Thursday, October 27, 2011

nosy winner

Everybody wins! (This photo has nothing to do with the giveaway; I just can't stop looking at it. via)

The winner of the latest nosy giveaway, selected using, is: LOLA!  Lola, please e-mail me your mailing address and I'll get your prize in the mail. I hope you love Jesmyn's book and enjoy the Whipped Pudding. Everybody else, thank you for spreading the nosy word! There will be future nosy giveaways, and I hope you'll play again next time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nosy Interview: Andy Tauer

Andy sniffs in NGC 7635: The Bubble Nebula, © Larry Van Vleet

I'm thrilled to feature Andy Tauer as the first perfumer in the Nosy Interview series. Andy is responsible for Tauer Perfumes, a line I fell for hard after Elisa introduced me. Andy lives in Switzerland, and though we've never met, our correspondence has completely convinced me of his reputation as the nicest guy in perfumery.  Visit his blog, connect with him on facebook or twitter, and by all means, do whatever you can to get your hands on his glorious creations

What do you smell like? 
First, I smell amazingly different on the outside than inside. In general terms, I find it remarkable that nature found a way to mostly make sure that whatever happens on my inside will not permeate somehow just like that through pores or so. But it does permeate a bit. And hence, my scent is always a scent presenting itself in the moment. My body chemistry, the food and drinks I put it: It all matters, at least a bit. 

Now, how do I smell? I smell in a way that I personally like. I am convinced that nature sends us out there with a scent that we mostly find ok. A lot of aversion towards body odor is cultural, conditional. It is put onto us. We should learn again to say a bit more “I like the way I smell.” As a perfumer, I wish perfume lovers to enjoy my fragrances not to cover up, but rather to vary and to explore new paths of how we might smell. 

Like all humans, I smell differently on different parts. Some parts of my body are hard to explore by myself, though. Human beings are best smelled on the back of their heads, towards the neck. It is there where hair and the skin of the neck are meeting, where we smell most interesting, and where our body odor is less prone to be mixed with musky, sweaty notes. I cannot tell you how I smell there. But in general terms: 

I think I smell slightly sweet, a bit on the ambery side. There is definitely sweetness to my smell; with the slightest hint of a ripe fruit. It does not compare to any fruit, but maybe a ripe avocado comes closest. I like the way I smell. 

What do you like to smell? 
I like to smell almost everything, natural, manmade, be it made for the purpose of being smelled or not. 

I like to stick my nose into a lot of what other people would call ugly, putting off scents. There is something interesting in everything. Contrary to what you might expect: I do not visit perfumeries that often and smell things there. I am/was always worried that it might influence subconsciously my own fragrance creations. I wanted to avoid this. I learned for myself quite recently that I should not worry too much there. 

At the end, it is very simple things that I like to smell. My bed and the pillow, leaves or pieces of wood picked up on my way, the fresh humid air on a foggy November morning. A fresh green apple. I guess I just like to smell a lot of different things. This list could go forever. Perfumes are also many lines in this list.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

nosy giveaway: the sequel

[whipped pudding image via Oyin]

To celebrate the fact that Jesmyn's gorgeous new novel has been named a finalist for the National Book Award, I'm holding another nosy giveaway. This time the lucky winner will receive a copy of Salvage the Bones as well as a 2 oz. tub of Oyin Whipped Pudding. The Whipped Pudding is Oyin's first product, and can be used on skin as well as hair. I have smelled this pudding in Jesmyn's hair, and it is distractingly delicious. And Salvage the Bones, the big prize, is staggering. Here's a scent-related excerpt:
Skeetah is a smell before I see him: the oily sweat of dog, pine needles growing green, and an unwashed smell like milk set too long out in a hot kitchen.
To enter, first share the link to this giveaway on facebook*, twitter, or your blog. If you do not use any of these platforms, I salute you. You can e-mail someone or tell them in person. Next, please leave a comment on this post letting me know how you shared the link (as with last time, honor system reigns around here). I'll announce a winner (selected randomly from the comments) on October 27. Thanks for spreading the nosy word, and good luck to all the great-book-and-scrumptious-smell seekers!

*Why not "like" Nosy Girl while you're at it?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nosy Interview: Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn in the Star Factory Messier 17, © ESO, INAF-VST

Jesmyn and I met in an elevator and, over the course of the short ride, decided to live together the following year, when we'd both be starting graduate school at The University of Michigan. I wish more of my decisions were made as quickly, and led to such happy results. Jesmyn's second novel, Salvage the Bones, was just named a finalist for the National Book Award, and you can congratulate her on her blog or via Twitter.

What do you smell like? 
I smell like food. When I am my smelly, dirty worst, I still smell like food. If I've been running, I smell like onions--big, fat, yellow Vidalia onions. If it's been a few days since I've taken a bath, I smell like pancake syrup: no, not maple syrup, but high fructose corn syrup that's dried to gum on a plate. Dreadful, I know. On a good day when I am freshly washed and showered, I still smell like food. This is in large part due to my hair. It is prone to be frizzy and dry, which means that I have to use plenty of products on it to keep it healthy and make it behave, and all my product just happens to smell like things you'd like to eat. The leave-in conditioner I use recalls navel oranges. The shea butter mix I use smells like chocolate. The hair milk leave-in I use smells like cocoa. On top of all of that, I often layer coconut oil. This means that on a good day, strangers want to eat my hair. (P.S.--You can buy these scrumptious products at're awesome.)

What do you like to smell?
I love the sharp, briny smell of the ocean because it reminds me of California and the Pacific Ocean: that smell is very different from the Gulf of Mexico, which smells sort of salty and fecund, I think. I also love lily of the valley because I smelled it for the first time in Michigan, and the smell of figs because it reminds me of savoring them on our small balcony during the waning summer in Ann Arbor. When I smell burning pine needles, I am instantly in DeLisle, it is the fall, everyone's raking up and burning leaves, and I feel such love. Sappy, I know, but true. I like all the smells associated with the places and people I love. I also like food smells: chocolate, sugar, cinnamon, coconut, cumin, and coriander (as you can tell from my story about my hair).

Monday, October 17, 2011

my little jasmine memory

I was once the proud owner of My Little Pony Baby Bonnet School of Dance. [photo via]

This weekend, a friend gave me a vial of Royal Jasmine Roll-On Hanky Perfume that he picked up on a recent trip to India. Jasmine is one of my favorite notes, and this particular version is lovely. Thick and bright green at first, it dries down into a scent that matches exactly a toy I recall, but can't place exactly, from childhood. Something sweet and rubbery, something I held often, something worn. My suspicion that some of the My Little Ponies (Hasbro introduced scented ponies in 1987) may have had this soft jasmine-plastic scent led me to this perfume review which in turn led to this article about fried bubblegum "tast[ing] like My Little Pony turds." It doesn't shame me to admit that this description makes me want to try the marshmallow treat described more rather than less. 

Do any readers remember a jasmine-plastic scent coming from their My Little Ponies? Or maybe you remember a different toy-of-the-80s having a jasmine aroma? I wish I could send a little puff of what I'm sniffing through the screen, so you could smell exactly what I mean, see if it transports you, too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nosy Interview: Katie Miota Stolzman

Katie gets down in the Dark Tower in Scorpius, © Don Goldman

Katie, as Jenny's cousin, is a member of my favorite non-related-to-me family. As is suggested above, she's a great dancer, and I recommend you attend any event where she might be present, given the opportunity.

UPDATE: You can now find more from Katie at her badass blog, Word to Your Mother. 

What do you smell like?
Don't know, so I asked some friends. Here's what they told me: 
a. "haha! i can't pinpoint a smell on you (must not wear heavy perfumes or oils) but if i were to say what i think you would smell like it would be a new pair of shoes!!! and yes, that is a distinctive smell, and one that generally makes people happy."
b. "a bed of roses."
c. "Comic genius"
d. "Well, surprisingly, NOT like cats." (ok, I capitalized the NOT for emphasis, but I did NOT want that one misread)
e. "a mom, but a good one..."
f. "Why did someone say you smelled?"

So, I guess I would say I smell like me.

What do you like to smell?
I like to smell the usual: summer rain, crayons, the cottage, cinnamon toast, etc. Then I have my quirky ones like Scotch tape. Yum. And it has to be Scotch tape, generic brands don't have the same homey, comforting scent. Sometimes, when I see Scotch tape, I can't resist cutting a piece and taping it under my nose for extended fun. Another one is the core of old, musty, books. My first experience with this smell was in 4th grade. I just transferred schools and was a nerd, so would check out books from the school library, like Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Another yum. Perfect smell of great writing, neglected.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

stinky links c/o sweet friends

Friends! I love it when you send me stinky links. I'm trying to cut down on both Google Reading and Facebook, so e-mails with smelly bits I've probably missed are even more welcome than usual. 

Lola (who will hopefully be featured in the very near future as a Nosy Interviewee) sent me a fun link that proved I love reading about what people like to smell even if I've never heard of them (it also further proved that I simply must smell this CK One Shock for Him!) as well as an interesting piece from SF Gate that included a section on fragrance trends by decade suggesting a link between our stressed-out tech-(dis)connected world and a rising popularity in warm and cozy gourmand fragrances. 

Anne sent me this quote from Perfumes: The Guide, and the magic of Google Image Search (you know you can drop in images to search, right? So fun! And unsettling!) tells me that it comes from a window display at Shakespeare & Co. Books in Berkeley:

(If you want that smell in bottle, In the Library by CB I Hate Perfume is lovely, and Karl Lagerfeld is also at work on a book-smelling perfume that I have a hard time believing will actually be called Paper Passion. If you want to read some books about perfume, author and perfume-lover Denise Hamilton gives five suggestions in this super-informative interview.)

Somewhat related (though it proves I've done a poor job staying off facebook, which has lately become a collection of these quotes-on-photos, no?):

Their apartment won't smell as sexy anyway!

Speaking of sexy: Bus musk! I like saying that. Thanks to Janet for this cartoon, "Smells Like a First Date":

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nosy Interview: Natalie Bakopoulos

 Natalie glows in The Great Carina Nebula, © Robert Gendler, Ryan Hannahoe, & ESO

The main reason to go to graduate school for writing is in the hopes of meeting a lifelong reader and friend like Natalie. Her first novel, The Green Shore comes out in 2012. While you're waiting, you can read Natalie's work in Granta or in The PEN/O.Henry Prize Stories 2010.   

What do you smell like?
I followed Charlotte’s lead and asked my own husband what I smelled like. He didn’t say I smelled like a person, though he’s been known to say like a pup. Warm, he said. You smell warm. I don’t think that’s specific enough, but there it is. I think it’s the sandalwoodsy smell of my hair products and the orange blossom of my perfume. When I smell his head it smells like powdered donuts. My hair is long and thick and it absorbs smells, from cigarette smoke (which I love when it’s smoking but hate when it lingers), to whatever it is I’m cooking for dinner, though I must say I don’t like arriving somewhere smelling like my kitchen. If I spend too much time in the coffee shop I smell like coffee. I love to wear perfume, though I haven’t always, but I’ll save that for What I Like to Smell. I love knowing what my friends like to smell, too (Ooh! You smell so good! What are you wearing?), and Nosy Girl has provided the perfect place to find this information.

What do you like to smell?
Dill and mint, and oregano, particularly when it’s blooming. Beer, all beer, from the skunkiness of Heineken to the wet-dog-smell of some IPAs, though I prefer the former. Ouzo. Anis. Fennel. Sun-baked earth, with the salty sea and the smell of grilled meats in a taverna. Cinnamon. Red wine. The smell of white wine provokes this unpleasant back-of-the-throat thing, like mall perfume (see below). 

I love chicken noodle soup but don’t love the smell of chicken noodle soup cooking, and this aversion was in place long before Michael Cera’s character in Juno noted, pejoratively, that another character’s house “smelled like soup.” I love to cook when not exhausted and otherwise like the way cooking, and obviously baking, make the house smell. Cloves and allspice and cinnamon when I’m cooking stifado, a Greek beef stew. Chicken with honey and figs (thank you, Zuni Cafe), baking tiropita, and is there a better smell than Thanksgiving, what with the mulled wine and the turkey and sweet potatoes? Roasting chestnuts? Pumpkin pie? My friend Beth took me to City Bakery in New York and I remember falling in love with the smell of that place, and the hot chocolate. Earl grey tea, even though I prefer to drink English breakfast. There are certain teas whose smell is so intense that they nauseate me. I of course love the really strong smell of roasting coffee but understand why it drives pregnant women to wretch.

I like the way building exhausts systems smell in Athens, something about the air conditioning. Walk past a department store or apartment building door opening into the heat of July and you’ll know what I mean. Like fresh tar, almost, another smell I like. The smell of street-food souvlaki and gasoline, the way they mix in Monastiraki, with the smells of the bakeries and leather goods. I, too, like chlorinated pools (several of the Nosy Girl features have noted this, I think?) and the smell they leave on skin. New leather bags and new Frye boots. Lilac bushes, crunchy autumn leaves,sun-drenched pine. Lemons and limes and leather. Wool.

The smell of night-blooming jasmine could drive me to madness—I am not in control or responsible for my actions when flooded with such intense olfactory sensation.

Once while riding with a friend on a train from Piraeus to Athens, in the summer, he had with him an assortment of delicious stinky cheeses from the island of Naxos. It must have been 100 degrees and I think the entire train was offended. I don’t think I ate cheese for a while after that. I lived for three months in France and I thought that would help me appreciate the more pungent, runnier cheeses, which I have come to really like in an open-aired space. The smell of milk makes me gag; in general I suppose I could do without the smell of dairy.

Ann Arbor is the skunk capital of the world.

A box of crayons! New pencils! Library books! Antique wooden desks! Of course these things. There’s a particular smell of this brand of crayons—Prang, not as good as Crayola but particularly distinct—I remember from my childhood, which I had forgotten all about until I smelled Korres’s fig body wash, which I like but it is not my favorite fig scent. I guess I prefer it in a box of colors. The rest of Korres’s smells are much more lovely.

The smell of fall, the way the cold smells on a sweatshirt when you’re back inside, snow, or brisk air. Fireplaces, wood-burning stoves. You don’t come in with the same smell in the summer. Can you smell the salt of the sea on someone’s skin, or only taste it? I think I can smell it, salt and sweat and sunscreen maybe all in one. Skin. Why is it that the discussion of smells almost always leads to the sentimental?

I love perfume. I haven’t always. I once worked with a woman with horrible migraines and we had to all be scent free, which made me anxious, and I understand chemical sensitivities and the way in which many find our world to be overperfumed. It is. Most cloyingly sweet and un-complex mall perfumes that you can feel in the back of your throat for hours make me sick. But I feel sad when people need things to be scent free for their quality of life, or when Scent-Free becomes a part of one’s identity, like Greek-American, or Dancer. There are so many good smells! If I’ve ever been overscented, I’m sorry. Nosy Girl herself introduced me to Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger, which is now my favorite, along with lots of other orange blossom scents, though I think this one is the best. It’s so warm and sunny. I bought the Jo Malone one once at Barney’s only because Parker Posey was also at the counter and I was intrigued by what she was buying, so I lingered. I also like Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille. I’ve long loved Robert Piguet’s Fracas, so heady. Hermes Eau de Pamplemousse is nice, as is Diptyque’s Philoskykos and anything figgy. I love figs. I love Acqua di Parma and particularly love Britta’s description of the type of woman who wears it; in the summer I like the Blu Mediterraneo Fico di Amalfi; I love Creed’s Tubereuse Indiana, which was a very special gift. If I’m in Paris soon (yes, please) I will try Le Labo’s Vanilla 44. I love Le Labo’s Jasmine and Neroli and would like to try the Iris. Some day I will be the type of woman with a signature scent.

Other beauty products: Neutrogena’s Rainbath body wash, Nuxe’s Huile Prodigieuse dry oil, Korres Basil Citrus shower gel and the Nutmeg lotion, though I haven’t been able to find the latter recently. Lever 2000 soap. Philosophy Amazing Grace. I don’t love lavender and the way it seems to dominate so many organic beauty products.

I would like to go into the smells I like on men but worry it might become too revealing, the way writing a sex scene can be revealing: she likes it like that? But there’s something to be said about the nose and nostalgia, so I’ll say this: my male best friend in high school smelled like fabric softener, and it was fantastic, but even when I or anyone else used the same fabric softener—this was how good he smelled; we all tried to mimic it—it didn’t smell like he did. I don’t bother with fabric softener and now prefer my laundry to be less scented. But I like the smell of European laundry soap better than American, and love the way my clothes smell when I drop them off at a Greek laundry and they come back so neatly folded. I am attracted to faces, men’s and women’s, with distinct noses. My brother has a particularly cute snoot: check it out.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

stars' noses are just like our noses

Luckily, the Bey-Z fetus is not preventing B from enjoying her new perfume, Pulse.

Since Jay-Z is the all-time number one search term that leads to this here blog (really), I thought it prudent to post this news that Beyonce's pregnancy, and the associated increase in olfactory powers, is keeping her from enjoying Hova's cologne for the time being. Now all you Jay-Z fans have two reasons to stick around. [via First Nerve]