When the schneken beckons


I believe very whole-heartedly in the free sample. Sure when I was younger I would say, “Yes, sir. I would love a free sample!” And then I would trot away thinking, “SUCKER!”

But now, I am realizing their true value. In fact, I have recently even paid a few bucks for a perfume sample. Why? Because it’s cheaper than buying a bottle you find out you don’t like.

But perfume is not the only place I take my samples seriously. I sample beauty products, occasionally food (although I am vigilant about food safety, so it’s a special occasion when I partake.), gym memberships, test drives. If a sample is available and it’s a product your are interested in, take it! Key word: Interested. If the only thing you are interested in is free loot, then…well that’s your problem. In my mind, it’s unneeded clutter.

I’d like to introduce you to a few products that I have fallen in love with via sample, and have proceeded to purchase, or am about to do so. Anyone not particularly interested in beauty products still might want to take a peak at this post. Anyone can benefit from the free samples I’m about to recommend.

1. DHC Velvet Skin Coat Before I talk about velvet skin coat, a word on DHC. DHC is a Japanese skin care company that specializes in simple, straightforward, high-quality skin care products based heavily on using virgin olive oil. Their mission, as stated on the website: “Our mission at DHC is to help you feel beautiful in your own skin. We do this through beneficial products that combine the best of nature and science, dedicated service and education that encourages your commitment to your well-being.” They are a mail-order/web-based company and I’ve been thrilled with their service over the years. Each catalogue, whether you order or not, has generous samples attached.
Okay, onto Velvet Skin Coat. This is a fantastic summer time product for those of us who are…let us say overly moisturized in the t-zone area (another great product, DHC matte cream.) Velvet skin coat really keep the ol’ makeup on, and controls excess oil. It also makes for easier application, BUT non-makeup wearing menfolk can benefit too. It can be worn alone and helps keep you shine free. It also helps minimize the appearance of large pores.

2. Nordstrom. No, you can’t exactly take home a sample of Nordstrom, per se. But I highly recommend you sample the customer service at their 55 E. Grand location. Stellar. And, if you really want something to bring home as a souvenir, pop down to Fine Fragrances. They’ll help you out. Again, I say, men too! You need to sample your fragrance choice along with the rest of us, if you choose to wear fragrance. Don’t know? Ask yourself this: Am I more of a George Clooney or a Matt Lauer? (Either way, c’mon over. I’ll help you decide…heh heh.)

3. Good quality deli-counters (I prefer Strack and Vantil, but Dominick’s will do the same…if you’re the sort of person that pays full price. I’m not.) You taste before you purchase. Lovely lovely idea, isn’t it? Not sure if your deli does it? Just say the magic words: May I have a sample?

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Now, I don’t always insist that sample be free. Sure, it’s nice, and I prefer it. But the occasional well-priced sample can be worth the dollar or so. I’ve paid up to 5 for a high-end perfume sample. Over 5…it would seriously have to drive me to work or something. We’re talking millileters here. And I know some of you are gasping that I will pay that much but I figure it this way, if a certain perfume is considered by perfumers and perfume critics alike a “masterpiece,” I want to smell it. To me, it’s not different than a museum entrance fee. I want to smell artistic perfection. Do I always like it? Absolutely not. But I always enjoy it.
With that in mind:
4. I always visit my local Target or Wal-Mart’s travel and sample section. First of all, trying new stuff is fun. Secondly, while I hate to emphasize the fact, I can be seriously allergic to stuff if I’m not careful. Giving the old inner arm test to a bottle of lotion is never a bad idea.
5. If you are intrigued by perfume, I encourage you to visit website like The Perfumed Court, The Posh Peasant, and Serenity Street. Luckyscent, a niche perfume supplier, also provides samples either free with purchase or purchased individually at a minimal cost.

6. Other free samplin’ sites include Sephora, Ulta, Kiehls. Often you can select your samples.

Once you’ve started to rake in the samples, how do you manage them. Well, first of all, they are intended for use. These companies want you to try their product. So try it! If you really want to keep up the discounts and freebies, write back to the company stating your feelings on the sample. If you loved it, tell them! Tell them if you are going to purchase a full-size. This encourages companies to continue to offer free samples.
I believe very strongly in being your own quality control. While I’m not cheap (I’ll drop 300 on a dress and not look back), I refuse to pay for what I consider to be overpriced. This, for me, includes laundry detergent, hand soap, certain cleaning supplies, certain fashion accessories.
Now, you might initially balk at that assessment. But let me offer this, a quality rose absolut essential oil costs about $155.00 per ounce at Mountain Rose Herbs, one of my favorite purveyors of essential oils. Our common sense says, “JESUS CHRIST!” BUT with proper info, you realize that’s fairly reasonable considering it takes 60,000, yes 60,000 roses to produce 1 oz. of rose oil. Assuming the typical dozen roses runs you around 45 clams, that’s roughly a savings of $225,000. So well done there, you know? If you’re in the market for roses. If you’re not, well…don’t buy it.
So how can I be willing to drop $155.00 on a one ounce bottle of rose oil, but unwilling to drop 5 bucks on hand soap? Because I can make the handsoap myself for under 50 cents a pop. Well under. I have yet to install storage for 60,000 roses and a steam distillation plant. Best I let someone else do it.
Some people value HD tv and large flat screens. I’ll always be fine with whatever we’ve got as long as I can catch So You Think You Can Dance and view my netflix. The Godfather wasn’t meant to be viewed in HD anyway. Can you imagine what Luca’s face would look like? I shudder to think.

Anyway, the point is, we value what we value. And while most of us can’t go galumphing off, purchasing every last luxury good for that sense of “have”, we can often choose one or two that are both interesting and obtainable. For me, that is perfume. And the grail of grail, Christian Laboutin shoes. You can keep your I-phone. You can keep your leather jackets. Take the Bentleys and the Mercedes. I’d rather be boppin’ down the street on my own two pins smellin’ the way I like.

Got to pick a bottle or two


While fragrance is fun (and liquor is quicker), sometimes just the bottle will do for a thrill. These are my favorite perfume bottles (scent not taken into consideration).

1. Lolita Lempicka

Is it an apple? Who knows!? It’s etched in gold. It looks so delicate and yet dangerous. I love this purpley crystalline intricate bottle. Beautiful.

2. Amouage gold for women, vintage It looks like the treasure Aladdine stumbles upon. And trust me, what’s inside costs about as much. It’s so incredibly opulent, you almost want to shrink down and live inside.

3. The Annick Goutal butterfly and moon bottles While everyone else is lounging around the rotunda of Amouage, I’ll be curling up inside a special edition Annick Goutal butterfly. I didn’t picture it here, but the Grand Amour version looks like my dream apartment in some weird spherical way.

4. All Anna Suis except for the Dolly Girls

While the Dolly Girls freak me out a little, all other Anna Sui bottles are little works of art. Intricate. Fun. I want to design a bedroom or bathroom based on them. Heck, Lolita Lempicka too.

5. Eclat d’Arpege. I actually just discovered this one last night. So classical. So sleek.
6. Vespres Sicillienes or La Rivage des Syrtes or Ambre Tapkapi or Invasion Barbare (Parfums MDCI) Probably my absolute favorites, and absolutely never gonna haves. Sigh.
7. Miller Harris bottles
I love the sleek bottle with the intricate florals. Very nicely unisex.
8. Auguste bottles
9. Penhaligons I love that staunch British apothecary look. It makes me think of crisp clean sheets, cotton robes, sunny English gardens. Gentlemen…
10. Jicky. The forerunner in the argument for unisex integrity. Would look wonderful on anyone’s dresser or vanity. The oldest continually produced fragrance in the world (don’t let anyone tell you differently.)

Falling in love with love


So I’m starting to see where my comfort zone in perfume is.

Let me just give you the descriptions of a few that I either own or shortlisted, and then I’ll tell you the title:
It has a lightly floral fragrance, blending Jasmine, Lavender, Egyptian Musk, and Passionflower. Our scent includes a secret herbaceous ingredient, which when carefully blended, creates a sure-to-please scent that is both evocative and intoxicating.

Let an air of romance caress your mind, body and spirit with this rose infused rainwater body mist. Light, silkening conditioners band with the moisture in your skin allowing the romantic scent to linger followed by a review of the same scent…a blend of bergamot, rose, and vanilla notes, is lush and a touch “perfumey”, with the vanilla making itself strongly felt around the red-rose center.

The women’s fragrance that evokes the timeless essence of falling in love. Discover the sensual essence of velvety woods, extravagant florals and seductive musk.

a sparkling fruity floral blend that celebrates love, newly found or rediscovered. Passionate. Impulsive. Electric. This fragrance possesses a blend of Mandarin, Black Currant, Melati Blossom, Lily Of The Valley, White Musk, Grey Amber.

A confident woman, full of dreams, bursting with love, yet modest enough so that the slightest compliment makes her blush the colour of peonies. Her irrestible and independent spirit are embodied in this new fragrance… The discrete scent of peonies, suggestive of a budding impudence, is enhanced with a blend of wild roses and geranium rosa, and the result is a beautiful bouquet, reminiscent of the spring day and of a new love.
Notes of red currants, pomegranates, cherries and wine peaches lend a sense of sweet cravings and vague desires. A question lurks: Will the love last? The answer, at last, is Yes!

Okay, so, here are the names of those perfumes/fragrances respectively,
Elixir of Love, no. 1
Passion Rose
Romance
Amor amor
Quel Amour!

I’m in love with love. Apparently. I adore all those fragrances, but it has become fairly evident it’s time to sidle my way out of the fruity floral genre, yes? Especially those having to do with falling in all sort of love.

So. I need a citrus, a chypre, a green. Something to shake things up. Up until yesterday I was all, “jeepers, I should really have a substantial floral in my repertoire.” Um. I do. And how. I’m going to start traipsing the aisles of the the men’s fragrances. Why not? Smell Estee Lauder Beyond Paradise for Men and argue with me. Ava Gardner wore Acqua di Parma. Dolly Parton and GW both wear Gendarme. (Talk about an internal struggle, you guys…seriously.)

I do own a couple aldehydic numbers (Sicily and no. 5), but I feel as though perhaps White Linen would serve me better. And I’m going back to smell Azuree. Maybe I haven’t given Tabu a fair shake.

“I need a floral…” Humbug! I own White Shoulders! Look out L’Eau de Hadrien (or as one perfume reviewer calls it, “Yo Adrien.”) I’m coming for you you herbally citrus triumph!

Flight of the Betsybee


I wandered down to Daley Plaza today to check out the farmer’s market. In the heat of the day, the vegetable were starting to look sorry, but just as I was heading back…there they were.

Beeswax candles.

I love beeswax and honey. And bees. And my husband loves yellow and black, so there you go. Finding reasonably priced beeswax candles makes me do a little jig (just insert “beeswax candles” for “berries and cream”)

They did have a big ol’ hunka beeswax, but I don’t have a double boiler yet, so it would just have to sit around being a little sticky. Much like me.

They even put the candles in a little bag with cartoon bees all over it and honeycomb border. I’m sure the nice bearded man with the hat that was helping me out probably wondered why the sweaty brunette with big cow eyes was staring at him, lip quivering, clutching the little bag to her chest. I handed him a mangled two dollars. He lives by hives! He doesn’t know how hard reasonably priced beeswax candles are to come by! Or how special I think cartoon bees are. (Ever since my childhood I have loved cartoon bees. Every pretend storefront I opened was the Busy Bee something or other. My family always found this charming until we walked passed a smashed storefront window on Wells, covered in plywood by the “Buzy Bee Board Up Company”.) My pretend Busy Bee flower shop at least had the sense to spell it right.

I don’t even know what I was getting at there.

Sorry for the lull in movie talk (if you missed it). Our air conditioner in the living room is so loud I can’t hear anything. I suppose I could watch a silent movie or something.

I stopped by Merz Apothecary last night to sniff the Caswell-Massey selection. (George Washington wore no. 6) The women’s colognes were mostly soliflores (one flower scents), except for one called Elixir of Love. Ridiculous name, yes. But I do like it. I may purchase. It’s very reasonable. Caswell-Massey has been around since 1752 and has been worn by the likes of Kennedy. So I thought, heck! Why not check out the men’s colognes? I really dig the Sandalwood. I would even consider it for me, except it really evokes my aunt and uncles house (which is a great smell), so I feel like I could never really own it. However, I did find one I want Will to try. It’s called Greenbriar. It has a silly little man in full golf regalia on front. But I like how it smells. I really wanted to smell the Bay Rum cologne. How summery would that be? But they didn’t have it. I’ve definitely left the idea of “feminines” and “masculines” behind. It just doesn’t matter.

Meanwhile, my treks down the street I’m sure have been creeping people out. I lean in their direction to try to figure out what perfume they have on. The only benefit to this is that perfume thoughts have started to outweigh, “Dear god, that’s a big ass,” thoughts. Usually.

I suppose there are some people who don’t care what George Washington smelled like. Or are even horrified by the thought. But for me, it sort of brings history alive. To know what the leaders of the day were wearing? That says something about the times. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme isn’t just a song lyric. It’s the air of , well, I guess an era (npi).

I have some potpourri outside our door that I made from an old middle ages recipe. I like that idea. Rose buds, and lavender, and cloves, and cinnamon (well…cassia), oils and bay leaves. Kinda neat. I’d like to make a rosemary wreath. I just…I don’t know how to make a wreath.

Maybe it calls for beeswax!

Rosemary and Time


Jamie, my fellow receptionista, has suggested I document my attempt at The Summer of Fabulous. I shall try.

It’s June 24. Three full days into summer. Thus far, summer has been nicely fab. We’ve welcomed Adam to the city. (I’ll call him Lil’ Bro from here on out…or until I think of something I like better) We’ve had some excellent red curry. I’ve managed to snag two samples of some very expensive perfume. Whoo hoo! AND I found a whole bunch of websites that sell perfume way below retail. Okay, bargain shopping is far from fab, but I still get a thrill. OOh, and I also had a great nap yesterday.

Oh cripes, it’s June 24! It’s our anniversary!!!!!
Wedding
3 years, y’all. Wow. Both of us remembered on Monday that our anniversary was today. And both of us forgot this morning…

Do I play the “I can’t BELIEVE you forgot” card? Nah.

The traditional gift for a 3rd anniversary is Leather. The modern gift is Crystal. We don’t really do anniversary gifts…I mean…we do. I’m wearing my first anniversary gift: A Tiffany necklace that I adore. But last year we decided not to. I mean, Will doesn’t need any more belts, and the last piece of crystal I got still needs repairing…

But still, having our anniversary at the beginning of the Summer of Fab is a-okay. But how to celebrate? Hmmm…

Boys, when that steel door slams shut, that’s the end of the happy days. No more fishin’, no more ball playin’, no more peanut butter sandwiches


I went to Barney’s last night. (This blog title is a Barney Fife quote. I thought it would tie in. It doesn’t really.) Barney’s reminds me of Ferris Bueller describing Cameron’s house. “The place is like a museum. It’s very beautiful and very cold. And you’re not allowed to touch anything.”

Except you are. But they don’t want you to. Still, I trucked my allergized nose in there and headed for the perfume counter. Their onsite “nez” was actually spectacularly helpful and we talked about perfume books and both gagged a little over a bottle of S-Perfumes 100% Pure Love. She turned me onto The Different Company and their smashingly fruity and yet not candy-like Sublime Balkiss. As I’ve had to reapply it about 8 million times today, I probably won’t end up purchasing. BUT as soon as I can afford to take a perfume bath, this will be my summer pick.

Actually, the entire perfume staff was pretty low key and helpful. I was also one of maybe three customers in the joint. I wore one of what I call my “ambiguous financial situation” outfits. Not too dressed to the nines, or you look like a poseur. But not too junky, or they stare you down and check your bags. Heels. Always. A dress. Sunglasses, and sort of wind blown hair. The sort of look where you could have been just anywhere at all before you showed up. And then, don’t balk at prices. It’s perfume. You’ll need to wear it for a day anyway, so might as well indulge, right? She said, “smell this one. It’s like the L’Artisan, except, like 100 bucks cheaper.” I then, any acting coach would have been proud, took a second with whatever bottle I had in hand, set it down, and then said gently, “Hmm? Oh. Yes. Very nice.” And then picked up the expensive bottle. Sure I did a little knee wobble a la Catherine O’Hara in Best in Show on my way out (damned heels), but up until then, I sold it. Where are directors for these kind of performances? Why can’t I sit them down in the shoe department of Saks, slip them a headshot and whisper “watch”. Then I’ll sidle my way over to the Manolos and sigh, “Ugh! No fall line yet!? Alright. Bring me the black slingbacks in an 8 and put a fire under it.” Then I’ll wink back at the director who will immediately cast me in something glamorous, and buy the manolos as a welcome gift.

And now I’ve slipped off into dreamland once again. See how perfume does that? I should come up with a scent called “In the Now”. It will be a combination of salt, iron, oakmoss (I just really love oakmoss), and dirt (freshly tilled). The ad will read, “A scent created to ground you smack dab in reality. A streak of oil highlighting the cheekbone of a young James Dean. Sweat on the brow of the farmhand. The clean smell of a cotton tshirt mixed with the musk of a hard day’s work.” Perfume critics will rave over it’s earthy intenseness. Luca Turin will say, “Is that…blood Perhaps, gasoline?” It will be considered one of the grand masterworks in all of perfumery. And it will never sell. Why? Because Mariah Carey’s butterfly monstrosity and Paris Hilton’s eau de Skank DO sell. That ain’t reality. No matter how real it is.