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.

darling clandestine falloween pt. 1


Electricity So Fine, What Mandy Makes, The Moon is Leaving for The Wheels, Tiny Ice Bees, Don’tGoPleaseStay, and Vardogr

Part 1 of my Darling Clandestine Falloween review is upon us! After almost all of the Falloween stuff has already sold out! Because I am the worst! Moving right along…

Today I have three of the new scents that DC released for Falloween, plus two returning fall/winter scents and one new scent that was released in August but that I’m just getting to trying out now. In October. This is how you know you have too much perfume, friends.

Electricty So Fine: A night-black canvas of artemisia absinthum and mosses and blackest tea and port wine, splashed with an electric sizzle of sparkling violets.

Not a Falloween scent, per se, but I got it when it was released and still need to review it, so here it is. In the bottle I get mostly violets, sharp and almost abrasive. Yikes. On skin it starts out the same, but I can pick out darker, deeper things underneath if I sniff hard. Honestly, though, I don’t like this one. At all. It’s sharp and bitter and hits me over the head with awful soapy violets. After about 5-10 minutes, it does mellow out – it’s not as sharp, not as loud, and much more tolerable – but the main scent is still soapy violets, more reminiscent of fancy grandma hand soap than something I want to wear as a perfume.

A very rare complete miss from DC – I’m not even sure I’ll keep the bottle, because I can’t imagine ever wearing it again.

What Mandy Makes: Mandy requested a scent that evokes “loneliness.” Very smoky. Ozoney. Faintest hint of “Oriental” musk. Topnote of cucumber, though there’s no commercial “cucumber” fragrance ingredient. Smoky drydown, sweet musky finish.

I should not have ordered this perfume. There’s almost nothing about the description that sounds like anything I want to put on my person. But DC inspires a Pokemon-esque collector’s mentality in me, and also it’s kind of got my name in the title (though the only allowed people who call me Mandy are blood relatives, on threat of painful death). So here we are.

In the bottle I smell mostly cucumber – deep, musky, smoky but still watery cucumber. It’s odd. On skin the cucumber is slightly less prominent, but still provides a distinctly cucumber-y wateriness to the scent. It’s light but deep, and I have a very hard time picking out any kind of individual notes. There is a smokiness to it, but not in the usual sense. As it dries it gets warmer and a little sweeter. It smells at once kind of like a traditional perfume but also nothing at all like a traditional perfume. I find this scent confusing.

I’m also mystified as to where this overwhelming cucumber-ness is coming from, since the description notes that there’s no actual cucumber in the mix. Evonne’s wizardry in action, I guess.

I like it more than I expected to, but I don’t think it’s a “me” scent. Cucumber has never done much for me, either as a food or a fragrance. (The Dude said it smelled like a watermelon Jolly Rancher, because his nose is broken.)

The Moon is Leaving for the Wheels: The tang of tawny dead grasses, parched by sunset, dampened by first frost. Brooding vetiver, ripe blackberries, sweet Melissa, shy mosses, pettigrain twist.

In the bottle, I smell berries and something herbal and grassy. The combination smells just a tiny bit like Flintstones vitamins. The purple kind. On skin – whoa, very different. Dry and grassy and herbal, like an overgrown field in late fall, just before it all turns to frost and dirt. The berry is there, in the background, but it’s not really sweet. There’s something deep and woody and a tiny bit citrusy in the base. There’s also a mustiness to it that I don’t really care for. It does soften with wear, but it never completely goes away.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this one, to be honest – looking at the description, I should love it. Blackberries, check, sweet Melissa, check, moss, check. The petitgrain is what’s giving it the woody, citrusy thing. I’m guessing the vetiver is responsible for most of what I don’t like  – the harsh musty smell. In any case, I don’t love the overall effect. I don’t dislike it, necessarily – especially after about 20-30 minutes when the mustiness softens – but I’ll need to test it out some more before I can say for certain whether I actually like it. However it definitely did give me a headache, so there’s a strike against it.

Tiny Ice Bees: I wove a wisp of damp silk—crisp, delicate, ozoney, watery—with a subtle splash of pineapple and tart green orange and grapefruit. No honey. Come on; that’s predictable. This is a thing that happened in the dead of terrible winter.

This is the Falloween scent I was most excited for. In the bottle it’s tart and fruity – sweet pineapple and grapefruit? Definitely citrus. On skin it’s very light and crisp, with grapefruit being the most prominent note to my nose. There’s something faintly floral about it as well. It’s sweet – much sweeter and simpler than most DC scents. It’s very much in the same category as Tilt-a-Whirl that way.

I like this one. It’s a very clean scent – I read a review at Hello There, Blondie! that said it was reminiscent of wet laundry, and I think that’s very accurate. I think most people would probably enjoy this one, unless you have an extreme hatred of grapefruit. (When I shoved my wrist under The Dude’s nose, he said it smelled “herbaceous but also like the beach.”)


Super-sized vegan solid action.

Don’tGoPleaseStay: My very favorite new little sliver of rock’n’roll, available ONLY in solid format because the ingredients need to “toast” to come alive. This is a true “natural” perfume, a slow infusion made with a fantastic cacao absolute, the very finest oakmoss, crushed juniper berries, cardamom pods, just a tiny bit of ylang-ylang, a pinch of chipotle pepper, and dark vanilla. Think deep, smoky, mossy chocolate gin.

In the tin, DGPS is chocolatey and herbal and a little cool-smelling. It’s like chocolate gin. (I don’t like gin. I think it tastes like a sad christmas.) On skin it’s sweeter, more chocolatey, but not foodie-smelling – the herbal/green elements keep it from venturing into that territory. It’s mellow and soft, sweet, a tiny bit spicy, but with a juniper edge. The overall effect is very comforting and snuggly.

This one wears very close to the skin, and sillage and lasting power are both quite low – Evonne does note this possibility on the listing page for the scent, since it’s an all-natural perfume, and it’s definitely true in my case. After about 10 minutes I could barely smell it anymore, even when I put my nose right up to my wrist. Which is kind of a bummer since I really like it. At least my solid is super massive for frequent slathering.

Vardogr: This weird little concoction is truly a masterpiece. Oh, it’s gooood. And weird. Dark, damp, herbal—mossy forest floors, sunken alleys, underground spaces—with a dozen unlikely notes including pure essential German chamomile, bitter black coffee, hazy Indian musks, sharp herbs and a whip of leather. It’s not for everyone. It’s strange. But oh my, is it fantastic.

I’m reviewing a solid of this, but I already bought a bottle when DC re-opened. So spoilers: I like it.

Straight out of the tin, I smell coffee and deep, musky green. A little sharp. Strange, in a good way. On skin the green is most pominent, a deep, dark, slightly murky forest green. It is a bit sharp, and quite strong, and the coffee I smell in the tin is pretty undetectable, which is a shame because I feel like it gave it a nice, smooth depth and counterbalanced the sharpness. After a while it does make an appearance, though it’s never as strong as it is in the tin. I’m curious to see how the oil is different, if at all.

After a little more time, the whole thing has softened a bit, and there’s something close and cozy about it. Not “cozy” like fluffy towels and a mug of tea, though – no warm vanilla musks here – but cozy is the word coming to mind nonetheless. Like… being inside by a dying fire while it’s raining buckets in the middle of the night.

Vardogr is kind of a weird scent. That’s a bit redundant, I guess – DC’s thing is weird scents – but I’d call Vardogr weirder than most. DC’s scent discography gives it a “boss level” of 9, which means that Evonne considers it pretty damn strange. It’s definitely not a scent with blanket mass appeal (The Dude didn’t like it). But I’m quite fond of it – obviously, since I already upgraded to a full bottle. It feels very much like a fall scent to me, too.

Overall Thoughts: This was a mixed bag – I like Vardogr, Don’tGoPleaseStay, and Tiny Ice Bees (probably in that order), am on the fence about The Moon is Leaving for The Wheels and What Mandy Makes, and straight-up dislike Electricity So Fine.

Stay tuned for part 2 soon, which will feature the 5-scent Halloween suite of Squander, Wither, Falter, Spurn, and the new-for-2014 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)

first sniff impressions: ohwto


Last week I noticed that One Hand Washes The Other’s TAT had gone down dramatically – from 18-20 days to 5-7 days. I was also poking around in the clearance section and found some goodies I wanted – Summer and Halloween scents that I regretted not getting but thought were long gone. Sold! Of course I placed an order. I placed it on January 29th and it arrived yesterday on February 8th, which is awesome and will definitely encourage me to place more small, “just a few things” orders in the future. In fact I’m eyeing up the new Valentine’s Day scent right now…

BUT ANYWAY. On to the impressions!

Harvest Moon: Tart and fresh and fruity. I have a solid in this scent so I already know it’s lychee and berries and yum.

Gracie: Sweet and rich, but not completely foodie. I wasn’t too interested in this one, but then I received a sample of it when I placed my Halloween order and immediately regretted not getting it, so I’m glad I got the chance to snag it on clearance. I loved the sample so much I picked up both the oil and the solid, because I am a crazy person.

Queen Bea: Juicy apricots and honey. I missed the Summer release completely, and this is the one that I wanted most from it. Score! (Full review)

Be True 2013: Chocolatey floral. A little fruit. I have the 2012 version to do a comparison later. I think this one is stronger.

Cascadia: This smells kind of clean, like those fresh linen/laundry scents? Also a little floral. (Full review)

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!

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.

ohwto equinox


equinoxA veritable cornucopia of harvest time goodness! Fresh apple butter, spiced breads and iced pastries, just-pressed cider warmed with ginger and mulling spice, roasted figs, berries, pomegranates, bonfire smoke, amber, and patchouli.

Equinox was part of One Hand Washes The Other’s (henceforth known as OHWTO) Halloween release in 2012. I picked up 5 of the new scents from that release as well as several of the returning Halloween scents from 2011 and about eleventy billion other solid scents, all of which I’ll be reviewing in due time.

In the tube Equinox smells fruity and spicy and lightly sweet. The mulling spices and apple cider are the main notes I get. On skin it’s a bit less spicy, surprisingly, and I can smell the apple butter, the berries, the ginger, and just a hint of sweet smokiness. A few minutes later I smell something a bit orangey, or perhaps that’s the pomegranate? It sort of smells like a mug of hot cider with an orange slice floating in it. The amber and patchouli don’t make much of an appearance to my nose, or maybe they’re just blended well enough that they support the other notes without screaming out themselves. Either way I’m happy about it, as those are two of my least favorite notes in perfume. This does border on scented candle occasionally, but I think that’s a personal thing – almost all of these spiced apple cidery- kind of scents bring that to mind for me. But I keep buying them, so clearly it’s not a deterrent.

This doesn’t have a lot of throw, but I think that’s the norm with solid perfumes so I don’t hold it against OHWTO. I have a few of their scents that excel in that category, but by and large they’re more “personal” scents, and that’s fine. This is, and OHWTO’s solid scents are as a whole, a bit longer-lasting than most other solids I’ve tried. I do take the tube with me during the day so I can reapply, but I only do so once or twice a day as opposed to every two hours with some other solid scents.

Would I buy it again? Yes, with some reservations (see below). I like the scent a lot and I love her products – they’re a good size for a reasonable price, I love the twist-up tube format, they’re easy to carry around in your purse or a pocket, and they’re reasonably long-lasting for a solid scent.

The reservations: I’ve been ordering from OHWTO for years and have always been really happy to do so. But recently (the last year or so) the turn-around time has gotten ridiculous and it really puts me off from placing orders. Current TAT is stated as 18-20 days on the website, but my most recent order for scents from her winter release was placed on December 5th and I’ve yet to get a shipping notification (ed. note: I got a shipping notification on 1/18), so TAT can run longer than that.

Does this prevent me from ordering from OHWTO? No, but the super-long TAT does limit how often I order. When I first started ordering from this shop I wouldn’t hesitate to buy just one or two solid scents any time they caught my eye, but now I pretty much only order when she releases new collections, so two or three times a year. And it annoys me every time I do, because I know I’ll be waiting at least a month to get my products. It’s not great. It’s not a total dealbreaker, but it is something to consider.