Monthly Archives: November 2015

Roger et Gallet

Fashionable in 1862 Roget et Gallet fron Vintagevictorians.com

Fashionable in 1862 Roget et Gallet fron Vintagevictorians.com

Scented soap is one of my great pleasures in life.  Sometimes I take a pratfall in the suds though. My latest purchase of Zum’s Sandalwood was a case in point. It had a label that read: Channel your inner sexual siren with Sandalwood. Responsible for emotions, sensuality, intimacy, and sexuality. (AKA if you want to be a minx in the sack.)”

My brother and brother in law who read the back of the label (which was more than I’d done) were charmed by this and ran around for part of Thanksgiving weekend trying to convince my husband that he needed a shower.  My Hub was not going to be the butt of this Gallic humor and a hygienic standoff ensued.  Needless to say I really should flip bars of soap and read the back label from time to time. Continue reading

Green Lavender

Rosa viridiflora

Rosa viridiflora

Do you like green flowers?  They seem a bit peculiar it’s true, like the green rose, Rosa viridiflora which has sepals instead of petals and a rather specific peppery smell that is like its China rose cousins.  Still this peculiar little rose has a number of advantages. It grows very well and is a excellent subject for containers, rarely suffers from disease, and is even a long lasting cut flower. But would you want to smell it?  If someone came up with a perfume called “Green Rose” would you be interested or would you decide to stay far away? Continue reading

Flapper Winds

Cicada Bottle for Cigalia of Roger et Gallet 1911

Cicada Bottle for Cigalia of Roger et Gallet 1911

Once upon a time I knew that Tabac Blond was the first tobacco scent ever introduced to perfumery.  This turns out to be a canard. In fact it was the third.  The first was a perfume called either Cigalia or else Les Cigales by the old firm of Roger et Gallet, with a remarkably beautiful bottle done by who else but Lalique.  Here it is.  Lovely no?

You do end up finding out all sorts of odd things as time goes on, but the story of the first tobacco perfumes does not end with Cigalia.  In fact there was also a Coty perfume.  You knew there had to be one?  It seems that whenever anyone had any kind of new material or base or idea in the perfume world of the early twentieth century there was Francois Coty already set to market his version of whatever it happened to be.  As far as I can discover Coty introduced his tobacco perfume in 1912 inside a Baccarat bottle topped with a crystal cut stopper.  According to Edmond Roundnitska L’Or was in the air a lot in Continue reading

Ivy

ivy on the Walls at Yale Library

ivy on the Walls at Yale Library

If you’ve been to an Ivy League college or live near one, you’ll know what I mean.  Walls covered with ivy, ivy growing all over library walls and down dean’s offices. Ivy really can be ubiquitous.

The kind that climbs and creeps and is all through one of my front garden beds is Hedera helix aka English Ivy.  That stuff eels in everywhere, currently it has one pieris and two rhododendrons by the throat  and is threatening to throttle both of them.  I had to take the loppers to it, and then there was a fearsome battle with the ivy that had crept underneath the siding of the house and along the main electrical connection as well.  That involved careful use of the secateurs and a good deal of undignified tugging during which yours truly landed unceremoniously on her backside in the undergrowth not a few times.  When Ivy sets out to claim territory it does so for keeps. Continue reading

Malta 1565 – Blood, Sweat, and Cumin

MaltaMy Hub has written a book about renaissance Malta, and since it is coming out this week, he looked at me and said, “Can you write a post about Malta?”

Of course I was willing to write a post about Malta, but since I write about smelling and gardening for smells, I needed some whiff, or huff, or some sort of olfactory in for me to write about.

The Hub’s book deals with some fairly hair-raising events which occurred 450 years ago (The Great Siege of Malta: The Epic Battle between the Ottoman Empire and the Knights of St John, Bruce Ware Allen, Fore Edge Books, there it is!), but not so much with agriculture on Malta. The island has traditionally been a source for world class honey (the Greeks referred to Malta as Melite, “honey sweet”), which would suggest a rich lode of blooming flowers – but for whatever reason, this has not translated into perfumery as it has in, say, Grasse.

The one unquestionable perfume contribution of Malta, however, is cumin.

Continue reading