Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Sessions: V

[No affiliate links.]

(What is a Sunday Session?)

I know, two posts in two days, who is this kid?

Let's just kick back and chat today, shall we?


A Man Called Ove, a Swedish novel by Frederik Backman. Follows a disgruntled old man who learns to deal with his sadness through humorous interactions with a family that moves in to his neighborhood. I'm only a bit into it, but it's brought a smile to my face already. I don't know much about the author (is this low-brow Swedish literature? HA), but I read mostly for entertainment these days - a way to unwind - and I'm beyond being embarrassed about my reading choices.

listening to:
Parker Millsap. Discovered him through an NPR music article, and now I'm eagerly awaiting his next album, which will be released in March. His first album reminds me of Justin Nozuka's earlier albums, with a bit more old-school country.

Marc Jacobs Re(Marc)able Full Cover Foundation Concentrate and the Face III Buffing Foundation brush.
[Image from Sephora]
I am a partially reformed foundation junkie, what can I say? I like that this one has no sunscreen in it and it looks beautiful in reviews - I really want to try it. The other things I want to get, beauty-wise, are some new eye brushes. Some of my Sephora and Sonia Kashuk ones have become scratchy or sparse, and I want to invest in some nicer ones. Any recommendations? I would really prefer synthetic fibers.

frustrated with:
Ok, I'm going to talk about bras, because it's my blog and I can talk about boobs if I want to. For th most part, I'm pretty cool with not having, um, noticeable assets, but I'm a bit tired of bra straps shifting or my bra being uncomfortable and not flattering because I can't fill even an A cup. Also, sometimes a girl just wants to look good in a low-cut dress, okay? I've been looking into this a bit, and apparently shape, not just volume, is an issue (which I have honestly never thought about before in my life). But I'm almost 30 and I think it's a bit sad that I've never had a bra that actually fit and felt nice. So I've been ordering a variety from different brands (with mixed results so far). Do you have any recommendations?

And reads/videos/links I've enjoyed recently:
- Great Pyrenees sleds down a hill
- The Real Reason I Returned to Work a Month After Giving Birth
(Why does everyone want to judge moms?)
- NYT feature on what it's like to be in Hollywood for the not "white male" population
(Mindy Kaling's comment about always feeling the need to apologize really struck a nerve)
- Children practicing their reading skills to help shy shelter dogs
 (my heart melted)

Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Valentina Fashion: Something Sparkly For You AND A Great Cause

[Product was provided by PR for review.]

Sparkly things will always catch my eye - what can I say? But I have been trying to be more dedicated in efforts to be more accountable and thoughtful in my clothing and fashion choices, so when Valentina Fashion reached out to me to share their beautiful bracelets I was really happy to share my experiences with their brand and sustainable message.

They are a fairly young company, based in the UK, that creates chain bracelets, bangles and cuffs in a charm bracelet style; the materials are all metals and glass that can be recycled, and their outer packaging (cardboard shipping material and bubble wrap) is 100% biodegradable. They also donate 10% of each purchase to a charity, which is listed on the product page. I chose a "Sky Island" cuff (17 cm diameter), and the charity associated with it is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. If you've a specific charity in mind, you can filter by the charity, as well as by bracelet style. It's a lovely sentiment.

I love the purple-gold cast of the glass beads and the little wing charms (I love birds!), as well as the glass pearl bead. The cuff style is also unique to me, and the ends unscrew so that you can customize your bracelet with the style packs that they sell - but don't worry, if you screw it back on tightly, it doesn't loosen or shift with wear. They also mention that since the pieces are customizable and modular, if you need a replacement for a specific piece, they can accommodate that (so you don't have to repurchase a whole replacement).
The end screws on and off so you can personalize your bracelet, and add or replace beads.
I'm glad to see companies with a conscience becoming more mainstream, so that we have more options in making our dollars count, even while doing something like treating ourselves to something pretty. Yes, we can and should still just make complete donations to charities without expecting something in return, but I think of something like this as an extra way to contribute. What I'm trying to say is, if I'm going to buy something pretty anyway, it's nice to be able to support a company with a message I embrace, and something like this can definitely sway people. (By the way, does anyone know of a sustainable, indie clothing retailer that makes petite styles?)
Sky Island Cuff, 17 inches.

I think that I might actually purchase one of the Seaside styles for my mother-in-law (she loves sea themed things), and I think she'd also appreciate knowing that part of her gift went to the Marine Conservation Society.

Overall, thumbs up from me, and definitely a brand to keep in mind the next time you're looking for a gift (even if that gift is, you know, for yourself).

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Scents of the Week, Etat Libre d'Orange Edition

[Sample set was purchased from Sephora. No affiliate links.]

My perfume collection grew - I received TF Tobacco Vanille and Origins Ginger Essence for Christmas. Looking at my wishlist again:
Full Bottle Wishlist
I can't find Jo Malone Vanilla & Anise anywhere any more - have they discontinued it? And Liz sent me a sample of L'Artisan Tea for Two, which I found so disappointing. All spice. No tea. So those are off the list. I desperately want to smell the new Prada Infusions, but Arielle told me that they're only available at the Prada Boutiques, and the nearest one is a bit out of the way. I WILL SMELL IT, THOUGH. When it stops snowing.

Which leaves État Libre d'Orange's Fils de Dieu. I bought the sampler set from Sephora, which I think is actually a great value, compared to buying them separately as decants from other places. It contains 0.05 oz each of seven scents in EdP format:

Dangerous Complicity
Fat Electrician
Fils de Dieu
Like This
Jasmin Et Cigarette
Putain Des Palaces

which is perfect for a "Scents of the Week!"
Fils de Dieu
Ginger, coriander leaves, lime, shiso, bergamot, Jungle Essence coconut, rice note, Jungle Essence cardamom, jasmine, cinnamon, French May rose, tonka bean, vetiver, musk, amber, leather, castoreum.

Naturally, this is the first one I tried, because I really wanted to love it. I really want a perfume that handles that elusive, sweet, basmati rice note, but I could barely smell it here. I think I will try it again in the summer, but in cold weather, I get a blast of lime (which can sometimes give me a headache, despite my love for it), the enticing aroma of rice pudding...and then it quickly falls flat, and becomes your basic men's spritzy cologne, with just a dash of cinnamon. Really disappointing. (Do you guys have a basmati rice perfume to recommend? I know TokyoMilk has one, and I was also told that Kenzo Amour has a rice note...thoughts?)

Fat Electrician
Haitian vetiver, chestnut cream, olive leaves, myrrh, vanilla, opoponax

This one is more interesting, even though it's not at all my thing. Liz gave me a Voluspa Chestnut and Vetiver candle once, for Christmas, and this reminds me of that, a bit, although the candle is much sweeter. Chestnut is a thing that I like to eat, and...not wear. It opens up sweetly (chestnut cream, like the candle or a marron glacé), but with a savory edge, from the olive leaves. Like biting into a mont blanc that has an unexpected savory herb baked into the cake. The opoponax and myrrh come through - it's definitely not a vanilla base - and it's a well-rounded, interesting scent. Doesn't quite suit me, but I would definitely encourage you to give this one a sniff, if you can.

Jasmin et Cigarette
Jasmine absolute, tobacco, hay, apricot, tonka bean, turmeric, cedar, amber, musk

This one opens with stinky indoles, sour and dirty, as if you'd danced recklessly all night.The apricot contributes a tang rather than a sweetness, and there is the faintest hint of savory spice from the combination of curcuma and tobacco. Honestly, though, it's mostly a sour white floral on me - there are better tobacco-white floral combinations out there (I miss Sweet Anthem's Juliet). And this has the weakest sillage - I really had to work hard to smell it, even after directly applied.

Putain des Palaces
rose absolute, violet, leather, lily of the valley, tangerine, ginger, rice powder, amber, animal notes

Ultra feminine, powdery violet-rose. It reminds me of a vintage powder puff compact - all delicacy and sweetness. The rice powder adds a unique sweetness, and the ginger adds some heat - kind of that warm, sexy feeling when you brush your décolletage with a sparkling powder, and tighten the laces on your know what I'm talking about. I like this one, even though on paper most of the notes aren't my favorite. It's a sultry one, and I might consider a bottle, though I would have to be careful - it's probably only one I could wear in cooler weather, applied sparingly.

blood orange, orange blossom, bergamot, jasmine, musk, leather

Reminds me of Atelier Cologne Grand Neroli, although I like this one better. But um, to me, it smells like Fruit Loops and cut grass, without the toothache or hay fever. Which, hey, I know, doesn't sound particularly appealing, but it kind of is. It starts off with a zingy burst of citrus (blood orange), with a breath of soapy orange blossom - kind of like when you catch a whiff of your fabric softener dryer sheets. I don't get any leather. The whole thing stays spritzy clean, with a bit of creamy sweetness (Fruit Loops, dude). I think there are plenty of spritzy colognes out there and this one, "a nice scent," is neither the worst way to go nor the best. It is clean without being ultra musky or woodsy and never teeters into drugstore "man product" smell (have you ever smelled Dove for Men, for example?), so I do like it, but I don't know that I need something like this.

Dangerous Complicity
rum, ginger, coconut, bay, calamus, osmanthus absolute, Egyptian jasmine absolute, ylang yang, lorenox, patchouli, leather accord, sandalwood

Is there anything they didn't put in this? This is meant to be a sort of dual-take scent - a woman's scented kiss on a bad boy's neck, or the scent of his leather jacket on her skin...uh huh. To me, it does seem fairly unisex (in terms of the traditional scents - people can wear whatever they want, of course), and I don't really get leather or...anything else, actually. It's kind of a warm, ambery scent that smells like some of Bath and Body Works' offerings, to be honest - perhaps there are too many things going on and it all just reduced to confusion.

Like This
yellow tangerine, ginger, pumpkin, immortal flower, moroccan neroli, Grasse rose, vetiver, heliotrope, musks

I don't know how they do it, but many of their scents teeter on that edge between sweet and dirty, and this one is no different. The ginger pumpkin combo is delicious without being gourmet, and the yellow tangerine is a great way to add citrus without the predictability or familiarity of orange or lemon. It's sweeter and richer, less spritzy. The florals take it just to the edge of creamy-dirty (like sweaty skin), and while vetivers don't really work on me, I wish I could wear this, because it's so interesting! Spicy sweet, and it feels like the heat of your lover's skin next to you. Damn, vetivers.

There were some hits and misses, but I definitely enjoyed smelling some of them, even if they're not the kind of thing I could pull off (shakes fist at the vetivers). For a unique experience, I would definitely recommend finding a way to sample Like This and Fat Electrician, at least, and I liked Putain des Palaces, although I am going to hold on to my vial of Fils de Dieu and try it again in warmer weather. I also noticed that some of my favorite scents smell a little different out here on the east coast (higher humidity, I'm thinking), which has been really interesting to me.

Have you tried an État Libre d'Orange scent? Do any of these sound like your kind of thing? What fragrances have you been testing or wearing lately?