Some Little (Solstice) Scents Memories


This Solstice Scents haul is mostly scent repeats for me. When Nightgown was restocked I stalked the site like a ravenous mountain puma and a few other items just happened to fall into my cart as well. There was a sale going on at the time, so I got a Whipped Soap in Outpost (OMG, I'm really loving this scent right now...cold forest, wood smoke, a touch of sweetness, ahhhh), a full size of Spellbound Woods, a Botanical Toner for Oily or Troubled Skin, and a sample of Lace Draped Spectre perfume. Today I'm just going to talk about the two items that are new to me, Lace Draped Spectre and the Botanical Toner.  Okay, most of this has really nothing to do with the actual products, but rather, how they make me feel and what they remind me of personally, so, be forewarned. Liber Vix occasionally likes to wax poetical about her smell-wells, in case you hadn't noticed.

First, Lace Draped Spectre (most awesome name ever, even though my brain keeps wanting to call it Lace Draped Sceptre).

Madagascar Vanilla, Baby's Breath, Pink Carnation & Green Pepper Essential Oil

This scent, I haven't quite encountered anything like it before. I've typically thought of carnations as a rather generic, homely flower, the one at the bottom of the barrel that the significant other buys you because all the roses are gone and he's at the gas station anyway so what do you expect?

But I really liked it when I first smelled it...a supremely elegant, creamy scent with the most subtle bite of pepper. It's quite beautiful, and haunting, just like the description suggests. But then I started feeling like this scent was making me sad. This scent is beautiful, but it is also melancholy, vaguely mournful. I couldn't figure it out, but realized when I was smelling the Annabelle perfume sample that I got from The Morbid the Merrier (review forthcoming!) that these both contained a carnation note, and they both made me just a little bit *lesigh*.

I don't have anything consciously personal against carnations, but I suppose I have some sad associations with them. Perhaps I'm remembering my high school Valentine's Day flower sales, where you could receive red carnations from your bf/gf, pink from your secret admirer, or white from your friends. I remember the year I got only a white flower from the guy I loved desperately all through high school, the years when the popular kids flaunted their huge bouquets while I was lucky to get one or two. It bothered me immensely at the time, but I think I've pretty much gotten over it, so why does this scent still make me sad?

Maybe it reminds me of my grandma, who died in 2000 after a struggle with Alzheimer's. Not to imply this smells like an old lady scent or like death, not in the slightest. But I remember when she really started going downhill physically and mentally, I was a senior in high school, and my parents and I were responsible for caring for her until the end. There weren't as many resources available for caregivers at the time it seemed, and other family members had become conveniently scarce. We lived in a double house, my grandma on one side, my parents and I on the other. So it was only natural that the responsibility fell to us, and it wasn't easy, suffice it to say. It was hard trying to focus on school and enjoying the usual senior year things when home felt so quiet and empty, and feeling like no one cared. Just watching and waiting, and a perpetual sense of loss hanging over me. It was a very lonely, isolating time. She died in March of that year, and perhaps that's why. It's a very March scent (probably my least favorite month). Not quite winter, not quite spring, somehow hovering in between, somewhere still and silent. Somehow beautiful, but tragically, heartbreakingly so. A letting-go scent, bittersweet but resolute. It's nothing I can pinpoint directly to anything tangible, but I suppose if I wanted to use a scent as a symbol perhaps, as an olfactory metaphor for a time period in my life, Lace Draped Spectre would sum this one up perfectly. Even after all that, I would still say that I like this scent. I appreciate the artistry of scents that can make me feel something, even if that feeling isn't always blissfully happy.

You might think incredulously "you got all that from a perfume?" and you might also think this perfume smells perfectly cheerful (and I wouldn't argue with you, because it is indeed a beautiful scent), but it's just funny where scent can lead the mind, places you'd totally forgotten. And if you think this little scent memory is a leap, just read on...

Yes, I'm about to tell you that I have a scent memory associated with this toner. Please stick with me here. I actually bought it simply because I needed a replacement for the Pangea spray toner that I got in my June Birchbox. I loved the smell of this stuff, and it has lasted all this time. I use just one spritz in the middle of my day, just to inhale and refresh my skin, not as an actual wipe-your-face-with-it -after- cleansing toner. But the Pangea toner is 26 dollars, so I thought the Solstice Scents toner would surely smell nice enough to replace it, at a much better price.

Witch Hazel, Soothing Lavender and Organic Cucumber Waters, Green Tea & More

As soon as I smelled it, I immediately recognized the scent, which is absolutely not a perfume, just the melange of smells from the active ingredients. Growing up there was a place that my family visited in the country, a business called Hampton Herbs. It was owned by a nice older couple, and they owned their own house on the land and had created a huge array of themed gardens, walking paths, and areas for shopping. They had also purchased the house next door and turned it into a shop. So literally the house was a store. The living room was full of floral arrangements, gifts, candles, music, etc. The kitchen was full of herbs and seasonings, spice mixtures, mixes for soups and muffins, that sort of thing. In the bedroom there was a bed on which there were natural bath items, soaps, bags of rosehips and lavender buds, perfume oils, and solid perfumes displayed.

There were water gardens, a big pond complete with fairy tale-ish lily pads and frogs, medicinal and culinary gardens, mint and dye gardens. It was just amazing how much work they put into them. Every time I went I would see them out there, digging in the dirt or doing something to make the place beautiful.

They also had a garage where they stored concrete statues and birdbaths for your garden, and cute little "fairy houses" made of twigs and moss for creating your own fairy garden. As a child I was totally mesmerized by these! There was a workshop for wreaths and floral arrangements, my favorites were the wreaths made of eucalyptus leaves, with their bright herbal scent. There was a screened- in porch where they would host herbal luncheons. In the garage where you checked out your purchases herbs hung in bunches from the ceiling and supplies for making your own potpourri were available: pine cones and multicolored straw flowers, star anise and dried orange slices, huge bouquets of baby's breath and branches of juniper with fragrant berries. I loved Christmas there because the owners would host an open house during which you could tour their home, packed with decorations, food, and holiday gifts.

Most of all I loved the nature. There was a path you could walk through silent woods along a little stream, which finally opened up to a huge field where I once saw deer, and a family of hedgehogs that had made their home under a woodshed. This was a place where I felt peaceful and alive, and it was truly imbued with a sort of magic. It also wasn't a place I shared with many people my age. It wasn't exactly the epitome of cool or a typical adolescent interest. I could imagine as soon as I said the word "potpourri" the eyes of my peers glazing over. But I of course walked the road less traveled, and I loved it dearly. I visited this place regularly from about the 5th or 6th grade up through my first couple years of college, and it evolved from simply a comforting, magical place to a place that sparked my creativity (I loved dabbling in potpourri making and concocting my own skin care items) and my love for nature.

I loved this place so much that when I took a journalism class in college, I even chose to interview the owners for an assignment. I still have the paper! Sadly they had health problems and closed I believe around 2003, and I have no idea what has happened to the property since then.

But basically, the scent of the toner seemed to embody this place fully. The combination of witch hazel, lavender, cucumber, and eucalyptus, it was uncanny how perfectly just those simple ingredients matched my memory of this place taken as a whole. It just smells extremely fresh, light, and real. I dug around for photos and could only find a few. I guess some places you think of as eternal, like they were always there and always would be, so I didn't take as many pictures as I should have. The ones I found were from high school when I dared to invite some friends even at the risk of being scoffed. I needn't have worried though, because they loved it too. I couldn't find any of just the scenery, so you get to be treated to Liber Vix circa 2000.  *hangs head* . I'm in the red shirt. Don't ask me about the huge and awful glasses. I have no comment.

Here's one walking around some of the gardens:

And inside the bedroom of the little house. You can see a display of oils behind me and bags of rosehips on the bed.

It's funny, I have a collection of perfumes from my past, my little scent museum I call it, that I wore during particular times in my life, and now those scents are utterly linked to those memories. Sometimes I will wear a totally new perfume on a special occasion specifically to make the event more memorable. Now that I've been getting into indie perfumes and sampling a lot more of what's out there, I'm stumbling across scents that embody certain moments retroactively, but as vividly and intensely as if they had always been there, so much more so than mainstream scents ever have. Of course, most scents I try merely smell "good" or "bad' with no real reason why, no emotional connection at all, simply an affinity for the scent notes. But how wonderful it is that every once in a while, a scent has the ability to paint a picture in your brain and light up little parts that had lain dormant far too long!

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  1. You are such a great writer! Interesting to hear what you link these scents to! I don't think I've checked out Lace Draped Spectre from SS yet. I'll have to pick up a sample with on of my orders sometime!

  2. Wonderful post! Perfume can be so powerful. I do have strong associations with certain smells/notes, not necessarily perfumes. There are both good and bad associations. I try my best not remember or unconsciously associate the smell with a bad experience. I do also tend to form 'new memories' with a certain scent, just to keep it happy :)
    I'd love to see a picture of your Scent Museum!

  3. @Peach and Su: Thanks so much you guys, I really do appreciate your support :) And Su, I do have a little post on my scent collection planned (it's not as impressive as pictures I've seen of yours though!)


Please leave me comments if anything strikes your fancy or if you have any helpful suggestions. Remember, I'm no expert and am just sharing my truth. Hopefully you will find something useful to take with you!

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