blooddrop autumn part 1



Blooddrop’s autumn collection has been a prolific several-part release this year, and while I’ve skipped a lot of the offerings, I couldn’t resist getting in on a decant circle for part 1 of the release. And since my Forever Head Cold has finally started fading and I can actually smell things again, I figured a review was in order. (So many reviews are in order. Seriously. I still haven’t gotten around to testing out my decants from Blooddrop’s summer simplicities release. As you may be aware, IT IS NOVEMBER 18TH. I am the worst.)

Anyway. As always, reviews were done as blindly as possible, though since the notes are printed on these decant labels it’s not easy to avoid them entirely. Notes and descriptions were added after the fact.

Enchantment: A beguiling blend of white tea, apple cider, a squeeze of Italian lemon and fresh ginger.

In the vial: hot cider with a heavy squeeze of lemon. On skin it’s mostly the same – apple cider, lots of tart lemon, and a kick of something a bit spicy. Not your typical mulled cider spices, though – no heavy cinnamon – it’s more like fresh ginger. That spiciness gets a little stronger as it dries, but it never ventures into cinnamon candle territory, which I appreciate. The lemon keeps it light.

Enchantment is nice, if not bottle-worthy.

Interlude: An elegant little perfume of black tea, vanilla shortbread, and strawberry jam.

In the vial: Ick. Very generic and artificially fruity strawberry, a little buttery, with something headache-inducing in the background. On skin I get black tea, lots of it, coupled with that artificial strawberry. The combination smells like one of those fruit-scented markers I loved when I was a kid – fake and harsh.

I really hate this one.

Bats in Silhouette: Wild blackberries, meadow sage, soft dirt and barn dust, St. John’s wort, cranberries, clove, and pumpkin.

In the vial: All I get from this is glorious dirt. Love. Further sniffing reveals earthy sage and a hint of berry sweetness. On skin it’s berries, dirt, and sage – it smells like a cup of very earthy blackberry sage tea. After a few minutes it takes on a dusty quality that really works with the herbs and berries and dirt-y goodness.

I love this one. 100% bottle-worthy and hands down my favorite from this collection.

Sweets for Rowan: Dried apples, vanilla sugar cookies, gingerbread, and cinnamon oats.

In the vial: Smells like apple crisp. Buttery apple, oats, brown sugar, spices. On skin I mostly get apple and spice, with little of the butteriness or oats I smelled in the vial. It’s not bad by any means, but it’s much more generic-smelling. More like an apple cider-scented candle or autumn potpourri than delicious apple crisp. So that’s disappointing.

I almost bought a bottle of this one un-sniffed, but now I’m glad I didn’t.

By the Light of the Moon: Pastures edged with forests, shadows of mice, deer, and owls dancing their nighttime waltzes, cool air stirring up the fragrances of fallen apples, boysenberries, moist tree bark, moss, silver fir, and herbs all by the light of the moon.

In the vial: Berries at first, and then damp wood and earth. A little musty. On skin it’s a very cool scent, wet, crisp apple with a hint of herbs. After a minute the berry sweetness comes out again, then the damp woodsy smell. It’s deeper, earthy, more herbal, but still a bit crisp and fruity-sweet. It smells like standing in an orchard at night. Needless to say, I’m a fan.

This is one I might need a bottle of, in the imaginary world where I actually need a bottle of anything, instead of the real world where I’ve been collecting indie perfume for more than 5 years and I’ve never even finished a single sample vial of anything.

Reality! What a bummer. Suck it, loser.

Side Note: When I was looking over the offerings for this release, I immediately honed in on this scent and Bats in Silhouette, because dirt, forests, apples, moss, sage, dust, etc, etc. These things are like catnip to me. I was also curious as to how Bats in Silhouette and By the Light of the Moon would compare, because the notes are sort of similar. Well, to my surprise they’re not much alike at all – By the Light of the Moon is deeper and fruitier, heavier on the apples than the berries, and less dirt-y and herbal. Bats in Silhouette is heavier on the dirt and dust and herbs, very earthy, and less sweet.

Of the two, I prefer Bats in Silhouette (MOAR DIRT), but I really like both.


Buckskin: Teak wood, honey, black tea, butterscotch, and black musk.

In the vial: Butterscotch candies and musk. On skin it starts out all sweet butterscotch, but some other notes quickly appear underneath – the musk I smelled in the vial, plus a bit of wood – and after a few minutes, quite a lot of black tea. It smells like you dropped a butterscotch candy into a mug of black tea that’s sitting on a polished wood table.

It’s interesting, but I don’t think I need more than a sample.

Chestnut: Warm apple, cinnamon oats, cider, chestnut cream, gingerbread, nutmeg, and tangerine.

In the vial: Apple, orange, holiday spices. Smells like mulled cider, but creamier. On skin it’s spiced cider with a big shot of orange. The apple and orange are both bright scents, not overly spiced. After a few minutes I get a bit of the toasty creaminess I that I smelled in the bottle, but it’s much more subtle. Overall the scent is very holiday-ish, and I’m sticking with my original assessment – warm, spicy mulled cider with a squeeze of orange over a creamy base.

This is one of the nicer “spiced cider” scents I’ve tried; they tend to turn extremely spicy or candle-ish on my skin. The heavier citrus note really works. Not a bottle candidate, but it’s nice, and I’ll keep the decant.

Palomino: Sunny mimosa, honey, vanilla milk, Italian lemon, and white grapefuit.

In the vial: Smells like lemon-scented bug spray. On skin it’s more of a light citrus – not just lemon, but some more bitter citrus as well – with milky vanilla. Not overly sweet. It’s a bit fizzy or bubbly as well, which I think is what made me think “bug spray.” (I swear that connection makes sense in my head.) And the longer I have it on, the more it just makes me think of that or a citronella candle.

I’m not a huge fan of bubbly scents, and citrus can easily go floor cleaner-y on my skin, so it’s no surprise this one doesn’t work out too well for me. It doesn’t smell bad, but I don’t really like the smell of it for myself.

Dappled Grey: Earl grey tea, sea moss, pussy willow accord, palo santo, and grey sky accord.

In the vial: Black tea and the ocean – ozone, salt, seaweed. It’s kind of a nose-wrinkling combination. On skin I get mostly Earl Grey (my favorite tea, though Earl Grey perfumes usually don’t do anything for me for some reason), with a sort of salty-sweet marine undertone. There’s an ozoney bent to it as well – looking at the notes, I’m guessing that’s the “grey sky accord.” If this perfume were translated into colors, it’d be pale grey and seafoam green, so kudos to Astrid for nailing the theme.

It’s not for me – I’m finding that Blooddrop’s black tea scents don’t appeal to me, and honestly I find the combination of black tea with marine notes pretty off-putting myself – but it’s an interesting blend and if you like marine scents and/or tea scents, I think it’s worth a shot.


The Frozen Horse: Its scent is an angel food cake cupcake with pear compote filling and eggnog frosting dusted with pumpkin pie spice.

In the vial: Holy yum. Some kind of lightly spiced pear cake. On skin it’s pear-heavy at first but the light cakey sweetness comes out quickly, followed by spice that reminds me of eggnog – nutmeg, mostly, but some cinnamon later on as well. The cake here isn’t a heavy yellow cake, it smells like light, fluffy white sponge cake. After a little while the spiciness increases, mostly thanks to my #2 nemesis cinnamon. It’s not completely overpowering, and I do like the scent, but I wish – as I almost always wish – that the cinnamon spice factor was more subtle. I realize that this is almost entirely a skin chemistry thing, though, so if your skin doesn’t grab onto every tiny particle that might at one point have even been in the vicinity of cinnamon and turn it up to 11, this will probably smell like a delicious fruity eggnog-y sponge cake on you, and you should know that I’m very jealous.

Thankfully, the cinna-splosion calms down after a little while and I end up really liking this one. I’ll definitely be keeping my decant, but I may also grab a bottle of this after a few more tests.

The Coffin Horse: Its mourning cake is that of pale vanilla infused with rose and topped with white butter cream frosting and thin slices of candied white grapefruit cut to look like cross bones.

In the vial: Seriously sweet vanilla cake with a little bit of citrus to lighten it up. On skin it’s like a softer version of the cold sniff – more cake and less frosting, but it’s definitely white cake, very delicate and sweet. The citrus is probably grapefruit, and it’s also very sweet and smooth. This is a lovely little cake scent, not as heavy as they can often be, and not cloyingly sweet. It smells like wedding cakes look.

Looking at the notes, I see there’s a bit of rose in this – I don’t get any at first, but after a while it does come out to play. I sort of wish it didn’t – I’m starting to realize I don’t love Blooddrop’s rose notes – but it’s not overpowering and it totally fits with the overall vibe of the scent. And with the wedding cake thing. Sweet, delicate, pretty. I like this one. Not bottle-worthy, but the decant’s a keeper.

The Falling Horse: The Falling Horse’s cupcake is vanilla cake sweetened with maple syrup, holding a hidden center of pumpkin apple butter and covered in lightly spiced butter cream frosting with a maple candy leaf on top.

In the vial: Spicy sweet pumpkin and apple. Kind of reminds me of pancakes. Or a candle. Pancake-scented candle? God someone please make that happen. Anyway. On skin it starts off all spicy pumpkin, much more reminiscent of an autumn candle than delicious pumpkin pancakes. After a minute some apple starts to peek out, but not enough to interrupt the Pumpkin and Cinnamon Show. After a little more time the apple mostly fades away and I’m left with a wrist that smells like cinnamon Red Hots or Big Red gum. Every time! Every single time! GAH. Damn you cinnamon!

Looking at the notes – maple syrup, wherefore art thou? Cake, why hast thou forsaken me?

There you have it! Bats in Silhouette, By the Light of the Moon, and The Frozen Horse are all winners. Interlude, Palomino, and Dappled Grey are at the opposite end of the spectrum – the end where I where I would like them to be very far away from my person, particularly my nose – and will go (or have already gone) in the swap/sell pile. The rest fall somewhere in the middle and will likely sit in a sample box until I decide I’ve got too much stuff and go on my next stash-busting spree.

All of these scents and the rest of Blooddrop’s autumn collection can be found here.

darling clandestine falloween pt. 2


Itsy bitsy… bitsies.

Part 2 of my extremely belated Darling Clandestine Falloween review is upon us! Considering that DC’s winter collection and Shark Friday will be upon us in a mere couple of weeks, I’m way behind the 8 ball on this. But here it is nonetheless – if it’s not useful now, perhaps it will be next year.

I picked up the itsy bitsy set of DC’s Halloween Suite, which used to consist of four scents, but a fifth (Smother) was added to the lineup this year. I don’t actually love the itsy bitsy format – they’re half the size of regular bitsy vials (half a dram, or 1.9 ml, vs a whole dram, 3.8 ml) but more expensive – so I wouldn’t normally order them, but I wanted to try out the whole suite and I didn’t need or want the full-size set of 8 ml bottles. I do appreciate a smaller, more affordable set being offered, despite my general feelings on the itsy bitsies.

Anyway – on to the reviews. As usual, they were done as blindly as possible, with notes and descriptions added after the fact.

Falter: Startling, misty, herbal, with notes including avocado and ozone and clary sage.

In the vial I get something sort of like cucumber, but not cucumber… green and ozoney, but not as watery or sweet as cucumber. On skin it’s a little more mellow, less sharply ozone-y, with an herbal dustiness to it. Probably sage? That’s as far as I can get with picking out individual notes in this one. DC is like that, magically and frustratingly. As it dries the sage gets much more prominent, and it ends up being mostly an herbal scent over a light, misty background. It almost of reminds me of a brighter, fresher companion to What Mandy Makes.

This is an interesting scent, and I like the dry down, but it’s not one I would wear super often – I think an itsy bitsy is enough.

Side note: Avocado! That was the green not-cucumbery note. I believe this is the first time I’ve seen avocado in a scent. Interesting. It gives it a creamy green smell that’s really unusual.

Wither: Unsettling, ethereal, with notes including ozone and blueberry and trampled leaves, soaked in black rum.

In the vial, this is sort of an astringent blueberry with lots of ozone. I get much less ozone on skin – it’s deeper and lacking that astringent edge. Darker and a bit musty, but not in a bad way – like dry leaves, “withered” up and crunching underfoot. The blueberry is still there, but it’s not as bright or fruity, and reminds me more of blueberry black tea than blueberries themselves. The base gets a bit muskier as it wears.

This one is, again, interesting – I feel like I say that a lot about DC scents – but I like it better than Falter. I wouldn’t mind having more than an itsy bitsy of this one (though if I’m being honest, 1.9 ml is all I ever really need of anything), so when it comes back next year I may grab a larger size.

Squander: Deep and decadent, with rich fruitful notes including clove and nutmeg and sandalwood and ripe red apple.

In the vial, Squander is warm and fruity, lightly spicy. This is the apple one. On skin it’s crisp apple and something a little green over a warm, musky base. It’s a very “hot” scent, not in the sense that it’s overly spicy or burns my skin (cinnamon oil! *shakes fist at sky*), but it just feels… hot. If it were a color, it would be a saturated goldenrod yellow. It is a little spicy, though – no cinnamon, but combined with the apple it got a bit of a mulled cider thing going on. The base of the scent has a soft, incense-y vibe. (Note: There’s the sandalwood!)

I really like this one. My favorite of the Halloween suite, hands down, and the one I’ll definitely be grabbing a full-size of next year. It is the apple one, so no surprise there, I’m sure.

Funny story: Squander just wants to escape from me. Months ago, when Evonne put last year’s Halloween suite stock up for sale, I got an order from DC that had a bottle of Squander tucked into it as an extra. A full size bottle! Or at least… it had been, before it was shattered into a million pieces by the industrial car crusher that masquerades as my mailman. The package smelled amazing. The bathroom trash can where the package full of broken glass and Squander oil was deposited also smelled amazing for several weeks afterward. Fast forward to now, testing out my itsy bitsy. Falter and Wither go off without a hitch, but as soon as I open Squander, my clumsy sausage fingers fumble the tiny lid and it goes bouncing off my desk, spraying oil all over the desk, the laptop, and my shirt. I retrieve the lid, wipe up the oil, and try again. And I drop the lid again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Thank god it was just the lid and not the bottle, but goddamn Squander, just let me love you.

Spurn: Fierce and passionate, with bright bursts of pomegranate, tempered with aged wood and haunted by marigolds.

Side note: My itsy bitsy bottle of Spurn has a hairline crack in it. Boo-urns. It kept expanding, so I decanted the oil into two sample vials. I have really terrible luck with DC’s bottles breaking in transit, for some reason. It’s happened no less than 3 times in the span of about 6 months.

In the vial, Spurn smells warm and a little fruity. On skin it’s similar, but with a more woody base. The fruitiness is less prominent on my skin, but still enough to provide a bit of brightness and sweetness to what is mostly a warm, woody scent. After it dries down a bit more, I can smell what I gather from looking at the notes is marigold – it’s smooth and fresh, but not floral in the typical way. It’s really nice.

I always feel dumb trying to describe DC scents, because it’s often less about picking out notes and more about trying to describe a feeling that it evokes, or an overall vibe.

Oh well. I like this one. I’ll grab a larger bottle next year for sure.

Smother: Green, woody natural pistachio (no pudding here), rich moss-covered oak, and a shy bloom of a gloriously superior essence of jasmine grandiflorum.

Smooth and a little sweet, with a deep, creamy floral – kind of reminds me of the orchid in Gram Negative? On skin I get more of the floral – white floral, a bit headier. There’s something very smooth about this scent, almost buttery, but not buttery-smelling, if that makes sense. A creaminess, I guess, but it’s not milky. I’m not describing this well. Unfortunately for me, the longer it’s on my skin, the stronger the floral element gets. Jasmine, I assume, from its strength and my visceral NOPE reaction.

If you like jasmine, you’ll like Smother. I do not like jasmine, so I am not really into it. I will say that it’s one of the more tolerable jasmine-heavy scents I’ve tried, but at the end of the day it’s just not for me. Looking at the notes, I wish I got more of the pistachio and mossy oak – I think I did a bit at the beginning, and in the bottle – the pistachio was the creamy/buttery thing I was trying to describe – but ultimately my skin was only interested in the jasmine. Boo.

Overall Thoughts: More positive than not on these. I like Squander, Spurn, and Wither (in that order), am indifferent to Falter, and don’t really dig Smother.

Darling Clandestine can be found on Etsy here.

arcana halloween 2014: ravenous (part 2)


We meet again, ladies…

In part 1 of this series, I covered the Apples Crave scents I have from the Ravenous collection. Today, it’s time for PUMPKIN ALL THE THINGS! And the Soapbox Co contest winning scent too, because… it came in the same box as all the others… and it had to go somewhere… and I think it’s got pumpkin in it too? Sure, sounds logical.

Like Apples Crave, the Pumpkins Crave scents also feature one of my illustrations on the labels, which is mega-super-exciting.

Anyway – let’s get to the reviews. As always, these were done as blindly as possible, with notes and descriptions added after the fact.

Pumpkins Crave Cappuccino: Super roasted coffee bean EO, vanilla milk, pumpkin, and rum with shots of blackberry and black raspberry syrup.

In the bottle this is ALL COFFEE. Sweet, dark, syrupy coffee. It kind of smells like a pumpkin spice latte, and it is STRONG. Like, I can smell it from a foot away, just opening up the bottle. On skin it’s still heavily coffee, but smooth and sweet, like coffee with condensed milk or coffee ice cream or something. After a minute or so, some more spicy sweetness joins the party, like pumpkin bread or cake. The whole affair is very sweet and rich and a little spicy, and frankly smells amazing, which is not something I was expecting to say because I don’t usually love coffee scents. But oh. Oh man. This smells like sitting in a coffee shop on a Sunday morning, drinking a cappuccino and eating a pumpkin muffin. It is extremely yum and very fall-appropriate.

Looking at the notes, I was a little surprised by the blackberry and raspberry syrups, but sniffing again with that in mind – yeah, I can smell it. Especially after about 10-15 minutes, it develops a noticeable fruitiness, exactly like flavored coffee syrup. Again I say: yum.

I wore this for real one day, and it was still reasonably detectable on my wrists after 10 hours. Sillage was low-ish after the first couple of hours.

Pumpkins Crave Honey: Spiced calabaza and beeswax candles smothered in acacia honey, buckwheat honey, and mead.

In the bottle – holy geez this smells good. Sweet, creamy, a little spicy, deep and rich and golden. Yum. On skin I get a strong blast of honey, but after a minute or so it smooths out and it smells like pumpkin pie drizzled with honey. It’s a little spicier on skin than in the bottle, especially more cinnamon-y, though my skin does like to grab cinnamon and hold on for dear life, so YMMV. After a while I notice that it’s not quite as sweet anymore – after the first couple of buttery sweet minutes, I wouldn’t really call it a gourmand or foodie scent at all. I actually wish the sweetness stuck around, because I’m the kind of person who enjoys smelling like pie sometimes. Or all the time. Pie allatimes.

Also because without it, this goes a little too cinnamony on me. Thanks, skin chemistry! I swear almost every spiced pumpkin scent I try just ends up smelling like I’m huffing a cinnamon stick. This one does not go full-on cinnamon stick – it’s not as one-note as that – but for a while it’s teetering right on the line. Thankfully it does mellow out after 20 minutes or so.

Skin chemistry hijinks aside, this one is super warm and very, very Fall. It’s like Julia condensed Thanksgiving into a perfume oil and bottled it. From the description and the bottle sniff, I thought this one would be my favorite of the pumpkin scents. It’s not – see above re: my personal cinnamon hellscape -but I do enjoy it, especially after dry down, and will definitely break it out around the holidays.

Pumpkins Crave Treats: Rum-laced caramel, cane sugar, pumpkin custard, and delicate, vanilla-infused marshmallows.

In the bottle this smells like some kind of frosted pumpkin cake, or a pumpkin whoopie pie. Very sweet, sugary, lightly spiced. On skin it’s stronger, spicier – there goes cinnamon again, making it all about him. The blast of cinnamon calms down pretty quickly, and then it smells more like cake or pumpkin pie again – sweet, spicy pumpkin, a little buttery, a little creamy. I also get some soft, powdery vanilla, like marshmallows. That part gets more prominent as it dries, which I love.

In the bottle it’s got a boozy caramel thing going on, which smells amazing – at first I don’t get much of that at all, but after about 10-15 minutes it comes out to play, and the yum factor is immediately boosted.

I really like this one. It’s very much in line with the sort of sweet pumpkiny blends that pop up this time of year, but I like this better than most. It’s not overly spicy, the marshmallow is a nice addition, and I love the buttery rum caramel note.

Pumpkins Crave Viola: Purple violets, lemongrass, Oregon lavender, coconut milk, and gently spiced pumpkin flesh.

In the bottle I get mostly violets, sweet and not too soapy, like those little French violet candies in the cute tins. Something a bit buttery and lightly spicy in the background as well. On skin – lemongrass! Oh, I love lemongrass. The violets are there, along with a fresh, herbal note – lavender, I think – and some deeper, spicier sweetness underneath. This is surprisingly lovely. The violet is present, but it’s not too prominent on my skin, especially at first. It does get a little stronger as it dries – admittedly a bit stronger than I’d like – but it’s never really overwhelming, and the tart lemongrass and fresh lavender balance it well.

This reminds me a bit of Winter Mirth, which has the lemongrass, pumpkin, and coconut without the lavender and violet. Winter Mirth is very much a fall/winter scent to me, and Pumpkins Crave Viola kind of reads like a spring version of the scent. I do prefer Winter Mirth of the two, but I enjoy PCV more than I expected to. I don’t tend to like violet scents – I can only think of one that I’ve liked enough to buy a bottle of (Solstice Scents Violet Mallow) – but I took a chance because I like all the other notes. Violet is never going to be a note I love, but this is a blend I like, which is no small accomplishment.

Autumn: Crisp dry air, leaves, caramel apples, pumpkins, chocolate candy, chimney smoke, warm apple cider, and cookies baking in the oven.

In the bottle this smells a bit like an autumnal candle. Sweet, spicy, a little smoky. There’s definitely apple and maybe a little chocolate. On skin I get smoke first, and then apple, and crunchy dry leaves. Then it starts to sweeten up, and I get a little chocolate for sure, and maybe caramel. Later on there’s a distinct apple cider smell. The overall effect is like walking outside on a crisp fall night, but not in a literal way – that’s Solstice Scents Foxcroft. Autumn is more like a scent story, all the various smells and associations of the season liquified and mixed together in a bottle. Dry air and crunchy leaves, spiced harvest fruit, a wisp of chimney smoke in the distance, a pocket full of leftover Halloween candy.

On cold sniff I didn’t expect to like this one much, but I actually really love it. Very much a surprise hit. When I first read the description, I thought it sounded a lot like Sleepy Hollow: “An atmospheric ode to romantically spooky Autumn evenings, with fresh pumpkin, spiced apple brew, and bonfire smoke.” And looking at the notes, they are not entirely dissimilar, but they really don’t smell alike at all. Sleepy Hollow is much more of an apple cinnamon, spiced cider kind of scent on me.

Overall Thoughts: I like most of these quite a bit. My favorite is, surprisingly, Pumpkins Crave Cappuccino, followed by Autumn and Pumpkins Crave Treats. Pumpkins Crave Honey and Viola rank lower, by virtue of excess cinnamon and the presence of violets respectively, but I don’t dislike either one.

Arcana can be purchased from The Soapbox Company and The Rhinestone Housewife.

arcana halloween 2014: ravenous (part 1)



Today I have reviews of a collection that’s a bit dear to my heart, because the lovely ladies you see on the labels are my own illustrations! I’ve done work for Arcana’s scent mastermind Julia before and always thoroughly enjoy it, but when she approached me about this series in particular I was over the moon. Why? Because APPLES, that’s why!

Did you know I’m obsessed with apple scents? It’s true. If it’s got apple in the notes list, I want to try it. So a whole line of apple-based scents from one of my very favorite brands was enough to put me into a state of perpetual shaking excitement all on its own. Add to that the fact that I get to draw sexy ladies for the labels?? Best day ever.

There are two halves to the Ravenous collection – Apples Crave and Pumpkins Crave. I have a number of bottles from both, and I’ll be giving each half its own post. Today, apples!

Apples Crave Flora: A fresh blend of Fuji apple, tropical Tiare blossom, tuberose, bergamot, orange flower, and a touch of vintage patchouli.

In the bottle: distinctly floral but with a sweet, crisp apple note. The floral is light and sweet, like apple blossoms. On skin it’s more floral, less apple. It’s a white floral, but not terribly heady. I’m sticking with fruity blossoms of some kind. The apple is there, providing a crisp sweetness, but it’s more of a background note. After a little while it gets sweeter overall, and considerably smoother, the floral elements a little softer and less aggressive. I wasn’t crazy about it at first, but I actually really like the dry down. It’s a nice addition to my small collection of MTW-approved Florals For Floral Haters.

Before I picked this one out, I asked Julia if she thought I’d like it, since I’m largely a floral-hater. She does make one of the few florals I like – Nacre – so I used that as a reference point. She said that it’s more like Nacre than another floral of hers, Venus Libertina (which also happens to bear one of my illustrations on the label!), so I decided to give it a shot. She was right, of course – it’s kind of like Nacre’s lighter, fruitier cousin.

Taking a look at the notes now, I see I was mostly correct about the flowers – white florals and orange blossoms – but I completely missed the bergamot and patchouli. Even sniffing with those things in mind, I have a hard time picking them out. I think I can find hints of patchouli in the base, but it’s very subtle, just grounding the scent.

Apples Crave Orchards: Dry apple cider with French hay absolute, a touch of heartwood, and a hint of rain.

In the bottle this smells a bit like autumn potpourri, but not in a bad way. Hard cider-y apples, winesaps maybe (I love winesaps, we just picked a ton two weekends ago), dry grass, cinnamon. I think it’s the dry cinnamon smell that’s making me think “potpourri.” (Which, funny story – my dad ate some potpourri off my sister’s table at Thanksgiving one year, thinking it was a bowl of some kind of snack mix. He put a handful in his mouth and went “Yuck. What kind of nuts are these supposed to be?” and we all laughed so hard we died. The running joke now is that you have to make sure you take the potpourri off the table before Dad arrives.)

ANYWAY. On skin – the oil is green! That’s surprising. On skin the cinnamon is softer, miraculously (my skin amps cinnamon like mad), and I smell mostly dry, crunchy grass and herbs and a bit of cidery apple, also dry, with a slight tang. It’s a little spicy and woody, and there’s a crispness to it. It smells very similar to an apple orchard, appropriately. As it dries down it gets a little spicier and the apple recedes further, which is really my only disappointment with this – I want more apple! I know apple is a fleeting top note, so I guess I shouldn’t expect it to be a powerhouse here, but these are my unreasonable demands. The apple is present, though, don’t get me wrong. I just want MOAR.

This ends up being a dry, grassy, woody, lightly spicy scent on my skin, with a nice, crisp, tangy – if faint – bite of apple hanging over the whole thing. The dry down especially gives me an almost cuddly vibe, like I you just want to bury your nose in it. It’s very fall-appropriate and I do enjoy it, despite wishing for a little more apple. If you’ve ever tried Haus of Gloi’s Olde Cider Haus and thought, “man, this is just too sweet and/or too apple-y for me,” Apples Crave Orchards might just be your dream come true. However, I think this might’ve been discontinued already? At least according to the Soapbox Co facebook page. So if you want it, get it now!

Side note: I made The Dude smell this one and he said it smelled like “warm laundry.” Okay.

Apples Crave Peaches: Green apple hard candy with sugared peaches.

In the bottle this smells like candy. Sweet candy peach and tart green apple, hard candy versions of each. It almost makes my mouth water. On skin it’s an explosion of juicy, candied peach at first – sweet, ripe, sugary, and very lightly floral. The apple is in the background – green apple, crisp and tart. The overall effect is simple, sweet, and very fruity, smelling for all the world like those translucent fruit-flavored hard candies taste. The peach is more dominant on me, but both are detectable. The peach also leans rather floral on my skin, which I’m not super crazy about, but it doesn’t detract much from the fruitstravaganza going on here.

Side note: If you’ve had the chance to try any of Arcana’s single layering notes, this smells very much like Green Apple + Sugared Peaches. (I had a review in the works for the handful of these I have, but a couple seem to have gone missing, much to my chagrin. My desk is a black hole for perfume.)

Apples Crave Vanilla: Wild apples and green apples with delicate vanilla, sensual musk, and white amber.

My favorite of the apple scents on cold sniff. Sweet vanilla, slightly milky, and light, delicate green apple. Not tart, but not overly sweet either. On skin it’s the same – sweet, milky, mild vanilla musk with soft, fragrant apple. The apple starts off in the background, but get a bit stronger as it dries. The way I’m describing it sounds so simple… and it is, I suppose, but the combination is really wonderful and I don’t think I’m doing it justice.

I can’t accurately communicate how much I love this one. It smells amazingly soft and comforting and just dreamy. I want my life to smell like this, or at least my pillows and blankets when I go to sleep at night. I feel like it would make me have good dreams. Hands down my favorite of the Apples Crave scents, and probably one of my favorite Arcanas (and apple scents) ever. I have a strict no backups rule on account of how I’m a terrible hoarder who never uses anything up, but man, I’m going to struggle with this one. It’s just gorgeous.

Side note: I wore this one for real the day after writing this review, so I can actually comment on lasting power. I put it on when I left for work at 8, and it was still detectable on my wrists when I got home at 6 and beyond, so 10+ hours. Low-ish sillage, especially after the first few hours, but overall great longevity.

Apples Crave Resins: Citron-laced cider with dragonsblood resin, warm myrrh, and smoky frankincense.

In the bottle this smells very churchy. I don’t get any apple. On skin it’s softer than it is on cold sniff, but it still pretty much just smells like incense and resins to me. Like church. I’m bad with these sorts of scents – I can’t tell what’s what. It’s warm and spicy and incense-y and that’s pretty much all I’ve got. And I still can’t really pick up any apple. That may be my fault; my nose isn’t accustomed to these kinds of scents, because it’s definitely not my usual oeuvre. In any case, it’s nice. It smells exactly like a fancy witch store. Not something I’d usually go for, but I like it enough to keep it.

(That was the least helpful review ever. Sorry!)

Overall Thoughts: Positive, duh. It’s Arcana + apples, this was never going to be bad. My favorite is Apples Crave Vanilla by a mile, followed – surprisingly – by Apples Crave Flora.

Stay tuned for Pumpkins Crave in part 2!

Arcana can be purchased from The Soapbox Company and The Rhinestone Housewife.

haus of gloi coconut bon bon


White chocolate and coconut flake.

Coconut Bon Bon was released as part of Haus of Gloi’s 2012 Halloween Candy Bowl collection. I don’t recall there being samples available of these, which is a bummer because I ended up just ordering a full bottle of this, and spoilers: I don’t really like it very much.

In the bottle and on skin, Coconut Bon Bon smells like artificial coconut. It’s cloyingly sweet. It smells like store-bought coconut macaroons or strong coconut extract. The white chocolate is there, but to me it smells terribly fake and a bit waxy. I love me some Haus of Gloi and I generally trust them to make lovely-smelling things, but in this case I am really not a fan.

Would I buy it again? No, obviously. In fact I’m reviewing this now because I’m about to send it off in a swap – hopefully the receiver will like it more than I do.

Available from: Haus of Gloi (but not currently)

ohwto sticky fingers



A light, white scent comprised entirely of foody notes. Keep away from children and pets and anyone who doesn’t know better than to eat perfume. No, really. Creamy white chocolate, gooey marshmallow, a plump dollop of cream cheese frosting, tonka bean absolute, and warmed coconut milk.

Sticky Fingers was part of One Hand Washes The Other’s Halloween 2012 release. I picked it up because white chocolate, marshmallow, frosting, coconut, get in my basket.

In the tube I get white chocolate and sugary sweet coconut, like the frosting on a coconut cupcake. On skin it’s very slightly less sweet and the white chocolate is a bit stronger, but mostly the same. It’s coconut frosting. Ergo, yum.

This is pretty much what I wanted Haus of Gloi’s Coconut Bon Bon to smell like, now that I’m thinking about it. It has pretty good lasting power too, which is always a bonus.

Would I buy it again? Yep. It’s not a complicated scent, but it’s sweet and yummy and I’m a sucker for foodie perfumes.

Available from: OHWTO, but I don’t think it’s actually available anymore. Maybe next Halloween!

ohwto pumpkin bread pudding



Bruleed pumpkin puree, buttermilk, cream, bourbon, bread, vanilla, honey, & pumpkin spice.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding was part of One Hand Washes The Other’s Halloween 2012 release.

In the tube I smell smells sweet pumpkin cream, vanilla, honey, and a hint of bourbon. On skin it gets a little spicier (my skin tends to do that though), though it’s still creamier and less spicy than OHWTO’s Pumpkin Bread scent. The spiciness settles a bit after a few minutes and the bourbon and honey get a bit stronger. It’s not as aggressively sweet as you’d expect from the description.

This has good lasting power – I could still smell it at the end of a full work day.

Would I buy it again? Yes. It’s similar to Pumpkin Bread, and given how much of that I have (two solids and a perfume oil, somehow – I only bought the one solid, I swear) I probably definitely don’t NEED this, but the fact that it’s a pumpkin spice-type scent that doesn’t go cinnamon crazy on me is reason enough to justify the purchase.

Available from: OHWTO, but I don’t think it’s actually available anymore. Maybe next Halloween!

solstice scents thornwood thicket



Sugared Blackberries, Black Agarwood, Aloeswood, Sweet and Smokey Guaiacwood & Amber.

In the imp Thornwood Thicket is mostly sweet grapes, maybe a tiny whiff of incense. On skin the woods and incense are much more prominent. It’s still a bit sweet and there are definitely berries present, but it’s not nearly as grape soda-y. (I actually like that grape soda smell so that’s not a slam.) I like it more than I thought I would, but not sure if it’s full bottle material. I’ll definitely keep using my sample though.

Misc. Notes: In the imp Mike thought it smelled “grapey,” and then on the skin it turned into “something medicinal.” He wasn’t a fan.

Would I buy it again? The sample, absolutely, although I actually got it free with an order so technically I didn’t buy it at all. But I would choose it again for sure, and while I probably won’t get a full bottle (since Mike doesn’t really like it and I don’t love it), I’ll use up my sample.

Available from: Solstice Scents

solstice scents witch’s cottage



Warm Baked Goods, Dried Herbs, Sweet Annie, Soft Woods & Fragrant Hearth Smoke.

I wanted Witch’s Cottage as soon as I read a description of it. It sounds totally delicious, so I finally bit the bullet and ordered it this fall, going full-size unsniffed even though I am wary of smoke notes. When I first got it I wasn’t sure if I liked it – it’s not nearly as sweet as I’d expected, much more herbal. But it grew on me. So much so that I bought the burnishing glace as well.

In the bottle I smell herbs and a bit of something woody and sweet. On skin it’s much stronger, but the herbs are still at the front on me. There is a bit of sweetness and spice, like baking cinnamon rolls, under the fragrant herbs but it’s not overpowering. The smoky note is there but it’s very gentle and not acrid at all, which is the problem I tend to have with smoke notes. This one is quite lovely. The combination of scents here is wonderful, at once comforting and warm but also a bit fresh, like walking through the woods on a crisp autumn day. In fact, the description fits the scent so well I want to include it here:

Upon entering the Witch’s Cottage you are greeted with fresh and dried herbs, chamomile flowers, rosemary sprigs, Sweet Annie, Davana, and a hint of crisp apples. A warm undercurrent of luscious baked goods, sweet buns and candied pralines emerges and is followed by mild fragrant woods and a sweet hearth smoke. Witch’s Cottage fragrance is a true journey with loads of atmosphere.

Dead on. It’s just amazing and I love it.

Misc. Notes: Mike says it smells “much sweeter and fruitier” in the bottle and “more herby” on my skin.

Would I buy it again? Absolutely. It was a surprise hit for me – well, a surprise in that it’s different than I expected. But I’m glad I gave it a chance, because I really love it. In fact, I’m considering the whipped soap in this scent right now.

Available from: Solstice Scents

ohwto hungry ghost


hungryghostSteaming-hot Green Tea, Lively Lemongrass, and Cardamom, with Peppermint providing a wisp of otherworldly chill.

Hungry Ghost was part of One Hand Washes The Other’s 2011 Halloween release. I believe it has now been slightly tweaked and added to the general catalog as Cicada Song.

In the tube Hungry Ghost smells mostly of lemongrass. I love the smell of lemongrass so this pleases me. There is also a slight wisp of peppermint. It’s very refreshing. On skin it’s largely the same, but the green tea and cardamom notes also show up. The cardamom especially. As it wears the green tea note becomes more prominent. It’slight, fresh, and energizing – I love this one when I’m feeling sluggish. It’s like a cup of hot, zingy lemon ginger tea. It’s also a nice change of pace from the usual deep, spicy-sweet scents that populate most fall/Halloween perfume collections. I love those scents, but they don’t get much play once temperatures start rising – this one is just as wearable, if not more so, in hot weather as it is in cold.

The throw is surprisingly good for a solid perfume, especially one with such light notes.

Would I buy it again? In a heartbeat. It’s lovely and a bit different and I like it a lot.