Hanging Out In New York This Week, and A Question Regarding Those Unnamed Perfumes in Coming to My Senses


I’ll be hanging out in New York this week so if you want to come along for the ride head on over to my Twitter feed. So far there have been pics of the new Serge Lutens bell jars, a visit to the Dior counter to smell the elusive Privée Collection (which we’ll have to talk more about when I get back) and an unexpected but fabulous Peruvian parade.Oh, and one perfect bright raspberry lipstick.

The next few posts will concentrate on the unnamed perfumes in Coming To My Senses. It’s not going to be practical to do a post for each and every unnamed perfume, so after I cover the ones of major importance I will probably do a round-up post, and then put a permanent chapter-by-chapter breakdown with links on the part of this site dedicated to the book. Along the way we’re going to have a little fun and do some more giveaways and such.

So. A question for you all: What are the perfumes you want named? I’m especially interested to hear about any I just mention in passing and might overlook. I know this has been driving a few people crazy and I am here to make it up to you. Slowly, but truly.


Image: Eugene de Salignac, Workers on Brooklyn Bridge

The Really Big Perfume Present: Your Suggestions Requested


If you had around six hundred dollars to spend on perfume or perfume-related activities for a beloved, perfume-besotted friend, what would you buy? (Besides four of your favorite bottles to split.)  I recently got a letter from a reader who wanted suggestions for just such a gift, and I asked her if I could post about it here. Please chime in with suggestions, fantasies, and wishes. My ideas so far:

One really expensive bottle: Most perfumistas have one on their list–the Amouage attar, the JAR perfume, that discontinued one they’ll make just for you if you have enough cash, the vintage bottle you bid on but always lose because you can never gamble enough. In some cases $600 might not (gasp!) be quite enough, but it would get you pretty far. Pretty far indeed… Drawback: You would either have to know what the giftee wanted or allow her to choose post-present. Possible solution: Order a set of rare samples and present with gift certificate for full bottle of one of them.

Many less expensive bottles: Gift certificates can feel tacky sometimes, but in this case I think free reign at a wonderful, high end boutique like LuckyScent, Aedes de Venustas, Beautyhabit, The Perfume Shoppe, or MiN New York might be just the ticket. It would take me years to spend a gift like that, and every time I dipped in to my treasure chest to buy another bottle it would be like getting a present all over again.

Bespoke perfume: Many of the talented artisan perfumers in our world work with clients to create perfumes. I know Mandy Aftel, Dawn Hurwitz, and Ayala Sender do this, with varying price structures. No doubt there are more folks out there–feel free to speak up in the comments if you do this or know someone who does.

A full set of exploratory kits from The Perfumer’s Apprentice: With a wide range of raw materials, synthetic and nataural, and an accompnaying book like Mandy Aftel’s Essence and Alchemy, you could open up a whole world to a perfume lover and still have some cash left over for her to spend on some of the super special absolutes available only at Enfleurage.

An airplane ticket to Paris: I just saw one the other day for $660, departing from LaGuardia. What could be better for a true perfume lover? (What’s that you say? Where will she sleep? What will she eat? Trivial concerns! She will live on beauty and perfume!)

So, what do you think? What gift would you suggest? And what would you be hoping for, if you had such a lovely (generous!) friend?


A Dream of White Flowers: Annick Goutal’s Songes


Some perfumes go to your head, others to your heart. Annick Goutal’s Songes went directly into my bloodstream and there it has remained, a slow pulse of sweetness. There are more than a few days when I can’t wear it—days when I know its lush, narcotic flowers will undo whatever clarity and concentration I’ve managed to muster up—but I am always glad to know it exists. Like most of the Goutal line, it feels very French to me, which is to say it has enough structure and presence to carry off a formal event. And yet, it’s a very accessible perfume, democratic even—a swaying, swooning, languid beauty who sees no reason why you can’t be one too.

Songes undid several of my prejudices at once. Read the rest of this entry »

Dried Apricots and Sweet Wine: Back Home with a Report and a Recipe


Goodness, it’s been a little while, hasn’t it?  I have so much admiration for the tireless bloggers out there who manage to keep posting through storm, sickness and travel. I’m not sure I’ll ever be one, but I will try to get on a more regular schedule around here in the coming weeks. I do apologize to those of you waiting for your Botrytis samples. They are finally on their way with some accompanying goodies to make up for my being such a poor multi-tasker.




My week in Boise was a whirlwind of events and emotion. I talked with a group of writers about scent vocabulary and their scent memories and raised a bit of money for The Cabin, the great organization (housed in a retro-fitted historical log cabin) that sponsored the workshop. Read the rest of this entry »

The Scent of Sagebrush Hills


I’m headed home to Boise on Sunday. On Thursday, September 13, I’ll be reading from Coming to My Senses to a crowd of people who will include my parents, my husband and many of the aunties I wrote about in the book. It’s a big deal. So big that I haven’t been able to think much about it for fear I’ll suddenly race out to buy new clothes and get my hair cut and all the other useless but time-consuming, exhausting and expensive things I do when I’m nervous about an event.


Of course, in another way I’ve been thinking about reading this book in Boise since the moment I began writing it. Read the rest of this entry »