Monday, February 20, 2012

a little painting in progress

I'm finally getting around to trying my new paints - proper oil paints - for the first time (if you can believe it!?) Since I didn't study painting in school, I just got started on my own with water-mixable oil paints, got comfortable with them, and didn't try anything else until now. The water-mixable oils are nearly the same as the real deal, but I've been told that regular oil paints have richer colour and are just generally nicer to use. I'm in the process of priming some panels to use for some 'serious' paintings (ie. more rocks), but while I wait for the gesso to dry, I'm having a little fun with this tiny painting of some hellebores I photographed last spring. I'm really enjoying the new paints so far! They are so smooth and luscious, and the pigment quality does seem better. And it's definitely refreshing to paint something other than a mineral specimen for a change.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

most fragrant birthday

Friday was my 31st birthday. I was lucky enough to be treated to several days of birthday goodness. Thursday night, I celebrated with a lovely dinner at The Atlantic with Andrew. Saturday we had Andrew's family over for a visit (celebrating both my birthday and his brother's). The adorable mini cake above is courtesy of Andrew's parents. On my actual birthday, I had a coffee & cake date with my BFF Alissa and then took myself shopping. Major shopping.

Over the last month or so I have developed a serious obsession with perfume. I used to think that I didn't like perfume, but in the last couple of years after discovering Terre d'Hermes and OLO (thanks to my lady blogger friends!), I have had my mind and senses opened. It turns out that I really just didn't like cheap generic perfume. My recent descent into complete perfume madness started with an innocent visit to Holt Renfrew to sniff the L'eau d'Orange Verte at the Hermes counter, which I'd remembered liking when I originally sampled the Terre. That led to a conversation with a sales associate who lured me over to the Frederic Malle area. He showed me the Bigarade Concentree (because it is somewhat similar to the Orange Verte and was also designed by Jean Claude Ellena, who is the nose for Hermes). It was extraordinary. He also showed me some others from the line, which were completely fascinating and beautiful.

I decided that I needed to properly sample the Bigarade for a few days on my skin before investing in a bottle. They had no samples available at Holts, so I had to track down a sample on the internet. One thing lead to another, and after countless hours reading perfume blogs and reviews, here I am with at least 50 samples I've ordered from various places, a growing short-list of must-get fragrances, and a hunger to smell more and learn more. I had planned to treat myself to the Bigarade for my birthday, but couldn't just stop at that. I decided that I also *needed* the Accord Oud from Byredo. I fell in love with my sample, and find it particularly well-suited to cooler weather, so I just couldn't wait to buy it. Between these two bottles, and the bottle of Dark Wave from OLO that is on its way to me in the mail right now (Thanks Mom & Dad!!), I'm a very happy (and good smelling) girl. And, as evinced by this much longer than usual post, I'm eager to talk about perfume, so I would be thrilled if any of you would share your thoughts, feelings, favourite scents, etc. in the comments!

In case you are curious about what these things actually smell like, here are my completely amateur impressions:

Bigarade Concentree (Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle) - notes: bitter orange, rose, cedar, hay.
I've read a review that compared this perfume to the smell of a cab driver eating an orange. Not exactly the image it forms for me, but I can see where that comparison comes from. It is a dirty, earthy orange that really connects with the body. The opening is the most real and vibrant orange I've smelled in a perfume, more like the orange rind than the juice. Often, intense citrus perfume smells hurt my sinuses, but this just smells completely natural and amazing. As it dries down the other notes add layers of depth and really give me the sense that it is somehow amplifying some part of my own skin smell (in a good way). I get the feeling that this is the kind of scent that could have a very different effect depending on one's skin chemistry. For me, it is never too bitter or sweet, and becomes warm and woody and slightly spicy, with a hint of citrus keeping the memory of the initial exhilarating opening notes alive for a long time.

Accord Oud (Byredo) - notes: blackberry, saffron, rum, leather accord, clary sage, patchouli, powdery musks
This scent is rich and luscious and quite masculine. Even though the blackberry note is pretty dominant, I would not call it fruity. It reminds me of cassis liquor, leather and resinous wood. I find it hard to elaborate much on this one. The notes as listed are already pretty evocative. It is both intense and strong, but soft and supple. Pretty sexy.

Dark Wave (OLO) - notes: cardamom, vetiver, woods
This one is woody, warm and dry. Very dry. Dusty, even - in a good way. It smells ancient and deep and comforting. I love it.