28 Jun

Three new scents from Bloodmilk…

LEKYTHOI Smells of the brine of the ocean and resinous petrified sap of ancient trees, like cool, polished sea glass and golden amber laced with tiny bubbles, heaped tall in vessels of dusty clay and submerged in rich, grassy olive oil. Offerings to appease the sirens, left on the crashing tides of lonely islands amidst tumbling, clackering piles of sailor’s bones.

PELANON There is a work by pre-Raphaelite artist John William Waterhouse that depicts two robe-draped figures refreshing a small altar of bronze statuettes, making humble offerings to the household gods. Not of divine nectar and sacred ambrosia, but rather commonplace, earthbound flowers, honey, and fruits –a quietly luminous but very human and everyday moment of ritual and reverence. This fragrance is the incense of that span of heartbeats and intent, ensconced in a golden beam of fading afternoon sunlight.

ENAGISMATA Translations of Homer turn up many instances of the evocative phrase “the wine-dark sea,” which, if parsed literally, may simply be describing rough, stormy seas–but I first heard the turn of phrase as the title of one of Robert Aickman collections of weird, unsettling stories. If you’re unfamiliar, this author revels in disquieting tales of haunted psychology and thoroughly unnerving but initially routine and unremarkable experiences. They’re not quite ghost stories but perhaps just quotidian situations and circumstances, slightly off-center, low-key, and almost indefinably mysterious.

If you’ve ever observed the turned-inside-out-mixedup-madness of a multicolored knitted sweater, you can see how you wear the chaos of your clothing so close to the skin, the nightmare side of something so ordinary, carried unknowingly right next to your heart. Enagismata smells of the syzygy-space where these weird divisions of unbothered/uneasy align: both a dark-fruited velvety-opulent wine with a strange, vaguely unearthly terroir and a secretive, slithering salinity, dark and bottomless from the most lightless depths of the ocean; the ways in which these elements relate to each other is in a constant flux that recalls shifting voids and pocket dimensions just outside our experience of reality. But so close, we can almost feel it. Hear it. Smell it.

Five scents from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Felius Silvestris Catrus Collection

A Girl Knitting smells milky and fruity, except not fruit, but milk that once held fruit. And not even real fruit, but Saturday morning cereal fruit-shaped puffed grains and marshmallows. There’s also a textural element; it smells of rustic textiles, musky, warm fleece with tiny flecks of twig and vegetal detritus not entirely combed out, a fuzzy, wooly strand of yarn spun straight from a freshly shorn sheep, knit with clacking wooden needles into a bulky beanie to keep your ears warm while you slurp your sweet, creamy, fruity cereal milk.

By Day She Made Herself into a Cat is a deep, profoundly relieving gasp of cool, nocturnal air when you’ve been exposed too long to a brutal slash of sunlight.  It’s exactly as the notes suggest, amber and inky black musk in perfect proportions. It smells like swallowing the dark stillness of a midnight dream. This is one of those scents that is very much A Whole Vibe, and if your vibe is Must Love Cats And Darkness, you will probably dig this one.

White Cat is a crisp, airy lemon wafer with a creamy, fluffy vanilla marshmallow filling. But there’s a resinous, ambery element as well; it’s a cookie by way of incense– you don’t eat it,  you scent the room with it.

Portrait of Magdaleine Pinceloup de la Grange née de Parseval is the perfumed approximation of your favorite TikTok cat; a whirlwind of musky fur, murky herbs, and backyard grassy litterbox bedevilment scratching at your tattered window screen to the frantically building beat of Darude’s Sandstorm. This review will not hold up with time, and it won’t make sense a year from now, and I don’t even care because I know in my heart this is true. This is a scent, that, like the silliest memes, makes me giggle and makes me want to share it with someone and make them giggle too.

Cat at the Table has notes of gentle white tea and mellow, soothing sandalwood and boasts label art by Leonard Foujita (whose paintings of unsettling girls with their unsettling dolls are some of my favorites!), and maybe it’s because Foujita’s cat has a Richard Scarry Huckle the Cat quality, but or maybe because it’s just a still cat at a table, the calm before the storm, but there’s an undeniable air of charming mischief to this scent, but also of quiet playtime, of nurseries and storytimes and naps. Of milky tea parties in heirloom china cups, puddings sticky with drizzles of marmalade, and the amber-eyed gaze of an old family cat watching with interest as the children’s tea play and sup and grow.

BeauFort London Terror & Magnificence. This is the very gothest thing: tarry, leathery shadows, wet stony paths leading into the teeming dark, and moonless midnights presiding over all. Like being enfolded by bat wings, encased in obsidian, enveloped in a stark abyss. A silent secret from the mouth of one just dead. This departed speaker whom no one hears is you.

Vetiver Bucolique from Mad et Len evokes a sort of sleazy Rococco decadence stalked by a gloomy, predatory nihilism. Oh, you thought I would talk about the various notes and helpful info? Ha ha! I will not! It smells like the kooky, kinky salaciousness of Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s iconic painting, The Swing, if you scratched out the creamy pastel frivolity of the faces in some sort of freaky Raskolnokovian frenzy.

Estate Carnation from Solstice Scents is a perfume I’ve talked about everywhere else but here, I guess. Time for a proper review! Ha! As if you’re ever gonna see me write an actual, proper review! Anyhow, Estate Carnation is a deeply gothic glamour amber, a musky murky chypre-adjacent fragrance that smells simultaneously like the figure in the white nightdress running from the manor house with the lone candle lit in the window at midnight and the surprise succubus that this figure is secretly possessed by–it’s all the iconic tropes of Avon Satanic Romance novel, and it’s perfect. If you love deep, mysterious scents and only have the budget for one fragrance this year, Estate Carnation should be the one.

Her Kind from Sorcellerie is a scent and brand that I talked briefly about on TikTok, but I’m not sure I have enough thoughts about either just yet to warrant a proper review. You should watch it if you want to see some really good earrings, though.

Jo Malone’s Mallow on the Moors is a fragrance I mentioned in my Sephora Haul video the other day, and I hoped it might be a little haunted. Not really in the way I was expecting, though. More like a parody from someone who didn’t realize they were writing a parody, which some might look at as a little unfortunate for their creation (no one wants to be unintentionally funny, you know?), but hey, it could also be fun, right?

Imagine you’re a buttoned-up gothic novelist who’s never even taken a lover, and fate has led you straight into the arms of a rakish lothario, a real Bluebeard type. Imagine swoons, sighs, ghosts, old gothic castles, manor grounds, bodies buried in the poison gardens, dead wives in attics, and all that jazz. And then the camera pans out, and this is a Hammer horror production directed by Anna Biller starring Lana del Rey, and it’s trying real hard to be ethereal and phantasmal and misty moors and mossy castles, but somehow it is all high camp and glinting artifice, real Real Housewives of Manderley energy. As to what it smells like, imagine the luminous violet powder of broken, scattered Guerlain Meteorites and the brassy hairspray, champagne-tossed-in-your-faceness of Tom Ford Jasmine Rouge. Imagine all of that sprayed on Dita von Teese in La Perla clutching a guttering candelabra channeling Frau Blücher.

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There were a handful of artists of the elfin and ethereal that I would have loved to include in The Art of Fantasy who are not actually in these pages, and it’s sure a bummer, but what can you do? So life goes on. However, there is one such creator of enchantments and fantastic beings who never in my wildest dreams did I imagine would actually be in my little book, and yet…here they are! I am referring to none other than the extraordinary creations wrought by the outrageously talented Forest Rogers.

One gets the sense that Forest Rogers is an artist who has experienced first-hand both the joy and despair of mermaids singing, has felt the euphoric, incandescent flutter of angel wings, held the literal hand of the dark night of the soul, and maybe even danced a tango with a prehistoric skeleton or a luminous beam of starlight.

How else would this artist instinctively know how to sculpt the ineffable, the transcendent, and the staggeringly unbelievable into such a graceful and dynamic reality?


The Beautiful Crustacean, Forest Rogers, 2016, mixed media, Japanese air-dry clay with mulberry paper.

These creatures, marvels of myth and imagination, monstrously beautiful and tinged with melancholy, seem poised at the verge, a frozen moment of fragile movement – as if they may at any moment take flight and disappear with their secrets into the mist, or skitter close and whisper mysterious revelations.

Approach them with care, take only what is offered to you, and let the world go on, knowing that you have experienced a bit of the magic that made them.

You can see Forest Rogers’s “The Beautiful Crustacean” here in the Impossible Monsters chapter of The Art of Fantasy: A Visual Sourcebook of All That is Unreal, on sale everywhere on September 12th, and available for preorder now!

Pre-order your copy of  The Art of  Fantasy by August 1 from any retailer and be one of the first 100 readers to receive bonus goodies! Details here.


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23 Jun

This past weekend included a three-hour drive through the scariest thunderstorm to the dreamiest little hideaway. Back to the stomping grounds that were never properly ours, a dream that never quite came true for us.

Even though we desperately wanted to move away from Florida, we thought, for the longest time, well, if we *have* to be here, we’d sure love to be in this particular part of Orlando. With this little ramen place, and this little record store, and this corner coffee shop. With my best friend on this end of town and my sister and her swimming pool just ten minutes away and so and so forth. But the timing was never right. I had family responsibilities in town at that time. And then folks started moving away from Orlando, and then we had to move to another part of Florida for other obligations and responsibilities. By then, it was too late.

But we had a free weekend, and we found ourselves reminiscing about a place we never knew as well as we would have liked and for some friends we hadn’t seen in a while. So! We planned a brief Orlando jaunt close to all the places we loved best  We rented a cute Airbnb. We met up with some friends for soup dumplings, we met up with other friends for board games and beers, we went out for sushi, and then the next morning we went out for coffee and stopped by our favorite nursery for some garden treats before heading back.

I guess you can’t go back, and you definitely can’t-can’t go back to somewhere you never lived in the first place. But still…it was good to see you, Orlando. For those interested in such things, I shared a “what I bring in my travel bag” over on TikTok!

Baby-me in my mid-twenties wanted to start a food blog with tons of gorgeous bread photos but it turns out I couldn’t even make a decent no-knead loaf. It wasn’t till my 40s that I learned patience with sourdoughs and the no-fail certitude of plush buttery enriched doughs that I had the confidence to revisit making just a regular old yeasted loaf of something.

This is a whole wheat oatmeal flaxseed loaf using a recipe from Minimalist Baker. It rose perfectly, it’s nice and sturdy for toasting, it’s exactly as I envisioned, and I did it! Only took me twenty years! Gonna start that food blog now; people are definitely still reading those, right?

Bad days, man. Sometimes I think I’m getting better at handling them, but then sometimes, I have no idea what I’m doing. But this day is over. And I made a pretty good mushroomy fauxganoff meal, even though I wanted to order tacos and queso. I planted serrano and melon seeds. I’m having a nice little foot bath, and I’m trying a new whiskey that a lovely friend got for us. A stupid day doesn’t have to turn into a stupid evening. I’m gonna knit some muppety stitches and do my grandma knee strengthening exercises and read something deliciously creepy and be glad that I am alive in this world to have any kind of day at all. Am I doing this right? Any of it? Will I ever know?

P.S. I am fine. Most of my bad days consist of being very agitated and working myself up to a tizzy. I’m working on the “not working myself up” part. Hee hee, but, if I am being Very Real here, I will confess that my most of my agitations are for very bratty reasons. I consider it a good day if I can work on personal projects alongside Day Job things, and on days where work-work is nuts and becomes my entire focus, I get SO CRABBY. These are super privileged, very entitled crabulations and cranks, but I can’t help it.


I’m trying to keep better track of what goes into my guts and fuels my bod and my brains. This may be very triggery and I don’t want to freak anyone out, but I’ve become fixated with and terrified of the idea that as soon as I turn 49 in two years, I’m going to wake up dead.

I remember that happened to Michelle McNamara (46) and Julie Powell (49) and maybe for different reasons, but I don’t want that to be me. And you can’t foresee or control these things, I realize that, but there are some things I can control and I at least want to know that I tried my best. So logic dictates that if I do not eat at least 20 kinds of vegetables per day, I will literally die.

This not-at-all upsetting multiple ongoing existential crises brekkie thoughts brought to you by zucchini and enoki miso soup, eggy salmon rice, and lots o’ pickles.

This pattern is the Anthology throw from Curious Handmade, and it was so good for using up the gazillion scraps and scraggles of sock yarn I have amassed.

It broke my eyeballs and turned my joints to jelly but it was actually an easy-peasy project and I’d probably knit it again while my traitorous old body disintegrated around me. I will eventually gift you a pretty blanket with my skittering skellington hands and hopefully, you’ll be too enchanted to scream?

….it’s here!!

Or, well, at least my author copy is. The books haven’t hit the warehouse yet, so advance copies won’t be sent out for awhile, and regular old copies won’t be available until the publishing date of September 12th. But anyway…it is HERE!  I know I keep saying this, but I can’t believe I even wrote one book, let alone three, and yet here they all are!

Please be sure to place your preorders! Preorders are important! And etcetera! I don’t want to do the whole song and dance about it but they’re important, they really, really are!

and don’t forget…

Pre-order your copy of  The Art of  Fantasy by August 1 from any retailer and be one of the first 100 readers to receive bonus goodies! Details here.




“my dear mary stole a rose” by Katie Eleanor

So I guess I have been making various “How to wear the summer solstice” outfits over the years and posting them willy-nilly on the internet and social media, but I have not been properly gathering them up in a blog post afterward, like I typically do with my other How To Wear collections. Le whoopsie! So that’s what I am doing today.

With such curations, I might usually include a bit of preamble about whatever aesthetic aspect of the seasons linking them with this, that, or the other kindred sartorial elements, but today I will leave the connecting of those dots to you.  I have bees to bother and cookies to think about baking (I probably won’t bake them, but I’ll think about it all day) and a mustard yellow tunic to wear, and such is the extent of my summer solstice practices in 2023. I am sneaking all of this in-between minutes of the workday, so I am doing my best with what I have to work with!

Click on each image to be wisked away to a page where you will find all of the items that comprise the ensemble. Please note that these were pieced together over the span of several years and many of these things are sold out or discontinued, but you can often find the same or similar items on resale sites. Also, my daydreams are opulent and not inexpensive, so yes–many of these things are stupidly pricey, I am well aware of that!

Summer Solstice 2023




Previous Summer Solstices…


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Wonder of the Sea, Wenzel Hablik, 1917

“Long live the imagination! Because everything that exists once was an idea.
Long live the will! For the act of wanting to change the world and make it freer.”

What else is there to say about the dazzling works of Czech artist Wenzel Hablik (1881 to 1934) other than to point to the above quote, words uttered by the artist himself? But I do have to say a little something, don’t I?

It seems like cheating to slap a bunch of paintings on a blog and call it a day– even if the works are as resplendent as those conjured by this dreamer of utopian fantasy.

Freestanding Dome With Five Mountain Tops as Base, Wenzel Hablik, 1918

I won’t lie to you, though. When I first saw his works, I thought they looked like kaleidoscopic, Expressionist versions of the She-Ra Crystal castle that my sisters and I were obsessed with as children. Listen, no one ever credits me on my impeccable sophistication, ok??

The Cloud, Wenzel Hablik, 1910

An architect, designer, painter, and printmaker associated with the German Expressionism movement, Wenzel Hablik was trained as a master cabinetmaker in Vienna and Prague but eventually pursued architectural and interior design projects. Polymorphic genius that he was, Hablik revered nature as the greatest creative force and saw the crystal as the most important symbol of natural creativity–for him, crystal architecture would become a societal utopia on the path to a better living.

Hablik also embodied his crystalline fantasies in exquisite drawings for household textiles, wallpaper, jewelry, and silver cutlery, along with designing vibrantly modern, elegant interiors, furniture, and fabrics, oftentimes in collaboration with his wife, master weaver Elisabeth Lindemann. Later works, influenced by the futuristic writings of H.G. Wells and the poet Paul Scheerbart, incorporated speculative technological ideas alongside more celestial and cosmic-oriented fancies

His vivid, experimental worlds, meditations on dazzling colors, translucent forms, luminous geological patterns, and prismatic heavenly bodies remain, even today, scintillating feasts for the eyes.  Hablik’s legacy is one of radiant beauty and hope and a reminder that imagination is everything, and that art can be a powerful and inspiring force for change. That we can dream of a better world and have hope that such a world is possible.


Starry Sky, Attempt, Wenzel Hablik, 1909


Interior of a Cathedral, Wenzel Hablik, 1921 


Crystal Castle In The Sea, Wenzel Hablik, 1914


Fire, Wenzel Hablik, 1913


Exhibition Space Wallpapers, Wenzel Hablik, 1921


Thunderstorm, Wenzel Hablik, 1910


Design for a great hall, Wenzel Hablik, 1924


Where to – where from? Wenzel Hablik, 1912/13


Cycle’s Utopian Architectures, Airplane Towers, Silos, Artist Apartments, Wenzel Hablik, 1921


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9 Jun


The above is a little peek at June’s scented thoughts for my lovely Midnight Stinks Patreon supporters.

Every month I take a few moments to do a bit of scentomancy: I throw open the doors of my wooden perfume cabinet, close my eyes and take a big sniff, and reach in to choose a bottle at random. I then spritz a card with the perfume, write some thoughts, and mail them all out…hoping against hope that the aromas of the perfume will have survived the travel!

This month, the selection is Rouge from Comme des Garçons.

Comme des Garçons Rouge is an odd and surprising scent, and at all not what I expected to smell from this glossy, cherry red popsicle of a bottle. It instead reminds me of an artwork by the fabulous and flamboyant Argentinian painter Leonor Fini. In Les Sorcieres, we observe five frenzied witches swarming and swooping on their broomsticks through a swirling blood-red sky. This scent mirrors these feverish sensations of airy, dizzying fizziness and couples them with a terrestrial earthiness, like herbs and leaves and things freshly dug from a garden patch. Rouge smells like an effervescent shrub (the vinegary drink, not the bushy plant. But also minus most of the vinegar) of rhubarb and beet, fiery ginger root, and floral pink pepper. A witch’s cauldron tipple that tapers to a beautiful gingery incense.

Leonor Fini ‘Les Sorcières’ (The Witches), 1959

Les Sorcières makes an appearance in the pages of my book The Art of the Occult: A Visual Sourcebook for the Modern Mystic, although regrettably, you will find no mention of perfume in its accompanying caption. Oh, how I wish a publisher would contract me to write a kooky book pairing works of art with kooky perfume reviews! What a fun idea. Maybe I just need to write that book and hope that someone is interested in publishing it? I mean…that’s about as niche as niche can be, but surely that will appeal to a certain swath of people? What do you all think?

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Godzilla, Yuko Shimizu, 2019, ink drawing with digital color.

What comes to mind when you think of fantasy creatures?

When I think of “fantasy,” I think about the impossible, unreal creations that spring from our imaginations–and that’s not always in the form of a unicorn or an elf, you know?

Sometimes they have a supernatural origin or sci-fi or cosmic horror vibe or comic book association, and while I don’t want to say that I “want to challenge your notions of what fantasy creatures look like” –because I don’t want to be the know-it-all who makes those kinds of obnoxious declarations– I really do think that the umbrella of fantasy can encompass ALL of those fantastical things.

Anyway, there’s some art in my forthcoming book that fantasy purists will probably get on my ass about, like, “Godzilla’s not a fantasy creature!” Whatever! Write your own book! Because lemme tell you, I was never going to write a book swarming with fantastical creatures and monsters that did not include my favorite prehistoric reptilian kaiju. I don’t think any monster list is complete without our favorite enormous, destructive king of nuclear waste-spawned monsters, Godzilla.

With his gigantic stature, scaly body, and atomic breath, Godzilla is basically a dragon from ‘traditional’ fantasy art, right? Gobbling up citizens and scientists instead of knights and crusaders, devastating vast metropolises towering with glassy skyscrapers as opposed to castles and fiefdoms. Well, I think that Japanese artist Yuko Shimizu might agree if her fantastical rendering of the king of kaiju is any indication. Vividly colored, boldly realized, and with striking details, Godzilla here is a towering sci-fi fantasy dragon viewed through a surreal American pop and Japanese graphics and comic culture lens.

And since I am sharing a bit about why dear Godzilla shows up in The Art of Fantasy, I thought I’d give you a peek as to this fantastical radioactive beast’s cronies in the companion spreads

Vodyanoi, the Water Sprite, Ivan Bilibin, 1934, charcoal on paper.

Peerless illustrator of Russian folklore, Ivan Bilibin (1876–1942) was a graphic artist and stage/costume designer who was largely influenced by Art Nouveau and whose work is commonly associated with Russian fairy tales – to the extent that we could say his work very much defines our perceptions today of what Russian folklore art looks like. Seen here is Bilibin’s depiction of a water-dwelling demonic creature found in the mythology and lore of Eastern Europe – the Vodyanoi.

A bloated, cranky frog-faced old water spirit who, when angered, breaks dams, washes down water mills and drowns people and animals – the surest way to rile the Vodyanoi is to upset the natural balance of his watery habitat. Although according to legend, he can be appeased with a knob of butter. That seems fairly relatable

Creature, Vincent Di Fate, 2006, acrylics on hardboard.

A multiple-award-winning artist specializing in science fiction and fantasy illustration, the works of Vincent Di Fate span the remote frontiers of astronomical art and aerospace illustration – space chases, futuristic supermen, machines born of dreams or nightmares. Astonishing voyages of the imagination to the edge of the cosmos and vast worlds inhabited by incredible beings, light years away from planet Earth.

Some of these visions, however, live a little closer to home. Di Fate casts an eye on one of the ‘truly remarkable character designs of the 1950s science fiction movie genre’, that infamous gilled man captured by scientists in the Amazonian jungle. Thought to be a missing link between creatures that lived in the water and those that walked on land, its appearance is both fantastical and terrifying, and, in Di Fate’s hand, rendered breathtakingly beautiful, as well

Pre-order your copy of  The Art of  Fantasy by August 1 from any retailer and be one of the first 100 readers to receive bonus goodies! Details here.


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31 May

Valaya from Parfumes de Marly is lively and elegant and immediately brings to mind the heroine of a period romance, someone you might describe as beautiful, free-spirited, and headstrong. And she probably doesn’t want to marry or have children or live by society’s standards or conventions, and she may in fact, get kicked out of finishing school because she punched one young woman in the mouth and kissed another young woman in the same place. She runs away to Europe, holds feminist salons, and becomes both a secret political power and an ungovernable poet of no small renown. She smells of crisp cotton and luxurious linen pantaloons, the dozens of verdant, woody ferns which adorn every square inch of her Parisian apartment, and the delicate, musky nectar of a ripe peach which she is frequently seen biting into, her sharp, small teeth pausing to smile enigmatically between juicy mouthfuls.

Hygge from Hexennacht has notes of stroopwafels, cardamom-infused custard, oatmeal porridge, and fir, and it smells like a witch’s coffee shop brimming with aromatic baked goodies and artisanal lattes in the midst of an enchanted evergreen forest.

With Stars Surrounded is one of the most recent collaborations between Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and Haute Macabre, and I have tried every single one of their myriad collabs, so I can say without a doubt this one is unbelievably beautiful and is probably my absolute favorite. This is a silvery night queen opalescent moonstone of a scent with notes of coconut, tobacco flower, white tea, and violet.

I really love how I experience the different notes comprising Full Moon (at the Temple) from Poesie Perfume, so separately and distinctly upon the first few minutes of sitting with the scent: the grainy popped corn sweetness of the white rice, yuzu’s tart, sparkling floral citrus complexity, the musty mineralic mossy limestone melancholy of cool lake water. These elements orbit each other independently until they merge, seamlessly and suddenly with the otherworldly holiness of the hinoki wood in a tender, glowing poem of a perfume. The inspiration for Full Moon (at the Temple), Lady Murasaki’s writing rituals, and her pilgrimage east from Kyoto, where at the temple she observed the August moon reflected in the waters of Lake Biwa, these things really speak to me, as a writer who practices my own rituals, who frequently and frustratingly observes the various sums of the disparate words I’m writing forming an eventual, sometimes satisfying, and hopefully beautiful whole. 

Black Chamomile from Bath & Body Works (this is discontinued, but you can find it on sites like Mercari, which I did). I have a soft spot for those Bath & Body Works bedtime aromatherapy blends, and I was intrigued by the idea of this one, even though I apparently found out about it a few years too late. With notes of chamomile and bergamot, it’s a soft, pretty scent that perhaps smells vaguely of chamomile’s apply-floral/sweet straw aspects, but I can’t detect the begamot at all. If anything, it leans somewhat aquatic, with notes of white tea and waterlily. It makes a pleasant pillow mist and room spray and I’m glad I was able to find a bottle and give it a try. (Thanks to LC of nearlynoseblind on TikTok for putting this on my radar.)

My experience with Steamed Rainbow from DS& Durga leaves me in a state of mind to offer impressions rather than a proper review of the perfume: childhood summers scooted out of the house from sunup to sundown by a harried single mother tired of children underfoot during times of day when they are typically in school/dewdrops on grass clippings and neon hibiscus petals hastily evaporating in early July morning Florida heat/my mother’s rare appearances on those afternoons, the scent of those synthetic citrusy florals of her Bain de Soleil sun oil/a rare sprinkler day, the small device rotating and twisting and spitting thin streams of ice cold water, shocking on sun-warmed skin, sizzling on scalding asphalt/that dizzying kaleidoscopic shimmer and spray as a sunbeam prisms through a small splash, a magic summer star in my palm, toes cool in already warming puddles.

DS & Durga sent me a few samples of Pistachio. I know there was a bit of a kerfuffle a few months ago with regard to another Pistachio fragrance, and not being among the perfumetok elite, I am not sure I understand or care to understand what that was all about, but now I can’t think of any kind of Pistachio without internally referencing what I came to think of as “Pistachio Gate.” Drama and silliness aside, and full transparency, I don’t know what a freaking pistachio smells like– my only experience with them is as savory salt-barnacle-crusted nibbles. This fragrance is not that. It’s a soft, cardamom-blossomed, marzipan-petaled, floral meringue, velvety heliotrope musk of a scent, sprinkled with a pinch of vanilla cake mix. Imagine all of that in a fluffy pudding. Now convert that pudding to a plush velour onesie. Ok yes, there it is. An adult onesie full of pudding. Subtly sweet, close to the skin, not really all that potent and yet somehow…aggressively cozy?

Park of the Monsters from In Fieri s a fragrance I found via an Instagram account that I follow. I love reading this person’s thoughts on fragrance because they’re not really reviews structured around opinions and critiques but rather gently disjointed stream-of-consciousness musing. As someone who experiences perfume in terms of dreams, memories, and stories, as opposed to notes, noses, houses, and brands, I connect with their approach. At any rate, I can’t remember what they said about Park of the Monsters, but that’s not the important thing–what matters is that they brought to my attention the reality that there exists a fragrance inspired by a place I have long been obsessed with: the Italian  gardens of Bomarzo, where one may take a serene stroll through a Renaissance horror show filled with massive statues sculpted of volcanic rock– giants, dragons, sea monsters, a gaping hell mouth etched with the phrase, OGNI PENSER VOLA, or “All reason departs.” The fragrance created from memories of childhood visits to the garden actually caused all my reason to depart because before the first spray had fully dried on my wrist, I decided I desperately required a bottle. If you were to climb inside the monstrous, mossy maw of a dead stone god and lose all sense of time and perspective, this is the scent that would slowly descend upon you. Animalic musks of the retro vintage glamour variety, the peppery emerald spice and incense of sacred trees, and hypnotizingly intense florals, not just lilies, but maybe all lilies, each lily there ever was, a confounding, never-ending magic eye painting, a perpetual lily illusion. This is a gorgeous, profoundly thoughtful, and thought-provoking scent, and it is everything I want from the art of perfumery.

I did a lot of research before placing my first order with Cocoa Pink, and all signs on Reddit indie perfume threads pointed to a massive crowd favorite: Ivory Eyelet. With notes of buttercream, lemon curd, marshmallow, and vanilla ice cream, it is the perfumed embodiment of the saccharine froth and frills of this dreamy, gauzy pale lemon meringue cream of a Gunne Sax dress...which is not to say I don’t love it BECAUSE I DO.

I will confess that when I first smelled these perfumes from Andrea Maack I was having a particularly bad day. I told you all about it on TikTok. I was going to smell some Strawberry Shortcake candles and hope things got better. But what actually made it better was the sample selection I was trying from this perfumer. The first and only scent I’d ever tried from Andrea Maack was Coven, and that was a dark, dank scent that smelled like the Witch King of Angmar got wrecked and fell asleep in a mossy gutter just outside the Prancing Pony. I loved it. But these two scents I’m mentioning today are NOTHING like that. The first is Smart,  it’s a powdery vanilla sandalwood tempered by some leathery jasmine musk and it’s less heady than you might expect; it has a similar vibe to Glossier’s You and Studied from Liis, and I don’t mean they smell at all alike, they just feel like the perfect finishing touch to make you feel put together. And, like if you spritz it when you’re feeling less than stellar, it gives you that “I’m smart enough, I’m good enough, and gosh darn it, people like me” energy. Now the other one that I tried is Lightsource, and it is also on the lighter side, by which I guess I mean it’s light as compared Coven’s black mold and decay. It’s pretty, but it’s got an element of the weird, which I always appreciate. There’s the somber gravitas I always, for some reason, associate with perfumery’s green fig note and pink pepper’s tingly rosy effervescent spice. And this is a note that always seems a bit jaunty, gleeful. It’s that imp of the perverse who whispers something silly and inappropriate in your ear then you’re appallingly the gigglingest dickhead at the funeral. These two fragrances cheered me immensely, both sniffing them and thinking about them, and I think it’s safe to say that perfume saved the day.

P.S. now is probably a good time to remind you that I have a Patreon where I talk about perfume-related things that you might not see here (including the snarkier stuff, heh!) There are also giveaway opportunities and a monthly scented missive in your mailbox from yours truly!

If you would like to support this blog, consider buying the author a coffee?




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Have you preordered your copy of The Art of Fantasy, or do you have plans to do so sometime before August 1, 2023? YAY! That’s great. So listen up:

The first 100 entrants to squiggle their order deets into these little forms on the Quarto site will receive a signed bookplate & some art goodies, including a sticker, a bookmark, and a signed (by me!) book plate! I don’t know that the above image is exactly what these things will look like, but the above is probably a close enough approximation.


Let’s peek a little closer! This is the painting The Faun and the Fairies by Daniel Maclise (c. 1834.)  Lit by the shimmering glow of a bright butter-yellow moon, encircled by the faint luminescence of a rainbow, and observed by no one but a dazed and dumbfounded midnight owl, this amorous extravagance by Daniel Maclise (1806–70) depicts nocturnal fairy revelries presided over by the melodious musical stylings of a syrinx-playing satyr and is thought to be one of Maclise’s most magical paintings. Fairy paintings were an avid fascination for the Victorians, offering escape from the changes of industrial society and an indulgence for their preoccupation with the romance of the paranormal and supernatural.

Pre-order your copy of  The Art of  Fantasy by August 1 from any retailer and be one of the first 100 readers to receive bonus goodies! Details here.

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Birthday, Dorothea Tanning, 1942

The Art of Fantasy: A visual sourcebook of all that is unreal has gone to the printer! I *think* it’s safe to begin sharing a few small peeks?

What was your first brush with the fantastical? For me, and undoubtedly for many, it was a naughty little rabbit in a blue jacket stealing Mr. McGregor’s veggies. For others, it may have been a maddening and enigmatic cat teasing a girl lost in Wonderland and who disappeared, leaving only a grin. Or, for an unfortunate few, it may have been lions, tigers, bears, and OMFG, ARE THOSE FLYING MONKEYS? A terrifying squadron of soaring simians swooping down from the sky to snatch up unsuspecting little dogs and haunting nightmares for many years to come!


Excuses, Schmexcuses, Femke Hiemstra, 2022
Shining Apples, Carisa Swenson, 2015

Though our grown-up appetites for fantasy creatures may have evolved beyond those of adorably floppy-eared childhood friends and expanded to include all manner of beasts with wings and horns, tails, and scales, we can’t deny that friendly or scary, naughty or nice, these creatures sparked our imaginations, populated our dreams and built the foundation for future stories and adventures. These small creatures were the gateway – or the guardians at the gate – to the magical critters and beasties that populate the fantasy media we consume as adults.

Today I am sharing a few of my favorite spreads from the Creatures Great and Small chapter of my forthcoming book. In these pages, you will find some old favorites, some older works that you may not have seen before, and loads of fantastical art from brilliant contemporary artists, too!


Straight on Till Morning, Maggie Vandewalle, 2018


Scowl, Annie Stegg Gerard, 2020

The marvelous menagerie seen in this gallery today includes work from Maggie Vandewalle, Annie Stegg Gerard, Femke Hiemstra, Carisa Swenson, Brett Manning–and of course, Dorothea Tanning (and I am not the layout designer, but I love that they put artists with rhyming last names in the same spread, how fun!)

Faerie Music, Brett Manning, 2021

Thank you to these wonderful artists for permitting me to include their magical creatures in my little art book, and I do hope that -if you are not already familiar with them–you will peruse their accounts and websites and come to adore their creations as much as I do!

And I cannot wait to share more such fantastical art and artists in the upcoming days! In the meantime, you can pre-order The Art of Fantasy wherever books are sold, and I hope that you do! As you hear all the time from every author friend, preorders are incredibly helpful & so on and so forth.

So kindly do so, or perhaps consider sharing this post or tagging a like-minded friend with a penchant for art, fantasy, and all things marvelous and magical. Thank you!

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