The scents of summer

If the weather doesn’t act like it’s July, then you just have to give it some help, right? I’ve try to surround myself with summery scents that signal sunshine and energy. I’m not fooling myself, but good scents do improve my mood. I’ve also tried to ritually cleanse the flat of bad energy using sage. And by that I mean I’ve made roast chicken with sage and butter. Someone told me to burn sage and let the smoke purify my surroundings, very hippy-esque. Seemed a waste of sage, and I wanted a tasty dinner. And putting on the oven does give the place some warmth if it’s gonna be this cold. It didn’t work and I suppose the weather goods want a proper blood sacrifice. That won’t happen. A gift of incense and gold perhaps? Or rather; fancy scented candles and orange roses.

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Scented candles is an all year thing around these parts. At the NK-sale I bought a candle from Ladurée, of macaron fame, in an orange blossoms scent. It’s a perfectly adequate candle for what I paid (about €30) mostly because of the nice jar. Had I paid full retail (around €70) I would have been sorely disappointed. I won’t buy it again unless there is a sale. In future I will stick to the one from A.P.C if I can; it’s cheaper and in my mind just a bit “more” in regards to the actual orange blossom. I did buy another candle in the Ladurée sale, that actually smells like incense but I plan to give it away.

When it comes to Earl grey and cucumber from Jo Malone I will not repurchase. The scent is lovely and I was so happy for this travel size bottle that was a gift. The staying power on my skin however? About 30 seconds. It’s a cologne but still. And then there is the small thing of me being a bit of an idiot; now that Jo Malone is available here in Stockholm the brand seems to have lost part of it’s allure. I still have my eye on a Tomato leaf candle because that is one product in their range I really love.

I’m quickly running out of Grand Néroli from Atelier Cologne. I will probably buy more of this. I do love it in summer, it is sunshine in a bottle. Very uplifting, like a vitamin-c kick. As I also have this very nice leather sleeve for the travel spray I’m not throwing away the bottle. I may, possibly, buy another of their citrusy scents to transfer into this instead. They have a few that are very nice.

I do own a bottle of The knot from Bottega Veneta and I adore it, but only in winter. It may be cold but still a bit too warm for me to wear anything that contains musk.

-Suss

End of winter- empties

In the last few weeks we have gone from winter (we had snow on May 10th) to summer (May 20th) and sometime around there I used up the last of several things that have gotten me through winter. I can’t stress this enough; I’m not a beauty or skincare blogger. But I have skin, and I care about it etc.

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  1. Vaseline intensive aloe sooth

One thing I’ve learned about having dry skin is that it’s not necessarily about the product, it’s about the routine. Better to buy a cheap but still reasonable bodylotion, and there are several on the market, and then make sure you use it everyday. This is one that I often find at the discount store and I’m very fond of it.

2. Almond oil

In addition to the lightweight bodylotion I go in with almond oil at times, the heavy artillery so to speak. This is available from Swedish pharmacies and is better then the Other stories body oil, but at a third of the price. The bottle isn’t as nice obviously. That is part of what you pay premium for. Or you can do like me and just hide things in the bathroom cabinet.

3. Vichy Aqualia Thermal

Love this pure and simple. It works very well for me as I have combination skin on my face and the difference between t-zone and cheeks is aggravated by harsh weather. Since this is so light weight I can basically put a bit extra on my cheeks to even out. Layering serum is probably wrong/blasphemy/idiotic but whatever. It works for me and I can adjust for the level of winter wonderland we have on any particular day.

4. Flagrant délice by Terry de Gunzburg

This lovely fig and almond scent is sweeter than what I usually like but as it is also quite discrete. I enjoy wearing it on cold days as it is a mood enhancer and almost like being wrapped in a cosy blanket.

5. Dry fast top coat by Seche Vite

I don’t wear nail polish that often, especially not in winter as the weather wrecks havoc with my nails. But if I do, I need a good fast drying top coat because otherwise it will smear as I’m impatient and will probably  put on mittens or gloves and ruin it otherwise. This is the best, with the notable exception of the spray on top coat that used to be available abroad. I suspect that it was an environmental hazard and probably a human one as well but I will tell you; for a while there I had some lovely colourful nails and not a smudge as far as the eye could see.

-Suss

7 things from the Asian supermarket

IMG_1863I went by the asian supermarket yesterday to pick up soba noodles, sichuan peppar and a few other essential foods, but there is more to be found there. It’s a great place to shop to be honest. Here are a few things to look out for;

  1. Fans; these are ever so useful when it’s warm out and a small fan that you can fold up is a good thing to have in your bag. I stock up on these and frequently give them as presents.
  2. Soaps; especially rose and jasmine. They smell great,cost next to nothing and are not drying. I mostly adore the packaging to be honest.
  3. Sheet masks; turns out that the asian supermarket is where reasonable priced and good quality taiwanese and korean sheet masks can be found.
  4. Fortune cookies; These are somewhere between styrofoam and something you can eat but I count them here as they are not essential food. However they are fun to have at a dinner party and can be a nice decoration on a glass of chocolate mousse.
  5. These tiny teacups; I have a weak spot for blue and white china and I seem to be partial to this, the cheapest around, and some very fancy Royal Copenhagen and Spode. These are great for chocolate mousse,chocolate fondants,to serve an espresso/macchiato or punch.
  6. Really big bowls of this kind; great to serve punch from or use as fruit bowls or possibly floral arrangements.
  7. Teapots; Have we meet? You need teapots of all shapes and sizes(obviously) but these are reasonably priced, really good quality and in worst case they have other uses. They never go out of style.

-Suss

Weekend and a watchful eye

IMG_1231Under the heading of “things I don’t actually collect but have a lot of anyways” we have come to The evil eye.

I’m fascinated and have quite a few; some are of the kind to be placed somewhere in the home to protect it from djinns and other evil spirits.

However of late I have rummaged  in my drawers and sported them on my person. I have more then these two around my neck; I’ve also been wearing a bracelet. I have a few more and I just might add them. Three is the magic number(and that’s what I’m wearing on a day to day basis now, pretty solidly for a few weeks) but seven is also a number with magical connotations. I do wonder if I have that many laying around? I’m not superstitious by the way, I just like the look of them, especially the more almond shaped eye. And turquoise is such a great could to just have a dash of. Shamelessly mixing gold and silver I might add( my experience; in the middle east it’s all about the evil eye and gold while the Greeks and in Turkey they like to mix it with silver. Just anecdotal evidence but it’s an observation). I do hope they become trendy around these parts because I would love some rings, that would really work for me. And one of the necklaces and my bracelet is looking a bit knackered.

IMG_1233 Maybe they have been beset by evil and taken all the bad juju, but probably just low quality to begin with; souvenirs rarely are top-notch. The company from which I bought my glasses, Divides, has a very nice looking eye as a logotype. Makes sense since they are in the business of selling things that make people see better. But as lovely as it is I can’t really walk around carrying that box. I wear the glasses thougo. I must say I really enjoying seeing clearly and not having tired eyes and headaches. Hmmm; maybe that’s why I started wearing the eye-symbols again? It’s all very Freudian somehow(not necessarily in a bad way).

Have a great weekend!

Things referred to in this post:

The evil eye

Nividas

-Suss

 

Accessorizing outside the box

I’m not gonna get too specific with this or make a tutorial; I just want to plant a seed and hopefully make you look at things around you a bit differently.

Jewelry is one thing; know what you are doing when working with expensive materials or leave it to professionals. Accessories though? Go for it.

With a few simple tools( a pair of small pliers, sandpaper possibly), super glue and supplies from the craft shop fun thing can be made.

When it comes to the super glue use the “gel” kind if you can find it, it usually comes in a little tube. Works better then the more liquid kind with these sort of thing. And don’t trust that “dries in 10 seconds” thing. Add light pressure for half a minute and leave to dry over night before using.

There are “ready” rings to buy;you just have to glue something on it. In this case a teacup that is a knickknack from my childhood and a button from an old(and loved) coat.

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Buttons also make excellent pins; I’ve found different kinds and sizes of “bases” so the sky is the limit. Here three old coats (I really love my coats) will be remembered through pins. They do look very good together on the lapel of a fourth coat oddly enough.

An old broken watch from a flea market in Paris became a necklace, as did some buttons from a table organ. The last to have the word “vox humana” and “voix celestial” printed on them. Again; those two are best worn together.

And then there is a necklace with little souvenir pendants, solitaire earrings and a little marble heart in the middle. I would like to wear a charm bracelet but turns out I’m to active and the thing snags in everything. And I loose two many earrings in wintertime. My body language and the consequences of long scarfs ended up being ingredients for a “charm necklace”.

I’d say start with rings and pins as they are easiest but none of this is really hard. Time-consuming only if you decide to make shards of a broken plate into a necklace or earrings because then you have to sand down the edges with sandpaper and it can take some time( and do it outside; it gets very dusty).

These are not expensive things, although for me they all have affectionate value, but they are fun. And we all need a bit more of fun.

-Suss

 

Weekend and a whiff of the good life

I went into Hermès to ask about one perfume and left with samples of many. As a brand Hermès has a place in my heart and I think highly of their perfumes, even though I haven’t had that many. Un Jardin sur le Nil I’ve mentioned, I made an effort with Kelly Caleché but it evaporated on my skin so the loveliness of it was wasted. I’ve smelled the others but nothing has really felt like “me”. I think they are wonderful; some of the older ones are so chic, but I don’t feel comfortable in them sadly. Even though I’m no perfume blogger I will share my impressions with you. This blog is all about giving you information you didn’t ask for.

I stated that I was looking for something fresh and citrus-y and I was given two samples, “Rhubarbe écalate” and “Pamplemousse rose”. The latter is exactly what it sounds like; grapefruit and rose which is a scent I should love. It’s a combination I use in cocktails all the time!! And it is lovely, just too close to “Un Jardin sur le Nil” for me to really get into it, especially when it dries down( I adhere to the theory that there is a certain amount of skin alchemy involved as far as perfume is concerned which makes scents smell different on different people). It should be noted that Rhubarb écarlate is created by Cristine Nagel.

The rhubarb scent was more to my liking but I’m not completely sold on it. For me it’s the wrong time of year; I’ll probably go mad for this in April/May. It smells  like the dessert I make with baked rhubarb with strawberries and orange zest. The recipe is from the Rose Bakery cookbook and everyone I know has been treated to this att some point; it’s wonderful with custard for pudding or with yoghurt as a moorish breakfast. So you see; this perfume does something for me but right now I need something that enhances my everyday mood enough to get me through to the end of April. Which brings me to the other sample I got.

Hermessence is their premium line not available everywhere. A dozen or so scents created by Jean Claude Ellena in his signature style which I would describe as “perfume as watercolor paintings”(or maybe someone else said that?). Point is that he makes very elegant and understated scents for the most part. There are people who really know perfume that have written about him and his position as in-house nose at Hermes(which is a very smart match if you ask me).

Even though I’m not a perfume collector, and not as knowledgeable as some, I know more than many and if it’s one thing I do know is that making perfume is a craft. Even though I wasn’t turned on by all of these, doesn’t mean I don’t see how well made they are. Thought has gone into them. I know this in part because I’ve read “Diary of a Nose” by Jean-Claude Ellena. A book I very much recommend.

Of the ones I’ve tried this week,Rose Ikebana,Vétiver Tonka,Iris Ukioye and  Osmanth Yunnan, the first two really had me purring and the two latter are nice but not for me.

Vétiver is earthy and sweet in the best kind of way; according to guidelines from Ellena and Hermès all the perfumes in this line corresponds to fabrics; supposedly this is wool. All I can think of though is a well worn leather jacket , one that has taken on the smell of a strong perfume and mixed with the leather created something new. It’s got that lovely “green” vibe and I love this, and prefer it to Bal d’Afrique from Byredo. However I keep thinking it’s a scent for fall.

Rose Ikebana is the complete opposite; in the description it say that it’s the mix of rose petals and rhubarb(again with the rhubarb); I do smell those things but the overall impression, for me, is vintage soaps. The kind granny uses. Of these samples this is my fave, the one that puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step.

Have a great weekend everyone!

-Suss

 

Darling River

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There is no end to the contradictions I consist of. Perfumewise I’m craving freshness and I’ve done more then one trip to the perfume counters looking for a little something citrus-y to put on my wrist. I have returned with a few samples but mostly bought baklava. The jury is still out on wether I will change perfume, make-up routine and possibly the way I dress due to the change of glasses.(It must however be pointed out that it might be the other way around; that I chose glasses diametrically opposite to the ones I had because I wanted a new look so it would have happened anyway. In fact this is likelier. However will always love baklava).

So while my head wants new things (all lightness and lemons) my body is call for something completely different; sugar and comfort(sugar is comfort?).

Those two things comes together in my fascination with the Nile.

I spent a part of my childhood in Egypt, mostly Cairo. One rather long stretch, we lived there, and several visits. It is a place close to my heart; my first memories are from sitting in the back of a taxi being amazed with the light and the palm trees. As a child I was more into the old history of Egypt; the pharaohs and the pyramids. It wasn’t until later that I discovered the interesting era of the Mamelucks or realized how egyptian culture shaped the Arab world, or indeed what a dictatorial regime was and that I have lived in one, and why we were there in the first place. That said, foreigners were rarely a subject to egyptian law, and as is still often the case with first world staff in third world countries; we only spent time with our own group. Which in my case were other children, the imaginary friend that everyone claims I had back then( I have no memory of this what so ever) and the stray cat that moved in on our balcony with her kittens.

Having that sort of connection with a place doesn’t ensure that you will read everything about it(my brother cares not one bit and never has). In this case I think the experience mingled with some of my genetically codified personality traits; I’ve never committed to collecting anything full on but rather there are several areas of special interest, the Nile being one of them.

I’ll buy almost anything with the Nile in the title. I’ve bought and read some wonderful books on the subject(and many awful ones). The most classic, and on point, are Alan Moorehead’s books “The blue nile” and “The white nile” from the 60’s. These were bestsellers and it turns out they were even translated to swedish. In them Moorehead explores and more importantly writes the history of the Nile and it’s two parts: the blue Nile being the lower part starting in Khartoum and all the way through Egypt  and the White nile, from the origin in Lake Victoria through the high plateaus of Sudan. It is travel writing at it’s finest; they felt very fresh and I felt like a child on an adventure reading them. (You can almost hear the theme to Indiana Jones while doing so).

With the travel writing, and wonderful watercolors, of Florine Asch there is more some very sophisticated jazz that would be the soundtrack. I can look at the pictures in this book forever.

Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant should have been mentioned when I stacked up  the foodie memoirs but it had fallen behind other books, so I bring it up now. Rossant is the child of an Egyptian-Jewish father and  a french mother. When her father dies she was raised by her grandparents in Cairo and didn’t live with her mother until she was 15. Very dramatic, well told and mouth watering recipes. All of it is very “old world”, almost like a novel by Agatha Christie, but she also writes leveling about the food, the light and evokes the lush gardens where she.

Which brings us to the closest thing I have to a signature scent, one of two scents that I’ve bought more then once(or in this case been given) and that I bought first time without having had a whiff of it; entirely based on the name.

I read about it in a fashion magazine and had no possibility at the time to smell it anywhere. That said I wasn’t exactly making a crazy bet; it’s from the  Hermés perfume line and Jean-Claude Ellena had created it; even then I knew that I was in good hands and so asked someone who was traveling to buy me a bottle on the duty free in a well-stocked airport. And I loved it. It was fresh but didn’t smell like a cleaning product. It was an abstraction of citrus in a way. I wouldn’t say that it in any way reminds me of the smell of Cairo(which is more about hot asphalt,trash and jasmine; Mona di Orio used to have a scent that captured it exactly).

The whole story about the perfume I read about later in the wonderful “The perfect scent-a year in the perfume industry” by Chandler Burr ( a fascinating read even if one isn’t a wearer of the perfumes it focuses on; Un garden sur le Nil and Lovely på Sarah Jessica Parker) so add that to the list of books I’m trying to bully you into reading.

Anyways; it says in the description that “Un Jardin Sur le Nil” smells of green mangoes and lotus flowers. If they say so: having never smelled them I have no reference. To me it smells of old fashioned soap, grapefruit juice and sunshine. In short a wonderful morning. I have a weak spot for colognes in general and this has a lot of those qualities except that is one of the Ellena scents that doesn’t evaporate from my skin in under four seconds and stays longer then a cologne would. But it is most decidedly a mood enhancer for me. This was revolutionary scent when it came(or so I have gathered from reading about it later) but this feels like a modern classic now. Remind me again; why am I running around trying perfumes when I have a bottle of this?

-Suss