Recently in BPAL Category

fun with stinking


BPAL will callI just got back this afternoon from an overnight trip to Atlanta. I went to Will Call for Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab! It's a monthly event where they have tons of blends to try and/or buy. They normally do only mail order (excepting a handful of blends that are sold in a few stores, including some Whole Foods). So this is the only opportunity to try out the product before buying. I think they call it Will Call because at the LA one, people email in advance to place their orders.

They have two each month: one in LA at their main location, and one at the Alpharetta Whole Foods in Atlanta. And I went to the one in Atlanta! I drove down yesterday, arrived at the Whole Foods at 2:45, had a quick lunch from the hot bar and then spent about 90 minutes at Will Call. It was kind of overwhelming! There were 3 tables with samples of the blends that were sale: a bunch of general catalog, especially new ones like the new Mad Tea Party, Steamworks, Doc Constantine's Pharmacopeia, Marchen ... none of the Neil Gaiman scents now that I think about it. And all the summer and Halloween limited editions. Then there was a long table with the newest LEs and some prototypes that aren't out yet. Those were to try only, not to buy.

Then another table had related supplies: empty bottles in various sizes, rollerball bottles, spritzer bottles, disposable eyedroppers, things like that. And a row of chairs along one wall. I think they were just there to be out of the way, the space is normally a cooking school inside Whole Foods, and it was great to have a place to sit down for a minute.

There was also a long table with snacks from the store -- bottled water, sodas, chips, fruit and cookies, and a birthday cake! Last week was the first birthday the BPAL owner/designer's little girl, Lilith. There were 3 LE blends in Lilith's honor, one of which smells like cake, so the Atlanta hosts provided birthday cake. I didn't have cake, though it looked good. I hadn't eaten all day & then wolfed down lunch while I was waiting for will call to open at 3. The thought of tossing a big rich slice of cake on top of that seemed like a bad idea. I did greatly appreciate being able to sit down and snack on some fruit & chips & salsa when I needed a break to clear my nose.

All told I tried about 20 blends. I'm not sure exactly, despite my best efforts I lost count at the end! I had a system: before leaving home I had typed my wish list into my phone. As I was testing, I typed in a number next to each name. 1-5 was the top of the left arm; 6-10 was the top of the right arm; then 11-20 were the insides of the arms.

Things I did wrong: first, I put the samples way too close together on my arms. It became really difficult to distinguish each one. I think I could have more comfortably done 5 on each arm if I had spaced them out better.

Second, I didn't give each blend enough time to test the drydown stage before buying, Sure enough, after I left the store one of the LEs I had bought went bad on me. Luckily the bottle was unopened and I was able to go back and exchange it. Will Call lasts for hours. Next time I'll go early, try everything that interests me, then leave. Let them dry down and then go back to buy the ones I want.

Speaking of buying, the pricing is pretty good. Everything was $17.99. (Direct from the Lab, the general catalog are $15 and the limited editions are $17.50.) They gave a 10% discount off the order. Sales tax in Georgia is not high, so if you bought mainly LE, it ended up cheaper than buying from the Lab. Except for the cost of the trip of course.

I stayed last night at a Sierra Hotel. It was a decent hotel: free wireless, nice couch and kitchenette in the room, decent breakfast the next morning, and a good rate. Alpharetta seems to be a business area like RTP, with lots of hotels that have much cheaper rates on weekends. My only gripe was I couldn't find the channel that says what's on the other channels. I found TCM which wasn't showing anything I wanted to see. Ended up idly websurfing and watching a marathon of Law & Order SVU. I don't watch many TV dramas and had never seen this one before. It really works overtime to satisfy one's prurient interests. In one episode Miranda from Sex & the City played a woman with DID who's a danger to a baby. That was the basic premise and then it got really complicated.

Left at 8:30 this morning, stopped at the Charlotte Ikea on the way, and was home about 3:15. Kind of a crazy couple of days! It was nice, though, to do something a little impulsive just for myself.

Because this post is long enough already, I'm putting the reviews behind a cut.

bpal reviews

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It's been a rough couple of days, and a package from BPAL was just the thing to find in my mailbox this afternoon. It came with some fun swag: a small bumper sticker (actually the second I've received, though I hadn't yet gotten around to putting the first on my car), trading cards for each of the three scents in the Carnaval Diabolique series, a ticket to the Carnaval, and the usual postcards. Plus frimps, including a couple I can actually use.

Georg is away for a couple of days so I indulged myself and tried almost everything. Some quick reviews:

Theodosius: Earl Grey tea leaves, a white fougere, jasmine leaf, pearlescent white musk, and vanilla bean. This was a bit of a disappointment. Reviews described it as smelling like Dorian only less sweet. I thought that sounded like the best thing ever. Unfortunately, I put it on and I get aftershave. I don't want to smell like aftershave. Eventually the aftershave fades away and it's a nice light vanilla. But I have other scents that dry down similarly, without going through an unpleasant aftershave phase. I'm going to give it another try; maybe it will smell better when I'm not wearing 4 other scents. And also offer it to Georg. It seems like a guy scent.

The Candy Butcher: Dark chocolate with a heavy cream undertone. I knew I would love this, and I was right. It's a dark chocolate, not sweet. Like Velvet, only smoother and without the sandalwood. I'm going to wear this a lot in winter.

F5: A refreshing scent! GET IT?! Aloe, white musk, lime peel, fresh mint, seaspray, verbena and green tea. This was a special limited scent for forum members only. Again I correctly guessed I would love it. In the bottle it smells just like Embalming Fluid, my favorite summer scent. On me, F5 is ... crisper. It's all lime for about 10 minutes, but sadly citrus never lasts on me. The notes that remain after the lime fades out are perfectly blended, light and subtle. It really is refreshing.

Lyonesse: Golden vanilla and gilded musk, stargazer lily, white sandalwood, grey amber, elemi, orris root, ambergris and sea moss. File this in in the "what was I thinking?" category. Heavy floral hates me. Yet I keep trying. I was seduced by the vanilla, musk, sandalwood and orris root in the description. All I get is the lily, and something powdery. Probably amber, which doesn't much like me either. At least it's just an imp.

Cockaigne: The Land of Plenty, also called Luilekkerland – the Lazy, Luscious Land: milk and honey, sweet cakes and wine. In the imp it smells cakey, with a tang that must be the wine. On me it smells wonderful, like baked goods. Reminds me of Beaver Moon. Or Monster Bait: Underpants, except without the cinnamon nastiness. (I love the smell of cinnamon, but can't stand cinnamon scents in candles, potpourri and etc. BPAL is unfortunately no exception..) Beaver Moon, Underpants, Cockaigne ... I sense a pattern here. Hmm.

bpal reviews

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Yay, my April 10 BPAL order finally came in! Their turnaround had gotten much better -- I hear it was up to 2 weeks at one point. But they got hit with some administrative problems, losing their lease and several staffers at the same time, and the turnaround has reflected that. Anyway, I'm just thrilled to have gotten my order after all this time. Some quick impressions:

Baobhan Sith: Grapefruit, white tea, apple blossom and ginger. I remembered loving this, and I still do. After a couple of hours it's mostly apple blossom, which is not unpleasant, though floral isn't my favorite thing. Still, the first two hours are divine. I'm not sure why I got rid of this before. I think I was so enamoured with Embalming Fluid that I wasn't wearing anything similar, so I ended up selling off other tea scents that I'd probably wear if I tried them again now.

Phobos: Chilling white musk, lemon verbena, white grapefruit and lemongrass. People on the forum described this as smelling like lemon sherbet, but it doesn't at all to me. Lemongrass has a sharp edge that's distinct from lemon. It's a little overpowering for the first few minutes, in fact if I apply too heavily it smells like my wrist has been working in the yard and needs a shower. I guess that's the musk. That was probably way too much information, sorry. But anyway, then it calms down and the lemon verbena softens it and then it's wonderful.

Drink Me: However, this bottle was not marked `poison,' so Alice ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice, (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast,) she very soon finished it off. Based on the description I had no idea what this would smell like. The reality is an intense butterscotch. Very strong throw: Georg could smell it across the room. It's too much for me, but those who like buttery, sweet scents will love it.

Eat Me: Three white cakes, vanilla, and red and black currants. Cake. It smells like cake. Very soft, subtler than other cakey scents like the Monster Baits. Me likey.



Yesterday was a good day for BPAL. First, they posted the full moon update five days early. A rerelease of Carnaval Noir, a bunch of new Alice in Wonderland scents, and the best part is, the grapefruit scents are back! Apparently the spike in grapefruit oil prices is over. They're leaving the limited releases up a full week because most of the staff are going to a convention next weekend, but I went ahead and placed my order yesterday. I knew what I wanted so there didn't seem any reason to wait:

  • Phobos: Chilling white musk, lemon verbena, white grapefruit and lemongrass. 5 ml. Normally I don't buy bottles unsniffed, unless it's unavailable in sample imps. But this sounds so me, I couldn't resist a bottle. I love all these ingredients, and reviews describe it as "lemon sherbet." I want to smell like lemon sherbet!
  • Baobhan Sith: Grapefruit, white tea, apple blossom and ginger. 5 ml. Another grapefruit rerelease. I had an imp of this, sold it, and have been regretting it ever since. Apparently this is pronounced "bay-oh-ban shee." That confused me immensely until I saw someone use the alternate spelling "baobhan sidhe." Those wacky Celts!
  • Kunstkammer: A sensory jumble, a true cacophony of odors: black pepper, benzoin, blood orange and olibanum. 5 ml. I'm not sure about this one; it may be too resiny for me. But it was the only scent from last year's Carnaval Noir I wished I had tried. This is my last chance, so what the heck.
  • Shattered: A blend of white champagne notes, grapefruit, lotus, slivered mint and crystalline aquatic blooms. Imp. Another grapefruit scent. Some of the ingredients sound iffy, but still worth a try.
  • Drink Me: However, this bottle was not marked 'poison,' so Alice ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice, (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast,) she very soon finished it off. Imp. I hear that the quoted text is not totally reflective of the scent. But I almost don't care what it smells like; I have to at least try it.
  • Eat Me: Three white cakes, vanilla, and red and black currants. Imp. This sounds like it will work well for me.
  • Mouse's Long and Sad Tale: Vanilla, two ambers, sweet pea and white sandalwood. Imp. Amber doesn't much like me, but Beth keeps blending it with other ingredients I love, so I keep trying.
  • Tweedledee: Ridiculous! Kumquat, white pepper, white tea and orange blossom. Imp. This could be great for summer.
  • Tweedledum: Absurd! Green mango, fig, patchouli and green tea. Imp. I shouldn't have ordered this: I love fig and green tea, but loathe patchouli. But the imps come in sets of six, and it is part of a pair and all.

Then after placing my order in the morning, in the afternoon my March 14 order arrived! I managed to test most of it:

  • Monster Bait: Underbed: Cassia-caked cocoa coconut over angel food cake. 5 ml. When will I learn that BPAL cinnamon hates me? In the bottle this smelled lush and chocolately. On me it smelled like a rancid cinnamon car freshener. Seriously vile. After a long while it settled down to a nice chocolate with a touch of cinnamon, but it's not at all worth two hours of gack. Waah.
  • Usher: This is Roderick Usher: a faded genteel light musk and fougere, heightened by hectic white mint, gleaming mandarin, ethereal tea leaf and gritty blackcurrant brushed by the scent of the tarn that surrounds the House, and the gloom and decay of the walls that hold him. 5 ml. I bought this because reviews described it as a more subtle Dorian. I don't agree with that assessment at all, but I do like Usher. It smells a little weird for the first 10-15 minutes, then dries down to a beautiful skin scent. Very soft and unaggressive. It smells like I'm not wearing scent, I just happen to smell really good. (And how do you know that's not the case anyway.)
  • Sundew: A carnivorous enchantress: diverse, lovely and graceful, emitting a sticky, glowing golden, sweet and terminally inviting scent. This smells exactly like the mini daffodils blooming all along our driveway. It's uncanny. Unfortunately, I don't want to smell like that. It's nice in the garden, but on me it's cloying and heavy. Ah well, at least I only bought an imp.
  • The Mock Turtle's Lessons: Blurry aquatic notes, with a confusing, contrary splort of iris, ambrette, green apple, vodka, white mint and a squish of lime. This was a pleasant & light aquatic, but by this point I was a bit scented out and can't really review it. I'm going to give it a try another time and see if I get a stronger impression.

arithmetic of smell

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Wearing BPAL Midway + someone leaving a banana in the office = freshly baked banana bread, that only I can smell.

Mmm, banana bread.

bpal reviews

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More BPAL reviews from the big Halloween order:

Black Opal, redux: After a couple of hours it turned to baby powder. Alas!

Morocco: I just put it on and it's too soon to tell, but it's not impressing me. I was expecting sandalwood and spices, but all I'm getting is a sort of vague perfume. Kind of like a men's scented soap. At least it's not overpowering and/or headache inducing. So I can give it a little while and see if it improves.

Perversion: The smell in the vial scared me a bit, and on first application it smelled strongly of wine. But that disappeared quickly & it softened to a yummy scent that's so well blended I can't pick out the notes. I don't really smell tobacco or leather, and definitely not rum, and I don't know what tonka smells like. But it's really nice. I thought it would be a strong scent only suitable for boozy nights out, but I think with a light application it would work during the day.

Dia de los Muertos: Last year's version of this was described as smoke and dried leaves and sweet chocolate and tobacco. In other words, yummy nummy. But all I get from this one is jasmine. I hate jasmine.

Trick or Treat: Now this is a winner. In the bottle it smells weird, like sugar and creamed corn. But on me, it's pure sugar, but not overpowering like Sugar Skull. I do get a little bit of corny scent from it at first, but I'm not sure I would be able to identify it as corn if I hadn't known the scent was based on candy corn. Which is funny considering candy corn doesn't smell anything like corn. After a couple of hours it settles down to a nice light sugar. This is what I hoped Sugar Skull would be..

Looks like I have 2 winners from the Halloween series: Devil's Night and Trick or Treat. And 3 losers: Samhain, Dia de los Muertos, and Sugar Skull. I still have a bunch of catalog scents to try from that order.

bpal halloweenies

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My Halloween BPAL order arrived today! Yay! It was a big one, with scents from the Poe series, "A Demon In My View," the Halloween series, and some imps from regular catalog too.

Here's what I've tried so far:

  • Devil's Night: I was worried that this would be too much for me, but it's a beautiful light, sweet smoky scent. Smoke like an outdoor fire, not like incense. I think this may be that perfect autumn scent I've been looking for.
  • Samhain: Mainly apple and spice, kind of a cidery scent. But really strong and cloying. Like falling into a cider press. It was threatening to give me a headache so I washed it off.
  • Spirits of the Dead: Gorgeous tea scent. My first thought is Embalming Fluid without lemon. But I'll have to try them side by side to get a better comparison.
  • Black Opal: Mmmm. I think this is the first scent I've tried that was vanilla but not sweet. It's wonderful. Very light. Unfortunately I am an idiot, and didn't close the imp properly. I lost about 1/4 of it to leakage. Time to order a bottle!
  • Sugar Skull: This is the biggest disappointment. It was horrible. And I was so sure it would be fantastic! It was overpowering and sickly. Like nasty burned sugar. And really strong too. I only put on the tiniest dab and it was wafting that awful smell all around me. Oh well, time to do another sale post.

And that's all I can try in one day. I'm feeling a bit overloaded with the scenties.

meet n sniff part 2

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The BPAL sniffing party was a great success. In attendance were myself, Lisa, Alicia, Christa and Shayne. Many vials (or imps, as the kids call them) were opened and sniffed and tested. Only one was spilled, and none of us liked it anyway. I think everyone left with something they didn't have before, and for some it was their first BPAL. Yay! I took home Le Petit Mort and Chesed. And was pleasantly surprised to discover that I was more or less correctly pronouncing chesed.

I forgot to take photos this time, but if you want to know what the table looked like, go to this photo and imagine about 4 times more. Yeah, Lisa, Alicia and I have all been acquiring. We're talking about having the next get-together in early November after all our massive Halloween orders arrive. (Which, by the way, I can hardly wait.) Maybe by then Christa and Shayne will have their own BPAL stashes to share.

Along with the imps, I also took home some decanting supplies Lisa had ordered for me. I already had empty imps, but this time I got tiny eyedroppers, little 2 ml bottles, and a couple of atomizers. When I got home I put Shanghai in an atomizer. I love the scent but it disappears so fast when applied directly to the skin. I mixed the oil with everclear at a 1:10 ratio. (You can also order special perfumer's alcohol, but I hear everclear works just as well, and it costs a heck of a lot less.) I shook it up and spritzed it in my hair. I smelled it when I first sprayed it, but as for its staying power I can't really tell. I tried so many bpal blends today that I can't distinguish it from the general cacophany of scent. I'm probably Stinky Perfume Lady right now, and I'm enjoying my own stink. Mostly I'm getting cocoa and sandalwood from Velvet and musk from Buck Moon. Mmm, musky sandalwoody chocolate.

Anyway, after mixing up the atomizer of Shanghai, I decanted a few imps of Tarot: Strength. It didn't really ring my bell so I'm going to try and sell/swap it. I already have one imp spoken for & possibly the rest of the bottle. That will be great if it happens, but if not I'll just sell it one imp at a time.

bpal reviews


This is the weekend for catching up on blog entries I guess. Quick reviews of all the BPAL I've tried recently:

Ace of Pentacles: "Black pine, patchouli, honeysuckle, oakmoss, almond and other soft earthen tones."

Pine, wood, and ... patchouli. ugh. as it dries the patchouli takes over. I tried hard to like it, but that awful patchouli. It looks like this isn稚 going to be my autumn scent.

Ace of Swords: No lab description.

Mostly sandalwood. When fresh it smells like the cologne one of my best friends in college wore. I liked his cologne, but because of the association it seems too manly for me. The drydown is good though. It faded down to a nice light sandalwood, with a touch of neroli. I'm not sure I get swords from this. That would be airy and intellectual (whatever that would smell like). But I like it.

Dana O'Shee: "Milk, honey and sweet grains."

In the bottle: Almond extract. On me, it smells almondy at first, but then settles down to a nice honey-milk. Much like Eden on drydown but lighter.

This one is another keeper. I'm surprised to like it so much. I didn't think I would like "foody" scents, and the reviewers who described it as smelling like oatmeal really put me off. But I got a freebie of this and it really doesn't smell like oatmeal. Just warm and sweet and comforting.

Eden: "This oil contains the innocence of the Garden, coupled with the Truth and Erudition found in the fruit of the Tree of Evil: fig leaf, fig fruit, honeyed almond milk, toasted coconut and sandalwood."

When first applied this had a nasty, burned smell. I thought it was the 鍍oasted coconut� but forum reviews describe it as bitterness from fig leaf. In any case, after about 15 minutes the bad smell goes away and the fig and coconut become more prominent. Not Coppertone coconut but true fresh coconut. After about an hour it痴 honey and milk, with just a hint of fig. Still no almond or sandalwood. This scent is so complex. I really, really like it. It would be a 土owza� if the first few minutes weren稚 so unpleasant.

Endymion: "A sweet, wistful blend of d'Anjou pear, Lily of the Valley, bois du rose and white musk."

Too floral, too much pear. Straight to the swap pile.

Envy: "Green herbs slithering through mint, lime and lavender."

I thought this would be mainly mint, but actually the herbs dominate. The mint gives it a nice chill. No discernable lavender. It痴 nice for this time of year, and quite different from everything else I've been wearing.

Kumiho: "A sharp, biting blend of crisp white tea and ginger."

I love this. Light and sharp and sexy. I thought it would be like Bath & Body Works� white tea and ginger shower gel, but that痴 more mellow and sweeter.

Lady Macbeth: "The essence of ambition, covetousness and manipulation: sweet Bordeaux wine, blood red currant, thyme and wild berries. "

Grape candy with a sickly overtone of blackberry. yuck.

Living Flame: "A luminescent red scent: breathless with passion, flickering with desire, and glowing with ardent and reverential love."

In the bottle it痴 dark and syrupy, but surprisingly faint on me. It痴 floral but not cloying. Hard to smell it, it痴 so light. Damn, it痴 going soapy. After a half hour it's pure soap. Too bad. I had high hopes for this one.

Maiden: "A gentle vision of purity, goodness and virtue: white tea, carnation and Damask Rose."

Way too floral. It must be the rose. I washed it off after a few minutes.

Sea of Glass: "Upon the Sea of Glass, glowing with the perfection of spiritual union and the radiance of true wisdom, rests the throne of God. A scent of inimitable purity, crystalline grace, and limitless light."

Beautiful, crisp, light. Reminds me of Dirty except doesn稚 fade as fast.

Now the bad news. Major allergic reaction. I started feeling sniffly immediately. After an hour my nose was running and eyes watering. I washed my wrists but it took another half hour before the constant sneezing stopped. Damn.

Sometimes I get sneezy for no reason, so this might be a coincidence. I知 going to give Sea of Glass one more try before relegating it to the swap pile. On a day when I don稚 have work to do.

Snake Oil: "Magnetic, mysterious, and exceedingly sexual in nature. A blend of exotic Indonesian oils sugared with vanilla."

Smelled so strongly of patchouli in the bottle that I didn稚 even put it on. Swap pile!

The Dormouse: "A dizzying eddy of four teas brushed with light herbs and a breath of peony."

Floral & herbs dominate at first. The tea comes forward after about 1/2 hour. Unfortunately it stays too floral for my taste, and goes powdery to boot. I was so confident of this one that I bought a whole bottle unsniffed. Bummer.

Tulzscha: "A crystalline, cold green fire: six mints with white pepper and cucumber."

Mint, mint & more mint. I can't smell cucumber per se, but it must be what's mellowing the mint. I really like this.

Ultraviolet: "Electrifying, mechanized and chilly -- the scent of crushed blooms strewn on cold metal. Lush violet and neroli spiked hard with eucalyptus and a sliver of mint."

mint and eucalyptus. not strong but potent. chilly. really nice.

Drydown: the mint disappears, now it痴 eucalyptus and violet. I don稚 get any metallic but it is very cooling. not 吐resh� like Embalming Fluid, but cold. It's wonderful.

Xiuhtecuhtli: "Copal, plumeria and sweet orange and the smoke of South American incense and crushed jungle blooms."

Incense. Dear god, incense. Swap pile for this one.

sniffing party yay


The sniffing party was great fun! It was Lisa, Wordnerdy, Pinky, Erin, and myself. Many vials were opened and shared, nothing was spilled, everyone had things that everyone else wanted to smell, and everyone took notes to add to their wish lists.

I added a few things to my wishlist: Empyreal Mist, Phantasm, Whitechapel and Glasgow. And I did my first swap! I gave Endymion to Wordnerdy in exchange for Antony. I had high hopes for Endymion, but that was before I had ever smelled BPAL. Once I started trying things I knew that pear and white floral wouldn't work for me. The pear would have been okay but white floral is just too strong for me. I do better with lighter notes like tea, citrus and white musk.

Lisa had the most interesting scents, like Graveyard Dirt and Miskatonic University (which smelled like Irish coffee). Wordnerdy also brought Spooky, which was really wonderful. Pepperminty with a touch of coconut. I almost wish I hadn't liked it because it's a limited edition. I had a freebie of Grog, which in the bottle smelled like rum cake. Very weird! Alas, the imp of Grog was rather overfull, and the tips of everyone's fingers soon smelled like rum cake. Actually my fingertips smelled like a sort of generic "BPAL mixture" by the end of the party from opening and sniffing so many things, but it has dissipated by now.

Caffe Driade is a great location for a gathering like this, aside from their iced tea refill policy:

"Do you give refills on tea?"
"Yes, but it costs the same as the first glass."
"So you mean, no."
"That's right."

But other than that it was a great place to get together. Lots of little outdoor spaces that gave a feeling of privacy, so even though there were plenty of other people there we didn't feel like we were reeking up the space and ruining it for others.

catching up on bpal

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A few quick reviews:

White Rabbit. "Strong black tea and milk with white pepper, ginger, honey and vanilla, spilled over the crisp scent of clean linen." This reminded me a lot of when I used to drink a lot of tea every day, and how good that tea felt first thing in the morning. I think my reaction to tea was the way most people feel about their coffee. And I used to get a killer headache if I didn't get my morning tea. Which is why I gave it up.

Anyway, despite having such a strong association this was the first tea scent I didn't go wild over. I really liked it a lot, but I didn't find myself wanting to smell like that forever. On my scale of "ugh' to "yowza," it rated "love." Which is one step below "yowza." I'm going to try it again when it's cooler and see if my response is better.

Oneroi. "Soporific, dark and unfathomable: a somnambular blend of deep lavender, white sandalwood, jasmine, bergamot and mugwort." Now this I love. I mainly get lavender and sandalwood, and it smells just beautiful. Very comforting. I rarely have problems with insomnia, but I look at the Somnium series as a way to make sleeping that much better.

Dirty. "A wonderful antidote to an all-nighter oozing with drunken, addled perversion and debauchery. A fresh, crisp white linen scent: perfectly clean, perfectly breezy." This is like taking Embalming Fluid and removing all the recognizable notes -- the tea, the sandalwood, the lemon -- and leaving nothing but that crisp coolness. That's what Dirty smells like. I love it.

Twilight. "An enigmatic, otherworldly scent, brimming with power and mystery. Lavender and jasmine, with a touch of glowing honeysuckle." In the bottle it smells like lavender. On me it smells like soap. Not just soap but SOAP! It smells like I have Ivory soap caked under my fingernails. No, it's worse than that. It smells like I was washing my face and accidently got soap in my mouth. Yuck, bleh, ptui. After about an hour the soap goes away and it's just a heavy, cloying floral. This is without a doubt my first "ugh." It must be the jasmine that went all horrible on me.

sniffing party!

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Want to know what all these mysterious scents actually smell like? Or what an imp is? Or how to pronounce bpal? Join me, Lisa and Wordnerdy as we share our Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab stock at Caffe Driade this Sunday at 7 pm.

bpal rules

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I got my first BPAL order yesterday! Woo! 12 imps for me, 6 imps plus a bottle for a birthday present, and they threw in a bunch of freebie imps. I heard they do that all the time, but I was still surprised by how many.

Even with all the freebies they only sent me 1 that I already had. Though I don't have that much BPAL yet, so it wasn't that much of an accomplishment. I didn't even know what most of them were so I spent some time last night looking them all up and entering them in my database. It was interesting to try and figure out how they chose the freebies. There were a couple of popular ones in the freebies (Dana O'Shee and Grog) but most of them have very few reviews. That makes sense that they'd use the freebies to introduce people to less popular scents.

With so many to try -- and I hadn't even gotten through all the imps I got from the forum yet -- I may have to stop with the long reviews for a while and just post quick impressions. Last night I tried on Kumiho: "Nine-tailed fox demon of Korean lore who transforms into the visage of an irresistible beauty in order to seduce men and lead them to their doom. A sharp, biting blend of crisp white tea and ginger." It was wonderful. I had heard that many people find it too strong & sharp, but I applied it lightly and it was just what I was hoping for. Simple and crisp and cool, perfect for hot weather. It didn't last very long with such a light application, but I might be better off reapplying than dousing myself and making it too strong for the first few hours.

Today I think I'm going to wear Dirty: "A wonderful antidote to an all-nighter oozing with drunken, addled perversion and debauchery. A fresh, crisp white linen scent: perfectly clean, perfectly breezy." Good thing the night of debauchery isn't a prerequisite!

bpal review: mi-go brain canister


This limited edition was part of the "Springtime in Arkham" series. The Mi-Go were a crustacean-like race who captured human brains and took them back to their home planet in canisters. The bottle came with a tiny squishy brain, how cute! Alas, I only have a decanted imp. I bought one for Nellorat the Lovecraft scholar, and snagged one for myself at the same time. I wish now I had gotten Cthulhu for myself too.

Mi-Go Brain Canister. "A soothing yet stimulating blend of pink pepper, peony, jasmine, mango, kiwi, pomegranate, pineapple, white ginger, serene white tea and light musks."

Bottle: Fruity and juicy. I can smell mango and pineapple & probably other fruits too, but I don稚 recognize them.

Wet: I can still smell the fruit but it痴 kind of perfumy. That must be the jasmine. We saw jasmine plants at the farmer痴 market yesterday, and the smell was beautiful and incredibly strong, but not quite like this. I guess the perfume notes don稚 smell precisely like the real thing (Graveyard Dirt excepted). I壇 love to grow jasmine, put it next to our path so we壇 smell it every time we went into the garden. But we don稚 have a sunny window inside for it during winter. Besides, I'm terrible with houseplants. I guess we could grow it as an annual but that seems wasteful.

Drydown: The perfumy tone dissipates quickly, leaving a nice feminine blend with a hint of musk. It痴 similar to Pink Moon but much more 杜e.� I don稚 smell tea or ginger, but they池e probably what痴 keeping from the fruit and floral from being too sweet or cloying. I知 not getting pink peppercorn at all. Which is too bad. I was hoping it would have a spicy note.

Lasting: After three hours it痴 soft, sweet and so well blended I can稚 pick out any particular notes. Also quite faint.

Repurchase: No, but I値l use the imp.

This is pretty, if it were a regular catalog scent I壇 buy a bottle, but it痴 not special enough to be worth limited edition prices. I have a few fruity scents on order & I値l just hope one of them is as nice & light as this.

bpal review: dorian


Last night I got to sniff Lisa's BPAL collection. And I was amazed to discover that yes, Graveyard Dirt does smell exactly like high quality potting soil. I wore Embalming Fluid to a party yesterday, but the party was outside and the mosquitoes were terrible and I doused myself in bug spray, which overwhelmed the perfume. Now I'm wearing Dorian. Of which I ordered a 5 ml bottle from the lab, but then I couldn't wait and got an imp from someone on the forums.

Dorian. "This blend is an artful deception: a sweet gilded blossom lying over a twisted and corrupted core. A Victorian fougere with three pale musks and dark, sugared vanilla tea."

Bottle: Mostly I smell vanilla and sweetness, but tea is a definite undertone.

Wet: Yum. Musk, tea, and sweet vanilla. It smells creamy too, I wonder if there痴 a milky note in it, or if that痴 the vanilla?

Drydown: As it dries the musk moves to the background and I get black tea and vanilla with a dark edge. I really love this. It痴 interesting how different it smells from Embalming Fluid, although both include tea and musk. Embalming Fluid is light and clean, while this is rich and sexy. I can稚 stop smelling my wrist.

Lasting: The more it dries, the more the tea dominates. After several hours it's sweet, tea, and vanilla. It痴 wonderful. I知 2 for 2 now on tea-based scents.

Repurchase: Without a doubt.

Overall: I知 so glad I have a whole bottle of this on the way. It痴 a little too creamy for this weather but I think it will be perfect for autumn. Not that it smells 殿utumnal� in any way, just that the rich sweetness will be better in cool weather.

bpal review: follow me boy


A bunch of imps arrived while I was away, so I had my pick of new scents to try tonight.

Follow Me Boy: "A houdoun recipe dating back almost 150 years. This blend is favored by prostitutes, exotic dancers and others in the sex industry for its power to attract, seduce, and enthrall. Ensures financial gain and increased profits."

This may be the first one I've tried whose description doesn't include any ingredients. I got this because it was described as honey and lemon, but I知 not getting that at all.

Wet: Powder. Not baby powder, but lady痴 face powder. The old style that your mom had in a pretty round box with a pink fluffy thing to apply it. I don稚 smell lemon at all. It痴 strong: all I did was dab it on each wrist with the wand (and get a little tiny bit on my finger while opening the imp) and Georg can smell it across the room.

Drydown: The powdery smell is dissipating and something else is emerging. Sweet, herbal, and floral, maybe jasmine? Plus there痴 something dark and musky in there, though I don稚 think it痴 actually musk. Georg doesn稚 smell the musk, though he agrees that it痴 not as powdery. And he can稚 smell it at a distance anymore. Whew.

Lasting: After about an hour and a half, I detect lemon! The face powder is gone, now it痴 sweet and herbal and floral with a bit of lemon. Not citrusy lemon juice, but lemon cake with powdered sugar. That sounds crazy but I was honestly getting a 斗emon pound cake� vibe from this. Coincidentally we had dinner at Starlu tonight and they had lemon pound cake on the menu. So we ordered it. And I can definitively say that I was wrong; my wrists smell nothing like lemon pound cake. It still smells nice though. (And the cake was excellent.)

Repurchase: Maybe.

Georg summed it up well: 妬t痴 nice, but it痴 not as good as that hot one.� He meant Wanda and I agree. Though I like the drydown better than the first hour. I値l have to remember to put this on well in advance of going out anywhere.

bpal madness


So today is the full moon, time for a one-day-only special at Black Phoenix. I didn't go crazy but I did place an order.

Buck Moon: only available in 5ml bottles, which is what I bought.
"This Full Moon marks the time of the year when the new antlers of buck deer emerge from their foreheads, coated in soft velvet. This is a time of masculine vigor, thunder, balmy nights, glorious sunlight and hot winds. Buck Moon is an animalistic, deep scent: an amplification of one痴 natural musk coupled with forest herbs, a hint of clear, warm evening air and a crystalline spark of lunar oil."

I'm leery of all that musk, but then again I really liked Wanda so I figured it's worth a try. if I don't like it I can always swap and/or sell it off.

Tarot: Strength: only available in 10ml bottles, which is what I bought. No description provided by the Lab but reviews describe it as earthy, warm, and green. I've already arranged a swap with Bummble & I'm hoping I'll be able to swap/sell as much as I need to.

Dorian: bought 5ml bottle. "A Victorian fougere with three pale musks and dark, sugared vanilla tea." I heart Embalming Fluid (white musk and tea) so much that this one seems like a sure thing. Also it's very popular, so if I bizarrely end up hating it, I'll have no trouble swapping/selling it.

Also I got an imp pack while I was at it.
Sudha Segara: "Sweet milk and warm, healing ginger with a touch of golden honey and our blend of Ambrosia." People love this one, and I love ginger, so I thought I'd better give it a try.
The Dormouse: "A dizzying eddy of four teas brushed with light herbs and a breath of peony." I hope all the teas smell as good as Embalming Fluid, because I'm going to have a lot of them.
Santa Eularia des Riu: "Piquant citrus tempered by jasmine, soft Mediterranean herbs, lavender and orange blossom." This one is too new to have any reviews yet.
O: "Amber and honey with a touch of vanilla." Another one I'm ordering because people like it so much.
Verdandi:"Deep herbs and apple with black amber." I sure hope amber works on me.
Nanshe: A somnium that's supposed to help encourage dreaming, it's described as lavendar and lemongrass.

I did not buy the other two of today's limited editions: Carnivale, "sweet wild berry, spicy carnation and heliotrope layered over deep amber and musk;" or Love in the Asylum, "two roses, tolu balsam and ambergris with vanilla, labdanum, tobacco leaf, carnation and tonka." I don't even know what half that stuff is, but I know I don't want a heavy floral like rose.

we do not call it the precious


More BPAL arrived today! I got Mi-Go Brain Canister, which is supposed to smell spicy and pink, a counterpoint to Pink Moon I guess, but I didn't open the imp to smell it. Also Szepasszony, which I tried on and with which I was extremely disappointed. It's supposed to smell like a rainstorm, but after fifteen minutes it turned into fabric softener sheets. That's the second "watery" scent I've tried, and the second that smelled like a cleaning product. Dang. I so love the descriptions of the aquatics. I really wanted them to work for me. I've got another watery scent (Sea of Glass) on the way. If it also smells like soap, I'll know to avoid them in future.

Lisa came over and took a tour of the garden as she very kindly agreed to water while we're away. Being a bit obsessive I drew a map. It's not really that much to water, but I thought it would be easier to keep track of it that way. I offered her some vegetables in repayment, but unfortunately all we've got in eatable condition are beets and chard, neither of which tempted her. (At least I'll be able to do Moses-feeding duty in the future.) Hey Lisa, if you see any male squash blossoms (they don't have a little tiny round fruit at the base) you're welcome to those too. Be careful when you pick them because the plants are spiny. And if you do decide to take any chard, just cut the biggest leaves off each plant, rather than cutting any plant entirely down.

Jane showed off her very good "sit" for Lisa, and with some coaxing we got her to do "down" too. She really should be able to do "down" without a treat at this point, but that's still pretty rare. And getting her into heel position is still a wash. Whenever she sees the treat, she sits. I guess because it's what she knows. Thirteen was very brave too, coming close enough to let us both know how stinky she is right now. It's all that rolling around on the ground to scratch her back. I really need to bathe her.

Speaking of stinky, we had to play with my (small, but growing) BPAL collection. I did my first trade! Pink Moon to Lisa, for an as-yet-to-be-determined imp. In other words when she starts to get her stuff, she'll give me something that I want but didn't work for her. Also she tried on Embalming Fluid. (Which I consistently typo as Emblaming Fluid. What would that be? Perfume that assists the wearer in passing the buck?)

I love Embalming Fluid. I lurrrve it, and it was actually a little odd to smell it on someone else. I've worn it every day for the past week, and I guess I'm starting to get used to it on myself. A few times when she moved I caught a hint of it, and had this weird thought of "hey, she smells like me!" (I hasten to add it wasn't a strong scent at all, definitely not Stinky Perfume Lady.) I love citrus, and love tea, so I bought a bottle of Embalming Fluid before I had even smelled it. Thank goodness it worked for me! In my database I rate each scent I've tried, and Embalming Fluid is the only one so far to warrant the highest rating ("yowza"). I hope I can find something which suits me so well but will be appropriate for cooler weather. Maybe Dorian.

stinky business


Lisa wrote about how Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab cleverly increases sales on a luxury item by reducing risk for their customers (low entry price, vast selection, thriving aftermarket). They also encourage enthusiasm, I think, with frequent "limited edition" additions to the catalog. They have a new series based on a theme every two months, plus one-day-only specials at least once a month, on the full moon and on important days of the pagan calendar. None of the limited editions are available in sample imps, and I'm sure that many people buy bottles of a limited edition but would have settled for an imp if the same scent were in the regular catalog. And those people probably buy other things at the same time, to round out the order. I'm already planning what I'm going to order next Wednesday when "Buck Moon" goes on sale.

Also, by not offering sample imps for a few regular catalog lines (the Tarot, the Sephiroth, Panacea), they make those lines seem more valuable. There may be a non-marketing reason for this: they claim to blend all oils to order rather than keeping any product inventory. Maybe they don't sell enough of these lines for it to be worth making imps for people.

I ordered some empty imp-sized bottles so that I could try the Tarot oils with less financial committment: if I'm not crazy about one, I can decant it off and sell or swap them on the forum. Bummble and I have already worked out a swap (she's going to get the Hermit and I'm going to get Strength). I guess I need to get pipettes too, although I've heard that some people use little straws.

And one additional way they generate enthusiasm is to generously give freebie imps with every order. I can't tell you how many forum reviews begin with "I would never have picked this scent for myself, but the lab included it with my last order and I love it...."

Also I got my storage box set up yesterday. It's a Ganesh lunchbox which I padded with cloth-covered foam. I really like the way it turned out. The center divider moves, so it can hold the imps snugly upright. Unfortunately the foam was a little thick and took up more volume than I expected. If my collection grows too fast I'll have to get a bigger lunchbox, or thinner foam. I guess that will be an incentive not to go too crazy.

And to keep track of all this I made myself a little BPAL database. I'm tracking my wishlist, my scent reviews, orders I've placed and my inventory. I am such a geek.

One last, funny thing: Georg mentioned to me recently that my interest in Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has put in his head the theme song from a video game we both used to play with a similar name. The same is true for me! Whenever I see BPAL's full name written out, I hear the voice from the beginning of game saying "It's time for ... Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab! Are .. you .. ready?" That was a fun game, I should download it again and pay the shareware fee this time.

bpal review: pink moon


So apparently they release another Lunacy blend every month, for just one day. On the full moon maybe? The next one is coming up on the 22nd. They don't release the descriptions in advance but the next one is called Buck Moon.

Pink Moon was from three months ago. WIth the two month delay in fulfillment (I hear that they recently lost two staffers from an already small company), the people who ordered it just received it a few weeks ago. So it's probably the easiest Lunacy blend to get on LJ right now. I ordered it because of the song, although it actually has nothing to do with the song.

Pink Moon The name of this moon refers to the color of wild ground phlox, a primary component of this Lunacy Blend, which is one of the most widespread floral signposts of springtime in North America. This Lunar blend is soft with phlox, tulip, daffodil, dogwood and muscari, dusted with pink sugar and honey, and a touch of the first strawberries of the season.

In the Bottle: Bubble gum. Wet, juicy bubble gum. yikes, it痴 sweet.

Wet: This is going to sound weird, but it smells pink. Pink and sweet. Is that pink smell carnation?

Georg could also smell this one from several feet away, but he walked in just as I was capping the bottle so the scent was still pretty fresh. And his first reaction was a very satisfying 典his one痴 nice; what is it?�

Drydown: Still sweet floral. The cotton candy sweetness makes this more youthful and girly than the others I致e tried. Definitely not a work scent! I thought I would hate anything as sweet as this. But to my surprise, I like it. I知 not sure if it痴 me, but I like it.

I just read the description and I guess the pink smell is phlox, and what I read as cotton candy is sugar and strawberry. Strawberry in a description has been a big turnoff to me thus far. Maybe it痴 OK here because it痴 not a dominant note.

Lasting: After 4 hours it痴 mellowed out to a faint sweetness. Georg said it still smells the same to him, just less strong. I like it a lot at this phase.

Repurchase: at Limited Edition prices, no, but I値l use what I have.

Overall: It痴 a pretty scent but too sweet for every day use. I値l save this for when I want to feel all girly.

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