towards the light.

Sales of houseplants also went up through the pandemic (again guilty – I’m so predictable) because they impart such a feeling of wellbeing. Succulent brings a riot of jungle palms and desert cacti into your own humble abode.

Gilt

Whispered confessions, incense smoke, gold leaf

Another inspired name. This incense is warm and woody rather than cool and mineralic. The enticing golden glow that veils the incense comes from amber and labdanum. The really clever thing about this scent though, is the surprising inclusion of aldehydes. I kept wondering what I was picking up on and that’s it. These cool, soapy notes give Gilt a nice amount of uplift and the feeling of calm you get from stepping inside the hallowed stone walls of a church. Brilliant.

This one always hits the mark for me.

Hellflower

Sulphur, burning flowers, brimstone

I was attracted to the idea of a smoky magnolia more than any of the other candles but was unsure about the presence of a sulphurous grapefruit note. Again, I needn’t have clutched my pearls. Hellflower is a sparkling, green grapefruit laced with lush white florals. There is a suggestion of brimstone smoldering in the background but if anything, it just serves to highlight the brightness of the citrus floral bouquet.

Hellflower is a luminous, stimulating scented candle that I like to burn on my desk while working.

I was impressed if not surprised by the quality and ingenuity of each and every candle, all having an inspired, playful twist on a familiar theme.

If you fancy treating yourself or someone else to a Boujee Bougie, there is currently 20% off everything on the website until November 28th with code Boujee20. Which one would you go for?

14 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Reading Diary

Apologies for absence. It was a rough summer because of family health issues and I didn’t feel like writing or reading much. However autumn is my favourite time of year for curling up with (mostly moody) historical fiction and this reignited my love of getting lost in a good book.

The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakroborty

I felt like escaping into some epic fantasy during the summer. After reading the wonderful The Golem and The Jinni I wanted to know more about djinn mythology and this very popular trilogy seemed just the ticket. Nahri is a street con-artist in 18th Century Cairo with a mysterious healing ability. One day she accidently summons a djinn and is transported to the mystical city of Daevabad. Here she finds out her true identity and is quickly caught up in local politics. She meets Ali, the prince who is trying to make life better for the downtrodden Shafit, who are part-human, part-djinn.

It was good to read a non-white, non-male fantasy author but sadly I didn’t think the djinn mythology was explained terribly well and it was waaaaay too long, with the final book unnecessarily nudging 800 pages. I only got through all three books because I wanted something un-taxing and I’d already paid for the set. It was fine but no more than that. 3/5

The Mercies by Kiran Millwoord Hargrave

“But now she knows she was foolish to believe that evil existed only out there. It was here, among them, walking on two legs, passing judgement with a human tongue.”

This bleak historical fiction is set on an isolated island on the edge of the Arctic Circle and is grounded in real life events. On Christmas Eve, 1617, practically the entire male population of Vardo was killed in a freak storm while fishing. In this fictionalised account, we focus on Maren, whose brother and father as well as her betrothed are all lost at sea. Beset by grief, the women of the village try to carry on with life on this barren island where not even a single tree grows. Reports that the women have started to become threateningly independent and are fishing for themselves causes a noted Scottish witch hunter, Absalom Cornet, to be sent to the island to investigate. He takes a young wife, Ursa, from Norway who has no idea what kind of man he truly is. Ursa is ill-equipped to run a home, let alone one in such a harsh environment, so she employs Maren to help her. As Absalom’s investigations into the local women’s adherence to the Church esclates, the pair become dangerously close.

It’s hard to convey just how much I hated Absalom which shows just how well crafted this book was. After feeling lacklustre about reading, I sped through this in a week. It is both captivating and heart-wrenching. If you’ve read Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, this has a very similar feel. 4.5/5

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

“Words define us, they explain us, and, on occasion, they serve to control or isolate us.”

While I normally change genres with each book, I dove straight into another historical fiction, albeit one with a more gentle tone. Like The Mercies, this story is too based on fact.

Esme spends most of her childhood underneath the sorting table where her father works at The Scriptorium, which is essentially a garden shed in Oxford. This was a real place where the first Oxford English Dictionary was pieced together in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Esme is as intrigued by words as her widowed lexicographer father and one day finds a slip with the word ‘bondmaid’ written on under the table and decides to keep it for herself. As she gets older she realises that there are many words used by women, particularly lower class women, that will never make it into the Dictionary.

This is a perfect book for anyone who loves words for their own sake, like Esme. It’s beautifully written and nicely evokes the Oxford of the time with its all too apparent class divisions. Esme and her Da are enormously likeable characters as is her godmother Ditte who is treading her own academic path through life. A wonderful feminist take on the origins of the OED. 4.75/5

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

“I was still all in a state of innocence, but that innocence once lost, is lost forever.”

This gothic tale from 1983 has been a stage play in the West End for many years (my Dad fell asleep in it).

The novella was rather spoilt for me by a review on Goodreads, not because the writer divulged any twists but because they said it was a horror novel that caused them to sleep with the light on. I read it constantly expecting to be terrified – wimp that I am – but this never happened. The Woman in Black is NOT a horror but a classic ghost story.

Young solicitor Arthur Kipps is sent to sort through the estate of a deceased recluse, Alice Drablow. During the funeral he sees a woman in black with ‘a wasted face’ and again at the Drablow house where he has several disturbing experiences. Whenever he mentions this woman or the Drablow house to the local villagers, they clam up.

This was an extremely readable and atmospheric creepy story and I think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d approached it as such. I did guess the mystery before the reveal as well as the ending, but it was good read for Halloween weekend. 3.75/5

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

“And, though there should be a world of difference between the smile of a man and the bared fangs of a wolf, with Joss Merlyn they were one and the same.

I felt a little nervous about this one because it sounded so dark. Set in the early 19th century, a young woman, Mary Yellan, goes to live with her Aunt Patience at Jamaica Inn after her mother dies. Her Aunt’s husband turns out to be a vile, abusive bully and no one but his cronies visit the Inn. Mary is isolated with her Aunt who is living in such fear of her husband’s moods, she is no company at all. Mary soon suspects her Uncle is involved with smuggling and probably dealings far more nefarious than that.

I really liked Mary as our heroine. She is strong and speaks her mind, even when confronted with her Uncle telling her he will break every bone in her body if she questions him. Oh man, Joss Merlyn is a truly awful and brilliantly written character.

Du Maurier creates a fantastic brooding air with an ideal setting on the treacherous moors during the autumn/winter. She really ramps up the suspense when Mary is put at risk and events unravel. However, I did not like the romance in the slightest and I wished it hadn’t ended the way it did. Enthralling but not as stunning as Rebecca. 4.25/5

How have you been? Which Daphne du Maurier novel should I read next?

19 Comments

Filed under Book Review

Scent Semantics #1 BRAVE

Hey Everyone, This month we are trying something new. New idea, new crew, NEW NEW NEW! We’ve gathered together a fabulously far flung gang. In my mind this idea was to let our creativity flourish with the least amount of parameters possible. We get a word, we get a date, we have to choose a single fragrance that fits the word and then have to explain how it fits together, in our way. As much or little as we feel the word/fragrance connection needs. We are going to probe a little into how each of us bloggers see the world, fragrance, ourselves. Also, if this idea works, we get to see how one word can inspire different directions in connection. or not. Everyone has signed up for 12 first Mondays of the month.

BRAVE Scent Semantics #1

Continue reading

23 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Mood Scent 4: Into The Woods and Away

OOOOHHHHH! Our very last Mood Scent 4 week! All good things come to an end eventually and Mood Scent 4 has fallen victim to perfume ennui. We gave it our all and now there’s nothing left to give. I’m super bummed though because it’s been a wonderful time working in tandem with these three perfumed peeps. Thanks Esperanza, Megan and Sam for letting me be part of this cool kids collective. It was really nice to be part of a crew. I particularly loved how different our collections and perfumed directions were on the same topic, also those rare times when we snapped on a perfume. I loved the reckless running through my collection trying to find the exact five or six matches for a mood, note, moment. The sense of fulfilled completion after winnowing a huge list down and getting the post finalised, often with three or four overhauls after remembering a forgotten fave that fit the brief better or more interestingly. The fun of jumping over to the other members pages and seeing their choices, sometimes beating myself up for not going with what they chose too. It was a monthly labour of love and I will miss it, a lot.   Ironically our Into The Woods and Away theme seems to have coincided perfectly with our wave goodbye. So it is with melancholy heart I’ve chosen my woodsiest fragrances to share with you all today.

Can’t wait to read about your fave Into The Woods Perfumes in the comments too.

Sad but excited to be blogging with these three superstars one last time: Esperanza L’Esperessence, Megan Megan In Sainte Maxime and Samantha I Scent You A Day. Check theirs out too.

Mood Scent 4: Into The Woods and Away

Continue reading

25 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Mood Scent 4: Al Fresco Party Perfumes

OOOOHHHHH! Mood Scent 4 week! YAY! This month we sniff some Al Fresco Party Perfumes. Most of our readers being Northern Hemisphere have had a seriously warm summer so I am really excited to read what you have all been wearing for outdoor adventures, beaching, meals, BarBQs, rooftop parties and secret rendezvous. Here in Australia the cold is has been abating over the last month and we’ll be heading into the jaws of spring/summer again from now. YAY! Already we are seeing some days at 25C (77F) and over in the warmest parts of the day. As soon as Lock Down is over here in Sydney I’ll be getting my Al Fresco Party spritzing on like crazy!

Can’t wait to read about your fave Al Fresco Party Perfumes in the comments too.

So excited to be blogging with these three superstars again: Esperanza L’Esperessence, Megan Megan In Sainte Maxime and Samantha I Scent You A Day. Check theirs out too.

Mood Scent 4: Al Fresco Party Perfumes

Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Paris-Deauville by Chanel

Notes: Basil, Sicilian Orange, Lime, Bergamot, Petitgrain, Lemon, Green Notes, Hedione, Jasmine, Rose and Patchouli

Paris-Deauville was the only one of Les Eaux de Chanel released in 2018 (composed by Olivier Polge), that caught my fancy. I have a fondness for green fragrances and this seemed like a good one to wear in warmer weather as opposed to the chypres I associate with spring.

The bottle with its rounded edges is just gorgeous and the sprayer is exceptionally good at misting the skin.

Bottle

Tart, zesty, citrus fizzes and sparkles in the opening. It’s uplifting but a brief introduction. This is rapidly followed by a herbaceous wash of green that is chiefly made up of basil interspersed with sprigs of fresh mint.

I wish leafy herbs were used more in modern perfumery so I’m pleased to experience them here. They make a welcome change from the usual suspects and have a depth of aroma I really appreciate.

The chic French resort of Deauville is on the coast of Normandy and there is a waft of salt air here that I can imagine may not be to everyone’s taste. It mingles with the herbs to recreate the scent of foreshore foliage crusted with sea salt. Some people’s skin seems to play up the florals but it’s green all the way on me without any noticeable jasmine or rose except for a subtle sweetness.

It’s a classy cologne-style fragrance with complexity and recognisable Chanel D.N.A. I really appreciate its aromatic, citrusy radiance and find it to be a real mood-lifter.

It’s been a pleasure to feel it cutting through the heat of summer as well as on those dull, muggy days we’ve had too much of this August. I am determined not to be precious with it and instead spray it lavishly – it’s what it needs.

Paris-Deauville doesn’t last terribly long in its true form before scattering, to be replaced by a wispy, celadon-tinted musk. However this is when I have to remind myself it is an EdT and needs to be enjoyed for what it is.

Deauville resort

Do you have any Chanel Les Eaux in your collection? I’m looking forward to trying the latest, Paris-Edimbourg.

Photo credit: Loik_marras from unsplash

15 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

June/July Reading Diary

I read about half the amount I normally do over the last couple of months with one thing and another my mind just felt too restless. Far easier to zone out in front of YouTube. However, I did read three non-fiction books which surprised no one more than me.

Breath by James Nestor

“The fix is easy: breathe less. But that’s harder than it sounds. We’ve become conditioned to breathe too much, just as we’ve been conditioned to eat too much. With some effort and training, however, breathing less can become an unconscious habit.”

I had an Audible credit to use up and had heard this book mentioned so much, I took a chance. Journalist Nestor spends ten years investigating the power of the breath after having a transformative experience at a community breathwork class recommended by his doctor. He discovers how the breath affects a multitude of physical and mental issues from asthma and anxiety to dental deformities and erectile dysfunction. He undergoes an arduous experiment to demonstrate the benefits of nasal breathing and meets people from around the world who work with the breath. He discovers that the optimal length of inward and outward breaths is a substantial 5.5 seconds each and that most of us are over-breathing. The great thing about the audiobook version is the breathing methods section at the end. It’s much easier to have someone talk you through the techniques as you do them rather than read them. I will be particularly focusing on the yogic alternate nostril breathing to reduce anxiety. 4/5

Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers 3) by Becky Chambers

In the first two books, the Exodan Fleet (32 spaceships that left a collapsing Earth for good) is mentioned regularly but we never got any real details. Therefore I was happy to find book 3 is set aboard the Fleet and we get the background to how and why it functions as it does. We learn how the ‘homesteader’ ships were designed to be places where generations of Humans would live and die in the hope of making alien contact. This happened eventually and now although many humans have left the Fleet to live ‘planetside’, many still remain.

It’s easy to think of Sci-fi books as being rather cold and inhuman but the amount of warmth and humanity Becky Chambers has infused into this series is quite extraordinary. In book 3 we follow a range of characters aboard the Fleet: Isabel, an elderly Archivist, Kip, a boy desperate for an exciting life away from the Fleet, Sawyer, a ‘grounder’ who wonders if the Fleet will provide the home he’s been missing, Eyas, a ‘caretaker’ who recycles bodies into compost and Tessa, sister of Ashby from the first book.

Like the first two books, there isn’t not much of an over-arching plot-line. We get to know these characters and their, hopes and dreams. We follow as most try and decide whether their futures lie with the Fleet. I wish I could convey how in Chambers’ hands, that is more than enough. She grew up in a scientific household so the background is there but these stories are all about people. I was certain I wouldn’t tear up as with the previous books but guess what? I was wrong. 4.5/5

The Barbizon by Paulina Bren

The Barbizon, through much of the twentieth century, had been a place where women felt safe, where they had a room of their own to plot and plan the rest of their lives. The hotel set them free. It freed up their ambition, tapping into their desires deemed off limits elsewhere, but imaginable, realizable, doable, in the City of Dreams.

I don’t often read non-fiction unless it’s personal development, but my friend bought me this e-book which is a slice of social history. It follows the inhabitants of the The Barbizon Residential Hotel for Women from its construction in the 1920s through to its closure in 2001. It was seen as a safe place to stay for middle/upper class young women moving to New York to pursue careers in the Arts. First came the New Women striking out in the workplace after being allowed to do as result of the First World War. We often think that women’s rights follow a linear progression but there was a definite step backwards in the 1950s as woman’s main goal seems to be marriage and children and at a young age at that.

The winners of the Guest Editors competition run by Madomoiselle magazine stayed at The Barbizon and these bright young things included Sylvia Plath, Joan Didion and Ali McGraw. Plath based her book The Bell Jar on her time at The Barbizon which she renamed The Amazon. Many models stayed there as well as actresses – Grace Kelly lived there for three years. While it did allow women to live independently in New York it was not without its restrictions. Men were not allowed past the lobby and there was not an African American resident until Barbara Chase in 1956. Of just as much interest to me were the ‘Lone Women’ who were the ones without dates on Saturday nights and who never made it in their chosen career. Some of these morphed into ‘The Women’ , elderly ladies who had lived there since the 30s and 40s and who could not be evicted thanks for rent control laws. They were still tucked away behind secret doorways in the corridors as it was turned into luxury condos and the likes of Ricky Gervais and P Diddy moved in during the 2000s. 4/5

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

“There’s more at stake here than just slavery, my brother. It’s a question of who will own the land, the people, the power. You cannot stick a knife in a goat and then say, Now I will remove my knife slowly, so let things be easy and clean, let there be no mess. There will always be blood.”

This book has a huge scope but manages to cover around three hundred years of history in around 300 pages. It starts with two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, in Ghana, Africa in the 1700s. Effia is married off to a British slave trader while Esi is sold by him to an American plantation owner. We then follow their descendants down the generations in Africa and America up to the early 21st century. It personalises the history of the slave trade and shows how the effects reverberate through the centuries. It shows the sickening treatment of slaves but lets the facts speak for themselves. With so much time to cover, it moves on at a swift rate with a time jump accompanying the introduction of each new descendent. However I really engaged with each of the characters and was entirely caught up in their lives. It didn’t read like a history lesson although I learnt a lot. Above all, it’s a well written, absorbing story. 4.25/5

Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday

“We are restless because deep in our hearts we know now that our happiness is found elsewhere, and our work, no matter how valuable it is to us or to others, cannot take its place. But we hurry on anyway, and attend to our business because we need to matter, and we don’t always realize we already do.”

This non-fiction book is a series of short essays focusing on the benefits of stillness. I recently learnt Transcendental Meditation and thought it would help cement the practice but it’s broader than that, covering the varied ways we can find a sense of stillness. That might be through exercise, getting enough sleep or putting boundaries around work. Holiday uses a wide range of stories about various people throughout history, some as examples of what to do and some of what not to do. He has a strong interest in Stoic philosophy so Seneca and his ilk are here but so are Bill Gates, Leonardo di Vinci, Tiger Woods and artist Marina Abramovic who for her performance piece ‘The Artist is Present’, sat in a chair and locked eyes with visitors to MoMA for nearly three months. The benefits of stillness range from making better decisions to simply not missing out on your own life. 4/5

How has your reading been over the summer months? Any book you’d like to share?

8 Comments

Filed under Book Review

Synthetic Jungle by Anne Flipo for Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle.

If I happened to have been wearing Frédéric Malle´s Synthetic Jungle, these might have been my impressions.

JUNGLE: 1. an area of land overgrown with dense forest and tangled vegetation, typically in the tropics. 2. a style of dance music incorporating elements of raga, hip-hop, and hard core; consisting of very fast electronic drums, and slower synthesized bass lines.

SYNTHETIC JUNGLE: 1. a piece of acid-house (techno, rave) music by Limbo. 2. a perfume by Anne Flipo for Frédéric Malle.

I have been watching the internet like a hawk, since the beginning of 2020, for information on the what is now the soon-to-be-released, beginning of September as far as I know, Synthetic Jungle from Malle. All you could ever find was the trademark registration information for the name. Then in April of this year information started to trickle in. Note list includes basil, galbanaum, lily-of-the-valley, jasmine, patchouli, oakmoss.

Possible Impressions.

Green up the yin-yang. A bright galbanum opening, and a darker, more vintage galbanum in the oakmossed base. Very indolic from both the jasmine and the muguet. Walking into a hothouse of transparent lushness. Quite a prominent jasmine, and possibly a hyacinth. Acutely modern, without taking away from the more traditional aspect of the green genre. Just beautiful. An impressive addition to the collection.

Henry Rousseau. Tropical Birds and Flying Things.

Does Frédéric Malle go to the South Goa Indian Jungle Parties? And will we ever know?

CQ

With thanks to my Fabulous Malle Fairy Godmother.

15 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Mood Scent 4: Well Named Fragrances

OOOOHHHHH! Mood scent 4 week! YAY! This month we sniff some Well Named Fragrances! We are working in reaction to all those sweet nothings labelled noir and mundane scents saddled with pompous and overwrought titles. You know them, we don’t need to go back and catalogue them (though that could be fun another day).

There were a few ways I could take this. Maybe choosing fragrances that were named for their notes, juice or bottle colour, even the place of origin. Instead I wanted to go with fragrances that evoke the name they’re given. You spritz and suddenly understanding blooms.

Can’t wait to read about your fave Well Named Fragrances in the comments too.

So excited to be blogging with these three superstars again: Esperanza L’Esperessence, Megan Megan In Sainte Maxime and Samantha I Scent You A Day. Check theirs out too.

Mood Scent 4: Well Named Fragrances

Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Vetiver by Hiram Green

Notes: Citrus, Ginger, Vetiver, Cedarwood and Ambrette Seed

I tend to approach vetiver fragrances with some trepidation. While I admire a few, a little vetiver goes a long way for me. I have always appreciated the depth and earthiness it can bring to a perfume but when that swampy facet is amplified, it’s a hard no from me. However, I do have confidence in Hiram Green as a perfumer. He approaches natural materials in a unique way, always bringing something new to the fore – and so it proved with his latest release, Vetiver.

I spray Vetiver for the first time and smile instantly. Instead of being swampy, it is the exact opposite: a buoyant blend that makes me feel alert and uplifted. The ginger is pitched just right, adding an aromatic, zesty brightness as opposed to a curried spiciness. The overall effect is joyously luminous.

Vetiver is known for its smokiness and here it is toned down and acts more as a kind of musty grey backwash with its presence being a constant throughout. It is used in such a way that it acts to complement and highlight the other notes in the composition. The citrus seems fresher, the ginger extra zingy and the base notes more sophisticated.

When I read that Vetiver was inspired by the heartthrobs of Hollywood’s Golden Age I thought it might lean heavily masculine with a kind of rugged, square-jawed feel. However, I see it as less Clark Gable/Burt Lancaster and more Gene Kelly/Marlene Dietrich. It possesses confidence and charm but also nuance and ambiguity.

When it comes to the base, the vetiver is prominent along with softly sweet resins and bone-dry woods. The ambrette lends a subtle vegetal, musky quality. Up close, it has a very pleasant balsamic stickiness. Vetiver perfumes tend to go towards clean or murky and while Vetiver leans more towards the former, it strikes a good balance being more sparkling than clean and having a base with darker, warmer depths that retains its smoothness.

I experienced very good longevity and moderate throw.

I admire Hiram Green’s deft touch with the eponymous material. He has managed to illuminate a perfume ingredient that in some hands, can make my stomach churn.

Vetiver has shedloads of light and shade. It has the feel of morning sunlight filtering through the curtains into a gloomy room, waking you up to the possibilities for the day ahead.

How do you feel about vetiver fragrances? Do you think you might get on with this version by Hiram Green?

NB. Perfume sample received from Hiram Green.

17 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews