Today, my nose is quite happy my friends! We’re experiencing a completely abnormal cold snap and while apparently this isn’t so abnormal since it does have it’s own colloquialism (also known as Blackberry Winter), we don’t typically experience it ’round these parts ;).

Still! I’ve dug my sweaters and winter coat out of hibernation; enjoyed some Malbec and Indian comfort food; and am taking full advantage of the unseasonal drop in temperatures to test out and enjoy 2 smokey, comforting scents.

(Image/artwork from Cire Trudon official)
First up is the Empire candle Cire Trudon. S and I were browsing a massive candle selection at a local store, when we came across Empire – while many scents in the Cire Trudon line had piqued our interest that day, both our eyes lit up when we smelled Empire.

Cire Trudon officialy describes this as:
“Pine, sage and hay vibrate this Napoleonic camp with accents of wild juniper and bush. The joyful and indulging warmth of thyme, marjoram and rosemary rings like a fife. A time of peace right after a battle between dog and wolf. An imperial tent that exhales an exemplary scent, crowned with laurel’s force.”

Unlit, this candle smells like fire – smokey, woodsy, beautiful fire on a cold winter’s night kind of fire. Lit doesn’t change much except that it diffuses in a way that the other notes become more apparent. There are definitely light citrus and floral elements that make my house smell more like Lapsang Souchong tea (admittedly, my favorite tea) than outright smokey fire. It’s just beautiful, and S and I are both fans.

Cire Trudon is known to be the oldest candlemaker in the world, with all of their candles made at their Atelier in France. They boast a 55-60 hour burn time and contain no artificial substances, fillers, or paraffin. Cire Trudon candles are made from 100% vegetable wax (specifically, palm oil, rice, soy and coconut) for the purest candle and the cleanest burn.

The Empire candle retails for $95 and can be purchased directly from Cire Trudon here or from Beauty Habit (sign up for e-mails and receive 15% off your first order).

(Photo from Boyds of Texas official)
I picked up Cuero, an Eau de Parfum, by Boyds of Texas from a local pop-up shop at S’s favorite local store. I chose it and High Desert, because, well – I’m always on the lookout for some variation of smokey and leathery fragrances, obviously! What is great about fragrance, and particularly perfumes, is how parfumeurs layer different notes to craft distinctive aromatic experiences – journeys, even. You can go with something direct like Velvet Desert Oud by Dolce and Gabbana or Replica Across Sands by Maison Margiela for linear Ouds so bone dry that they leave you parched and seeing mirages. Or you can pick up more complex leathers – Tom Ford made 2 of my favorites, Tuscan Leather, which is warm with amber wood and nuanced with thyme and jasmine; and the extremely limited and now discontinued Ombre Leather ’16, which leaned more feminine with the floral notes of Tuscan Leather on steroids.

Or – you could go for a full on journey with Boyd’s of Texas’ Cuero that evokes images of cactus filled deserts, well made and well worn saddles, but settles into something that is still all of those things – yet sweeter, richer, and bewitching.

Boyd’s of Texas describes Cuero as:
“A fleeting burst of citrus and soft florals quickly becomes rooted in the dryer, dusty woods of various cedars. This deepens on the skin and is joined by the slightest hint of warm jasmine, before it develops and softens into darker woods and smoky leather.”

I was honestly surprised I loved this scent so much – I expected it to be more linear, I anticipated it to be more masculine – something that would wear better on S. It wears completely fine on S, but on my skin it has settled into something slightly boozy and even chocolatey. To my nose, it references a favorite gourmand of mine – Chocolate by L’Antichambre, but with smoke and leather.

If you’d like to try Cuero – Boyd’s of Texas offers samples for $10 which can be purchased here. A full sized EdP (50ml) can be purchased here for $125. The scent is also available in a Face & Body Oil as well as a Charcoal Bar Soap.

The Decadence Palette is the 4th release of Pat McGrath’s series of Mothership palettes. It is limited edition (at least, for now!) and retails for $125. It can purchased either from Sephora here or directly from Pat McGrath Labs’s website here.

I’m the proud owner of the first 3 Pat McGrath palettes she released, as well as a handful of other previous limited releases – most notably both very limited Skinfetish Kits – The nude/pink is an incredible pink duo chrome and the MUA who did my wedding makeup would not stop fawning over it, and used it for my Wedding Day Look. In summary, Pat McGrath makes some really amazing products – incredible pigmentation and textures, that are really hard to find consistently in other brands.

All that being said, I wasn’t sure that I would pick up the Decadence palette, as the colors are mostly more saturated deeper that I usually feel comfortable wearing. My curiosity was still piqued as I knew from the previous palettes that the pigmentation and texture should be extremely high quality. So, I wandered over to my local Sephora to do some swatching…for science.

Of course, the swatching led to a purchase – these shadows were like butta!

Left to Right:

Gold Standard: A metallic, yellow gold
Sterling: True metallic lighter silver
Inferno: Metallic copper – like a shiny new penny
Lapis Luxury: Metallic blue leaning teal
Blue Blood: Deep, shimmery Burgundy
Divine Mink: Shimmery, slightly purpley gunmetal
Sinful: Metallic champagne – leans slightly olive in the pan
Hedonistic: Metallic Pink-Red-Orange-Gold duo chrome (quadra chrome?) Like a sunset on the lid – see below.
Underworld: Blackened base with dark blue and deep teal shimmer
Enigma: Metallic Bronze, but when mixed with cooler colors, like Divine Mink – looks more grey. Like an enigma!

So as you can see, this palette is full of shimmers and metallics – even a duo chrome.

Even so, it is possible to do something more for day. I tend to prefer a matte nude base when using intense shimmers, but challenged myself yesterday to do a quick look using only the palette before running out the door:

I started with Inferno as an all over base on the lid, and then used Enigma for the outer V, Hedonistic for the center lid, and a hint of Gold Standard on the inner corner. Applied over a NARS primer, this lasted about 10 hours on me. That is, until I forgot I was wearing eyeshadow, and rubbed one eye real hard. Oops.

Obviously, this palette was created for fun looks as well…

Used Divine Mink all over the lid, with Lapis Luxury on the outer third, Enigma over the center third, and Sterling on inner third.

My favorite! Hedonistic all over the lid (see! Like a sunset on the lid), Lapis luxury as liner, and Underworld on the inner corner.

I’m convinced that someone even more talented than me could make something really neat with Lapis Luxury or Underworld as a base and Hedonistic on top.

For me, Hedonistic and the true metals (Gold Standard, Sterling, and Inferno) make this palette worth it alone. Lapis Luxury is also stunningly beautiful, though it may be slightly more difficult to incorporate in more of a day-to-day look.

By Emily McDowell Studio – Available for purchase here and here.

See my picks for Valentine’s Day Gifts for yourself, your friends, and your significant other!

1. Tom Ford’s Oud Wood – notes of Rare Oud Wood, Sandalwood, Chinese Pepper, Rosewood, Tonka Bean, Vanilla (special size starting at $145)

2. John Wayne Bracelet – Because some guys like jewelry too. “…Given to soldiers as a symbol of friendship and respect by the Montagnard tribe.” ($80)

3. Deep Sea Sand Art – perfect for anyone’s desk (Got this for S a few years ago! $85)

4. Fossil Townsman 48mm Automatic Light Brown Leather Watch – with movement! ($225.00)

5. A Man and His Watch by Matthew Hranek – This one is hard to find! You may have some luck at your local bookseller ($33)

6. Burberry London Leather Card Case in Burgundy – S still won’t let me live down that I got him a maroon one instead of a LE Mineral Green one ($225)

7. Fondale Vase – Guys like flowers (or at least greenery) too. What better than to present them in a vase “inspired by the shape of airflow funnels on the decks of large ships.” German engineered to boot 😉 ($250)

8. Frog Prince – While it may seem cheesy on the surface, I gifted this to S a few years ago for is desk at work (to me, he really was my Prince out of a sea of toads). When his office went to a clean desk policy, I was pleasantly surprised to see this surface front and center on his desk at home. Best presented with a heartfelt card (Full disclosure, this thing is small, $68)

9. Terre Noire candle by MAD et LEN – black soil, petrified pine and aged oakwood ($110, but get 10% off your first purchase when you sign up for their emails)

10. House Blend Coffee from District Roasters – Notes of chocolate and hints of juniper. Roasted in Houston, TX. Bonus: pair it with a handmade mug ($16 for 12oz. bag)

11. Saint Rita Parlor Parfüm – Notes of Whiskey, tobacco, and rose. Saint Rita Parlor is based in Los Angeles, and they make interesting things (starting at $40)

12. Dark Chocolate Bourbon Bears by Sugarfina – Tried these at my local Sugarfina counter, and they’re positively yummy. If your SO (or you) is a vodka fan (S isn’t), their “Vodka is Always a Good Idea” set is adorable as well ($26)

13. Wild Man Grooming Kit – After Shave, Man Mist, Bod Butter, Soap ($60)

1. Jasmine Morganite Cluster Ring – For anyone who likes sparkle. Would even make a beautiful engagement ring ($290. Further customizations available on artist, Emi Conner’s website. But it won’t reach you in time for Valentine’s Day!)

2. Haffke Bronze With Rose Picture Frame – Just add meaningful photo, or an antique print ($103. Pricing due to quality of materials)

3. Tiffany’s Interlocking Circle Necklace – I have a soft spot for this, as S gifted this to me for our first Valentine’s Day! I was completely taken aback by such a thoughtful and beautiful gift. And I still wear it. Plus, who doesn’t love a little bit of Tiffany’s Blue? ($375)

4. Mothership IV Eyeshadow Palette from Pat McGrath Labs – If you or your girl are into makeup, you cannot do better than this limited edition palette. Full pale girl review coming early next week! ($125)

5. Colette Madam Gown by Eberjey – Just look at the beautiful lace back ($110)

6. PHI One Rose de Kandahar EdP by Tauer Perfumes – One of my favorite date night fragrances, and I’m not normally a fan of rose. Notes of apricot, cinnamon, bitter almond, bergamot, rose essential oil, Bulgarian rose absolute, Bourbon geranium, tobacco, patchouli, vetiver, vanilla, tonka, musk, ambergris ($160. Sample available here for $4)

7. Staub Cast-Iron Heart Cocottes, Set of 3 – Perfect for whipping up heart shaped desserts…or some gnocchi romana :X ($60)

8. La Naissance d’Aphrodite Triangle Bodysuit by ID Sarrieri – Something reddish pink and lacy ($676, but 20% off when you sign up for their emails. More budget friendly option here!)

9. Lace bralette by Anine Bing – Something black and lacy ($99)

10. UGG Addison Slippers – Also available in blush pink and silvery grey ($70)

11. Marshmallow Hearts from Williams-Sonoma – Gift with Cardamom Rose drinking chocolate and a delicate cup ($10 for the marshmallows; $20 for the drinking chocolate; $12 for the cup – currently on promotion for $10)

12. Pressed Shimmering Skin Perfecting Powder in Prismatic Amethyst by Becca – A unique lavender highlighter for an makeup lover ($38)

13. Rosy Velvet Pouch – cute clutch, or extremely luxurious pouch ($48)

Do you ever get so excited by a fragrance that you have to stop yourself from running out of the store with it because you need to slow down and pay for it first? I usually don’t purchase fragrances in this manner – having learned that lesson the hard way with Tom Ford’s Rive d’Ambre (citrus notes are hard for me). And so when I’m contemplating a fragrance purchase – I will pick up a sample, macerate in it, and mull it over for a few days.

To be fair, I did force myself to put the bottle back on the shelf, and while no sample was available, I spent the day smelling my Graphite imbued hand. I visited the fragrance (as well as candles from the line) a second and third time that week, before happily purchasing a full sized bottle of Graphite by MAD et LEN on my 3rd visit.

Worth mentioning first – Graphite (along with everything else in Mad et Len’s repertoire) is packaged beautifully. Each fragrance comes in a black cardboard box with a beautiful gilt label – a typography dream, and inside that box is a hand-forged black iron tin, with “MAD et LEN” emblazoned in gold. Inside of *that*, is the beautiful and weighty black fragrance bottle, which is packed tightly inside of the iron tin.

Graphite is a unisex EdP that features notes of paper, ink, pine, musk, camphor, and leather. I tend to gravitate towards smoky things – particularly in perfume and candles, and Graphite does not disappoint my smoke loving heart. It certainly conjures images of an artist, furiously sketching away on hand torn paper, raw graphite in hand and surrounded by old brick and metal. With the views of green rolling hills, and the sound of soft rain in the background. Maybe a glass of whiskey (or Madeira) and a lit clove cigarette nearby (that last bit is likely because on the days I was testing the fragrance prior to purchase, I was wearing Serge Lutens’s Chergui to begin with).

It is a fragrance that is potent and long lasting, but stays close to the skin. For me, the smoke and ink are quite strong, but it is surprisingly balanced with a sweet earthiness that I had no idea my nose was craving. I love this fragrance for me, and I admit that the combination with Serge Lutens’s Chergui is positively lethal (note that layering the two one on top of each other doesn’t work for me – but wearing them next to each other instead) – I don’t think S could resist me, even if he tried. That being said, I think the musky earthiness would be really enticing on my husband.

My excitement and overall love for this fragrance, really extends to the brand, MAD et LEN, as a whole. I anticipate blogging more about them, as I have a handful of MAD et LEN goodies en route to me.

Graphite by MAD et LEN can be purchased in full size online from Luckyscent and Kelly Wearstler in the U.S.; Orimono in Europe. Samples can be ordered from Luckyscent (when they have it in stock), or you may want to try Parfums Raffy (I’ve never personally ordered from here). Or, you might be able to find it locally from a cool shop in your town – in Houston, that would be Kuhl-Linscomb

I’m kind of a nail polish addict collector. I always have been, actually. By the time I was in middle school, I’d collected 100+ nail polish bottles. I ended up tossing them all in high school, thinking I was over it – but slowly started rebuilding it in college when I developed a Chanel nail polish habit (totally normal college behavior 🙄) 🤷🏻‍♀️.

All that to say – I’ve seen and owned a lot of polish, and I have to say – this one is a seriously special and gorgeous snowflake. It is a polish-o-holic’s dream!

The base is a beautiful emerald green, but even I question this because the oil slick effect is so strong that the base flat out changes to purple – with flashes of pink and orange when the light hits it just right. In its green state it flashes blue and purple. It’s quite incredible.

If the iridescence wasn’t special enough, it has a holographic shimmer. I normally shy away from holographic polishes (it just isn’t my thing), but here it is so subtle, it looks like stars in a night sky.

In these photos, I’m wearing 2 coats, but in a previous manicure had 3 coats. What’s fun about this is at 3 coats, it is dark and rich for Fall and Winter. But at 2 coats it was lighter in color, making it a great option for Spring (or even Summer).

Magical Mystery Machine is, at the time of this writing, available directly from Enchanted Polish here. If it happens to sell out, do not despair – the store is updated and restocked regularly.

See it in full technicolor action below: