Archive of ‘scents & sensibility’ category

DARKLY DREAMING: A Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Course Guide.

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I recently had the distinct pleasure of writing a course guide for the uninitiated and those new to the splendors of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and their myriad, wonderful fragrances. You can find it over at Haute Macabre.

And because I don’t know how to be brief and possess the uncanny (and not at all annoying!) ability to make a long story even longer, you will find it broken down into three installments, for easier reading:

It gets a little personal, I’m afraid. I find it difficult to separate a beloved thing from the experiences I’ve had while adoring that thing -so there are more than a few anecdotes and opinions. It cannot be helped!

I have loved Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, their people, and their fragrances for a very long time now and I do hope I’ve done them justice with my words.  Let me know what you think! Have I missed anything?  What are your favorites scents and collections?  Favorite BPAL memories over the years?

 

More Stinkers and Duds

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Earlier in the year I wrote of my unfortunate experiences with a handful of cosmetics and beauty products, so that I might save you, dear friends, the misfortune of spending your money on them, or perhaps worse – applying them to your person.

As it turns out, there are quite a lot of really awful products out there! And as you can imagine, I like to ramble on extensively about such things, so I shall be featuring a quasi-regular Stinkers & Duds column to share with you these products that range from Mildly Offensive to Relatively Useless to Really Fucking Gross, Kill It With Fire.

On today’s list:

1. Caudalie Lip Conditioner $12: this has the consistency of a 1000 year old crayon – nay, a fossilized million year old crayon.  Perhaps carbon dating methods cannot even determine the exact age of the waxy substance which comprises this product. Combine this with all the healing properties of spiked lizard skin and scraping sandpaper and then imagine scouring this rough specimen across your poor, tender lips. Wonder at the bleeding mess you have made of your mouth because you have done this ill-advised thing.  Think about demanding your money back from Sephora but then never actually do it because you find the act of returning things to the store and dealing with customer service repugnant.  Stew fretfully for the rest of your life about it.

2. Nature Republic Bee Venom Cleansing Foam $12.98: I had read several good reviews about this product, the bee venom is supposedly good for neutralizing redness, and I have this problem on my cheeks and chin every now and then. I don’t quite understand what it is – i am not naturally ruddy-cheeked (I am actually rather sallow) and it’s not acne or blemishes.  Just sort of an…inflamed irritation?  I don’t know.  Anyway, this did not help at all.  Not only did it do nothing – I am still as red as a tomato most days – it smells a bit like hand cream that you’ve left in your pocketbook too long and which has gone off, and it was terribly drying. Nope.

3. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb $50: I hate Victor and Rolf’s Flowerbomb so much that I nearly fly into a rage. It smells petty and mean spirited and small-minded. Like bigoted small town pageant moms and the shitty popular girls in 80s movies. It simultaneously makes me want to cringe and cry.  It’s all the Heathers. Also: it’s an enormous lie. It smells nothing like any flower, ever. Unless, of course, there is a blossom that smells like Bongo jeans and hair-sprayed bangs and the wretched duo of Jennifer W. and Amanda P. in the 7th and 8th grade. How’s it feel to be the inspiration for the world’s worst fragrance, you dumb, hateful bitches?

4. Redken Color Extend Magnetics Sulfate Free Shampoo and Conditioner $26.50 Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sulfates are bad, I get it.  Whatever – I LIKE sulfates!  They actually lather up and clean my hair and get the dang job done.  However, my stylist talked me into trying this stuff, and to be honest I only used it once. T

Me: nearly waist length, color treated hair. Slightly coarse, wavy. Frizzes up in the right conditions (ie 100% in Florida). I have a lot of hair and you can tell.

Me on Redken Color Extend Magnetics: Hair is lank, limp, greasy. I look like Samara, crawling out of the well and off of your teevee set to kill you. Guess you shouldn’t have watched that video when you knew your friends were dying one by one a week later. I now officially resemble a Japanese murder ghost and obviously someone has to pay.

Also when my sweet, thoughtful, always complimentary dude wrinkled up his nose as he sniffed my freshly washed head and remarked with a grimace “ugh, you smell like dog ears” – which, WTF does that even mean? –  I threw it out with out a backward glance.  Life’s too short to smell like dog’s ears, folks.

What’s had you wrinkling your nose lately?  Tell me all about your own stinkers and duds!  I’m all ears, as always.

Music to wear perfume by

the perfumed dark from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Track List:

The Action Of Memory, Andrew Hargreaves | A Glimpse, Rafael Anton | The Path, Zoë Keating | November, Max Richter | The License To Interpret Dreams, Antonymes | their memories, harold budd and brian eno | Grounds, Poppy Ackroyd | Reverie, Ludovico Einaudi | Krómantík, Soley | Idlewild, Julia Kent | Bedded deep in longterm memory, The Caretaker | Ritual, Adam Hurst | Strange Dreams, The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation | Lament, Jacaszek | Déjà vu, Fabrizio Paterlini | Stille, Lucy Claire by ft. Alev Lenz | Les Soirs, Oskar Schuester

“Music to wear perfume by” – upon reading the title, this would seem to be my most frivolous playlist yet…or is it? I believe that if you listen closely, within these sounds you’ll find my true heart.

 

Elsewhere: Smell a Little Evil with these Five Horror-Inspired Perfumes

{image: Three daughters of King Lear by Gustav Pope}

Recently I had the opportunity to write for Dirge, a dark fiction market and entertainment magazine, which revels in the beautifully grotesque. Right up my alley, right? And I chose to write about perfumes, which of course surprises exactly no one.

Please to enjoy! “Smell a Little Evil with these Five Horror-Inspired Perfumes” 

Are there any horror-inspired perfumes that you love? Do tell!

Summer Scent Giveaway Winner!

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Thanks to all who entered my Summer Scents For Those Who Shun The Sun giveaway, over on the bloodmilk blog last week.  I loved reading all of your beautiful, evocative scent descriptions! Alas, I can only choose one winner, and according to the random number generator, our winner of samples for each scent listed (along with several other selections!) is….#7, Tai!

Tai, please email me at mlleghoul AT gmail dot com so that I can send these fragrances your way!

 

In the original post it seems I neglected to mention where these scents can be found.  Allow me to remedy that! Most of them can be found on amazon.  See below for links. Regretfully, the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scent that I listed, “Danube” , looks like it is no longer on the site (I must have a really old bottle). I have found their scent “Arkham” to be strangely comparable, though..

Jean Couturier Coriandre on amazon
Annick Goutal Mandragore on amazon
L’Artisan Safran Troublant on amazon
Jo Malone Orange Blossom on amazon
Comme des Garcons Incense Series: Kyoto on amazon

 

Mother issues, volume 1: The smelly edition

Sometimes, when my sisters and I get together and have had a few glasses of wine, one of us will say something like “Hey, do you remember Furry Lewis? And the weird black spots on his nose? We sure had a lot of cats when we were growing up, didn’t we?  Let’s see if we can remember all of their names!” At this point we are not counting or keeping track very well, and it usually goes nowhere and we have forgotten about it five minutes later.

If pressed to do that right now, I could name: Fritz, Leonard, Tibbytabby, Rosemary Kelly Denise, Bub, Chico, Chloe, Larry, Gypsy, Leroy Parnell, Simon Bisely, Dr. Bob, Furry Lewis, Tia Marie, Desdemona, Freddy Mercury, Clyde, Random, Mandy, Omar, Annie, Paddy, Georgie, Oliver, Bill, Ebby, feral garage kitty who later became Jenny Calendar, Ginger, Carrotcake, Abby who later became Hermione (actually I lied, I had to call my sister and ask who she could recall as well)

From the time I was 8 until right up until my mother passed away, she had no less than 5 or 6 cats in her house and for a good many years it was upwards on 20+. As a matter of fact, I believe the cat population was at it’s largest during my high school years.  If I had any friends to speak of, I probably would have been embarrassed and ashamed to bring them into our smoky, cat infested, litter-box odor infused home, but as it stood, my humiliation stemmed more from the fact that when I left the house, I brought all of these horrid smells with me.

I was picked on mercilessly on the school bus for my cat-hair covered clothes and my own hair, which seemed to smell like cigarette smoke and the faint fragrance of feline no matter how often I washed it.  Actually, the entire school bus experience was wretched for me anyhow, but that is a story for a different time, and not even really one I am comfortable telling because, well, racial stuff (I was the only white girl on a non-white bus). Most of these stories make my sister cry, so we’ll just forget about that.

As I grew older, I realized two things: I was never, ever going to start smoking – obviously because it’s bad for you, but mostly because I did not want a closet of clothes or an entire house or even/especially my person to smell like smoke.  And two: AS GOD AS MY WITNESS, I WAS NEVER GOING TO SMELL BAD AGAIN.

You may have noticed by now that I seem to have a fascination bordering on obsession with perfumes and fragrances.  You would not be wrong.  Now you know why. True, I may have inherited a bit of a hoarding gene from my mother – though I prefer to think of myself as a collector – but mostly I cannot stand the thought that there are anything other than pleasant smells coming from my corner.

My mother also loved perfumes. When I was much younger, my mother’s mirrored vanity tray held a great deal of fascination for me, with its jumble of shimmering glass bottles filled with fragrant fluids. It was a constant and forbidden temptation -as I had been told, more than once, to leave it be. And more than once, caught in a paroxysm of longing and naughtiness from which there was no return, I would spray one scent, then the next, and then perhaps high from the vaporous cloud of aromatics floating round my head, would proceed to spritz myself with the remainder of those illicit essences. When later interrogated, I would have the audacity to assert that I had been playing quietly in some other part of the house the entire time.

And yet, when I survey my  tiny scented kingdom I cannot locate one perfume that I think she would have loved (which were mostly funereal roses and heavy-handed chypres).  It somewhat saddens me to say it, but those she wore the most have always been the scents I like the least.

There you have it.  800+ words on why I blame my problems on my mother*, but it’s al really just a thinly veiled excuse to share and show off photos of my current perfume collection.
Don’t thank me.  Thank my mother.

And getting back to the names of all of those cats…well, I probably wouldn’t be able to name all of my perfumes if you ask me about them, either.

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*When I think about it, the entire reason I created this little spot here at Unquiet Things is because of my mother.  I originally meant for this to be an offshoot of Death Cafe Orlando, wherein I could post topical tidbits, updates on future events, write-ups of past events, etc. Unfortunately, I came to learn that the folks over at Death Cafe aren’t thrilled with people blogging using their name (which I really do understand, it just honestly hadn’t entered into my perhaps overenthusiastic thought processes at the time.) So, I turned it into a personal blog. I’ve been journaling online in some form or another for the past 15 years, ever since the days of Livejournal, so why not? But the overwhelming reason I think I decided to start hosting Death Cafe in the first place is because of my mother’s death back in 2013.  So I suppose it just makes sense to air all of my grievances here, along with all of my other nonsense and ramblings.

Melancholics on holiday

Ah, so here we are.  Spring break.  Which is a funny and deceptive phrase in the semi-tropics where I live, because truly, by the time the spring months roll around, it is already starting to feel like mid-summer.

I like the idea of being outside and going to the beach and so on, but I try to do it before the sun has risen or just as it’s beginning to set, for as a pale skinned person who hates to sweat,  that evil day star and I are not exactly on the best of terms. Also, I like being outside in the dim and dark hours because I am super weird about people looking at me.

So how does one pack/prepare for a melancholic holiday at the seashore? I have put together an etsy treasury to get us started!

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Black crocheted umbrella // Fiji Mermaid solid perfume // shibori throw // Joy Division flask
Pacific photo // lucid dream caftan // tentacle pendant // lvnea lip balm
sea Witch ring // wide brim hat // jellyfish tee // black leather sandals
sea creature stationery // fern drawstring bag // black culottes // sea anemone iPhone case

For aural inspiration, I cannot recommend “Paper Butterfly” highly enough…

Stinkers and Duds

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I am certainly no guru when it comes to cosmetics and beauty products; those elixirs, serums, and potions we sink hundreds and thousands of dollars in every year to keep us from mummifying or stinking or being generally hideous.  I do, however, know what I like.
That, however, is a different story for a different time.

I am here today to talk to you about some items I most assuredly did not like.

1. Lavanila – The Healthy Deodorant

On trip to DC in 2014 the airline lost our luggage and since they were reimbursing us for our expenses I figured I would splurge on a “fancy” deodorant. Of all the things on which to splurge.

Anyhow, the product itself smells very nice – a lovely combination of “fresh” and “clean” and mildly sweet. Once applied, however, I have found that the scent dissipates very quickly and after an hour or so in the warm weather, seems to disappear altogether. Up until that point I was blissfully unaware of how truly, incomparably awful my own body smelled in the absence of deodorizing beauty products. My god. That foul stench was coming from me? Unbelievable! Inconceivable! I had to keep surreptitiously sniffing myself to remind myself that yes, that vile odor was actually emanating from my person. You know the wiggly waves that come off smelly people in comics and cartoons? I am pretty sure that’s what my olfactory aura looked like during this time.

As someone who always smells pretty great (in my humble opinion), this turn of events -while disappointing and which made me a bit of a social pariah for the remainder of my vacation – was absolutely fascinating. I had no idea, NO IDEA that one human being could smell so bad. Well, I am here to tell you that they can, and apparently lacking properly effective deodorants, I am the equivalent of a ticking stinkbomb.

I cannot in good faith recommend this product. Who knows what evil lurks under our arms when we are caught unawares by an an incompetent deodorant? Steer clear from this product, and you’ll not have to ever find out.

2. Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask

I suppose it is rather unfair to judge and review a product after one usage, especially one that is not really designed to produce instantaneous results (as oppose to say, a swipe of lipstick or a spritz of perfume.) However, I am compelled to record my initial thoughts on the subject here, few though they may be.

I call upon you, if you will, to remember the film Poltergeist, when Carol Anne’s mother pulls her out of the closet and she is covered with that pinkish, ectoplasmic goo? The viscous ooze that I extracted from the small sample packet resembled that sticky slime to such a degree that I actually found myself retching a little bit as I spread with trembling fingers that rosy jellied mucous on my face. Though the smell was in no way off-putting, the texture was like so much partially digested pudding and I shuddered to think how this slithering, slippery mass might transform my familiar (if slightly reddened and visibly aging) visage.

As instructed, I rinsed the sickly substance from my cheeks with warm water and waited with mounting fear to see what would emerge from beneath that foul fluid. Would the face staring back from the mirror be deformed, disfigured…dissolved? …would it even mine?

Indeed it was. Same enlarged pores. Same dark spots. Same dull countenance.
No radiance, no dewy glow. No youthful rejuvenation.

No point to this hideous exercise.
A horrific ordeal.

3. Parfumerie Generale – Aomassai

I feel like I may be the lone dissenter on this much beloved gourmand, but I think it smells like being locked in a humidor full of Ding Dongs. Which is not my idea of a good time.

4. LUSH – Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner

In theory, this is probably a great product. It’s a decadent, heavy cream that you slather on in the shower and then rinse off and then voila! You are no longer a dry, scaly winter lizard. The smell, however, MY GOD THE SMELL. I knew it wasn’t going to work for me because it was just so sweet and fruity and awful and cloying, but when my partner pointed out that I smell like Jolly Ranchers – those disgusting candies that were enormously popular during my sixth grade year – I literally gagged. I still have 99% of a jar of this stuff sitting on the counter and it’s quite a waste because it’s definitely not cheap.  Let me know if you want it. I haven’t got cooties.

Are there any products or items that you had pinned your hopes on, spend your monies on, and then let you down horribly? Almost killed you? Forewarned is forearmed – leave a comment and tell me all about it so I can learn from your mistakes as you have learned from mine.

Currently…

Currently…

…Digging into Tenebrous Kate’s Forever Doomed ‘zine, a “tongue-in-cheek but loving look at the theme of doom” and which includes new essays and comics such as “Erotic Rites of the Nazgûl” and ‘Adventures at Maryland Deathfest” (both of which I am very keen to read!) If you enjoy Kate’s blog, which touches on all things dark, fantastical and forbidden, you’d do well to pick up a copy for yourself while they last.

 

…Sniffing my way through Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s 2014 Yule offerings. I really wanted to love Practical Occultism (“A Victorian occultist’s incense, invoking the Four Archangels: precious wildcrafted Indian frankincense with myrrh, cassia, sandarac, palmarosa, white sage, red sandalwood, elemi, and drops of star anise bound with grains of kyphi.”) But I think my favorite thus far is Chionophobia (“Fear of Snow: A suffocating, oppressive white shroud: a fragrance heavy with ice, strangled by damp oakmoss, artemisia, and muguet.”).  It’s a lightly mossy, white musk that reminds me of being 15 years old and waiting at 6AM on a cold, damp morning for my ride to school.  That’s not exactly a pleasant memory, and I loathed school, but it’s still a nice scent!

Knitting a leftovers blanket.  I’ve years and years worth of little bits and bobs of sock yarn, the amounts that were leftover from a pair of socks and that did not add up to enough to do anything useful or interesting with.  I recently stumbled upon this blanket using up these leftover bits as wee mitered squares and became inspired to do the same myself.
Knitters –  I have a favor to ask, and I don’t normally ask for favors, so I hope you will indulge me. Do you have any leftover sock yarn that you know you are never going to do anything with? I’d love to incorporate it into the leftovers blanket that I am currently working on. It would also be neat to have little pieces of friendly, generous folks knit into this thing. Er, well. That’s a little creepy. Which is just perfect for me! Do let me know! I know I am asking you to drop something in the mail, which costs a bit of postage, so I understand if it’s not something you are able to do. But if you are…I would really appreciate it, and it would make the project extra meaningful.  Drop me a note at mlleghoul AT gmail dot com if you are interested in helping out.

…Cooking all of the things!  I am not sure if I am finally shaking off the laziness and lassitude of the holidays or what, but I’m much more inclined to putter around in the kitchen than I have been the last few months.  Over the weekend I made not one – but two! – suppers -and for someone who is firm believer in dining out all weekend long because somehow she came to believe that’s what fancy people do and she likes to pretend she is fancy – that’s no small feat..  Sunday night saw us simmering Baby Lima Beans in Chipotle Broth from Heidi Swanson’s Supernatural Cooking (but you can find the recipe online here) and on Saturday we made Giada De Laurentiis’ oricchiette with mixed greens and goat cheese – which is a simple but incredibly tasty one-pot meal.  Also, both vegetarian, if you care about such things.

What are you up to these days, in your part of the world?

We’re going to need a bigger boat. Er, cabinet.

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I seem to be outgrowing my (very sizable, I might add) perfume cabinet.  I suppose I need to either scale back on the fragrance purchases – Quelle horreur! – or look into alternate storage solutions.  And since I happen to have a few scented items already on their way to me from all over the globe, I fear the former is no longer an option.

Some recent acquisitions…

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Fille en Aiguilles from Serge Lutens reminds me of a rich, spiced fruit compote that is sweetly simmering on the stove, in a snow covered chalet on the longest, darkest night of the year. The sun has just gone down and the the door bangs open; a gust of icy wind tears through carrying the briefest scent of pine needles; guest are stamping their feet and blowing on their hands, everyone has red noses and chilled ears and they are gathering close to a hearth where a warm glow lights their faces. The sweet, spicy concoction on the stove has evaporated so there is no longer a syrupy fragrance, but instead the slightly smoky remains, the very essence of the fruit. To me Fille En Aiguilles smells of spiced fruit compote incense perfuming the close quarters and warming bodies, and light and memories of a cold night and beloved friends who warm your heart.

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Ether body butter by Naked Eye Beauty (sold through Sisters of the Black Moon); a lovely scent with bitter orange, ylang ylang, lavender and amber that, although a bit off-puttingly medicinal at first, dries down to a a subtly sweet, softly musky scent. It doesn’t sound enticing when I repeat what I told a friend – that it smells “like a stripper with a heart of gold”. But I mean that it in the nicest way.

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Various samples from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Ars Moriendi line. Grave chic cemetery scents. We are going to bring the fragrance of the dead into fashion this summer.

 

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