Category Archives: Uncategorized

Where Did Summer Go?

Enjoying Summer

Last week as I was making my way home, I was surprised by the darkness that had fallen over Gotham. When I took a glance at the time, melancholy quickly set in as it hit me, summer was over. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this at one time or another and it’s always followed up by one question, “where did summer go?” Well, this year I can look back at my summer thanks to Samsung’s NX300 Smart Camera.

Samsung-NX300

Back in May, I was selected to be a part of a collective of individuals, nationwide, given an opportunity to use the NX300. The program called for an orientation on how to use the camera and weekly submission of photos. It seemed easy enough but the group included some really talented photographers and it became a challenge just to swim in their waters.

The timing on this program couldn’t have been more perfect as the orientation took place a few days before my wife and I flew to Samana, Dominican Republic for the first stop of our 10 day DR tour. Like a kid in a candy factory I played with this camera instead of packing. Shortly after take off, I took it out and began playing with it some more. The shooting modes, filters, and tricks seemed endless. The fact that it has Wi-Fi and can fire off photos straight from the camera excited me. When I found out it had its own app, however, I was sold. I couldn’t wait to get my summer started, especially now that I had this handy companion.

Samana DR

If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember seeing my pictures from DR, some of which were taken with the NX300 camera. I’ve been lucky enough to visit some pretty amazing places but Samana ranks up there as one of the most breathtaking. Located in the northeastern part of the Dominican Republic, it feels like you’ve stumbled upon the island’s best-kept secret. The beaches were gorgeous, the weather was spectacular and the food was mind-numbing good. Quite a few times we went to the beach and ordered fish that was caught that morning for lunch. The scent of the salt in the air along with the aroma of authentic Dominican food created its own fragrant moment for me.

Mattituck

For my fourth wedding anniversary, my wife and I decided we would do something we’ve always wanted to do, visit a winery. Luckily for us, we’re just two hours away from Mattituck, NY, home to a plethora of vineyards. We stayed at the cutest bed and breakfast on the Shinn Estate Vineyard. It’s rustic chic décor, friendly staff and delectable selection of organic wine made our stay thoroughly enjoyable. On a self-guided tour of the vineyard, we learned quite a bit about the Shinn’s farming philosophy, which boosted the vineyards appeal. And for two days, we bounced around from vineyard to vineyard tasting locally produced wine. For a short trip, it was the sweetest two days of summer 2013.

Summer 2013 Moments

In between these two occasions, I managed to spend some time with the boys, get in a few beach days, catch the fireworks at Coney Island, which has become a tradition, and put back more beers than I care to recall. As for the NX300, I can’t sing its praises enough. It shoots HD video, the display screen is so sharp it’s like a mini flat screen TV, and its smaller than DSLR’s but improves on image quality. I love its retro aesthetic and the fact that for its size, it has a collection of interchangeable lenses. The NX300 allows you to take a photo, edit it right on the camera and then use Wi-Fi to send it to love ones. I’d say that’s capturing the meaning of being social today very well. Many of the reviews I’ve read about the camera have been positive and only serves to validate my own feelings.

Summer 2013 was short but sweet and I’m glad I captured its precious moments. As kids, we live for the summer and as adults, we become so inundated by living life, that it flies by and becomes a blur. I’m thankful for having this opportunity because it forced me to look at my summer in HD and it was pretty awesome.

Scent Library by Ineke

Ineke_ScentLibrary_1_print

A couple of years ago, while in a frenzy to find a Christmas gift for my girlfriend (she eventually became my wife), I ran into Fresh and discovered their Fragrance Chronicles. It housed their collection of fragrances in Eau de Parfum strength and without hesitating I bought one. That turned out to be an excellent purchase as my wife is still using it to this day. Unfortunately Fresh discontinued it but one of my favorite fragrance brands, Ineke, is launching something similar and you should take notice.

Ineke_ScentLibrary_4_print

Floral Curiosities is a limited edition collection of five fragrances that explores rare botanicals Ineke Ruhland grows in her very own garden in San Francisco. This Scent Library collection is packaged a faux book and in true Ineke fashion, is beautifully designed and thoughtfully merchandised. Library cards are attributed to each scent and they provide an explanation about its contents, while fine art and calligraphy continue the old library book theme.

Field Notes From Paris continues to be my favorite scent from this brand but Ineke continues to impress and Floral Curiosities is no different. When the collection was available at Anthropologie, I introduced a friend to the brand when he was looking for a gift for his girlfriend (she eventually became his wife) and he ended up succumbing to the power of her juice.

Gents, we have a tendency to wait until the last minute to buy gifts for any occasion. Ineke’s Scent Library houses five, 2.5 ml Eau de Parfum scents and is only $22. It’s an unbelievable value and a thoughtful gift. Get it while you can.

My Journey to Mustique

Mustique

A few weeks ago, worlds collided as I had the opportunity to sit in on a custom fragrance workshop that was given by Sue Phillips. Sue is a respected member of the fragrance industry having developed and launched fragrances for Tiffanys, Burberry and Trish McEvoy, to name a few. About a year and a half ago when I started my graduate capstone paper on scent marketing, I reached out to Sue for her expert opinion on this topic and she graciously obliged my request. Thus, the chance to sit in on one of her classes had a bit more meaning for me.

Going into the class, I didn’t have any expectations. Perhaps that was life’s distractions or because I’ve done something similar in the past. The class, however, was great. Participants kicked things off by learning about various scent families and answering a questionnaire to determine their scent preference. Then, blotters that were dipped in Sue’s beautifully developed scent accords were passed around for all to smell. Those you liked, you took note of and those you didn’t like, you discarded. Before you knew it, right under your nose was the building blocks of your very own fragrance.

Scent is an extremely powerful part of who we are, whether we know it or not, and it was really interesting to see how various members of the group reacted to the notes they smelled. The same note could and often produced very different reactions, e.g., one particular note that I found to be medicinal, someone else found it powdery. These stark contrasts are what I find so beautiful about our sense of smell. Our childhood and various moments in life come gushing into our minds at the whiff of a note and those visceral reactions determine a lot about how that very moment plays itself out.

For this class, I challenged myself to go against what my impulses would have me do. The last time I did such a thing, the scent came out really heavy and it’s good for wearing in the winter. If memory serves me correctly, I was having a love affair with cumin at the time and that heavily influenced my choices. This time around, NYC was experiencing a weeklong heat wave and I think that had a lot to do with how this fragrance starts out. I’m not the biggest floral fan but I was determined to go against my gut feeling and my scent opens with a floral burst of rose. To me, it’s a sharp rose and reminds me of grade school. I don’t know if it was the lunch lady or a teacher who wore rose but that opening takes me there. But like any good scent, its change is dramatic.

The middle of this creation is where the magic lies for me. The scent takes on a traditional masculine feel where violet and cognac become the stars. This makes sense because I’ve been having a traditional moment. It started with Sartorial and continued with Aventus, Royal Vintage and a few others. The first time I wore my scent, I was pleasantly shocked at how it turned and that aha moment sealed the deal for me. The dry down gets better revealing sandalwood and patchouli. Overall, this scent is sly and I couldn’t be happier about that. As one of my female classmates put it, “it smells like a man and it only gets better with time.” Yep, I’ll take that.

As I excitedly awaited my blend to be created I simply couldn’t come up with a name. All I could think about is it reminded me of a fragrant walk with a constant breeze that lifted my own scent and blended it with the surroundings. A woman in the class that took on the challenged of naming our blends spoke with me for a few and I told her about this fragrant walk and that my dad is from the Caribbean. That sent her off into her own zone and she returned with the name, Mustique.

My journey to Mustique will be one I never forget. Sue was a wonderful. Her expertise complemented her genuine desire to help participants realize the magic of creating their own perfume. If you ever have an opportunity to do such I thing, I highly recommend it.

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Wordless Wednesdays

Brushes and Razors

Three Scents That Will Bring New Life To Your Home

The other morning I left my house and was nearly assaulted by a dragonfly. While that may seem dramatic, the reality is that something is always flying around the hallways of my building because the super leaves the windows open. Of course we need ventilation but this is one of the reasons why many of you don’t open your windows during the summer months. Then when we notice the air is getting stale, we make the mistake of cracking the window and next thing you know, we’ve got mosquito bites. Well, the next time the air in your home needs freshening up, reach for one of these gems. Each has of given new life to mine.

Juniper Ridge Big Sur

Juniper Ridge Big Sur
Many of us who live in cities often want to bottle up fresh air when we get the chance to free ourselves from the smog. Fresh air in a bottle is how I’d describe Juniper Ridge’s Big Sur as it’s aromatic opening is a thing of beauty. Like all of their products, the scent is sourced from real plants and from Sur I get sweet mossy notes. With its jolt of energy, it immediately transforms stale air and gives it new life. $65

Nest Fragrances Sicilian Tangerine
Nest Fragrances Sicilian Tangerine
Like a fresh juicy tangerine on a hot summer day that quenches your thirst, Nest Fragrances’ Sicilian Tangerine is bursting with vibrant flavor. The scent is sweet with a bit of tang but what I really like is that it isn’t overpowering. It beautifully perfumes the air enough to give it a new life and along the way, lifts your spirits too. $38

Joya Pendleton Candles
Joya x Pendleton Cedar + Smoke Candle
If citrus isn’t your cup of tea and leather and cedar is more up your alley, you’ll dig Joya’s latest collaboration with Pendleton. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Pendleton’s founder, Thomas Kay, the brand partnered with Joya to launch a collection of candles. I’ve been burning Cedar & Smoke, which is gently masculine. Its notes read as follows: musk, saddle leather, damask rose, redwood chips and cedar leaf. I wonder how much rose they used because some of these notes read “pack me away until winter.” But together, they’re superbly balanced. $58

There’s Nothing Like A Quality Shave

Shaving Tools

A few days ago I said on Instagram, there’s nothing like a quality shave to start the day. That photo, however, made me reflect back to 2007 when I started Fragrant Moments and I never could have imagined that I’d be so into straight shaving. Back then I had the simplest of grooming routines and Andis clippers was my shaving instrument of choice. But a turning point for me occurred when Martial Vivot invited me to experience my very first straight shave. It is an experience I will never forget.

Since then I’ve tried a lot of products, some of which I’ve reviewed here on Fragrant Moments. And through trial and error I realized preparation, patience, and practice (my 3 P’s of wet shaving) is the way to an irritation, nick free shave. Using quality products is also something I’ve paid more attention to as well. A good face wash really prepares the skin and facial hair for shaving. Unclogging those pores and opening them so the hair is further weakened is crucial. Equally as important is your shaving cream and there is no shortage of great ones out there. Once you find good ones that work for you, you’ll know immediately why they’re better than all the rest. Lastly, if you’ve paid close attention to the preshave and the actual shave, the post shave is not the time you should be thinking about cutting corners. The right after shave balm will tighten up those pores, soothe and moisturize your freshly shaven face.

Whether you shave in the shower or at the sink when you’re done, enjoy the moment. Change how you think about this time you give to yourself and I guarantee you’ll have a better shaving experience.

Happy shaving gents.

Old Spice Giveaway

Old Spice Scented Bar Soaps

In my last post, I reviewed Old Spice’s new bar soap collection. In addition to liking the product, I also mentioned how I felt about their commercials. Well, the good folks at Old Spice are sponsoring this post and have given me some really cool prizes for a giveaway.  This is the first time we’re doing such a thing so we’re going to keep it simple. To enter the contest:

leave a comment below letting me know if you’ve tried the product or your feelings about the brand

For an additional entry:

follow me on twitter @fragrantmoments and share the contest using the hashtag  #smellitforward (leave a comment below to let me know you did so)

One winner, chosen with the help of random.org, will win Old Spice Bar Soap (Fiji, Pure Sport and Swagger), Old Spice towel, a shower radio ($200.00 value), and a manly shower curtain. Good luck gents.

The contest is open to U.S. residents only and closes Friday July 5, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be announced on Fragrant Moments and via twitter.

This contest is now over. Congratulations to the winner Chester Eugene Williams.

Seven Deadly Sins – Greed

As you know, my blogging cohorts, Candyperfumeboy, Eyelineronacat, Olfactoria’s Travels, Persolaise, and I come together for fun group posts centered around fragrances. This time around, we agreed on tying scents to the seven deadly sins and I chose greed. In case you forgot your Sunday school lessons, the other sins include wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony

Greed is the desire for excess, especially when it comes to material things and we all know someone like this. The more I thought about it, however, the more I struggled with the thought “this smells of greed.” Perhaps I over thought the assignment but the more I pondered the topic, the more I found myself attaching it to a human, more so than to a scent per se. For that reason, my expression here will surely be different than the group but this challenging journey sure did bring back some memories.

Patrick Bateman is Greed

One of my favorite movies is American Psycho. Patrick Bateman’s character was so devilishly interesting. He was shallow and greedy and at the same time, hated others who embodied these very same characteristics. I loved how immaculate he kept his apartment and prized possessions like his stereo. And that scene where he describes his grooming routine is priceless. If there was an updated version of this movie, I could definitely see him drooling over Clive Christian X. With a price tag of $570 for 3.4 oz. and notes of bergamot, juniper berry, amber and cedarwood, to name a few, it screams luxury and power. Bateman would surely wear enough just so his colleagues would ask him what he’s wearing and go into a monologue on just how exotic it is, how much history the brand has and of course, the scent’s price tag.

Tony Montana is Greed

How many times have you watched Scarface? Can you recite the lines of your favorite scenes? Every time it’s on TV I can’t turn away even though it has commercials and they horribly dub over foul language. Tony Montanna had to have it all. His strut, his suits, and the way he spoke bottled up his desire for the excessive beautifully and with that Drakkar Noir would be his scent of choice. If you’re old enough to know Drakkar, you either have a love or hate relationship with that scent but it was one of the most popular scents in the 80’s and as an aromatic fougere the scent evoked power. I knew a few characters that used to wear it and they all wore their greed on their sleeve.

Are there any particular scents that you would attribute to greed or any characters you can think of that you’d partner with a scent because of their greed? I’d love to hear from you and to see how Candyperfumeboy, Eyelineronacat, Olfactoria’s Travels, and Persolaise interpreted this topic, check out their posts.

The Scent Of Comfort

A few years ago before a long trip overseas, my wife asked me give her a shirt that I previously wore so she could take it with her. She wanted to sleep with it while we were apart. At the heart of her request is what science and myriad studies have shown, there’s a link between scent and emotion. In this instance, my scent would enhance my wife’s mood.  I experienced this very same thing as a child when my dad came home and hung his work shirt on the doorknob. As I ran past it, I could smell the powder he wore. If you put a blind fold over my eyes now and put a scent strip with that smell to my nose, I’d instantly think of him and that French blue shirt hanging in the hallway.

Today, as part of a special series of group posts with my cohorts, Eyeliner on a Cat, Olfactoria’s Travels, Persolaise, and Candy Perfume Boywe’re talking about mood enhancing perfumes. I’ve gone about this a bit differently than the others but here are a few of my fragrant moments that bring me comfort. 

Scents of Comfort

A few days ago, I inherited the safety razor I watched my dad shave with as I was growing up. If you’re following me on Instagram, you know safety razors are my latest obsession. When I look at the one my dad just gave me, thoughts of him prepping to shave in his Hanes V-neck t-shirt and the scent of Noxzema and Obsession, which filled the bathroom, come rushing to mind. Those scents will forever hold a special place in my heart. It’s one of the reasons why I love the scents Dear John (formally by B Never now by Lush) and Sartorial by Penhaligon’s. The masculine appeal of both scents remind me of my dad and some of the other men in my family and wearing them brings me instant comfort.

LP No 9

Another scent that I would characterize as traditional is Penhaligon’s LP No. 9 and it brings me both comfort and sadness as it reminds me of my beloved brother Lamont, who is no longer with us. I gave him that fragrance years ago and although he owned others, he never got rid of it. On the day he passed away, I walked into his room and as the magnitude of my new reality was setting in, it was the first thing I gravitated to. I now have it in my possession and will forever. I wear it from time to time and sometimes I just smell the nozzle and think of him.

Smokin a stoggie

If there’s one thing I really enjoy, it’s a good cigar. It truly is a relaxing experience that’s enhanced by aroma and taste. The scent of tobacco, hints of coffee and chocolate sprinkled with some pepper and bourbon and we’ve got ourselves a good smoke. That could also read as a cologne, which brings to mind one of my favorite tobacco based scents, Thierry Mugler’s A Men Pure Havane. It’s centered around the art of making fine Cuban Cigars and it’s good. This cigar talk is prompting my desire for a good smoke. Catch me on Foursquare and see where I check-in tonight.

Eliana's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Marcel Proust is a critically acclaimed French novelist. In his book, In Remembrance of Things Past, Proust recalls involuntary memories brought on by smell, taste and sound. In one particular episode, Proust recalls eating a madeleine cake and drinking tea. The scent of the cake ushers in a flood of memories from his childhood. That must be the reason why my wife’s homemade chocolate chip cookies are one of my favorite treats. I’m a big kid when those bad boys are in the oven. The scent of the sugar, butter and chocolate forces me to pace around the house asking, “Are they done yet.”

This was a light-hearted look at how my mood is enhanced by scent. My brother always told me I smell everything. He was right and my life is better for it. Be sure to check out Eyeliner on a Cat, Olfactoria’s Travels, Persolaise, and Candy Perfume Boy to see what scents enhance their mood.

The Year That Was 2012…A Look Back

As I look back on 2012 and count my blessings that I made it through another year, I realize some amazing discoveries from a grooming and fragrance perspective. I read and tweeted countless articles chronicling a renewed interest on the part of men about how they look and feel about themselves. That interest has always been there but I feel like men communicated about it more in 2012. As I write this review I can recall a conversation I had just this evening with a gentlemen about the wonders of a face cream that costs more than $100 and he raved at how amazing it is. That conversation replicated itself numerous times throughout the year and each time guys spoke in detail about what worked, reminisced and laughed about yesteryear and talked at length about their grooming routines. It was refreshing and enlightening.

Hunting Camp and Racer Shave Cream

From a grooming perspective, I made a few discoveries of my own this year. One brand in particular that impressed me on many levels was Portland General Store. I first bumped into them at the Elements Showcase and was introduced to their Hunting Camp Deep Exfoliating Soap. It was by far the best I experienced this year. It’s Sandalwood scent clings nicely to your freshly exfoliated and moisturized skin. I also feel in love with their Racer Shave Cream. When I heard it was non-foaming I was a skeptic. I became a believer after my first use. It’s that good.
Ursa Major Men Fortifying Face Balm

Another brand that’s kept my attention with its products and attention to quality ingredients is Ursa Major Men. This year they launched their Fortifying Face Balm and our faces are better for it. While it feels rich, it hydrates quickly without leaving your face feeling greasy. 100% natural and 82% organic, it’s money well spent gents. Finally, the brand impressed me when they posted this honest and transparent pitch for why their products are better than what is widely available on the men’s market today. After having used the products and being happy with the results, this made me respect them even more.

Fragrance

Olfactive Studio Lumiere Blanche

One of the things I love about the Elements Showcase is just when you think you’ve seen it all, a gem sparkles bright amongst all the other booths. At the recent showcase that took place in July, Olfactive Studios was that gem and to say it had a buzz at the show is an understatement. When it’s creative director Celine Verleure explained to me that the perfumer’s fragrance brief was a photograph from which they were to take their inspiration, I got goose bumps and it quickly became clear why they were the talk of the show. But if you think that’s a gimmick, its collection of fragrances will make you a believer. My favorite from first whiff was Lumiere Blanche. It’s sweet and warm, woody and crisp and that’s just the opening. As it dries down, its woods and musk notes bloom to perfection. It’s simply awesome.

M'Eau Joe No 3

Speaking of fragrance briefs, the collaboration between Opus Oils, the perfume atelier located in Hollywood, CA, and Michelle Krell Kydd, award-winning writer and blogger, was impressive for what it allowed consumers to experience from an insiders perspective and what its finished product delivered. Kydd, otherwise known as Glasspetalsmoke, laid out for all to see the inner workings behind M’Eau Joe No 3 Hollywood Whiskey Fragrance for the first ever open source fragrance brief. That alone is a milestone of 2012! As for the scent, it possesses a lot of mojo. Its staying power is one of the best I experienced this year. It’s bold and smoky, with a distinct whiskey scent that lingers nicely, as it should.

Kurkdjian Oud

When I heard about Maison Francis Kurkdjian was launching Oud, I thought I was over it. How many more iterations of this Oud thing could there possibly be? Then I experienced his creation and I was sold. While many other oud scents play up the funk factor, Kurkdjian’s possesses a subtly that, in my opinion, puts it in a class all by itself. What also made it a winner for me was its use of saffron, which lays interestingly alongside a metallic note I get in the opening. It’s just weird enough to keep my attention and is by far one of the best of 2012.

Ramon Monegal Mon Cuir

For the first time, ever, I smelled a fragrance and heard a melody ringing in my head. The scent was Ramon Monegal’s Mon Cuir and the song, Bob Marley’s Bad Boys. While this sensation caught me off guard, I surrendered to the moment and enjoyed the experience. This scent is unabashedly leather. It’s not smoky or anything else in the opening. That leather note rushes out with an animalic roar. Its swag is on swoll (I’m sorry but I can’t put it any other way…ask a friend for clarity). The way it lays on the skin is simply sexy.

Arquiste Anima Dulcis

Last and certainly not least is Arquiste’s Anima Dulcis. Before the purists jump on me, this was launched late 2011. But as the Geto Boyz once said, “my mind playin tricks on me” and I overlooked it then and discovered it this year. I incorrectly tagged Arquiste’s collection as florally and bright; boy was I mistaken. Anima Dulcis’ coco spice is downright delicious. The combination of the coco and chilli gives it an animalic quality that I can describe in no other way than sweet heat. The way they play off each other is distinct and charming.

There were a lot of launches in 2012, many of which I didn’t even get a chance to sample. It seems like more and more are occurring every year. Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed my look back. Let me know what think, and what were your favorites. For additional lists, take a moment and read some awesome lists authored by Eyeliner On A Cat, Olfactoria’s Travels and Persolaise.