Lemons…. in Life & Perfume.. (and.. a giveaway!)

My darling Posse,

You know… for such a beautiful fruit (and gorgeous tree) lemons get a shockingly bad rap.  ‘When life hands you lemons’ ‘_____ is a lemon’, etc, etc .  I thought about the fruit/the rap/the smell when I went down to KY to clean my sister’s house and bring her back up here, following the death of her husband ( that was a (mercifully) short row to hoe for him – and, I’m hoping, for her as well).  Never a housekeeper at the best of times*, the stress of his sudden descent into real illness and even suddener (is that a word?  should be) death plunged her into a paralysis that was …. well, the house was a disaster.  I took the train down and the first thing we did was stop at Kroger to pick up coffee, rubber gloves…and lemon-scented cleaners.  Then I brewed a cup (or 3), strapped on the gloves, and began to scrub the miasma away.

*not dragging her – she would be the absolute first to say she’s kind of a slob.  A lovable slob, though.

What is it about lemon?  I love other citrus cleaners (Orange furniture polish is. mah. JAM!) but to convey Absolute Cleanliness, nothing beats lemon – at least for me.  Lime?  It’s astringent, but it has that darker connotation that unbalances the astringency.  Margaritas, mojitos…that’s what I think of when I think of lime.  Lemons?  Sparkling water.  And there ya have it. Other than the furniture polish, orange cleaner has an oilier richness that doesn’t quite convey ‘clean’ – at least not to me (gorgeous – but not ‘sparkling clean’).  So lemon it is.

The laundry room houses the cat boxes. Ew.  And on the shelf above?  A bottle of lemon essential oil. Yay!  I scrubbed everything in that room, then rinsed with a lemon EO solution.  Instantly the room smelled fresher/cleaner, in a way bleach couldn’t achieve.  Perhaps it’s because the lemon smelled…healthy?  Bleach smells like bleach.

Train down… driving back.  So.  On the trip down I wore an attar.  It (along with most rose-based scents) did not sit well with my sister (one hysterical episode involved Aromatherapy Associates first perfume, which she shriekingly  likened to metal degreaser, thinking it was on her husband’s work gloves.  Sigh).  The idea of driving for 10 hours with her banging on about my perfume was more than either of us needed, so I looked on her dresser for inspiration.  LOL!  She has every lemon/citrus perfume ever made.  Even more LOL?  I gave them all to her.  Marc Jacobs.  June Jacobs (the original spa perfume), Fresh Lemon Sugar… etc etc etc

some of the Marc J splashes

All very pretty.  Bright. Fresh. Sparkling.  Garnering tons of compliments (especially from men – what is it with them and citrus? ).  All… well, ‘boring’ isn’t quite the word I’m looking for… okay.  Yes.  Yes it is.  I love them all  – and I wear them – but they are not intriguing.  Then I thought about it:  sometimes ‘intriguing’ isn’t a great choice.  Driving 10 hrs might be one of those times where ‘pretty’ and ‘fresh’ might be the way to go.  So I chose Marc Jacobs and layered it with the FLS, which has a touch more sweetness.. it was a perfect combo, even if it vanished about 23 seconds after application.  I wish I’d brought Guerlain AA Lemon Fresca, which has a bit more staying power, though the anise can be a bit headachy.  Her preference is for lemon – straight up, with a dash of lemon.  The Marc Jacobs has a teeny bit of amber in the base, which helps anchor it… almost.  Anchoring lemon, while letting it remain lemony, is like anchoring a cloud.  If you could hold it down it would no longer be what you define as ‘cloud’.

We got back here with no fussing about attars. Laughed about some of her husband’s weirdness (he was a lovable weirdo).   And we even stopped at Culver’s for (wait for it)…LEMON ICE! Which I wait for all season, like a mongoose at a cobra’s nest.  I matched the Lemon Cooler!  So.  I can’t really complain.  Lemon is LOVELY!

And tasty, too!

What’s your take on lemon?  Citrus in general?  Love them?  Hate them?  ‘Citrus…what’s that?’  Let me know – I’ll have M. Jacques poke a pawnail!  We’ll send you some Fun Citrus scents.  They won’t be Perfumista-level intriguing…but they sho’ are pretty!!!


  • VerbenaLuvvr says:

    My condolences in the loss of your brother-in-law. Yes, citrus oil/scented products are my first choice for cleaning, as well as in food and perfumery. My very favorite note is lemon and if I don’t own a citrus scent in the world of perfumery, I’ve likely tried it or it’s on my list to hunt down and conquer. My signature fragrance is L’Occitane Citrus Verbena.

  • Brigitte says:

    Beyond love lemon and anything citrus!! Especially in the cold dark winter.

  • Christine says:

    I love citrus, although I don’t think I have any lemony fragrances. The straightest citrus I have is Guerlain’s Acqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic (whatta mouthful!) I’m glad you could be there for your sister when she needed you.

  • SpringPansy says:

    I love citrus, especially lemon. I also love that you went to scrub and clean and be with your sister during a really difficult time.

    I love lemon in my beer or in my ice water and I love it in baking. My two lemon perfumes are Carthusia Mediterraneo (beautiful but so short-lived) and Chanel Allure Edition Blanche (nice but I get green + lemon + amber while others get lemon pudding). Open to other suggestions!

  • Gwenyth says:

    I love citrus scents….Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, Bergamot….all of ’em.
    Because the citrus notes seem to disappear quickly on my skin, I’m very fond of “cheapies” that I can spray frequently without much worry about cost (all cost is relative, however….)
    I’m fond of Lanvin’s A Girl in Capri, Agent Provocateur’s Electric and Atelier Cologne’s Pomelo Paradis.

  • Roo says:

    I’m so sorry for you and your sister’s loss.

    I love wearing citrus in hot weather, though I also haven’t found a lemon fragrance with the longevity I’d like. Guerlain Habit Rouge EDT has one of my favorite, bright, refreshing lemon notes, with enough vanilla and sandalwood to keep it interesting as it fades.

    • Musette says:

      I have a scrab of HRouge that I wear in the heat of Summer (it’s parfum) – that citrus note really shines then!

  • Jennifer S says:

    Sorry to hear about your brother in law. Your sister truly has a gem in you.
    I have the Marc Jacobs Lemon. That bottle is so big you can splash to your hearts content and never make a dent in it! Grapefruit and Orange kinda round out my fruit scents atm.
    Yes to lemon cleaning products and love all things lemony for eating!

  • Tara+Mc says:

    So sorry for your family’s loss. You’re the best kind of sister to have in such a time. I’m generally a grapefruit gal, but do love lemon in all cleaning and culinary preparations. Oh, and that Bigelow lemon body cream is heavenly.

  • March says:

    Yummmmm citrus. There’s a grapefruit hand soap from Trader Joe’s I’m fond of. And I slice lemons just for the smell, drop a bit in the sink, etc. Lemons don’t stick around in fragrance the way I’d like (and I’m with you on lemons vs. limes). I really want to smell lemon blossoms, I bet they’re fabulous.

  • Dina C. says:

    I’m sorry to hear of your BIL’s passing. What a loving and kind thing to do, helping clean up their home and then bring her back for a visit. I associate lemon with summer-time scents. It’s in four of my favorite summer fragrances: Cristalle edt, Cristalle eau Verte, Dior Escale a Portofino, and Lubin Gin Fizz. I’m also a huge fan of bergamot, all year round.

  • rosarita says:

    I’m sorry for the loss of your brother in law, you are a wonderful sister to help your sister out. My sis is a bona fide hoarder, not looking forward to what the future holds there.
    I love citrus and citrus smells, including cleaners. I once had a woman clean for me who was hooked on Pinesol, yuck phooey, give me lemon Pledge! Favorite perfumes with citrus include a couple of HGs, Shalimar and L’Artisan Seville l’Aube.

  • Lemoncake says:

    Musette you are a great sister…..I’m so sorry for your loss. The original Diorella was my favorite lemon perfume….or at least I got a strong lemon note from it. And back in high school…..it was all about Love’s Fresh Lemon.

  • Tom says:

    I’m sorry to read about your BiL; you’re a good Sis to do the bosun’s work there.

    I love lemons, especially in cleaners. You’re right- for some reason lemon works when lime and orange just don’t. Maybe because we all grew up on everything from lemon oil to lemon pledge? I love lemon in scent and I love it in drinks (simply lemonade I could drink by the gallon) and I love it sweets. Kate Manilini (which I’m sure you remember) made a lemon icebox pie that was to DIE for- I’d speak over there and grab a couple of slices to go. So sad when they closed.

    I suppose I could make it, but then I’d have a whole pie to eat. And I would.

  • alityke says:

    I love all citrus fruits & I’m happy to smell & eat them all. I even have a lemon tree but DH put it outside, killed it & when I brought it back in the bathroom it did try to survive but I think it’s beyond saving.
    Lemon cleaning stuff is better smelling than other flavours. I follow the Spanish habit of adding Agua de Colonia to my laundry & using it to remove grease in the kitchen & bathrooms. Everything smells like summer!
    Lemon perfumery? Yes please! All of it! Lemon ice or sorbet is the doggies doodahs!
    Heartfelt condolences on the loss of your BiL.

  • cinnamon says:

    I’m so sorry about you BiL. That was fast. I can totally imagine shutting down after that — you’re a wonderful sister to help pull her back into the world.

    Citrus … I’m not really a citrus perfume person except for that cheap as chips thing I bought last summer when we had the two mad heat waves. Then, I bathed in it. I would like a lemon tree but I don’t think it would be happy here: it might be ok outside during the summer but it would have to come in during winter and suffer the hot dry house like all the other plants.

  • KayKay says:

    My condolences for you and your sister’s loss. I totally agree with you on lemon scented cleaners. Nothing else quite makes a room feel fresh and squeaky clean as one that smells of lemon. That is why I love wearing citrus fragrances, especially once New England’s hot and sultry summer hits. My favorites include Goutal’s Eau D’Hadrien, Atelier Colognes’ Cedrat Environ, Bergamote Soleil or Lemon Island. I also enjoy Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Bergamote Calabria and Orange Soleia and to round things out, Chanel No 5 L’Eau is wonderful for more dressy summer day events ie. weddings, garden parties, attending Polo matches and other social events.

  • Kathleen says:

    I’m sorry about your sister’s loss of husband and your BIL. You’re a good sister to support her in so many ways. I love lemon in cleaning products and in cooking. Lemon seltzers also a favorite, so fresh. I’ve never work lemon in perfume, I’m more of a bergamot and orange blossom fan for perfume. However, there was a yuzu bath gel and body lotion from 10,000 waves spa that I adored. I wonder if that is still their signature scent?

  • Maya says:

    I love lemons in homemade lemonade and in pastries and fillings. I also agree on using lemon scented cleaners, but I’m not all that fond of it in perfumes. It starts out nice but dries down to something I can’t describe but that I don’t particularly like. I do like just about all the other citruses used in perfumes a lot.

  • Portia says:

    Heya Musette,
    Sorry you lost a BIL, give your sister a big hug from down under please.
    Lemon is nice. We had a small tree in the back yard growing up. Quite often the lemon used in perfumery is also the one used in functional fragrance here in Oz so the correlation rarely works for me. It does smell super good to me in short lasting colognes and DIOR Granville though.
    Portia xx

  • Taxi says:

    What a good sister you are! Yes, lemon is such a fresh picker-upper for me. It isn’t pure lemon, but Guerlain Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat is a favorite. Eons ago, in high school, I wore Jean Nate. Was the original Chanel Cristalle from the ’70s-’80s quite lemon-y?

  • violet_candy says:

    This was a such a beautiful bittersweet read, so thank you for that. I think i can do lemon blossom (Velvet and Sweetpea’s Purrfumery makes such a good frag that includes it and I irritatingly can’t think of the name) more easily than actual lemon but! I recently decided that i really enjoy Unknown Pleasures by Kerosene. I happen to agree with you completely about the more nuanced natures of other citruses and am much more likely to wear a lime, orange, bergamot, yuzu et al.note but occasionally lemon strikes me as being in balance. You’re also so clearly a sweet sister! I have one that never worries about how her perfumes will go over, and as you know, there are myriad sensitivities even amongst lovers of perfume.