Scent testing

I had a chance to test the latest rounds of Gardenia Musk and Reves, though I’m looking forward to trying the samples of Amouage Lyric that arrived in the mail yesterday (need to make time tomorrow!). 

I’ve been looking at ways to extend the heliotrope note in Reves because heliotropin lasts well through the heart but fades in the late drydown stages (at least at the modest levels I’m using here). I found something that seems to help quite a bit. I also swapped one ionone for another and like it better. It’s an unusual scent but very interesting, and it’s about time to ask testers for some feedback.

I like the touch of tonka I recently added to Gardenia Musk, but if I keep it I may want to cut sweetness in other places.  One of the musks in Gardenia Musk is very pretty and has a nice floral nuance but is sweeter than the others; I cut back on that musk today and may prefer this.  Lasting power on these latest mods seems good.

I really do want to give these Lyric samples a sniff. I tried a pack of Amouage samples many years ago and remember liking Gold for men the best, even though I’d thought I’d like Dia since it featured rose and was geared to women. The Gold for men is incredibly rich and a drop will do you, but it’s beautiful and seemed to me to work for women too.

Fireside Intense, Ambre Noir, Winter Woods, and Encens Tranquille were reviewed this week on a blog that is new to me; it’s well-written with engaging reviews of many niche scents.  Here was the first of two consecutive posts on Sonoma Scent Studio scents:

We’re expecting our first big winter rainstorm tonight and through the weekend.  Hope Halloween eve is dry for the kids.

Obsessing on details

I spent the day with dabs of various Gardenia Musk trials on my arms, working on other things while waiting for them to dry down so I could compare lasting power.  They all smell great in the first couple hours, but it’s hard to keep the interest going in the late stages of a soft floral musk.  I’ve had the basic heart accord settled on this for months, but it is amazing how adding or subtracting a single ingredient can make a big difference when the overall blend is soft.  I’m trying a few new additions to the formula and have a couple new trials to test tomorrow.

Didn’t have enough arm space to test Reves today, but I think I have a really nice version of that one now. I’ll test tomorrow.  Meanwhile, this latest Gardenia trial seems to be lasting well.  The floral accord is a creamy gardenia and jasmine, and the backdrop is a soft musk blend with some gentle tonka.  My goal is to narrow the choices down to one or two favorites to send out testers.  Getting there…

Progress on new scents

I finally had a chance to work on Gardenia Musk on Saturday and Reves on Sunday; I can’t wait to rest my nose overnght and try these tester vials tomorrow. With Reves, I substituted a more floral ionone for one of the woodsier ones and made a few other adjustments, trying to prevent the orris from being too dry and rooty but still not let the scent become sweet. I added a touch of tonka bean to Gardenia Musk and like it so far. It has one very pretty musk ingredient that I’m highlighting, and I’m deciding on the best balance between that and several other musk notes in it.

I hope those who went to sniffa in NY had a great time (bet you did!).

Unsniffed Lemmings…

I have yet to buy a bottle unsniffed; I find a sample is all I need for most scents, and a decant does me for most others, especially because I don’t have much “skin time” left after working on my own scents.  But here’s my latest lemming for something to sample:

Now Smell This El Attarine review

SL Arabie is yummy but too food-like for me, and I’ve always loved La Myrrhe, so comparisons to these two plus the Bois series are intriguing.  El Attarine goes on the sample lemming list!

Finally had an hour to spend on Gardenia last night and added something that helps add oomph without changing the scent much (it just adds some strength and roundness to the floral accord).  I think this might be a small change for the better, so I’ll test again and possibly update to this.  I have several more little modifications to try, later today with luck.

We have some old family friends visiting this week and it’s been fun to see them all.  Makes you think about your growing up days; it was so nice to live in a little town where a lot of people cared about their friends’ kids as well as their own families.  It was a real community and it’s special to have those ties.

I’ve been tagged…

I’ve been tagged by Kathy at

so I’m supposed to do the following six things:

1. Link to the person who tagged you. (above)
2. Post the rules on your blog. (that’s this list)
3. Write six random things about yourself. (below)
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them. (below)
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog. (will do)
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up. (ok)

Six random things about me:

1. I’ve always loved Golden Retrievers but never owned one (several friends have had them and they are such joyful, sweet dogs).
2. In grade school I dragged my family up the long (for little kids anyway), hot switch-back trail to the top of Mt Lassen because I wanted to see the top of a volcano; turned out the trail at Bumpass Hell was much more interesting with all the bubbling mud pots, though the sulfur smell was overwhelming.
3.  In high school I loved the book series All Creatures Great And Small but knew I wasn’t cut out to be a vet (I’m a bit too squeamish); one of my best friends in high school always wanted to be a vet and did just that after going to Cornell, and I admired her for it.
4. Even though I was a science major, one of my most enjoyable classes as an undergrad was an art history class where we were treated to insightful slide-show lectures (with superb photos) by a Prof who was as talented a speaker as an art historian.
5.  I married very young several months after the end of my senior year at Stanford, but we divorced about 11 years later; we remained friends and occasionally keep in touch via email.
6.  My Dad is a retired architect and designed the cottage I live in; it was a treat to get to work on the plans with him (well, he did the work and I gave input).

and here are my tags (just five but that’s not bad):

Liz at

Karin at

Ayala at

Roxana at

Alex at

Sonoma Scent Studio samples and decants at The Perfumed Court

Samples and small decants of the following scents are now available at The Perfumed Court: Ambre Noir, Encens Tranquille, Winter Woods, Sienna Musk, and Fireside Intense. This can be convenient when you’re picking up other things at TPC and want to add an SSS sample or two. They also offer small spray samples, which I don’t offer at the moment. And they do ship internationally.

They have a huge selection of samples and decants. Here’s where the Sonoma Scent Studio items can be found:

Sienna Musk Review, and Fall Cleaning

Here’s a nice review just posted for Sienna Musk:

The Perfume Shrine blog has a number of in-depth series devoted to various notes such as vetiver, jasmine, leather, incense, etc.  Vetiver fans will enjoy the most recent series, ending here with vetiver part 5 (I love FM Vetiver Extraordinaire and TDC Sel de Vetiver!):

With an impending visit from some family friends providing impetus, I straightened up the workroom on Sunday. I moved my home-made photography light box to a better spot and gained precious table space. Now I’m eyeing the big wall cabinet stuffed with ingredient bottles to figure out how to organize them better. It’s getting hard to find what I need quickly enough. I keep small amounts of ingredients in my organ for working on new blends, but the big bottles and kilos stay behind wood doors in the cabinet and come out when mixing new full batches of scents. I instinctively reach for stuff in my organ out of habit, knowing where most everything is by memory, but the thousand or so bottles in this place get hard to track in the cabinet. I need a better system.  They are divided into areas for naturals and synths, and within those by manufacturer/distributor, but they need to be alphabetized within those subcategories.

I worked on orders today but will return to the last gardenia mod tomorrow.  It’s still my favorite and the two little options I tried didn’t improve it.  Still a couple more things to explore before I stop, but I’m about ready to send a few more testers out.  Always so much to do!

Label Success

I received the reprinted labels today and they look very good, much better than the first try. I’m quite relieved. It was very nice of them to reprint them quickly and overnight them, impressive CS!

It’s still beautiful here and I enjoyed a little time outside this evening at sunset. A couple days ago I watched a doe and her baby grazing. She must have gotten a foxtail in her nose because she started sneezing and scratching her nose with her hoof, poor thing. Took her about five minutes to get over it, but she did. Every night just before dusk a huge group of wild turkeys marches through, and each morning at dawn they go back the other direction; they’re fun to see.

I tested the latest gardenia mod today and like it best. I have two ideas for small additions I want to try next, just out of curiosity…

Winter Woods

There’s a beautiful, poetic review of Winter Woods here:

I wasn’t sure when I named this fragrance if I should choose autumn or winter for the name because either could fit.  I went with winter because autumn gourmands make me think of spiced apple scents, and this isn’t a mulling spice type of gourmand. 

One interesting tidbit about Winter Woods is that the sweet gourmand character comes both from the gentle amber accord and from a musk that combines with the amber to enhance it.  I didn’t list musk as a note because it doesn’t read as a distinct element, but the sweet musk helps counter the woods without adding vanilla. The musk enhances the bit of vanilla in the amber accord and deepens it.  Some people say they smell rich Bourbon vanilla with the woods when they open the vial, and that’s why.  But a few people have been anosmic to that musk and the scent seems less gourmand and more strictly woodsy to them.  It’s good to test sniff before you buy (as I advise for all scents), but it can be addictive when it works for you.

Gorgeous Fall Days

October is beautiful here, with warm sunny days and golden sunsets. I had a hard time coming in from the porch at lunch today to get back to work; I just want to let my eyes and spirit soak up the blue sky as much as I can, knowing in a few weeks the colder wet weather will start. I realize California winters are nothing to complain about, lol, but I’m a summer girl and always drag my feet as winter approaches. October is a wonderful time to visit the wine country if you want to miss the heat but still enjoy gorgeous sunny weather.

I received great news on the bottle labels today: the printer got the labels I returned and reprinted them and sent them out again overnight so I’ll have them tomorrow. That’s spectacular customer service. They have seemed like a great company all along, which is why the problem with the die-cut surprised me. I hope the labels look good tomorrow.

I’m working on orders. Hope to get back to gardenia whenever I can squeeze it in this week.