5 Scented Ways to Put The World on Pause

“Take a pause,” says my mother when I complain about some specific problem or just the general stress that wears me down. She means inhaling deeply, tuning out all of the worries and giving myself a break. It’s a simple concept, and I like the image of the whole world around me freezing in mid-movement as I readjust myself and regain balance.  Scents often make my breaks more satisfying, even if they are nothing more than a pellet of aromatic resin or a few drops of floral water.

sandalwood chips

Sandalwood and Cashmere

If you want your garments to smell of roses and cream, tuck a few sandalwood chips in your closet; wool and other natural fabrics absorb the scents readily, and the fact that sandalwood repels moths is a bonus point. Picking up a sweater and inhaling its perfume jolts me out of my sleepy state in the morning as I select my outfit and it instantly puts me in a better mood. Since I’m cranky before my first cup of tea, anything that makes me more socially adjusted in the morning is worth its weight in gold.  Catching a delicate whiff of sandalwood throughout the day is such a comfort.

Sandalwood is used in many Hindu rituals, so you can find chips at Indian grocery stores. Online shops like Mountain Rose Herbs also carry a variety of sandalwoods, including the sustainable Australian variety. Another favorite wood for scenting my wardrobe is cedarwood. It has a sharp, bright scent, and it feels very uplifting.

Orange Blossom Scented Dreams

I’m a night owl and I’m much more productive after sundown. But if I keep too many late nights, sooner or later the fatigue shows up on my face and in my mood (hence, the cranky morning persona). To help myself relax, I follow the old Provencal custom of sprinkling the bed sheets with orange blossom water. It’s like falling asleep on a heap of white petals, and it usually does the trick.

If I want to relax and feel in a romantic mood, then I swap orange blossom for jasmine. To make my own jasmine water, I mix 3 drops of jasmine essence (absolute) in 2 Tablespoons of perfumer’s alcohol (vodka will do in a pinch) and then dilute this tincture with half a cup of distilled water. You can increase the proportion of oil, depending on how strong you want your water to smell. But do keep in mind that jasmine essence can stain light fabrics.

incense-burner

Frankincense Tears

My incense box is a little treasure trove of scented gums, sticks and pellets. Different types of incense suit my different moods, but I use pure frankincense in my quests for serenity. Raw frankincense tears–as the droplets of resin are called–smell like ground black pepper and lemon peels, but when you burn them, they turn darker, heavier, spicier. The tears will smolder gently and produce fragrant arabesques of smoke.

Oil Therapy

I blame my love for body oils on French magazines. Just about every issue has a feature on how sensual it feels to apply oil and how good they are for your skin. Now I have a battery of different natural oils that have joined Nuxe’s Huile Prodigieuse in my bathroom cabinet. Coconut oil makes hair smooth and shiny, argan oil gently removes eye makeup, while jojoba soothes and moisturizes skin.

The most versatile oil in my beauty kit is almond. It has a mild nutty scent and light texture. I usually just rub it into my skin after an evening shower, but it can also be mixed with rosewater for a body lotion or with sugar for a scrub. I also steep a piece of vanilla bean in almond oil to give it a creamy, sweet nuance.

Another tip for using almond oil comes from a makeup artist friend who swears by it as a natural-looking highlighter. You need barely a drop of oil for this. Tap the oil on lightly with your fingertips on top of cheekbones and then dust with loose powder to achieve a lit from within glow.

pillow-book

The Pillow Book

You can almost smell incense, iris petals and damp silks when reading Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book. Beautiful prose is the best way to tune out the routine and step into another universe. Sei Shonagon lived in Japan in the 11th century, and she left behind a compilation of observations, anecdotes and famous lists in the form of The Pillow Book. As I mentioned in my post about her, Things That Makes One’s Heart Beat Faster, she is a delight:

“It’s the middle of a fiercely hot day, and you’re finding it impossible to stay cool — your fan only moves the warm air about, and you keep dipping your hands in ice water and moaning about the heat. And then someone brings you a message written on brilliant red thin paper, attached to a flowering Chinese carnation, also bright crimson — and you sense how hot he must have felt as he wrote it, and how much you must mean to him, and find yourself unconsciously laying down the fan (that was anyway proving so useless even when plied while the other hand soaked in ice water), your complaints suddenly forgotten” (translation by Meredith Mckinney).

What are your tips to take a break and relax?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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186 Comments

  • Patricia: I recently received Diptyque’s Figuier candle as a gift and have found its warm, creamy, coconutty scent extremely comforting. A cup of tea and a good book complete the mood of serenity and relaxation. January 9, 2014 at 7:31am Reply

    • Victoria: Tea, book, perfume is my idea of a perfect break too. :) January 9, 2014 at 12:16pm Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: – Eucalyptus essential oil (it’s supposed to be a stimulant but I find it strangely relaxing)
    – A cup of tea or coffee
    – A piece of dark chocolate
    – Stretching and self-massage with tennis balls
    – Listening to music (3rd movement of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2, 2nd movement of Ravel’s piano concerto in G Major, Morten Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium to name a few relaxing and comforting pieces) and playing the piano
    – Cuddling an animal or soft toys
    – Watching animals – birds, squirrels etc.
    – Taking a walk
    – Go to a sauna with Aufguss January 9, 2014 at 7:51am Reply

    • zari: Anne, I would love to know more recommendations of such pieces. I am listening to Ravel’s right now :) January 9, 2014 at 9:52am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Hi zari, did you listen to the one played by Martha Argerich? I can go on and on but these are some more suggestions. Enjoy!
        – Allegri’s Miserere
        – Bach’s Air on the G string
        – Faure’s In Paradisum from Requiem
        – Ravel’s Pavane pour une Infante Defunte
        – Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana (intermezzo)
        – Chopin’s Piano Concerto No 1 (2nd movement)
        – Debussy’s Arabesque I (I love playing this on the piano)
        – Massenet’s Meditation from Thais
        – Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque January 9, 2014 at 10:51am Reply

        • Theresa: I’d like to add to this list the piano trios by Ravel and Chausson. (you can find recordings of them online on Instant Encore) There are some days when my work is so stressful that I listen to them several times in a row! And in general, any chamber music, esp string quartets, are good relaxers for me. January 9, 2014 at 7:37pm Reply

          • Solanace: And I’m writing everything down. :) Thank’s! January 10, 2014 at 2:26am Reply

    • Lynley: Anne, there’s a scientific study if various essential oils used on mice (it’s on the net if you’re interested), with jasmine being the biggest anti-depressant and eucalyptus being by far the biggest depressant. January 9, 2014 at 10:54am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Thanks for this interesting info, Lynley. I found the article and read it. January 9, 2014 at 2:49pm Reply

    • Victoria: The Pillow Book worthy list, Anne! :) By the way, we have tennis balls all over the apartment, because I usually work sitting at a low coffee table, and they are so great to roll under the calf. It’s my favorite ballet trick to release tension from the muscles, especially after a workout. When my mom’s cats used to come over, they loved chasing the balls around the house. Very cute. January 9, 2014 at 12:23pm Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: I have spine problems and frequently get muscleaches and cramps so tennis balls are really useful. I sometimes spend more than an hour massaging myself before going to bed. I love when I find trigger points and feel that nice kind of pain. I also use golf balls to massage my feet. I’m considering getting a foam roller as it can be used to massage much larger areas. I sometimes wish I could detach my arms to give myself an oil massage on my back! :-) Oh, another essential item for me is a microwavable heat pad. January 9, 2014 at 2:06pm Reply

        • Victoria: A foam roller would be great! I’m not sure what kind of back pain you have, but for my husband it helped tremendously to stop sitting quite as much. At one point, we ate at a low table Indian style, and it alleviated the tension in his back a lot. We haven’t been doing so recently, but I noticed that when I work at home, I gravitate to the low table. January 9, 2014 at 2:18pm Reply

          • Anne of Green Gables: I have several problems (I had to take two months off from work last year to get treatments and rest) but the worst parts are tense shoulders, neck and upper back. I tend to raise my shoulders when I’m stressed so I need to remember to take breaks to stretch and massage them throughout the day. I also found that sitting on a gym ball helps. January 10, 2014 at 8:13am Reply

            • Victoria: I so feel for you! It’s such a pesky problem. If you feel your shoulders tensing up, smile widely. That’s what my dance coach always said. It’s very hard to smile with tense shoulders. Just try it to see what I mean. :) January 10, 2014 at 8:21am Reply

              • Anne of Green Gables: I’ve tried and it works! Thanks for the great tip, V. January 13, 2014 at 7:30am Reply

        • Melissa: Foam rollers are magic, especially if you dig that hurts-so-good massage feeling. January 9, 2014 at 3:20pm Reply

          • Elena: Yes! We have one, and I am almost salivating at the thought of using it right now. It’s been a few weeks, I kind of forgot about it. I have to be careful using it at the gym with my headphones on, though, I think I tend to make wildly inappropriate moans and groans! ;) January 9, 2014 at 7:06pm Reply

            • Anne of Green Gables: I also make inappropriate moans and groans but only at home! ;-) January 10, 2014 at 8:09am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Relaxing is not always easy, but thank Heavens there are remedies. Music is one of the best. You need some courage? take Beethoven (the Eroica, the 3th pianoconcerto, Fidelio…). Soothing music? Mozarts KV 488 No.23 pianoconcerto. And when I have really enough of the whole world, I take potatochips, whisky, Miles Davis or Keith Jarris, a cigar or a cigaret and a thriller.
    Migraine I can sing away with J.S. Bach songs, recitatives (from the Matthäus Passion) and aria’s.
    Also a cat is very helpful.
    Or a drop of Hypnotic Poison, Casmir or Un Bois Vanille.
    In the morning, I am nobody without coffee and a spritz of something rosy, this time Cartier de Lune.
    The most poetical book I can think of is the Odyssey.
    Very funny post, Victoria! thank you. January 9, 2014 at 8:00am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: p.s. For an extra boost of energy, I need Verdi, esp. Nabucco, Il Trovatore, Un Ballo in Maschera! January 9, 2014 at 8:30am Reply

      • Victoria: My husband also thinks that Verdi’s music is uplifting. January 9, 2014 at 12:30pm Reply

    • Solanace: I love your list! January 9, 2014 at 11:55am Reply

    • Victoria: What a great list! I’m writing down some of your musical recommendations, the ones I’m not familiar with, to listen to later. January 9, 2014 at 12:27pm Reply

    • behemot: I second Mozart 23 Piano Concerto. The 21 is also very relaxing to me and my cats. By the way, I am trying to learn from them their relaxation techniques, but it is not easy :)
      Also, they can fall asleep so easily and they are awake in a wink. No need for coffee or tee, as opposed to me. January 9, 2014 at 10:12pm Reply

      • Victoria: I did take a note from Viola to stretch well before jumping out of bed. :) January 10, 2014 at 8:07am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Keith Jarrett is the name! He is great, isn’t he, Maja! January 10, 2014 at 7:05am Reply

      • Mel: Yes, I frequently tune out to the Koln Concert January 13, 2014 at 11:09pm Reply

  • Lucas: These are some great ideas for a relaxing time. I especially like the idea of scenting clothes in the wardrobe. Where can I buy the sandalwood chips? Shall I look for some India store, apothecary?

    My favourite ways of relaxing after a long day is to listen to smooth jazz music in a dark room with just a few tealight candles lit (I add essential oils to the molten wax) or with an incense stick burning – I find sandalwood cinnamon and sandalwood rose incense sticks to have calming properties on me. January 9, 2014 at 8:13am Reply

    • Victoria: Perhaps, an apothecary in Poland might have it? Online is another option, and I’ve seen it at various shops on amazon.co.uk and amazon.de. They seem to ship internationally. January 9, 2014 at 12:29pm Reply

      • Lucas: I will have a look at the apothecary in my hometown when I’m nearby. They sell different herbs, ready mixes for teas, lavender in bags. They might have sandalwood chips as well :) January 9, 2014 at 12:52pm Reply

        • Victoria: I even saw it at the herbal shops in Brussels, so I assume that it might have some medicinal usages. In the past, red sandalwood was used to give color to gingerbread. January 9, 2014 at 1:58pm Reply

        • behemot: Lucas, maybe some Indian shops in Poznan will have them. I have seen sandalwood chips in such store in Krakow :) January 9, 2014 at 10:14pm Reply

  • Annunziata: For me, one of the most steadying and comforting things is having a clean house that is nicely scented. I vary this all the time, but especially like Kobo’s Olive Blossom and Eucalyptus candles. I hadn’t thought of sandalwood chips. I am concerned about the environmental impact, so will look for Australian sandalwood. January 9, 2014 at 8:32am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried Kobo’s candles yet, but the line sounds very interesting.

      Yes, I would definitely urge the use of Australian sandalwood for the ethical reasons, and there is a new company called TFS that grows Indian variety of sandalwood in Australia. There are also sources of sustainable Indian sandalwood that some fragrance companies use, but I haven’t found a reliable source online. January 9, 2014 at 12:39pm Reply

  • Zazie: I’m not very good at getting the most from a short break… I’m usually left with the desire to further ignore the issues I’m “breaking from”, than to confront them!!!

    That said, the most effective quick calming ritual for me is to take a sniff of a favorite fragrance from my wrists: it works in every stressful situation!

    If I have enough time ahead to relax, everything changes: I’m a pro at that.
    My favorite tools: sneakers (for a fast paced walk), a window (to overlook passers by or watch the trees), cozy lighting, a burning candle (waves to patricia for Dyptique’s figuer!), Decleor’s baume rose d’orient for a self facial massage, fun make up, a good book, baking tools for audacious culinary experiments…
    You guess – I also relax by reading about perfume, so I’m very grateful for perfume bloggers!!! ;) January 9, 2014 at 8:34am Reply

    • Victoria: I admit that it took me some time to learn how to relax. I’m a type A personality, so taking it easy and kicking back doesn’t come naturally to me. But I’ve also learned working in a high stress and high pressure environment that not taking breaks can be very bad, so I’ve developed some strategies that work.

      You’re completely right. Sometimes it’s as easy as taking a whiff of your perfume and breathing deeply, which is why fragrance is an essential luxury for me. January 9, 2014 at 12:43pm Reply

    • Figuier: I love these kinds of lists! Looking out the window at trees and passers-by is one of the things that helps me relax also – and luckily at the moment our apartment has views of both.

      Each of the other senses offer relaxing possibilities too. Cello music – esp Bach – is a favourite, plus I second Verdi, which is v uplifting. Alternatively some old-skool energy – Beastie Boys or similar is great for working off tension…

      Reading is what I do for work, and although I read for pleasure all the time, I don’t read to relax, if that makes sense. To switch the brain off I need to arrest the critical/analytical instinct. Writing down my thoughts, however, especially by hand, is often very destressing, because it slows down my frenetic thought processes.

      Tea – Earl Grey, or maybe a nice licorice & peppermint, is the taste relaxant. And I concur with that research on jasmine as the ultimate calming scent; Nuda or Songes do wonders. January 9, 2014 at 6:04pm Reply

      • Figuier: I should say that being by the sea beats all of these, but I live far inland at the moment so it’s not really practical :( January 9, 2014 at 6:06pm Reply

        • Zazie: Oh, writing down your thoughts by hand is such a wonderful idea. You inspired me to do so again: I used to write a lot (on tiny black moleskines), but then almost forgot about it, and how soothing it is, to take the time to unravel a feeling on paper! :) January 10, 2014 at 3:26am Reply

          • Victoria: Sei Shonagon would agree:
            “If writing did not exist, what dark depressions would come over one! When one has been worrying about something and wants to tell a certain person about it, what a relief it is to put it all down in writing!” January 10, 2014 at 8:19am Reply

            • Figuier: That’s exactly it! And put so beautifully :) January 11, 2014 at 5:25am Reply

      • Victoria: So many beautiful things on your list and so inspiring. Bach’s Cell Suites must be my absolute favorite piece of music, if I were forced to chose just one. I love Pablo Casals’s interpretation, and I even don’t mind the slight static on the old recording I have. It adds to the baroque aura of the pieces. January 10, 2014 at 8:18am Reply

  • Ferris: These are such great tips Victoria! I need to start using them. January 9, 2014 at 9:13am Reply

    • Victoria: Hope that you’ll like them! :) January 9, 2014 at 12:44pm Reply

  • Gil: Love this article, I completely agree that moments of fragrance-induced calm are what makes life bearable. I’ve heard many people talk about incense, but I’ve never been sure what kind to get, if it needs anything (like wax melts need a heater), and if there’s different types. Any tips? January 9, 2014 at 9:14am Reply

    • Victoria: There are lots of different types of incense, from natural resins like frankincense to blends of various woods, resins and spices. It depends on what kind of scents you like. Most incense sticks don’t need anything but a little holder to keep them upright. You light them up, blow out the flame and let them smolder.

      Frankincense needs a piece of charcoal, which is sold at most incense shops and Middle Eastern grocery stores. You’ll have to light the charcoal and let it get hot (I use a lighter), and then you add frankincense on top. An incense burner with a lid like the one I have in the photo is very handy for this. January 9, 2014 at 12:48pm Reply

      • Gil: Thanks so much for the advice! January 9, 2014 at 3:15pm Reply

  • Allison C.: A cup of oolong tea and reading some poetry, usually Mary Oliver. Or I put on some Brazilian samba music from the 1960s and let it take me away! January 9, 2014 at 9:39am Reply

    • Solanace: Brazilian samba music from the sixties (and before) is always a good remedy, for just about anything! January 9, 2014 at 11:58am Reply

    • Victoria: The very idea of samba puts me a good mood! :) January 9, 2014 at 12:49pm Reply

      • Solanace: Then, google Elizeth Cardoso e Jacob do Bandolim. To make your heart beat faster. :) January 10, 2014 at 2:34am Reply

        • Victoria: I found this one as well–Barracão de Zinco, and how beautiful is her voice! January 10, 2014 at 8:09am Reply

          • Solanace: Jacob do Bandolim is actually a musician who played with her – and Zimbo Trio is the band. Barracao de Zinco is one of their greatest hits together, but really, everything recorded by Elizeth is good! January 10, 2014 at 11:13am Reply

            • Victoria: I’ll have to get a proper recording, because her voice deserves something better than the audio settings of my laptop. :) January 10, 2014 at 12:15pm Reply

              • Solanace: It’ worth it. :) If you can find one of her two live albums with Zimbo Trio and Jacob do Bandolim, they are REALLY GOOD, but I still prefer the album called Elizete Sobe o Morro, the happiest thing ever recorded. And you can check one of the funniest Brazilian carnival songs ever made at you tube, Eu Bebo Sim, which goes like “there are those who won’t drink a glass but are in terrible health, which proves booze is not harmful”. Super strong arguments! :) January 11, 2014 at 3:52am Reply

                • Victoria: :) Sounds very much like the Russian philosophy on drinking. January 12, 2014 at 4:56am Reply

  • Aisha: I want to crawl back in to bed now after reading this. All your tips sound so cozy. :-)

    This may sound a little strange, but to relax, I take a walk down scent-memory lane by sniffing all my perfumes. I may even put a dab on, even if it’s my bedtime. It’s my version of aromatherapy. ;-)

    During the day, I often turn to scented candles, tea/coffee and silence. I turn off the computer/TV, close the iPad, and mute the smart phone. And then I just close my eyes and listen to the wind outside. Sometimes, if I’m really relaxed, the wind starts to sound like ocean waves crashing against the shoreline not too far my parents’ home in Hawaii. :-D January 9, 2014 at 9:41am Reply

    • Victoria: And I feel this way reading the comments here. Today is such a wretched grey and windy day that I didn’t even feel like getting up. It was just as dark at 10 am as it is now, at 7pm.

      Your tip to turn the mute function on the phone is very good. :) And no, it doesn’t sound strange to me that you’ll find comfort in favorite perfumes. A pleasant, familiar scent is like a warm hug. January 9, 2014 at 12:52pm Reply

      • behemot: We have the same weather in Seattle today. Brr January 9, 2014 at 10:16pm Reply

        • Victoria: Hope that it will improve! Today we go treated with some sunshine for a change. January 10, 2014 at 8:08am Reply

  • Hannah: I’m terrible at relaxing. When I take a break, I usually rework my budget or plan things.

    I used cedar chips at home. Cedar isn’t quite sandalwood, but still nice!
    I also like to eat foods with rosewater and saffron. Rosewater in yogurt and warm milk with honey and saffron are nice and easy.
    Like Zazie, I like to sniff my wrists to give myself a little break, when I’m not using the calculator function on my cellphone. January 9, 2014 at 9:43am Reply

    • Victoria: Cedarwood is another favorite! I use cedarwood chips too, or else I use big cedarwood blocks that I refresh time to time with cedarwood essential oil.

      I don’t remember in what culture saffron is considered the smell of happiness, but it makes such perfect sense to me. January 9, 2014 at 12:53pm Reply

      • Hannah: Persian? Nothing makes me happier than having a stomach full of shirin polo. January 9, 2014 at 4:10pm Reply

        • Victoria: Probably!
          If you like Persian food, I can’t recommend this book highly enough: Saraban by Greg and Lucy Malouf. It has great recipes, beautiful photos, and the text is well-written too. I rarely read cookbooks like novels (ie, cover to cover), but I did it with this one. January 10, 2014 at 7:46am Reply

          • Hannah: I’ve only had Persian food from one restaurant, in the DC metro area, but I think it is probably my favorite cuisine because I love rice, flat breads, and yogurt and I love saffron, rose, dill, pomegranates, almonds, pistachios.
            At this restaurant I always get shirin polo or baghali polo. My family members don’t know about how special the crust is, so I usually eat their crusts too.
            I’ll check out the book. January 10, 2014 at 4:37pm Reply

            • Victoria: Yum! The crust is the best part for sure. :) January 12, 2014 at 4:47am Reply

          • Lynley: I love their books I have all of them! They even helped in my decision to go to Turkey for a month last May and I totally fell in live with the place. The food was just one of it’s treasures January 12, 2014 at 9:59am Reply

            • Hannah: Oh, he’s of Lebanese descent. I eat at Lebanese restaurants about 3 times per week. I might buy Saha. January 12, 2014 at 11:52am Reply

            • Victoria: They’re such a fantastic due, and I have all of their books. I read Turquoise just as I returned from Turkey and I was pleased to discover many foods in his book that I’ve enjoyed in Istanbul. Some of the recipes have Malouf’s own twist, but the flavors are very authentic. January 12, 2014 at 12:21pm Reply

  • zari: Really great post Victoria! I know of some Indian grocery stores nearby and will find the sandalwood chips for my closet!

    Do you think I can find frankincense there as well or if not where? I have only found it online, but I can’t tell quality this way, and right now I only have it in oil form. January 9, 2014 at 9:55am Reply

    • Victoria: If you can’t find sandalwood at the Indian stores or if you aren’t sure of its provenance (check for the Indian government seal of authenticity on the package; in most cases, it would be from the regulated plantations), another great sandalwood option is the Mysore sandalwood soap. It’s an Indian brand, and while I don’t know if it’s really made with sandalwood, it smells very good. A bar of soap is enough to perfume my closet for a few months. And it’s also inexpensive.

      Indian stores should have frankincense too. Hem brand is pretty good if you want frankincense mixed with other ingredients in a stick form. It should be called “frankincense.” It’s not as heavy and sweet as most Indian incenses. January 9, 2014 at 12:58pm Reply

      • zari: Thank you, Victoria. You are wonderful! I will keep these points in mind while I shop. January 9, 2014 at 1:53pm Reply

        • Victoria: Happy to help! I’m a big fan of navigating the ethnic grocery stores, and the Indian ones are full of fascinating things. January 9, 2014 at 2:15pm Reply

  • george: Watching Midori Ito jump!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvgWI8QDrzQ
    Listening to A Sky of Honey by Kate Bush
    Mozart slow movements
    Boisdejasmin’s daily blog
    A bath and a shave
    and I must start swimming again! January 9, 2014 at 9:58am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Boisdejasmin daily blog…of course! You speak in the name of all of us, good point, George! January 9, 2014 at 12:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, George! :)
      Wow, Midori Ito is an amazing skater. What a perfect jump at 0:41!

      Getting back into swimming has been on my to do list for 2014. January 9, 2014 at 1:01pm Reply

  • Merlin: I got a bad scar from an accident about 25 years ago and my dad gave me this oil for it (I’ not sure then, or some years later). Its called Bio-Oil. I probably didn’t use it very regularly because last year I found I still had about had of the bottle at the back of my cupboard. Anyway, I’m now more interested in body-care products than I was as a teenager and I have many creams and lotions. But, having recently re-discovered this, I actually prefer it to all the creams, etc. It really quick and easy to use and has a light pleasant enough rose scent. Sometimes I add lavender essential oil to it for an extra relaxing effect:)

    And then I spritz on some Caron’s Pour un Homme! January 9, 2014 at 11:06am Reply

    • Victoria: Did the oil work to reduce the scar mark? A Spanish friend told me that almond oil is good for scars, but I don’t know if there is any scientific basis to it. Either way, your rose scented oil sounds like a wonderful skin treatment. January 9, 2014 at 1:41pm Reply

      • Merlin: The scar is way better – it was a very wide keloid running from my shoulder to elbow. But there is no way of knowing how much the oil helped, and how much it is merely the work of time that has made the difference! The website for Bio oil does have links to various studies which purport to show its effectiveness. Since I’m not very good at analyzing whether such studies are reliable or not I didn’t actually look at them…

        If you go to the link ‘accolades’, it seems it has also won a gazillion awards.

        http://www.bio-oil.com/en-us January 9, 2014 at 2:35pm Reply

        • Solanace: My cousin had a bad car accident when she was a teen, and she took care of her scars with rose hip oil. It really worked. January 10, 2014 at 2:37am Reply

        • Victoria: My husband is prone to getting scars, so I’ll look into it. Glad to hear that whatever the reason, yours is fading. There must be some reason why many oils and plant essences are used in folk medicine to treat scars and stretch marks. January 10, 2014 at 7:40am Reply

          • Anne of Green Gables: Has your husband ever used gel called Contractubex from Merz? You can treat old scars with it and it works even better for fresh scars. January 10, 2014 at 8:06am Reply

            • Victoria: I don’t think so, but I’ll check it out. His old scars are probably beyond cure, but it’s a good idea to keep something like this in the first aid kit. January 10, 2014 at 8:14am Reply

            • Solanace: I used contractubex my C section scar. It worked really well and seems to be pretty safe, since it is recommended to nursing women. January 10, 2014 at 11:17am Reply

        • Merlin: I just looked up bio-oil on make-up alley and it does not do very well. In fact some claim it is primarily ‘mineral oil’.

          Just thought I would add this so I don’t mislead anyone! I have not used other body oils so cannot really compare. January 13, 2014 at 5:52pm Reply

          • Victoria: Thank you for the clarification! Good to know in case someone wants to avoid mineral oil completely. January 14, 2014 at 7:52am Reply

  • Amer: Handel and Frankincense get me through the tough times.
    The first I listen on youtube at work and people think I’ve gone mad, especially when they listen to the arias only to see it is Andrea Scholl singing. This habit earned me more than its fair share of weird looks.
    The second I used to keep in form of tears in a wooden box. The aroma escapes and adds a subtle nuance in the office air. When things were tough I used to sniff directly from the box like an addict. I never burned it. Now the box has been replaced by a vial of CO2 extract. Easier to carry around. For me the scent of pure frankincense works better than tea and coffee and by helping me focus it helps me overcome anxiety… hope it makes sense to you January 9, 2014 at 11:31am Reply

    • Amer: I meant to ask you… Jasmine EO? Is there such a thing or do you mean the absolute? January 9, 2014 at 11:36am Reply

      • Victoria: Oh, you’re right, by essence I mean the absolute, since you can’t really obtain EO from jasmine. January 9, 2014 at 1:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: Makes perfect sense! No wonder frankincense has been used in various worship rituals since antiquity, and it has a reputation for increasing concentration as well as relaxing. Such an interesting scent.

      Handel and frankincense seems like a very natural pairing to me! :) January 9, 2014 at 1:42pm Reply

  • Ariadne: GOOD post for the New Year! For stress relief and “re-grouping” my wits in the middle of each work day I take five minutes to re-apply my lipstick, dab some perf. on my wrists, and brush my hair. I don’t care if anyone sees me doing this. It is the kind of moment that most folks defer whatever they came to ask me for to another time. Those that do linger have to make their request while I continue brushing my hair. Too Diva? Oh well! January 9, 2014 at 11:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Not at all! It’s essential for one’s well-being to take out at least a couple of minutes for a little pause. The busier I get, the more essential such breaks become to stay productive. January 9, 2014 at 1:45pm Reply

  • Alice Dattee: Smelling Lavender oil and singing a song I love January 9, 2014 at 11:59am Reply

    • Victoria: The very idea is lovely. My mom often sings to herself. I enjoy it too, especially if a tune is stuck in my head, but since my singing is terrible, I don’t impose it on others. :) January 9, 2014 at 1:47pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Now you make me curious! Everybody can sing.
        What do you mean by terrible? Do you sinf false notes? Or is it the sound of your voice, your timbre? Do you have a high or a low voice? I cannot believe your voice is so bad. January 9, 2014 at 3:58pm Reply

        • Victoria: My voice is probably ok, if nothing special, but I don’t sing well. Just not a talent I have. January 10, 2014 at 7:48am Reply

  • Solanace: Working on my fragrant garden. Smooth aerobic activities are also great: swimming, riding a bicycle (unfortunately impossible where I now live) or just walking in the city. I also love teaching, interacting with the students really lifts my mood, always. And taking part of the wonderful perfume community! January 9, 2014 at 12:19pm Reply

    • Solanace: Of course, I see teaching as a break from taking care of the toddler and the boy, a much more physically exhausting activity! January 9, 2014 at 1:47pm Reply

      • Victoria: They must keep you busy and on your toes! :) January 9, 2014 at 2:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: So many enjoyable things! Whenever you mention your fragrant garden, I keep visualizing this painting from Van Gogh in mind:
      January 9, 2014 at 1:53pm Reply

      • Solanace: Thank you, Victoria! This is beyond sweet. :) I’m happy to provide shelter to the bees (at least 3 different species!) and birds, and I really enjoy smelling a fragrant rose, honeysuckle or lemon blossom. You know, I had a Van Gogh poster depicting a garden in my living room back when I was a student, the one with a baby learning to walk. You just made me realize how much that image influenced me! January 9, 2014 at 4:52pm Reply

        • Victoria: I met a professor of Japanese language at a market in NYC who has a few hives. That’s his hobby, and I thought that it was pretty cool. :) January 10, 2014 at 7:56am Reply

          • Solanace: This is very cool indeed! Stingless native bees have made hives in the garden, and regular ones visit, along with (huge) wasps and butterflies, since there are so many fragrant flowers. But apart from avoid poisoning the plants, I do nothing for the bees, and can’t even imagine how to collect the honey! January 10, 2014 at 11:21am Reply

            • Victoria: You’re already doing enough! According to a BBC documentary I watched recently, part of the bee problem is that the agriculture favors monocultures and many plants bees feed on are getting less and less acreage. January 10, 2014 at 12:16pm Reply

              • Solanace: Oh, don’t get me started… now it is virtually impossible to find non-transgenic corn here. :( January 11, 2014 at 3:54am Reply

                • Victoria: I know, that topic depressed me too. January 12, 2014 at 4:57am Reply

      • mysterious_scent: And Renoir
        [img]http://im.ft-static.com/content/images/594a1c0a-a104-11df-badd-00144feabdc0.img9[/img] January 13, 2014 at 8:45am Reply

        • Victoria: I would love to step inside that painting! January 13, 2014 at 12:00pm Reply

  • Mough: Being a compulsive neurotic with panic-attack proclivities, I have a lot of tools in my kit box.

    1) Listening to any choral music by Victoria (The Spanish composer from 1600s–not our lovely perfumista, but, hey, I’d love to hear Victoria sing!!)

    2) Driving on icy roads makes me nervous. Before I start the car, I spritz an oldie but goodie, like Courant from Helena Rubenstein, onto my heating vents and the hot blast of a nostalgic chypre calms me and makes the truck smell fantastic. PLUS, I use cheap bottles I find at antique stores for 2 dollars.
    3) I do Yin Yoga each night before bed. A half hour. Gentle poses held for 3 minutes or so.
    4) I buy Epsom salts by the gallon. I pour some into a pretty glass decanter, then add a few drops of ylang ylang or Youth Dew, or any good natural oil, and use that as a bath additive. The magnesium is great for relaxation.
    5) I also listen to Holosync’s cd’s which are supposed to stimulate both sides of the brain into a more congruent state. Works every time!
    6) I spray my favorite perfume directly onto a standing fan in my room, turn it on, and let the scent fill my bedroom.
    7) I bought THE best stuffed bear from Plow and Hearth. It’s for kids, but it’s the perfect size and soft and cuddly. I use it to sleep with, putting his soft torso between my knees to help with back issues. I then sometimes spritz him as well. They’re floppy and weighted, a good combo. You have to check it out if you’re into rediscovering your Inner Child! January 9, 2014 at 12:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: I so enjoyed all of these tips, from a perfumed teddy bear to a scented fan. But oh no, trust me, you don’t want to hear me sing! :) I’ll offer my mom to you or my aunt, both of whom are excellent singers. My aunt even sings in a local choir. January 9, 2014 at 1:55pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Mough neurotic?! Methinks you are a sturdy horse riding woman, an amazone! January 9, 2014 at 4:03pm Reply

        • Victoria: I see Mough this way too! :) January 10, 2014 at 7:45am Reply

    • Merlin: Mough, having an anxiety disorder I can relate! I have to be careful with perfumes because some of them – even ones I like – can trigger anxiety, or exacerbate it. Most don’t make a difference but there are a couple that can help, also.

      I haven’t listened to Holosync but there is a youtube video of Aaron Henshaw’s Deep Relaxation music and I find it much easier to concentrate while its playing.

      Also, I read something interesting in this book called ‘Drop Dead Healthy': apparently massaging your own shoulders for a few minutes each day can lower cortisol levels in the blood. I don’t actually do this (though perhaps I should!) but I do find it soothing to apply body creams or oil, or even – though less so – put hand cream on. January 9, 2014 at 2:59pm Reply

      • Mough: Thanks! Will try! I also read that squeezing and releasing of the hands will lower blood pressure, somehow stimulating blood circulation, ERGO, giving massages might also be a double whammy of giving and getting benefits! January 9, 2014 at 7:20pm Reply

      • Solanace: Hi Merlin,

        I’ve recently had such an experience with Dune. On the other hand, Shalimar is always soothing! January 10, 2014 at 6:45am Reply

        • Merlin: Solance, thats interesting because Dune is one of the perfumes I like but which has a negative effect on mood/anxiety (for me). Actually, I had assumed that that was because I wore Dune as a teenager – it was the first perfume I chose for myself! Now, years later, I can appreciate it in a whole other way – but cannot wear it! January 10, 2014 at 7:05pm Reply

          • Solanace: I wore it as a (very anxious) teen as well, but I think it has more to do with the fume’s structure itself. And Chergui is like an old dog, he? January 11, 2014 at 3:56am Reply

            • Merlin: lol, I assume people will be sick of hearing me mention my favorite old dog – but yes, it is!

              Another which is very good – is Caron’s Pour un Homme:)

              Ones I find a bit unnerving are Citizen Queen and Portrait of a Rose – both of which I adore – but again, sadly cannot wear. January 11, 2014 at 10:40am Reply

              • Merlin: lol! I mean Portrait of a Lady… January 11, 2014 at 10:42am Reply

                • Victoria: Nah, Portrait of a Rose is more spot on! :) January 11, 2014 at 10:47am Reply

                  • Merlin: :)! January 11, 2014 at 11:55am Reply

    • Solanace: I have panic attacks too, which got better after I had kids, but still happen. Thank’s for sharing your tips for coping with them! January 10, 2014 at 6:43am Reply

  • Annette Reynolds: Another lovely post, Victoria. Question: do you make the orange blossom water the same way you make the jasmine water? Or is orange blossom water something one can buy? January 9, 2014 at 12:46pm Reply

  • Laurie Erickson: Love this post! “Take a pause” is good to remember. Lots of wonderful ideas here. January 9, 2014 at 12:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Laurie. I’m enjoying the comments so much, and I’m learning many other great techniques to relax. January 9, 2014 at 1:59pm Reply

  • Alicia: It’s freezing outside. I am thinking of Spring. Thus I am wearing vintage Diorissimo, listening to Mozart and reading Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso.
    Great article, Victoria. I’ll put it to use. January 9, 2014 at 12:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’ve created your own spring, Alicia! Which Mozart piece are you listening to? January 9, 2014 at 2:01pm Reply

      • Alicia: Piano Concerto #24 in C

        In Winter, when I think of Spring, Diorissimo creates the ilusion like few other things can (perhaps bunches of forced daffodils and hyacinths, and fraises du bois with heavy cream). January 9, 2014 at 9:24pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you! I’ll add it to my musical list, since I’m developing a new appreciation for Mozart. I have always liked Bach, Baroque and Romantic music much more, and while I could admire Mozart, I never felt a strong affinity for his music. It’s starting to change little by little. January 10, 2014 at 8:07am Reply

  • iodine: Beautiful post and nice suggestions from everybody!
    My idea of relax is tightly linked with the scent of pine tees, lately- candles (I own a Christmas Diptyque- Sapin Doré- and a cheap but effective Muji one) or some delicious German bath salts I buy in Switzerland can quickly recreate a forest in my house! Otherwise, especially in milder weather, I try to do the same with marine scents- here again, candles (Lostmarc’h Bae- very fishy!- and Méditeranée by La Compagnie de Provence) and seaweed bath salts do the trick!
    And, like you, I love opening my wardrobe and being invested by a deep, mysterious scent that then lingers on my clothes- I use patchouli oil on cedarwood chips and the effect is like I’m entering an exotic temple.. :-) January 9, 2014 at 1:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: I feel the same way. There is something so calming about scent of pine trees, and I’m going to look for the Muji candle too. Every holiday season I get requests for something that smells like Christmas tree, and I’ve tried several things, but so far Annick Goutal Noel and Diptyque’s Sapin Dore are the closest ones for me. January 9, 2014 at 2:05pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: We have pine trees in Artis, our Amsterdam Zoo, and I love to walk there with my Fille en Aiguilles. January 9, 2014 at 4:06pm Reply

        • Victoria: I haven’t been to a zoo in ages, because I often find them sad, but I heard from my Dutch friends that Amsterdam Zoo is much better than most. January 10, 2014 at 7:45am Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: Amsterdam Zoo is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands, and some animals are not very comfortably housed..most of all the Amour panther. But they do what they can to ameliorete. The crocodiles have deep water now and the jaguars and the elephants will have more space in the future. Artis is sad in some aspects, but I have an abonnement: the trees, the plants, the flowers, the Planetarium, all amazing. And with the money they can take more care of the animals, according to modern insights. January 10, 2014 at 10:06am Reply

            • Victoria: I really would love to visit the Planetarium, so I might make a trip there next time. January 10, 2014 at 12:12pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: All great tips and a similar thread of fragrance, good music (all compositions of sorts). Weather permitting — a long “aimless” walk with no destination in mind — open to the possibilities of all that may await and emptying my head that’s always ticking! January 9, 2014 at 2:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: The benefit of a good walk (especially an aimless one) can’t be overstated. I took one yesterday, despite the rain, and I felt so good when I was done. January 10, 2014 at 7:41am Reply

  • Penelope: Tea – Chinese green tea in a white cup
    The scent of lavender; essential oil or Diptique’s Feuille de lavande candle.
    Music ;quiet chamber music, a Scarlatti sonata played on the piano or Arvo Part’s ‘Cantus for Benjamin Britten’.
    Clean sheets. January 9, 2014 at 3:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, just reading this makes me feel calmer. Reminds you that the best luxuries are often the simplest ones, like clean sheets and a cup of something fragrant. January 10, 2014 at 7:42am Reply

  • Sabine: Reading this blog (it has already been said by George) slows me down : I start dreaming about atmospheres and perfume (I dream all the more as I don’t understand everything neither know all the perfumes …) and for me, it means reading in a foreign language, which is a fantastic way to take a break as well ! Also taking care of flowers, doing some basic and repetitiv tasks such as hanging out washing :-) January 9, 2014 at 3:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can relate, Sabine! All of us are in the same position–there is so much to know about perfume, and there is so much yet to find out, and the best part is when we can discover it all together, chat about it, share our thoughts. January 10, 2014 at 7:44am Reply

  • rosarita: I love this post and everyone’s excellent comments, thank you all so much! For years, I worked in busy kitchens – hot, sweaty, chaotic. Just to get two minutes to use the restroom could be next to impossible. In that environment I could wear whatever perfume I wanted, because you didn’t smell it next to all the other scents of the kitchen. So I always sprayed a lot on my chest, and when that quickie bathroom opportunity came around I would stick my nose down my shirt and just breathe for a second. Not as classy as Handel but you have to grab your moments when you can. January 9, 2014 at 3:51pm Reply

    • Merlin: And perhaps the entire kitchen staff might not have appreciated you playing the hallelujah chorus full blast over the spluttering pans, etc! January 9, 2014 at 5:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s incredible how much different such little rituals make. I was at a restaurant kitchen once, and I remember it being chaotic and crazy hot. It gave me a whole new respect for people who work in the restaurant business. January 10, 2014 at 7:52am Reply

  • Karen: I’ve been baking our bread for quite a while and the kneading combined with the aromas at all phases is very relaxing and comforting. I will usually play old Burt Bacharach – This Guys in Love With You is just so so perfect, or a mix of my favorite opera tunes – O Mio bambino caro by Kiri te Kanawa just takes me soaring.

    Simply sitting in the sun now that it’s winter is a treat, and in the warm weather lemonade in the garden.

    For me, when I am stressed or frazzled, some of my rose oil from Turkey is warming and comforting. And thanks to all the reading selections in a recent post, I now have a long list of books to unwind with. January 9, 2014 at 4:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, thank you, I’m going to search for O Mio bambino caro online!

      Baking bread would also be at the top of my list. I love playing with dough in general, and I find it very relaxing. And isn’t it amazing how a little lump of flour and water suddenly turns into a golden loaf of bread? January 10, 2014 at 7:55am Reply

  • Andy: Putting the world on pause has been a thing I’ve been striving for more and more, so this is very timely. I’ve been burning frankincense for a few months now, and I have to agree that it is fantastic. Watching the smoke rise and swirl is hypnotizing! And tea, of course, makes for fantastic breaks from it all as well. January 9, 2014 at 8:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love watching the smoke swirl out of the incense burner. Hypnotizing is right! Do you also use a piece of charcoal, Andy? What are your tips of getting it warm enough? January 10, 2014 at 8:05am Reply

      • Andy: Yes, I use the “self igniting” charcoal discs (usually just a chunk broken off of one does it for me, since I don’t burn mass quantities). A lighter doesn’t work very easily for me, so typically I will light a candlestick and hold it to the charcoal until it lights and heats up.

        I love that brass censer you have! What would you recommend using as an incense holder, since I don’t have an “official” one? (I’ve been just putting the frankincense on top of the smoldering charcoal, but it sometimes causes the frankincense to actually char and creates a bitter, burnt smell. January 11, 2014 at 8:06pm Reply

        • Victoria: A candlestick is a good idea. I’ll try that too. From what I was told, the charcoal should be hot but not smoldering, otherwise the incense burns too fast and the smell becomes acrid.

          I find that anything can work as long as it has a lid with holes and is made out of heat-proof materials. A proper incense burner is really best if you burn natural resins and wood chips. January 12, 2014 at 5:08am Reply

          • Andy: Yes, that’s exactly what happens when I burn frankincense. I’m not really sure how I could make the charcoal cool down once it’s already hot, though. I will have to think about a more proper incense burner. January 12, 2014 at 10:43am Reply

            • Victoria: You just have to wait a minute or two before putting frankincense on it. And don’t overheat the charcoal. But I use the ones especially made for incense, so maybe they just cool down quicker. Which is why an incense burner helps, to keep them hot but not red hot. January 12, 2014 at 12:23pm Reply

  • maja: Wonderful lists! The moment when I pause the world is burying my face into a towel after a shower. I am still there standing in the steam and for a moment I can feel so much relaxation. A hot towel over the face helps every time in any case. And this new wonderfully scented almond shower oil I bought recently. Watching sunset from my terrace with a cup of coffee. Closing my eyes under the sun. The feeling I get after a good run. Keith Jarrett Concert in Koeln. Paolo Fresu’s trumpet. And Pogorelic playing Scarlatti probably. A therapeutic hug from my husband. :) A daily dose of your blog, too. January 10, 2014 at 2:33am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your beautiful list, Maja! I found Pogorelic playing Scarlatti Sonata 35 in G Minor, and it’s such a treat. One more thing to add to a collection of my relaxation tips.

      And yes, hugs are super therapeutic. :) January 10, 2014 at 8:12am Reply

      • maja: That is one of my favourite pieces, too! :) I have a whole cd, it is marvellous. A couple of years ago my New year’s resolution was to learn to play piano. (ambitious, ha?) so I started attending lessons with a friend of mine, a piano teacher. I didn’t go very far ( Twinkle, twinkle little star hahaha) but I did enter the “perverse” world of famous pianists and read and listened quite a lot. Pogorelic is (sometimes disturbingly) fascinating and a true genius. His eccentric entrance at Chopin international competition is unforgettable :):
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WL_I1z5OHe4 January 10, 2014 at 3:42pm Reply

        • Victoria: You’re incredible! Even to go to Twinkle, twinkle little star from knowing nothing is impressive. That’s what my mom said, and she graduated from a music conservatory as a pianist. The best part is learning to appreciate music more. When I was a ballet student, my teacher told me to take a few piano lessons just to feel the music better. I didn’t even get to Twinkle, twinkle little star, but even so, I’m glad I did it. January 12, 2014 at 4:44am Reply

          • maja: Thank you and your mom! :) I loved it but it takes so much time and practising hours. Now it makes me appreciate pianists even more for sure. The worst thing is that my husband graduated from conservatory, too, but he almost never plays and doesn’t want to teach me hahah… Oh, well, as soon as I retire I’ll go back to Twinke, twinkle :)

            Thanks again. January 12, 2014 at 4:19pm Reply

  • Eva S.: I love to relax outdoors! :)
    A walk by the sea with my dog, a ride with my horse, going up to the mountains, cross country skiing… :)
    Other things:
    Kissing with my boyfriend, a cup of coffee, looking at maps and planning vacations… January 10, 2014 at 3:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love your list for its tender side with a dose of wanderlust. :) I also love looking at maps and planning trips or reading guide books at the bookstores and imagining that one day I really might scale Mount Everest (not likely at all!) or visit Laos (also a remote possibility). January 12, 2014 at 4:45am Reply

  • Austenfan: Very late to the party this time, but real life took over.
    I suppose I have different strategies. My favourite way to take my mind off things though is going for a walk with my dog. Mind you, she is no longer able to go for long walks, but even the shorter ones, and just being out of doors really takes me out of myself.
    If I am going through a difficult time I also tend to reread old favourites. Dorothy Sayers and Austen are my 2 favourite comfort writers. January 12, 2014 at 1:59pm Reply

    • Austenfan: And I forgot: Knitting! January 12, 2014 at 2:00pm Reply

      • maja: Knitting rocks! It takes me years to finish a scarf (usually my mother gets nervous and finishes it for me) but it is so relaxing. I find chopping vegetables relaxing, too. Takes my mind off things. January 12, 2014 at 4:21pm Reply

        • Austenfan: I knit jumpers for my (small) dog, which she wears when needed in winter, and scarves for myself.
          Chopping vegetables is very relaxing. January 13, 2014 at 6:58am Reply

          • Victoria: Completely agree on chopping vegetables (and knitting too, although I haven’t knitted since I was 12). Even a mundane task like peeling chestnuts can be a good way to take a pause. That you get a montblanc at the end of it makes it even more satisfying. January 13, 2014 at 11:43am Reply

    • Eva S.: Second Sayers and Austen! :) January 12, 2014 at 3:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: I read a little bit of Jane Austen in college, but my main introduction to her happened a few months ago when a friend gave me “Emma.” I then read almost everything else, often staying up very late because I couldn’t put the book down. Yes, I can completely imagine how it would be a comforting favorite for you. January 13, 2014 at 3:50am Reply

      • Austenfan: I started reading Austen when I was 12. Pride and Prejudice was the first of her novels that I read. Emma one of the last. While it is generally considered to be her masterpiece I have never really fallen for it. P&P is my favourite, with Persuasion a close second. January 13, 2014 at 7:00am Reply

        • Victoria: Persuasion is the one I haven’t read yet, along with Northanger Abbey (what’s your take on it, by the way?) January 13, 2014 at 11:45am Reply

          • Austenfan: If you decide to read only one of those, do read Persuasion. It is very beautiful. More melancholy than her earlier work. Also it is her last finished work. With a lot of speculation about the final chapter. ( there are 2 versions!)

            Northanger is fun, full of youthful exuberance. I like it but I don’t take it as seriously as I do Persuasion. I’ve got an older Penguin edition with a very good introduction by D.W. Harding. He wrote a study of Austen called Regulated Hatred, which I haven’t read yet but want to.

            I include a link to the excellent TV adaptation of 1995: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xwpanb_persuasion-1-1995-greek-subs_shortfilms January 13, 2014 at 1:25pm Reply

            • Victoria: Thank you very much!

              I also read Mansfield Park, which until Emma I started several times and couldn’t get through. I’m tempted to revisit Pride and Prejudice too, because it was the first Austen I read, but I might appreciate it even more now. January 13, 2014 at 2:19pm Reply

            • mysterious_scent: Another austenfan here. Love, love, love Persuasion, her best. January 14, 2014 at 4:33am Reply

  • mysterious_scent: I love the white sandalwood in your post!

    I’d love to relive the smells that had made my Childhood tolerable and memorable:
    1. Real gardenia flower, planted by my mother, blossom in early Summer
    2. Real orange blossom from my uncle’s mandarin orchard
    3. Tea flower from tea plantation near where I lived
    4. Blossom from the three dates trees in our courtyard, flowering in April and May
    5. Smell of fresh peppers from pepper tree
    6. Wild white ginger flower near the buddhist temper, flowering in Autumn

    The list goes on and on… January 14, 2014 at 4:41am Reply

    • mysterious_scent: So, anyone could see why I am a big fan of white floral scents. January 14, 2014 at 4:51am Reply

    • Victoria: What a beautiful list! When I finished reading it, I was curious to hear more about your childhood scents and memories. What do the tea flowers smell like? I’ve been to the tea plantations, and I remember the scent in the air (and also the scent from the tea processing facilities), but I don’t remember seeing the flowers themselves. January 14, 2014 at 8:00am Reply

      • mysterious_scent: Thank you V.

        Ya, I could write a book about suffering and happiness happened to me in my childhood.

        Tea flower is a kind of white flower as well, very fragrant and unique, very hard to describe. Here is a photo I found on internet, similar to what I remember. I also remember tea plants were not supposed to flower every year, must check out that out.
        http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/83/Flower_in_a_tea_plant_at_a_Darjeeling_Tea_plantation.jpg January 14, 2014 at 8:18am Reply

        • mysterious_scent: Tee flower is sweet with a bitter green edge, hope that makes sense.
          Jujube blossom smells more powdery than other white/yellow flowers, closer to ylang ylang.

          Also Jasmine Sambac, very dedicate.
          Michelia champaca, grew on trees, looks like:
          http://img.mala.cn/forum/201107/18/085506f7hbfs782rgamh78.jpg January 14, 2014 at 8:32am Reply

        • Victoria: I hope that you will, and if not for others, then at least, put down some of your remembrances on paper.
          May I ask where you grew up? (But of course, you don’t have to answer; I don’t want to pry.)

          The tea flowers look like white camelias, which I suppose makes sense, since they come from the same family. Looks so beautiful! By the way, I just wanted a very interesting BBC documentary on tea with Simon Reeve, and he went across Africa tracking the tea that eventually makes its ways to the UK. It was very well-done, and kudos to BBC for not romanticizing the tea too much and being willing to discuss the darker issues surrounding the tea trade. January 14, 2014 at 8:38am Reply

          • mysterious_scent: South-west China, a small town on the edge of Tibet Plateau.

            Thanks for the recommendation of BBC documentary. I’ll check it out

            :-) January 14, 2014 at 8:43am Reply

            • mysterious_scent: Forgot to say that I left my hometown many years ago. January 14, 2014 at 8:45am Reply

            • Victoria: Incredible! Definitely do write down your stories. January 14, 2014 at 8:56am Reply

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