Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nocturne Alchemy Enigma

So I have a real problem with dithering. You'd think I'd learn this lesson, right? Wrong, I just did it to myself again. I dithered over Cecilia last year, and ended up missing out until the Resurgences came around, and I did the exact same thing when Enigma came out. I ordered a decant, but I wasn't sure it was true love (haha!) until it disappeared from the site. I was using my decant and moaning about it being gone, of course. This year I had decided I needed Al Aaraaf, but I wasn't sure what the rest of my order would be, so I waited a bit to place my order, and Al Aaraaf sold out! Argh. That will teach me a thing or two! It was just not to be. At any rate, let's take a closer look at Enigma. Notes are as follows:

Kobalt Vanilla Resin infused with Gold Carnation EO, Studio Limited N2, Crimson Musk, Ozymandias Amber, Himalayan Amber Resin, Canadian Vanilla Bean Essence, Egyptian Sage, a tiny drop of Clove and Cinnamon to spice up the Vanilla.

So when I initially read the notes, I wasn't sure. I hadn't had much luck with carnation, and clove and cinnamon seem to amp on me. I thought I'd give it a try anyway, and ended up very happy I did. In the bottle, I'm smelling carnation. Oh, it's glorious. I do love the way carnations smell. Such a spicy flower, if that makes sense! Yum. I get a bit of musk and the Kobalt (vanilla) resin too. I'm not catching anything else yet. Wet on my skin, oh yeah, hi carnation. Loud and clear, but it smells so good, very fresh, this is working for me! I get a bit of the musks and definitely Kobalt, but I don't seem to be getting either clove or cinnamon. There's the carnation spiciness, but maybe they're just adding to that? I definitely don't get them individually. I'm not catching the ambers still, and I do love Ozymandias...hmm. I'm sure they'll show up.  
Okay, during drydown the musks are more prevalent and the carnation is taking a bit of a backseat, and the amber is peeking out. Yay! I do love NAVA amber, so much. Full drydown and I am at a loss for words. This is definitely living up to its name, I get wafts of amber, and then I'll smell a bit of musk, and the next thing I notice is vanilla and carnation. It's never the same thing twice. How different this is! I never do get the clove or cinnamon, but I suspect it's as I mentioned before, they're backing the spice of the carnation, and the sage isn't present for me either, but this is such a different blend, it could be there and I am not noticing it with everything else going on! 
I am so glad I was able to get a full bottle of this. I had been hoarding my decant because I didn't want to run out! Hah, as I'm typing this, I just got a whiff of full on Ozymandias. How amazing. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Nocturne Alchemy Tibetan Crystalline

So in the last update, Nocturne Alchemy added three new perfume oils to their Studio Limited (SL) line, and this one, Tibetan Crystalline, was the first one I had to have. I fell for it so hard, I immediately nabbed a backup. Yeah, it's that good. Well, I'll try to dive a bit deeper with it than that, so here we go. Notes are as follows:

Deep incense of Indian Nag Champa Studio Blend (Champa, Indian Sandalwood, Benzoin and Henna), Mesua Ferrea Absolute, Aged Crystalline Absolute, Tibetan Musk undertones and soft spirals of pure Bergamot leaf essential oil.

Well, an ode to the infamous Nag Champa Seahorse? Done by the Cat Goddess Herself, Bastet? It must be divine. So my first sniff in the bottle is pretty much nag champa. With my second sniff, I smell the Crystalline and I think I'm getting a bit of the musk also. Okay, so wet on the skin, I get much of the same. Upon complete drydown, the musk is a bit more fully evident and totally compliments the nag champa, and the Crystalline (vanilla) is purring away in this as well. Can I just say by the way, I am really liking this Tibetan musk? I love musks, and what I'm catching of this is really quite beautiful. This blend is such a delight. The staying power is immense for me. I've had it last all day on me, and sometimes I will catch a bit of this the next morning. 
I've seen quite a bit of swooning over this one - it seems to be as popular already as NAVA's famous Nag Champa Seahorse already. I'd venture to say it's already reaching cult classic status! I'm so happy I went ahead and nabbed myself a backup bottle, I can happily slather away now. 
By the way, if you are feeling adventurous, I think this will do well layered with many things, as suggested on the Nocturne Alchemy site. I layered it with Bloodstone and it's absolutely stunning. I can't imagine that it wouldn't be equally so with many of their other blends, I was thinking Kashmir right off the top of my head would be swoon-worthy. 
I feel like this is a bit short and sweet; but I do want to tell you since I've never reviewed one of NAVA's nag champas yet that they really do some divine nag champa blends. I never expected I could find such a well loved incense done as a perfume oil, let alone done so well as they do it. I am not surprised to find that the magicians in the Nocturne Alchemy studio would do anything well, but I am delighted. I have at this point several different blends with their nag champa and they are all quite unique. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Pretty Serious Cosmetics Rock On! Review

Hey everyone, long time no post eh? Facebook told me it had been 9 days since I posted. Thanks, Facebook, I appreciate you looking out for me and then making me feel guilty hah! Life gets you busy sometimes, and sometimes life gets you down. Had a bit of both going on this week. 
So obviously, I don't plan on doing any one thing with Zombiiesque, but more likely a number of things. Whatever feels good to blog about! Today I want to talk about those treatments I nabbed during that Pretty Serious Cosmetics sale I posted about. You saw I picked up some polishes after that, but I probably won't be ready to post swatches quite yet. 
My nails have been a wreck. There, I said it. Yes, I used to blog about nail polish but my nails have been a wreck for probably six months! Ugh. How embarrassing. Breaking constantly, peeling, my cuticles giving me fits. I have been taking some medicine for some of my medical conditions, and it's been a rough winter too, so nothing I did seemed to help. I'd seen lots of rave reviews about Kaz's treatments, and I dithered a bit between Rock On! and Harden Up, because while I had peeling nails, they weren't thin. I decided to try Rock On!
Ugh, here's the big reveal. This is what I was dealing with prior to giving Rock On! a whirl.

Enlarge at your own risk. Eek. You can see how short they are, and how freaking awful my cuticles are. Both hands pretty much looked like this. Actually I think there was more peeling on my right hand, and this is the left, so you can only imagine how frustrated I was. 
I started using Rock On! as a base coat about a month ago, and varied between Aqua Coat and Crystal Coat for my top coats. I have been using various oils for my cuticles, and this is what my nails look like now:

That's a huge difference! My cuticles aren't 100%, and there's still a bit of damage growing out on my nails, but wow. I'd say this is a success!
Now, I'm going to put out a disclaimer. I've seen a lot of success stories with Kaz's treatments, but your mileage may vary - just how Seche Vite doesn't work for everyone, this may not work for you. But it may be just what you needed to help grow out your nails, so I thought I'd share my story! I'm well on the road to recovery, thankfully.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Nocturne Alchemy A Dream Within A Dream

So this particular perfume is from the Art of Love Resurgences, brought back from last year's offerings and thank goodness. I missed so many beauties and have been valiantly trying to decide which I must get from the return before they disappear. The name is based on an Edgar Allen Poe poem. Yay! The inner nerd in me does a little jig.

Sweetened Egyptian Black Tea, Black Fig, Arabian Oudh, Zamsara Incense accord, Blue Sugar and a drop of Coconut Crystal Milk.

In the bottle, I'm getting sweet. Maybe I'm catching the tea, I'm definitely not catching fig which I usually can detect now that I own so many fig blends...hmm. Maybe a touch of incense, definitely sugar. 
On my wrist, wet, more of the same.This isn't like overly sweet though, like I feel like scrubbing my arm off sweet. It's lightly sweetened tea and beautiful. I think I'm catching a bit of the oudh now with a bit of the incense. Definitely getting the sugar and the sweetened black tea but this is melding quickly and it's hard to pick out individual notes. I keep huffing, because it's simply gorgeous. It's got a nice summery feel too. I think I get the tiniest bit of the coconut milk back in the back. 
Okay, this is dry and I have the most delicious sweet fruit tea. The incense and oudh are back there making things a bit more interesting. It's not overpowering sweet, hasn't been all along, and I think that's the purpose of the incense and oudh, It is not a loud scent either, it kind of hovers lightly around you. You'll find yourself looking for it though! Wow. This is a gorgeous delight of a scent. I had some teas from last summer's collection but this one is quite different - lovely, all of them, but this is a darker, sweeter tea. The lasting power seems pretty decent on this one.  To be honest, a lot of the NAVA scents I have are pretty long lasting. This is still available for purchase at the time I'm writing this - will you be picking up A Dream Within A Dream?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Nocturne Alchemy Ophelia

So this perfume is based off of the beautiful John Williams Waterhouse painting, and I wanted to capture the label. I ... I did not think I could love such a beautifully feminine perfume, but as with so many others in my collection, NAVA  being alchemists surprised me. Why shouldn't they? At any rate, here are the notes.
Japanese Plum, Cranberry Absolute, Crystalline Essence (softer version of SL Crystalline), Crimson Musk, Sweet Musk, Pink Sugar Cube, Kobalt Blue and SL N4 Musk.
My first whiff of Ophelia in the bottle is ooooh plums for sure - and cranberry! The plum is juicy, and the cranberry is slightly tart, and I'm getting kind of a sugar vibe in here. Like, sugared fruits How delicious. On the skin wet, I'm getting much the same, with a bit of vanilla coming in. There's a musk here too. Oh, yum. During the drydown, the fruits are melding with the sugar and the vanilla and the musk is playing a bit more of a presence. 
Okay, full drydown. This...this is insanely gorgeous. This feels like a very expensive, feminine perfume, and it's working on me in ways feminine perfumes usually don't. I feel like a fraud wearing them. This though? The magic has happened and I am surrounded by a pink cloud of the most amazing sweet, gorgeous, vaguely fruity musk. It's not overly sweet - the cranberry's tartness helped with that, it's ... what are words? The sugars and the vanilla are playing with the fruit and the musk and they all have come together in a glorious pile of pink scent. If you think a pink scent isn't for you, think again with Ophelia. She will shock you, draw you in. I forget I'm wearing this and I'm walking around wondering what smells so amazing...wait, it's me! Also, this is another one of those blends that you will notice sticks around for a very long time. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Nocturne Alchemy Pandora

So now that I've talked about my early love of dragon's blood, NAVA's Pandora, from the Resurgences Art of Love collection, seems like a natural must have for me. This is based off of a John Williams Waterhouse painting, captured here on the label! Notes include:
 Aged Kashmir Incense, Aged Dragon's Blood Resin, Peru Balsam, Benzoin, Mandarin and Amber infused Lavender (hardly noticeable but necessary to bind spice and incense) blended with a drop of the richest black clove essential oil and a drop of Egyptian black pepper.
Well. That sounds amazing.  I don't know why I hesitated on it, but I think it might have been my deciding to get the ones I'd about kicked myself over for a year. Once I got those bottles, I started trying to decide what else I might need, and this came up on my radar. So, all of that sounds amazing, but I am worried a bit about the clove - will I amp it? I never know. I made a blind bottle purchase on this one.
In the bottle, I get the dragon's blood, all out in front. The Kashmir (juicy red musk)  is definitely there also, right behind dragon's blood. Hmm, more sniffing detects a bit of spice - the pepper and clove, maybe? Alright, let's test this. Wet on my skin it's ooooh spicy? dragon's blood and Kashmir. There's something fresh in the back! Wait. What is that? It's a slight hit of fresh. Must be the amber with the lavender balancing this out. Oooh. I get a bit of balsam and benzoin.  Okay, so this is even more glorious dry!  The Kashmir and dragon's blood resin are playing peekaboo with each other, the clove and pepper are adding a small bit of interesting spice to the mix but I'm not amping them! Really, I'm getting all of the heavier notes, but that amber lavender in the back is keeping things fresh and not too dark. This is kind of a dark red blend, saved from being too dark with an interesting cool feel. I'm obsessing over this! Oh man. One of the most perfect dragon's blood blends I've ever smelled.
I want to add - forgot to say this, this is quite strong. A little goes a very long way. So even though I'm a slatherer, I just put a tiny bit on my wrists and it lasts ... into the next day!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

My Journey to the Indies

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, I haven't really felt up to snuff  and it's taken me a little while to get back into a mode where I could. I've been taking notes and photographing stuff for reviews, and a couple of other articles too I have in mind. But I'm getting there! Today though, today is something different and I thought before we go too much further down the rabbit hole, I'd post this up. I had a request to write this, and it's kind of an interesting for me to put to words, as I hadn't really thought about it, but we got to talking about this topic in one of my favorite FB groups and the idea for the article was given to me by my very lovely friend Sue, so here we go! 

So, how did Niki get into indies, huh? That's a pretty good question. I was born in the early seventies, in Long Beach, California. My first home was in Seal Beach. My parents were part of the hippie movement. Can you see my dad's car through the window? Yeah! Anyway.
So when my parents separated, and eventually divorced, my mother moved us back across the country to Maine, where she was born. Maine is really home for me, that's my early memories, my heart lives there still. Mom was really into the hippie movement. She had us living in communes. She was vegetarian for quite a while, she made my clothes, she grew her own vegetables - the woman was always cooking and always had a garden. She had quite the green thumb, which she inherited from her own mother, who was a farmer.
So in addition to all of these, there was music and scent. Both of these things are firmly attached to my early memories of my mother. Music and scent kind of go hand in hand to me, they are both essential for me and my well being, I feel. I remember mom and her scent was always some sort of hippie scent, patchouli, dragon's blood, sandalwoods galore - mom really liked sandalwood, I believe, and dragon's blood. It seems I've always liked the darker resins and patchouli and woods. Of course, the childhood in Maine heavily influenced me also, I like clean, fresh scents, aquatics, pine, woodsy scents. If you'll recall one of my favorite NAVAs is Cecilia and she kind of evokes hard core memories for me, a very evocative scent.

So wow, isn't that beautiful? Sure, I miss home, but home is here too. Anyway, continuing on. in my twenties, I moved to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. I was exploring, expanding my horizons. I'd been stuck for a while and felt like I needed to know more about the world. I stumbled on lots of little, interesting shops there, shops that sold incense and interesting jewelry and books to expand your mind. My first metaphysical shops! Scent once again reigned dominant. 

So I started to burn incense, and I found a gorgeous incense that I would regret not grabbing tubfulls of - it was called Egyptian Sandalwood. I was in love! I thought it was perhaps the most beautiful thing I'd ever smelled. I ended up moving away, to North Carolina, after that year, but I've never forgotten my time in that area, it was the beginning of me, really, becoming myself.
And then in North Carolina, I went exploring again, and discovered a pretty neat metaphysical shop located in a little house in downtown Raleigh. Very close to the NC State campus, and Hillsboro Street, where there was a hub of activity and really nifty little shops everywhere. There I discovered AIRS incense, and a unique take on dragon's blood I'd never found before or since. 
Fast forward a few years, and being online became a thing. I was kind of stumbling around forums back then, and someone mentioned people making soaps and perfume oils that were only available online. I was intrigued. I remembered my time in MSP and the shops where they were mixing soap and shampoo to your own scent requests, so I looked up a few. I found Wylde Ivy. Started buying lotions, scrubs and stuff. It was different. Then I found BPAL. I was hooked. The rest, my friends, is history. I've been buying indie as much as possible ever since. I found Villainess and Haus of Gloi quite a while ago...did some blog posts on scents, but at the time, I was mostly blogging about nail polish, and it didn't seem like anyone had much of an interest in my scent journey then. There were some closer friends who were interested, but I decided to just keep on buying my goodies, and supporting indie. I did get away from the perfume oil scene for a bit, until last year. That was when my obsession with NAVA began! I also discovered Valhalla at that time, which I have a link to in the sidebar and is a really great indie bath and body company. 
I think it's kind of interesting how the things you were exposed to in your childhood can impact you. My mother and I don't speak, but I was pretty profoundly influenced by her, and a certain smell will take me right back to childhood. She always encouraged me to expand my mind and taught by doing about supporting small business owners. I wish I had her talent in the garden, but unfortunately, I've a black thumb. Hah! Anyway. That's my little story. 

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