Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chicago and the Chocolate Factory

The Blommer chocolate factory sits exactly between my apartment and my school. I can never smell the chocolate from home, but I can count on smelling it as I leave school in the evening. I wish I could tell you that the smell of the chocolate fills my soul, warms my heart, etc etc etc. No such luck... the consequence of the chocolate factory in the city, is unfortunately quite opposite. You see, by the time the smell of the semi sweet cocoa hits my nose, the hearty, thick scent that I have come to expect from chocolate has been replaced by a metallic tin-like situation. The scent takes a journey through the city streets, all the while, picking up more undesirable scents on it's way: trash, wet sidewalk, more trash, exhaust. So by the time I can smell it, it no longer offers me the soul filling, heart warming benefits of all-things-that-include-sugar-and-butter. It's like falling asleep knowing there is a snowstorm outside, and by the time you get around to playing in it, it's already dirty with soot and yellow with dog pee.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Smoking is sexy with the right car/super hunk.
Smoking is sexy with the right outfit.

I could even fit cute package design in to my vintage agenda.

There's one particular spot in my apartment that smells like smoke. It lingers right above the bathroom sink. This means every time I go to do something that is for health purposes, like clean my face or brush my teeth, I have to rectify that this activity, for the next year, will smell unhealthy. I live alone, so, unless my dog has taken up the habit, I can safely say that no one is smoking in my house.

For the record, I smoke occasionally. My first cigarette was with my friend Chris, at a high school dance, sitting in the seat of a backhoe on the high school soccer field. (No, I'm not a red neck, yes I felt like a total bad ass.) My current smoker status is totally sporadic. I will go a year or two without a puff, and then one bad day and BAM! I'm lighting up. What saves me from becoming a real smoker is that i actually get a cigarette hangover. I wish I could say I will never ever smoke one again, but that's another blog all together.

I'll be honest in that there are occasions when I do enjoy the smell of smoke:
1. At a large, festive, outdoor gathering
2. When I'm young and impressionable and have a crush on a boy who happens to smoke (primarily, see years 1995 - uhhhh, present.)
3. When I'm in a foreign country, and the smell of cigarettes add to the, um, foreignness of the experience.

The "good " cigarette smells, are really outweighed by the bad, in my book.
1. When people return from smoking in the rain.
2. When people try to cover up the smell of cigarettes with body spray. (Which I oddly don't mind on my friend Sarah)
3. When I'm sick.
4. The smell of a chain smoker's car.
5. The smell of cigarettes on my clothes after being at a party or bar where a lot of cigarette smoking happened the previous night.

and of course....
when the smell of cigarettes creeps in to the most sacred place in my home, and I'm not even the one smoking.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My nose in Italy, it's not about meatballs.

Annick Goutal's Petit Cherie, the same bottle I bought in 2004.
A teeny car parked in a strange piazza, although I don't remember which one. On the corner of Via del Giglio and Via Faenza I think.

Above: Via Cosimo Ridolfi 2, 50129 Firenze, Toscana, Italy

Six and a half years ago, during the spring semester of my last year in college, I lived in the building above. Thanks for taking me back, google maps. I was 23 in this last semester (I spent 5 years in college, go UMASS!) and was looking forward to living in such a historic city, drinking cappuccinos, and going on "la passegiata" after dinner. I did all this, and more, but to my surprise, I did it mostly alone. Maybe it is because most of the Americans that chose to study abroad that semester were 4 years younger and usually drunk. (Underage in America means bottoms up abroad). All I remember were Uggs, lots of Uggs, hot off the press. And juicy couture sweat suits. (you know you had one) I befriended some Italians but my Italian

So I strolled and I shopped, oooh did I shop! One day I decided it was time to purchase a perfume by which to remember Italy. I popped in to a perfume shop with a mission. Because I had never bought a real, grown-up perfume, I put my olfactory fate in the hands of the expert. I asked the shop girl to chose a perfume for me. If I were a perfume, what perfume would I be?

She took one look and decided that I was Petite Chérie by Annick Goutal. The perfumer describes the scent as being "reminiscent of a young girl's cheek that you want to lovingly kiss." Well, I don't know about all that, but... I wore this scent walking around a rainy Florence, writing, taking photographs, and listening to Aphex Twin on my first generation ipod. The time spent alone, in such a beautiful place, was pure indulgence. Smelling Petit Cherie now reminds me of the adventure that the 23 year old me started to madly crave. I guess if I had a signature scent of all time, this would be it. I buy new perfume every so often, but this is the stuff that grounds me, makes me feel like I'm walking on cobblestone streets again.

Petit Cherie Olfactory family: Fruity, floral, musky (pear, peach, musky rose, fresh cut grass, vanilla)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall in Chi Town: Whiskey 2 Ways

mmmm...meat and cheeeeeese.

Above: The competition.

Above: Home turf. Below: approaching the competition.

The folks I go to grad school with are wonderful. A few of them graciously hosted a whiskey tasting party this past weekend. Our party boasted over 10 species of bourbon, whiskey and the like. I took a quick survey of the spread, and, after mixing myself a Bulleit with Tea, I headed upstairs.

A delightful component of this party was the roof deck on which it was hosted. (See above, weep with envy.) As soon as I popped my face out of the door and on to the roof, all sorts of cermel-ey spicy deliciousness slapped me in the face and yelled, "FALL IS HERE!!" I followed my nose to an outdoor grill, which, instead of the expected burger, was keeping a sweet batch of whiskey cider perfectly warm.

I tried to remain loyal to the bounty of my comrades party, but I couldn't help myself. So I tried a cup. And then i tried another, just to be sure it was as tasty as the first one.

Growing up in Massachusetts, where apple picking is the go-to fall sport, the smell of cider means cold is near. Mixing it with such a wonderful night made the upcoming chilly weather feel just a little bit warmer.

Cheese ball.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Air is Confused...

I thought this post was going to be about the smell of Indian summer, but I just learned that what I thought was an Indian summer turns out to be just a warm day in September. Oh well.

One reason I love being back at school is that I can walk around the city on a weekday morning and have the city all to my self. I embarked such a walk yesterday morning and the air was decidedly different. It was warm, but not quite summer like. The air was heavy, but not exactly humid. The scent was a mix of city sidewalk, warm brick, and city garden...Oh how I appreciate those 2 ft wide strips of planted anything in the middle of the city!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

K's nose thinks...

"There's a particular mould which reminds me of my childhood. Especially when the scent blows in the cool air of a dark basement.

Wow. what kind of childhood did i have?"

Monday, September 20, 2010

What T's nose thinks...

I especially enjoy it when other people tell me what their noses think. I'll be honest, I don't get around to smelling many babies, but I do love the smell of my mom. T sent me this nose thought, along with this photo.

"I love the smell of babies after they shower and they are creamed, powdered and fresh.
I like sleeping with my nose tucked in my mom's armpit. She smells like a baby too.
There is something about that smell that makes you feel protected and there is a feeling of innocence attached to it."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Honky Tonk

Although I lived in Austin for two years, I was never motivated enough to go to the legendary dance hall, The Broken Spoke. Then I left Texas, which left a hole in my heart, and I started going back on a very regular basis. This past visit, I finally pulled on my boots, grabbed my favorite dance partner, and headed down to the honky-tonk.

The photo at the top is of a place at the Broken Spoke lovingly called the "tourist trap". So of course, we ventured in. Immediately upon entering, I could smell almost 50 years of history.... dust, old paper, dry wood, and the lingering smells of liquor and chicken fried steak. Photos everywhere of Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and Joe Ely & Kris Kristofferson. Even a token Rose McGowan photo. (?!?)

While current museums show photos of historical events, play relevant music, and even offer up a civil war shot glass or a "remember the Alamo" t shirt, The Broken Spoke offered up a different kind of souvenir: a hangover (come in S, M, L, XL), music to dance to well in to the night, and a musty old library that smelled homage to days gone by.

So sappy. I'll snap back next post I promise.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hot Glue

You hurt so good, hot glue gun. You are the reason I didn't get a single manicure between 1996 and, well, 2009.

The smell of hot glue, which is really just burning plastic, is the smell of getting things done. Something is the works, about to happen. In college, hot glue gun burns were like battle scars, and we were oddly proud of them. A friend of mine who was (and still is) a rower (is that what you call them?) would put some on his finger tips and show it off, like a little kid with chocolate all over his face. This latest run in with hot glue? Well, I just moved, and I just HAD to make new curtains. I do have a sewing machine, but prefer to make hems with a glue gun. These are as cheap as it gets: muslin and burlap.

I gotta go nurse this hot glue created blister on my finger, but I'll do it with a smile on my face.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Soon, it'll be that cozy time of year again. Dried leaves mixed with sunshine mixed with a great new sweater. I got a little preview of a favorite fall smell last week while visiting good friends of mine in their (early 19th century?) cottage. The thing about fireplaces to remember, is that they always smell better/more from outside of the home. This fire smelled great, don't get me wrong, but passing by a house with a fire in the fireplace is sometimes more romantic than being in the house. There always seems to be feelings of envy mixed with feeling of warmth and comfort that are hard to resolve. Hot n cold.

"Oh man i LOOOOVE that smell. Thank you whoever has that fire going" and "damn you for being so cozy in there"

Next time i pass by this smokey treat, I'll try to remember that even though I'm the one out in the cold, I've really got the best seat (in the house... yuk yuk)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lobsta and Chowda

Back to New England for me... last time for the summer. And what a way to cap it off! I flew in to Boston and drove right up to New Hampshire for the annual Bow Lake Lobster "bbq". I've said it before and I'll say it again, nothing smells New England like seafood.

For some reason, I just don't trust sea food outside of New England. And if I DO decide to trust it, it's because I'm paying dearly for it. So arriving home to this community dinner for just $25 a ticket (2 lobsters, chowder with oyster crackers and lardons, corn-on-the-cobb, rolls, cake, beer...) WITH my wonderful family and boyfriend was just about the best homecoming a girl could ask for.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Plastic Shower Curtain

I just moved in to a new apartment. With this change, comes the responsibility of buying new shower curtain liners. Whenever I move, I always grapple with the decision to buy something cheap and low quality, or buy something not cheap and of higher quality. Inevitably, I do both, and regret my first purchase while making the second one. Such was the case with the first shower curtain, above, purchased at Wallgreen's for 4 bucks. Note to self, not all shower curtain liners are created equal.

Ok well here's my point: There is a particular kind of plastic that this particular liner smelled of. And it's the same plastic these cheap-0 inner tubes are made of. I opened the curtain liner package and was whisked away to summer time memories of floating. It also reminded me that, as a young girl, I thought it would be cool to keep small pets in the inner tubes. Sounds cruel, I know, but I was a kid so give me a break. It's not like I ever did it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Farm Smells, Part 1

I'll be honest, I'm not sure when "Farm Smells: part 2" will happen, but I know it will. So just stick with this one for now. On my way to work the other day, I had the pleasure of driving behind the silver truck you see here. It had something in it that lives on, or just vacationed on a farm. Up along side me pulled, whatever thing in truck A has for dinner. It was a farm-for-the-road. So I played this song in my car, because it was the first one that came to mind when I felt those farm feelings. It may not make sense to you, but still, it's kind of cute. (if you like kids, which I don't, really, and I STILL think it's cute... ok ok ok I like kids just fine. Calm down. )

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Popcorn...again, sorry

This should be more of a tweet, I know, but go ahead and try something: pop some popcorn in the workplace without discussing it first. The response might sound similar to what it's like for the first snowfall of winter.
"popcorn...whose making popcorn?"
"is that popcorn?!?!!?"
"what IS that smell?"

...kinda like no one has smelled it before.

Monday, August 2, 2010

What Bradley's Nose Thinks

Bradley wrote in with his favorites.... a nice blend of country and coffee.

"When I get to enjoy a morning before the hectic day starts... and smells that remind me of where I grew up.

Morning dew on the grass out in the country, a slight smell of corn not yet picked growing.

There is a certain smell that you get when you are out of the city a lack of all the city smells probably.

There is freshness in the morning as though the night cleaned the air and you can enjoy the sounds of the birds, bugs and nature and a good cup of coffee."

What Brita's Nose Thinks...

Brita explores her sense of sight (and a lot of taste) over at her blog
recently weighed in about some of her faves...

"I just got this little top at a vintage store and I wore it without giving its a proper cleaning, which I guess is kind of gross but there's something about that musty smell of vintage cotton that I love. Walking into an antique store and being transported with that vague aroma of grandmothers, and screened in porches and days gone by makes me feel like Im finding clues to something I was never a part of. It seems to be made up of one part old earl grey tea and one part beach blanket that has spent all day on the clothesline."

"While were at it, bain de soleil orange gelee is one of my top five favorite smells in the universe, and it goes hand in hand with that vintage cottony smell. It recalls the beach without ever being there. Somehow how they got the sand and the seagulls and the sailboat all packed into a little tube. It reminds me of napping in the sun and conjures up old photographs of my mom on a printed sofa in her bathing suit. It what I imagine the seventies would smell like."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Color Purple

The other night I took a long stroll with the hound dog. The sun was setting and I was sure I'd still be out walking as it became dark. The cherry on top of this sunset sundae was, but of course, the smell. I have to say, the wild flower selection in the mid-west is phenomenal. For example, Queen Anne's Lace (which is actually a weed!) turns my commute home in to a drive through a garden.

Back to my walk... On this night I found an unusually furry flower. It had a clover smell to it, but didn't look like all of his other clover friends. it was purple, and man did it smell purple!! And then I thought, "what does purple smell like?" I couldn't detect any artificially flavored grape soda, so I smelled on. I just kept jamming that poor flower up my nose, which got me no closer to my answer. Does any one know what this flower/weed/delicious specimen is?

I may not know what purple really smells like, but at least someone knows what it sounds like. Please, indulge yourself for a few minutes and watch.

Monday, July 26, 2010


A few years ago, I volunteered for a month in South Africa at a baboon rehabilitation center and sanctuary. I have no idea when or how I will be able to return. I loved those little (and big) guys. They giggle, they look deep in to your eyes, and they'll even comb through your hair. (To find bugs, but it feels good, so I'll take it.) They're brats, no doubt. They pull hair, they throw food, they bite, the throw tantrums. I miss all of those things about them too. I have pictures and I have videos. But I can't smell them. They're musty stink mixes with the surrounding contributions of hay and, well, poop. Which may sound like a nightmare, I know. But the most comforting aspect of the experience was all of those smells combined, which is actually quite sweet. Imagine it's a rainy South African day, and you are sitting with a bunch of baby baboons. Missing home, thinking "how did I GET here?!?" Quite surreal on it's own, but the sweet smell of baby baboon is on that I miss every time I look through my pictures.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What Sara's Nose Thinks, Part 2

This one was also submitted Sara of Amali Jewelry (see Daily Candy post here!)

My grandfather, who I adored, died when I was 16. Every once in a while, I get a waft of his aftershave and my memories come pouring back. Sometimes, I'll be with my sister when it happens, and we both stop what we're doing, look at each other, breath deeply, and someone says "I smell him." We then go on a search to find the man with the goods so we can solve our puzzle, but to this day, this delightful scent has no name.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Lake

Above: my cousin, her BF and their dog, Bailey.

Above: Auntie at the community chicken bbq.

Best view in the house.

Among my top 5 smells, and this is no joke, is the smell of lake. When my mother was in her twenties, she and friend took a trip to find "the roundest lake" in New Hampshire. They found Bow Lake, and we've been coming here ever since. I grew up associating the smell of lake with vacation, family, summer heat, and comfort. I love the musty smell that comes off the lake with a breeze. The way it's smell mixes with fermented leaves in the fall. The smell of lake coddles me. I guess that's the best word I can think of to describe the feeling.... There is no safer or happier place in the world for my family than at this teeny, tiny, roundest lake in NH. Not a day goes by that I don't know how lucky I am to have a lake in my life.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Boston...generally smelling

I just returned from a whirlwind 48 hours in New England. First stop, Boston. Many spots in Boston just smell like garbage. There's a lot of people and they have to throw stuff out so I guess that's the simple explanation. But there are SO many other wonderful smells just from my first of two nights.

First at bat ... Fenway! I didn't actually go to a game at the park, but my friend Arielle lives in it's backyard. Walking down Lansdowne St on the way to dinner, my lil nose was invaded mostly by street meat, beer, and dudes with too much cologne and hair gel. Wouldn't a game smell empty without meat and beer? A vegetarian/recovering alcoholic's baseball game must be like getting stuck on a plane on the tarmac. Or something else that isn't very fun.

Above: Arielle gets ready to knock one back.

The first thing I crave when I step off the plane at Logan, is the wonderful combination of oysters and cocktails. In fact, I crave that every morning when I wake up. Juuuuuust kidding. Really though, I love anything briney. Just add lemon and horseradish, and you've got a powerful seaside trifecta. Sharp, sweet, bitter...makes my eyes water. It's no suprise that there are many great places in Boston for bivalves. My favorites are B & G Oysters, and Eastern Standard. We chose the latter, which is host to bevvy of fond memories and a great cast of characters. I know I should try some new places, but it's been a few years since I have lived there, and nothing makes me feel like I'm home more than the old standbys.

Of course, no post about Boston would be complete without the T. I used to take it everyday for work, and, despite the fact that this appears to be a new car, it still has the T Signature Scent: Musty with a side of feet, sneakers, and money. I'm not sure why I smell money on the T. Maybe it's just dirty paper..or people. The jury's out on that one, anyway.

....And now, because I just can't resist....

See you next time BOS. For now, it's back to MKE.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Nail Polish

As long as my toes and finders are out and about, I prefer to have them painted. I was always making things with glue and nails and wood in my early twenties so it seemed like a waste to get my nails painted and then ruined. If I did paint them, well, I had them "done." But the more I love having them painted, the more I realize I'm gonna need to do it myself. Some people don't like the smell, but for me, the smell of nail polish is the smell of affordable luxury. A smell that means I won't be doing any handy-work in the near future. It almost smells like I'm going on vacation. It's an instant pick me up. Like I'm going to have a delicious cocktail at any moment. Sidecar anyone?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What Sara's Nose Thinks...


"This is a strange one, but I will never forget the smell of a squished lightning bug. We grew up next to a farm, so our back yard was essentially a cornfield. Every night there would be a sea of lightning bugs. We would go outside and collect them in our little bug jars. If you squish them at just the right moment, you could smear the glowing butt on your eye lids to make some seriously hot 80's eye shadow. You'll have to squish one and see for yourself :) "

I've never squished a lightning bug myself, but from what I've read, they have a musty, dirt like smell. To learn more about these guys, click here! And, if you want to smell for yourself, click here to find out how to round up some of your own!

Sara is a wildly talented jewelry designer who lives in NYC. This is the first we've heard from Sara's nose, but it won't be the last!