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This last week or two I’ve taken a kind of summer break. They’ve been having a lot of ads on Pandora about how you shouldn’t let your summer go to waste and sit indoors all day. You should go to Las Vegas! Well, they lost me at Las Vegas, but it did make me think, Yeah, I want to enjoy some more of summertime. I want to feel the sun and not have an agenda and I want to read good books all weekend and have a lot of peace and quiet and ice cream.
So I did it. I took a break from non-essential house work, I took a break from having company over (or rather, the Chief obligingly gave me a break from his friends), I took one day off of work last Friday just because, and tomorrow I am going to the beach.
In honor of summer vacations and the joys of the senses, I give you two of the best, most beloved summer fragrances out there that you’ve probably never heard of.
First is Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder.
Total disclaimer: I am not a bronze goddess. Ahem. My skin is rather pale and I like it that way! It tans a little bit, stubbornly, over the course of a whole summer’s worth of lunchtime walks. Also, I don’t particularly love beach culture, the smell of sunscreen, or tropical blossoms. And yet somehow this islandy-beachy fragrance delivers just such an atmosphere in a way that makes it widely beloved. Victoria likes it on her white Russian skin in winter to remind her of brighter days. Robin wore it through an entire vacation. These are picky ladies!
As I described this fragrance I found myself writing in a dreamlike mood, and that is a match for the atmosphere it creates. The sea’s salty film – overheated skin – sandy warmth all baked together in slick sunscreen over hours and hours relaxing in pleasure and leisure at the beach. Warm and approachable yet elegant, the hot baked languor is slowly visited by a single tendril of frangipani. Not sweet, not nearly overwhelming enough to to become tropical, it is as if the fragrance of the beachside gardens has infused itself into her very hair. Or perhaps the sun has gone down, and she has pinned up her hair and slipped into a simple silvery-black evening dress and flat jeweled sandals to savor a delicious dinner for two in an intimate coastal bistro, sitting on the outdoor patio where the flowering vines grow along the railings and the sea casts back the twinkle of the lights of town.
This is delicious and evocative, creating a fantasy of yourself – you could actually be this woman, and it is wonderful. Through the base notes of all that warm salty suncreened heated skin comes a thread of warm cedar woods, grounding the coconut milk and flowers, and later a bit of gardenia. Really a wonderful magical scent. I’m glad it exists. Four stars.
When I am not in the mood to be transported to a beach fantasy, I often reach for Philosykos by Diptyque.
I suppose a Greek isle is surrounded by beaches, but it is also full of Mediterranean plant life. As a fragrance, Philosykos is about the fig tree – its contrasts, bark, moist earth, green-white sap, unripe fruit, the fuzz on the palmate leaves. I first tried this scent on a cool, cloudy day and was not particularly impressed with the sap, leaf, dirt and fruit medley. It was like trying to drink a mint julep in fall – why would you?
But then the dog days of summer arrived, and one hot and sweaty Saturday I gave it another chance… and it came alive. This scent sinks into your skin and is released back to you by your body heat with added depth. I like to spray it in the bend of my elbow to maximize this effect and its longevity. With a snap of fig leaves and green twigs, Philoskyos weaves a shady bower overhead on the hottest days. Just as being surrounded by the color green can make you feel cooler, this fragrance makes a hot day not only bearable but downright wonderful. I swear the temperature drops five degrees when I have it on. It’s like running through the sprinklers, or (blog title reference alert) sitting under a fig tree on a Sunday afternoon. Five stars.
Today I have a tidbit of an update for you. This is about the middle phase of messing with our house color. I previously did a good deal of thinking about how to take our current 5 gallons of exterior paint and make it more interesting than the pale beige it had been. I thought and thought and considered. But you know, sometimes us introverts just need to exchange actual words with a human being instead of pondering silently.
I went to the Home Depot where we bought the paint and asked the man at the paint counter how I could achieve what I wanted. Apparently I can just bring it back and they will tint and tweak it in the direction I want, for free. Hey! That was easy!
While I was there, I decided to get two samples of paint in a color that was similar to, but darker and more muddy/grayed, than our current paint, and then have them tweak our sandy beige paint toward whichever one of those looked better. If I just brought in the 5 gallon bucket of paint and said, “Make it grayer and darker” I could be misinterpreted and end up with the wrong undertones or something else I didn’t want. It seemed like this would be a more controlled way to experiment. I like experiments, but I might like control a little better. [snicker]
I sampled Behr’s Fortress Stone (top) and Unmarked Trail (bottom) on a few spots around the house.
Fortress Stone actually does look cold and forbidding, like a castle dungeon. It appeared gray-green on the paint chip, but on my house it took on purply tones in the sunshine besides looking harsh.
Unmarked Trail is muuuuch more what I was going for, and so I decided to use that one as my goal when I took the paint in for tinting. It’s gray, but it’s soft about it.
I was lucky enough to get a paint counter employee with a 20 years’ experience badge on her orange apron when I took my paint in to be re-tinted. She was able to analyze the amounts of pigments in the original paint color and then add what it needed to get as close to the Unmarked Trail color as possible. I also asked her to darken it just a smidge.
Here is the goal color, Unmarked Trail, on the top of the sample patch, and the slightly darkened version of it that we got by tinting the 5 gallons of beige paint. I think it’s a slightly more true gray (less green) than Unmarked Trail, but it is pretty darn close and I think it’s going to look GREAT once we get it up.
We will then have a black roof, red door, white trim and a gray house. Classic, slightly cottagey, but also elegant.
This is the look I’m going for:
And now, we just need to borrow the sprayer, clear in front of the walls, and paint the house. I think we can do that before August is through… fingers crossed!