Saturday, 20 December 2014

Dropping pine needle perfumes and other festive malfunctions

The countdown to Christmas has begun. Well, strictly speaking - as far as the retailers are concerned anyway - it started some time in October, if not before, but I have definitely entered my pre-Christmas 'Oh, my goodness, I missed the last posting date for second class cards and I haven't wrapped anything and will all the chestnuts be sold out already?' headless chicken - I mean turkey - phase. And every year there is a new challenge involving the festive bird, as I always think there is a perfect cooking method still out there that is just beyond my grasp. The other day ex-Mr Bonkers inquired jovially: 'So is it going to be the Nigella brined or the tented foil Delia method - or some bet-hedging combination of the two, more like?' He has vivid memories of one Christmas morning where I additionally spent a frantic half hour googling which way round the legs of the turkey should point in the oven. I have in fact abandoned whole turkeys in recent years, gravitating towards the more manageably sized crown joints. But even though last year's bird was succulently successful, there will as ever be a twist this year, namely that I plan to use a probe thermometer to check the turkey's temperature. So I have been busy googling where to insert the thermometer I have yet to buy, given that there are no legs and the traditional spot of between leg and breast is not an option.

Time to get the shiny Roja Dove coffee table book out

But Christmas is about far more varied and numerous malfunctions than just the turkey. The mishaps kicked off last Sunday in fact - it took six hours from sallying forth with my friend Gillie in search of a tree for each of us to switching the lights on mine and declaring it decorated. For having brought my tree home, I quickly established that the trunk was too fat and knobbly to fit into the stand I already had. I attacked the trunk with a toy saw, then an axe, but to no avail. So I went collecting rocks on the allotments and put them in a silver pail, which I thought would serve as well. It didn't, and the tree toppled over, 'felling' me in the process, and smearing greenish mud on my sofa. I dabbed the offending patch with damp kitchen roll, which seems to have fetched the worst off. Then I went out and bought another, wider stand, and things started to pick up from there.

The next day, however, I was experimenting with a string of fairy lights in the hall, when I knocked my bicycle over, gouging out a small piece of the wood panelling under the stairs, just a few mm to the left of the previous gouging wound from an identical bike-knocking incident last year. The bike has now been banished in disgrace to the corridor behind the kitchen.

Oh, and my pretty Chanel Christmas card that was the last present to me from ex-Mr Bonkers appears to have lost some of its dangly charms. ;(

But some good things have happened as well this week, relating to perfume and Christmas, you will be pleased to hear. Even a fragrance-related accident proved to be a happy one. For yesterday I spilt a vial of Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles on the mantlepiece.

Luckily, it didn't attack the paintwork as I feared, just leaving a slight shadow of a stain. This in turn gave me the bright idea of smearing the puddle of Fille en Aiguilles on a small wooden tree ornament Gillie had recently given me - as in one shaped like a tree, not intended to go on the tree - and now it smells wonderfully piney and aromatic, a bit like your better class of sauna.

Out of the blue this week I also received a medallion-shaped tree ornament from Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays, perfumed with a trio of scents: frankincense, myrrh and citrus.

It looks uncannily like a ceramic Love Heart for anyone familiar with that nostalgic confectionery line - well, you can still get them, actually. I have a tube in my handbag indeed.

And in addition to the 'bridging decant' Tara slipped me at the Les Senteurs event I attended the other week, I have now received two further atomisers of Bois des Iles from Val the Cookie Queen. I know I mentioned that I had run out in an earlier post, but it genuinely wasn't a sneaky way of 'crowdsourcing' some top up supplies, honest! But now I have supplies all the same, and am very grateful to both.

Oh  look, I have just noticed the sticker on the back of one of the vials, keeping our heart theme going...;)

As this is probably my last post before Christmas, I would like to take the opportunity of wishing readers near and far a very Happy Christmas-stroke-Holidays-stroke-Bah Humbug let's just go for a curry! (as per linked post below). I hope all your perfume gifts - should you receive any - are what you wanted. For further reading on this theme, here is a link to my post from four years ago for Cafleurebon on the subject of Christmas present giving and attitudes to the festive season generally.

In that article I note that I include a 'gravy separator' as one of my worst ever gifts. How times change! Why, a gravy separator is on my current Christmas list. So what the heck did I do with the one I already had...? ;)


Sun Fontaine said...

Wow Vanessa - this almost sounds like a movie! I'm glad your mantle is pleasantly fragrant at least. :). I wish you the best this holiday season - and hope a gravy separator finds its way under your tree!

Vanessa said...

Hi Sun,

I am a bit accident-prone, it must be said. But the wooden tree smells delightful - adds an extra dimension to it.

Thanks for your good wishes about my gravy separator lemming. I hope you get some nice accessories for your beautiful bathroom. ;)

Poodle said...

With the holidays come disasters it seems. I'm glad yours are relatively minor so far. If your going to spill a perfume, that's a good one for this time of year. I hope the rest of the season runs smoothly and that Santa brings you some wonderful surprises.

Thinkingmagpie said...

What a lovely(?) coincidence! I also spilt my Fille en Aiguilles in my work room the other day and quickly rubbed it onto my jewellery box. Now my room smells wonderfully foresty. <3
Wishing you a joyful and fragrant Christmas!

Asali said...

Hmm, I really think that spilling of Fille en Aiguilles might become a Christmas trend, at least I definitely intend on trying it out :-)
Loved the idea of you with a toy saw and a Christmas tree, if you hadn't had all these bonkers things happening to you, we would not have had this delightful post. A very happy Christmas to you- and may you turkey be Delia/ Nigella-worthy

Olfactoria's Travels said...

Your mantlepiece looks gorgeous (and smells so too!).
Have a great Holiday and if the turkey doesn't work out, there is always that curry...

Odiferess said...

Vanessa, the tree looks beautiful even if it did provoke a series of mishaps. Mine suffered as a result of me buying LED lights which are not remotely cosy and festive.
I too have been scenting the odd object with a little Christmas whiff. Spruce oil has been used with abandon on everything but Manky (my lovely stuffed weasel) has been anointed with Fille en Aiguilles. He almost got taped to the top of the tree as a spooky alternative to the traditional star or fairy. He was a bit heavy though.
Have a wonderful Christmas and I look forward to reading next year's posts with glee. xx

Vanessa said...

Hi Poodle,

I do think you have to roll with the festive mishaps, as they are inevitable, I agree! And Fille en Aiguilles was a good choice to spill all right. Have a very Merry Christmas etc yourself!

Vanessa said...

Hi Thinkingmagpie,

Oh, how funny that you spilt Fille en Aiguilles and had the same idea to rub it into something quickly, and scent it. I bet your jewellery box is the better for it!

I know your Christmas will be tough this year, but I hope you will spend it with supportive family and friends.

Vanessa said...

Hi Asali,

Yes, let's start a fumehead Christmas ritual: "Deck the halls with boughs of holly" and then spray Fille en Aiguilles on them quick. ;)

That toy saw is worse than useless, but luckily my new handyman who is due on 5th Jan said I could borrow one of his to chop up my Christmas tree so that the council take it away for recycling. I could probably still do with one of my own for just these sort of tricky trunk-related eventualities. But yes, it did make good copy...

Happy Christmas to you too and enjoy whatever festive meal is customary over there!

Vanessa said...

Hi Olfactoria,

Why, thank you! LOL about the curry - it will be in the back of my mind as a possible fall back for sure...;)

Happy Holidays to you and I hope Pauli will soon be well and truly on the mend.

Vanessa said...

Hi Odiferess,

Seeing your comment has reminded me that you may well have given me my sample of Fille en Aiguilles in the first place, so many thanks for that! I am not sure I would want to wear this at any other time of year, and technically the little wooden tree is wearing it, not me, but it smells fab on it!

And your being the source of the sample would also explain your own spate of piney spritzing - I think it is wise to omit your beloved weasel, as it might linger. I am not sure I see him as a spooky alternative to a fairy - apart from the weight issue he would creep me out a bit, haha. I have a gift bearing teddy, who is more size-appropriate.

Happy Christmas to you too, and likewise re your posts! xx

Tara said...

LOL at the Bois des Ilescrowdsourcing! Love Val's labels.

What do you think of Fille en Aiguilles? I love it but not sure I want to smell of it. I have till the end of Undina's generous decant to decide.

Your home is so stylish, V. What an elegant Christmas tree stand.

Nothing says Christmas like Roja Dove :)

Anonymous said...

Good idea, now I want to spill my little sample of Fille en Aiguilles, too. It's one of my first samples and Christmas seems the right time for scenting the living room with it - I could spray the remaining squirts on a hankerchief and leave it on the heater.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you!

Suzanne said...

Here's wishing you a Happy Christmas, Vanessa! Your decorations look festive in a refined way (matching what I know of your style), even if putting them up was sort of a dicey enterprise.

Seems you've started something with the Fille en Aiguilles. I'll continue the trend: I own a bottle (bought a bottle after falling in love with it when we participated in Undina's blind scent project), so I don't need to spill a sample, but I'll definitely spray some ... somewhere, not sure where besides my wrists. Maybe on some pine branches to make them smell even more piney. :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

I feel exactly like you about Fille en Aiguilles - can't quite bring myself to wear it as a perfume. I see it as a bit of a piney Tolu, but I would rather have Tolu, I think.

The 'distress purchase' Christmas stand is from B & Q, and I can highly recommend it. Just had a friend over for lunch and she is going off there now to get one herself, she was so impressed by its mechanics and general aesthetics.

That Roja Dove book does look rather festive. Didn't you give me it a while back? My memory is shot these days, but the silver cover is just the thing. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Anka,

Why, I really might have started a festive fumehead spraying trend here! You go for it...;)

Merry Christmas to you too. I have two friends who are going to Berlin in the NY. Not me sadly this time...but I shall imagine them there!

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

Thanks for your kind comments and festive wishes - the results of my dicey decorating enterprise (love it!) were worth a few tricky moments - nothing like tree lights to put one in the Christmas mood.

Another Fille en Aiguilles room scenting convert. Serge Lutens can expect a serious sales spike next year at this rate!

Happy Christmas to you too! You are more likely to have a white one over there, I imagine...

Yuki said...

Isn't it funny how times change? There was a time when I would have scorned a gift of scented soap or handcreme...and this year I have been hoarding scented soaps like the end of the world is coming! The worst part is that most of my friends are similarly behind the times. Also, your tree looks lovely! Happy holidays :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Yuki,

That's a very good point - things have come full circle. Bubble bath is another formerly derided gift I would be glad to receive now.

Glad you like the tree. Wishing you a very happy holidays yourself!

Undina said...

Dear Vanessa, you can't even imagine what effect your post had on me! ;)

The first time I opened this page and saw your beautiful tree I stopped reading because I thought it was a shame that I still haven't decorated any of my 2 trees... Now at least one of them is decorated (and I hope to attend to the second one tonight), so I kept reading... When I came to you using a saw and an axe, I got seriously worried for the remaining nine healthy fingers - so I was extremely glad to read that no mishaps happened in that area ;) And now I'm sitting in the office with the only thought: I want to get home and spill some Fille en Aiguilles :) (I'll send you a replacement spray sample - so the next time you do not have to spill it but can apply directly to that adorable tree ornament).

I thought that the card missing some of its charm(s) was a nice symbolic touch.

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

I hope that by the time you read this you will have decorated that second tree. Which rooms do you have them in, I am wondering?

You could be forgiven for thinking I might come a cropper with my various tools, but mercifully the other fingers are intact...

Glad I have inspired you to do your own home scenting ritual with Fille en Aiguilles. For your part you seem to have been a bit of an enabler, allowing other people to discover this perfume. Thanks in advance for the offer of a top up for next Christmas's tree spritzing. ;)

Undina said...

I finished the second tree!
A small tree (the one you can see on the picture with Rusty in my recent post) is decorated with real glass ornaments - so it went into the bedroom to which Rusty doesn't have an unattended access. The second one - still small but slightly bigger (both are potted) - is decorated with unbreakable (plastic, wood and metal) ornaments that will survive Rusty's curiosity and it's placed in the living room.

Martha said...

I realize that I've never smelled Fille en Aiguilles! I did, several days ago, dig out my sample of Christopher Brosius (CB I Hate Perfume)'s The Fir Tree and dab a fair bit on a tissue to scent a room for our Christmas party. (I dab and then toss the tissue into a vase.) So I can perhaps claim to have joined the using-but-not-wearing pine-scent trend.

Also: Merry Christmas!

Vanessa said...

Hurrah! That sounds like a good idea to put the tree with the more delicate ornaments in the bedroom - LOL at 'unattended access'. Watching Rusty play with the more robust ornaments on the other tree is likely to be a lot of fun, especially knowing they won't come to any harm from his batting paws...

Vanessa said...

Hi Martha,

Oh, do give it a go if it crosses your path. I would say that your tissue and CB I hate Perfume ritual involving a pine scent definitely qualifies to be counted in this growing 'object and room fragrancing' trend.

Happy Christmas to you and Himself!

Anonymous said...

How about a bike hook or lift to corral that filly? You can go all arty and do something like the one at:

or get something more industrial for maybe ten pounds.

Had to relate a startling parallel to the Chanel post: I met a friend for a holiday lunch who, with great diffidence, offered me a old bottle of Chanel No. 5 parfum her mum had given her 20 years ago. It was still in its cellophane, and after I opened the two boxes, scraped off the wax around the stopper and popped it in the freezer for a few minutes I was able to open it. It seems fine, and I plan to use up the 7 ml extravagantly and then keep the adorable bottle.


Vanessa said...

Hi AnnieA,

Oh boy, you really lucked out with that gift of Chanel No 5 parfum! And a pretty bottle as a bonus. Windfalls like that are the best!

I don't have a wall on which I could hang the bike unfortunately and still be able to get past, though those hooks look very nifty.

Anonymous said...

A Gravy Separator would be an awful gift, lol....