The One The Garden and a giveaway

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you about The One.  My First.  Probably because I am a Perpetual Perfume Virgin and there are always ‘firsts’ in perfumery, right?!  My first ‘First’ was the vaunted Mitsouko – but I really didn’t get it until I came upon a vial of vintage Mitsouko perfume via  Surrender to Chance.  Unlike all the other, fabulous Mitsoukos, this One literally took my breath away with its power and complexity and smoothness.  Until I sniffed that One I’d just assumed that all Mitsoukos, however gorgeous, would have that slightly metallic Gasoline punch to the face (that’s not a bad thing, btw).

My next One was a vinty No5.  Well and of course, right?  2008.  I’ve sniffed countless No5 parfums.  Countless.  That 2008 blew me away!  Again with the smoothness.  I am no historian and I am certainly no chemist so I can’t ascertain if there is a ‘smooth molecule’ that exists in vintages and not least because not all vintages are smooth (some of the other vintage Mitsoukos, for example, don’t have a smooth bone in their bottles!)

The One that trumps all The Ones, though.  My leetle gift from Carol (WAFT by Carol) of a vintage Coty Chypre.  Again with the ‘countless’ – but this one?  Oh, myyy.  It’s like your first taste of a perfect chocolate or that first kiss you get from Idris Elba or that first Graff diamond.  It was in a package with another perfume and, somewhat absentmindedly, I popped the top on the vial, dabbed a bit…and…I still remember that moment.  I gasped out an ‘oh!’ and just sat there, gobsmacked, trying to figure out how to unscramble my heart!

So!  It’s the Bouncy-Minded Musette here – Tom is still wonky from that face-plant he took so he’s not sniffing or testing or nuthin’!  He’s bemoaning the sameness of ‘delivery pizza’ – ha!  Where I live, the only ‘delivery’ we get is the Schwann’s truck. But his concussion is mild, so he expects to be back in the saddle forthwith.

So, in the meantime, lemme tell you about my garden.  It is both a delight and a freaking MESS!  We have had unseasonably warm temps, followed by seasonably cold temps so a lot of flowering stuff is just confused.  I have roses in full leaf next to irises that are all ‘what the hell?’ and only 3″ out of the ground.  Narcissus are holding their own, beautifully.  2 years ago my friends at Sunnyfield Greenhouse wanted to get rid of a rugosa that was sucking up all the space at their pond – I said ‘rip that dawg outta there.  I’ll take it!’  – well along with the gorgeous rugosa came some of the loveliest, butteriest narcissus I’ve ever seen!  Deeeep butter yellow (almost egg yolk yellow) with an orange cup, they are a vibrant introduction to the growing season.

I’ve only had a few minutes to enjoy them, though, as I am building a retaining wall. We got some of those professional,don’tchaknow interlocking blocks – a stellar find on one of the sales lists – but O.M.G.  each block weighs nearly 75 pounds.  Seventy Five Pounds.  I only had to put 10 in for the back wall (our intern did the long wall.  He is no longer speaking to me, alas).  It nearly killed me.  Then…..then…when I went to put the caps on?  I realized I’d put those dagnabit things in UPSIDE DOWN.  So.  75 lbs x10x2 = Oh, how I hate you, interlocking stones!  But I stopped swearing, dried my tears, got them right the second time and then had a nice glass of wine to celebrate.

Today was Don’t Chop Up the Borage Day.  Veg garden needed a lot of work so I set to it – right before I brought my hoe crashing down on a row I took a look and…omgosh.  I have the cutest little borage leaves just coming up.  Borage is a Very Useful Plant, great herbal companion for tomatoes and if you are in menopause (I am) or Just Plain Mean (ditto) a cup of borage tea or a borage oil capsule may be the thing standing between you and a SWAT team.  And it smells so cool and pretty – I’m surprised there aren’t borage-based perfumes!  If there are I’m surprised I don’t know about them.    I dunno if topical application would work but it would be worth a try and keep me out of the pokey for yet another day (my neighbors are giving me reason to fantasize about RPGs).

All in all, it’s a lovely Spring!  This month is dedicated to hardscaping and prep, enjoying the 60-degree days, watching my neighbors chatting as they walk their horses down the street under dappled sunlight.  Not a bad way to spend April!

So…how are you spending your April?  Tell me stories.  I will have Miss Banana poke a pawnail at random and we’ll pull a couple of names for samples from the still-Messy Armoire.  I’ve been extremely good about actually getting the stuff out!  So!  yakk away at me!  Let me know how you’ve been and what you’re up to!

  • Laurels says:

    Borage! I bought some just a few weeks ago, after a talk on growing herbs. (I have kept a pot of rosemary alive for four months now—three-and-a-half months longer than my previous record–so I decided it was time to expand my horizons.) The Master Gardener who spoke claimed that borage is in fact useful in topical application, for reducing pain and promoting healing. If I remember correctly, it was also mentioned in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy as one of the plants sustaining the remnants of humanity. So I thought I’d better get some, just in case. I also bought some Moldavian Dragonhead Balm, as the label touted it as making tea that would “lighten a discouraged heart.” (My heart has been a bit discouraged lately.)

    Tom seems to be having a rough year. He may need some borage, and possibly some Dragonhead Balm tea.

  • Pam says:

    I would love to visit your garden. It sounds wonderful. How I’m spending April: trying to sell the house. So I am avoiding nurseries, since it makes me sad I can’t plant anything this year.

    I have always loved chypres and yet have never smell the Coty original. Love Mitsouko. The one that caught me by surprise a few years ago was L’Heure Bleue. It brought tears to my eyes and I still don’t know why. It must resonate with some forgotten memory.

  • maggiecat says:

    Dodging softball size hail and tornadoes here in North Texas, where one’s air conditioning may be on in the morning, and the heat needed by afternoon. Pretty wildflowers though. The ones that made it through the hail, anyway. Waiting for interviews for a promotion at work (dream job) so trying to reduce stress by sniffing pretty things. You know, the usual. Borage oil, you say. Heading out to local health food market shortly.

  • masha7 says:

    So glad you saved the borage, I love that plant. And your narcissus took my breath away, wow! My garden has had a hinky start this year, too, because of our changing temps and extremely high winds that ate up half my plants like a Cuisinart…sigh. But now all the herbs are fine, my medicinal plants are recovering, and the sunflowers are germinating. And the garden’s guardian is a huge Black Racer snake, nearly 2 meters long! He’s very sweet-tempered, though. Mitsy was my One, the only perfume that has literally knocked me off my feet on first sniff. Embarassing! Anyway, hugs and happy gardening!

  • teri says:

    I had just spent last weekend cleaning up the yard and garden in anticipation of spring. It was in the mid-70s, sunny and gorgeous, the birds were singing their little hearts out as they stopped by the neighbor’s big bird feeder, my dogs were bouncing in the yard, chasing imaginary rabbits, and my soul was healing from its winter blues. Then the weatherman dashed all my hopes of spring by informing us we’re getting a monster blizzard this weekend, with up to 14 inches of snow. So last night I got the snow shovel and snow blower back out of their summer storage spots in the basement and am grimly awaiting the blast, while feeling kinship with the pioneer women whose husbands dragged them out to the prairie lands and parked them in a soddy.

    As a very young and unknowledgeable perfumista, my first loves were all chypres, even though I didn’t know the term or understand what it meant. My first whiff of classic Coty Chypre was revelatory.

    I don’t have the Mitsy love, because Guerlainade and I don’t get along, but I had my first experience with “OMG, this is the GOOD stuff” with the classic Carons., particularly Farnesiana, Bellodgia, and Narcisse Noir.

  • Angelique G. Campbell says:

    What a wonderful walk through your garden as I paused and was ever so grateful I did not have to build and rebuild a retaining wall. My April has included muttering and sighing as I realized that Cincinnati got only 2.5 inches less rain than DID SEATTLE in 2015, and thus questioned vast numbers of recent life decisions including WHY DID I MOVE SOMEPLACE WHERE IT RAINS ALMOST AS MUCH AS IT DOES IN KNOWN RAINY SEATTLE??? … and also, if my one lone lovely magenta tulip that had delighted my dark little heart was going to survive all of this rain, and snow? What the hell? SNOW, too, on April 10th?
    Also, I have wondered if, given my obvious misunderstanding of what season and weather it actually IS, if it would be foolhardy indeed to run out to the yard and sow seedlings that could just maybe, possibly, grow flowers to sustain bees so that we continue to have My Whole World Is Wet and COLD, but I have these lovely perfumes from around the globe to remind me of deep delights things. (Too, if the neighbors get stung by the bee haven in my yard, what’s my legal liability?)
    These are a few of my thoughts for April, as well as “Oh! A giveaway! That makes me happy! I can think of things other than building a pirate ship to deal with the rain … and potentially screaming mad, bee stung swollen neighbors!)

    • tandaina says:

      Hehe, if it makes you feel better Angelique we don’t really get that much rain here in Seattle it’s just that it’s spread out in “a wee Scotch mist” as my Mom would say, instead of big heavy rainstorms like we got back in the Midwest. 😉

      • Sun Mi says:

        Yeah, I grew up in the Seattle/Tacoma area. Yearly rainful in NY and Miami is often higher than Seattle. Here in MD when it rains it REALLY pours which was something I wasn’t used to growing up in Washington!

  • dinazad says:

    My very first perfume was Pino di Silvestre – I wasn’t girly, so why not wear a men’s perfume? At the time it was SO daring. I still like it. But the One that made me – figuratively – kneel before the perfumer’s art was the 1983 re-edition of Coty’s Ambre Antique. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful IMHO.

    My landlords have decided to redo my – large – balcony this year, so my balcony garden is in a state – I’m replanting everything from my 70 or so smallish pots into big containers so they can be lifted of the balcony by crane (after the new and enormous tiles have been lifted onto the balcony). This weekend will probably be spent gazing meditatively at the emptied pots and deciding which ones to keep and which ones to consign to the trash. There’s also the question whether it ist ethically sound to discard a rather ugly and straggling lavender. And whether one really needs to hang onto three pots of “rosa canina”. I have no scruples when it comes to discarding chives, white violets, or oregano – they’re trying to take over everything, so it’s a question of me or them. I prefer me.

    Also, I envy you the borage. Even if it is often prone to hosting a rather disgusting variety of aphids.

  • Queen Cupcake says:

    HI Musette!

    Our weather has been too cold and wet to do much of anything in the garden but I am eyeing the rhubarb (pies, yes, but also because I love plants with a Big Presence) and my garlic is impatiently poking out of the mulch. I love borage because of the flower’s color. It is one of the very few true blues readily available. Will have to give it a sniff this year! Speaking of unexpected but beautiful flower smells, find some milkweed when it flowers and sniff that. You won’t believe how sweet and fragrant. Unfortunately, they don’t last for long before going onto their next phase.

    My First must have been Emeraude, from my sister’s dresser back in the ’60s. My little self instantly made the connection with it and all things green, including emerald the jewel, which I have always loved. I love it to this day, even though I don’t get to wear it as often as I would like.

    I never really got Mitsouko, although I have some of the edt. L’Heure Bleu is really more my cuppa.

    Love you lots,

    • Musette says:

      Borage is my version of Meconopsis, which you know I am not even going to TRY to grow! LOL! (stupid flower)…
      L’heure Bleu …..I feel about it the way you feel about Mitsouko. Isn’t that just the way!!!

      I just threw some milkweed pods in the back 40! Here’s hoping they come up!


  • Jackie b says:

    Autumn here, so we are breathing overheated sighs of relief!
    Borage has self sown all over my plot at the communal garden but that is good as it attracts beneficial insects.
    And I am wondering how I came so late to Shalimar. It is lurve over here!

    • Musette says:

      Borage is phenomenal! And so PRETTY! You should talk to Portia about Shalimar! I think it’s a later love for a lot of people. I’ve never taken to it, possibly because my mother wore the edt, which I find a bit harsh. I did try a vintage parfum version, though, that was swooooony!


  • Dina C. says:

    Hey Musette,
    My backyard was landscaped three years ago, and is only now beginning to need some replacement plantings. It’s a tiny backyard. I plan to plant some showy stargazer lilies and see how those do. Back in March we had nice spring weather, but then it got all chilly and cold again in April. I’m glad to learn about borage, too.

    I first tried Mitsouko in 2008 after reading Luca Turin’s review of it in the Guide. I bought a bottle of the edt, which I love to wear in the fall. I don’t think I’ve ever sniffed vintage. But I love and own vintage Arpege, Diorella, Dioissimo, and Emeraude. I can remember sniffing mom’s No. 5 when I was a girl — amazingly beautiful stuff.

    • Musette says:

      “Landscaped” means you didn’t have to haul those damn blocks yourself, right? Oh, how I envy you.

      Your vintages sound stunning! Vintage Diorella is Goddess Stuff, innit?


  • rosarita313 says:

    Hi Ms A so nice to see you! Don’t you love spring in the Midwest? I do, psycho weather and all. Love reading about your garden and glad to know about borage, I had no idea.
    Facing a couple of surgeries here in the next ten days, not me thank goodness but people I take care of, most importantly my husband’s knee replacement. He is a difficult patient in the best of circumstances. I’ve laid in a supply of good vodka, maybe I should include borage tea to my arsenal? Otherwise, enjoying our rescue cat, who is in love with life now that we have windows open occasionally, and hanging out with my 9yr old neighbor. Both cat and girl are very entertaining stress relief.

    • Musette says:

      Babydoll! A very good friend just had knee replacement about 3 weeks ago. She is already walking! It’s TOTALLY different than 20 yrs ago. He should be Just Fine. The most important thing is to do the entire PT course. ALL OF IT!

      Vodka. Yet another way to stay out of the pokey!


  • poodle says:

    Borage oil will soothe the psycho in me? Good to know. I must get some immediately. The hubband thanks you.
    I’m trying to catch up on clean up in the yard. A lot didn’t get done in the fall because of the deck contractors being in the way. I’ll be getting compost delivered and putting it down like mulch which I’m dreading because I have to get it up the stairs to get it into the yard. I did find a cart that I believe I’ll be able to fill and drag up which is a hell of a lot better than the two 5 gallon buckets I usually carry. I envy people with flat yards sometimes. It’s still not too warm here but supposedly this weekend it will feel like spring. We’ll see.

    • Musette says:

      Poo-dell! This is why Floyd made 4×8 planks! (or 2x8s). depending upon the steepness of your stairs, put down a couple of wide planks. Go get a cheap sled. Fill it halfway with dirt, pull it up the planks. Done. I have to do that for my raised beds (8″ high) – except I have to push it up the plank – but it’s only 8″ so is pretty easy to do.

      Hubband is welcome.


  • Marianna says:

    I did not even realize Borage had a smell!!

    • Musette says:

      ho, yus! And it is lovely. Add the charming blue flowers and calm-inducing properties? Bliss. Great tomato companion as well!


  • Nemo says:

    I have never heard of borage, and I still don’t “get” Mitsouko (or No. 5, for that matter). I’d also still appreciate that first kiss from Idris 🙂 Thank you for another fun post!!

    • Musette says:

      Borage will save a Menopausal Soul. I swear it!

      And if you get that first kiss from Idris and you do not Report Back? I will hunt you down! lol!


  • Ellen says:

    Gardening or trying to. The weather in the southeastern coastal area is very confused with quite chilly temps(for this time of year) and very rainy weather.
    Finally after having surgery, I can go back to working out and stop the Pillsbury doughboy process.
    I can’t remember my firsts. There was Femme, Ma Griffe, Caleche, and Woodhue to name but a few. I was very confused about fragrance. I never liked No. 5 and I wouldn’t have known Mitsouko from dish soap(gasp), but fortunately I got older and started trying more stuff.

    • Musette says:

      Glad to hear you are on the mend!!! and no (gasp) about it. We all (or most of us, anyway) have to start somewhere and for a lot of us (me) it came later in life, too!


  • eldarwen22 says:

    After almost 8 months of not having a contract with T-Mobile but still paying a bill and using their phones, my family and I switched to Verizon. After 2 weeks, my mother is still having a hard time with her smartphone. She’s never been great with technology. But the first bill just came and it’s a little panic inducing because all of us went smartphone. A shade over $300 due to activation fees and the like. Vintage Mitsouko and vintage no 5 are fab, aren’t they?

    • Musette says:

      Yikes! that would give me hives!!! Your mom and I were separated at birth, it would seem. I’m sort of okay with my smartphone but confess to a bit of Luddite resentment at having to deal with all of it. I want it to ring, send a text/email and that’s about it. Then I realize I can access a site if I need to and if I’m lost and the Garmin is acting foolish……..and……and…sigh.


  • tandaina says:

    Oh and Mitsouko (the modern punch you in the face version) is my The One. The first perfume sample I put on and gasped and bought within 8 hours. I think I might truly faint to smell the vintage version!

    • tiffanie says:

      “Punch to the face” may be my most favorite fragrance description ever. 🙂

      • Musette says:

        Tiffanie, it is a pretty apt description (for me, anyway) – you get the chypre first but right after there’s this sucker-punch of gasoline, like that gif of the cat sneaking a paw out of the cupboard to slap the other cat? Like that. And I love it!


    • Musette says:

      go to and see if they are currently carrying vintages – 2 of my favorite vintages (samples) came from them.

      I love the modern ‘gasoline’ one as well. But the vints are a whole other animal!


  • tandaina says:

    Our April has also been strange with a high of 89 (89!!!) last week, and again 82 coming on Monday. I live outside Seattle, it should still be 50 and raining. The plants are so confused that there are tulips and grape hyacinth blooming at the same time as lilac! Now that’s confusion in plants.

    My garden is finally settled in, I’m in my third year with it and it’s just busting with the seams! Roses ready to bust out, the clematis has reached the top of the arbor and it’s blooming, its first year to bloom! I’m trying to decide on a spring perfume in the midst of all this. 😉

    • Musette says:

      Well! I think you should just skip straight to your Summer Scents! If it were cool & raini I would suggest my go-tos: Soihvole Violets & Rainwater & Delrae’s Mythique! But that time has come and gone, with both of us experiencing July in April!


  • FeralJasmine says:

    I am not a fan of Mitsouko or chypres ( sorry but it’s very true) but I’m relishing all the loamy and green scents in my garden, and am starting to bring out my white florals. Nothing from 2007 can be considered vintage, but I keep mentioning Tom Ford’s Velvet Gardenia in hopes that one day it will be reissued.
    So how am I spending April? Gardening madly, cooking what I grow, watching my goat grow great with goat, and collecting eggs out of my chicken coop. Oh, and working for a living.

  • mikasminion says:

    Gardening here too, but it’s already getting pretty warm and I keep re-designing the new slate and gravel base for my potted plants (because I can’t walk on the patio of I keep them all there). I’ve moved those big stones and huge pots three times so far and I THINK I’m satisfied this time.
    I’ve also been on patrol at Mom’s place for poison ivy (which I spray), as well as honeysuckle, and vinca, which I dig out while cursing the jerks who planted it where it could escape. I’ve been complementing the ambient scents of dirt and crushed greenery with my perfumes. Lots of figs, greens, and aromatics.
    The last time a perfume made me swoon was when I opened my sample of Sultan Pasha’s Pure Incense. If I was a wealthy woman I would buy a quart of it.

    • Musette says:

      I feel your pain on the stones/pot moving. I am just starting to put things out and already I can see that the red pot on the plinth isn’t going to work – and it’s got 40lbs of potting soil in it…….aiiiiiiy!

      At least I’m getting some tone in the arms again.

      Poison ivy! Ick! Be careful!


  • tiffanie says:

    Thank you for letting us take a meander through your garden and for the reminder that borage is wonderful. I had some growing in my garden years ago. I need to get some borage oil capsules so I don’t lose my grip in the coming weeks.

    Drama in the workplace is the pits. The clouds on the horizon are coming closer each day, so I’m going to take care of myself and get ready for the inevitable storm.

    • Musette says:

      Borage Oil capsules. Keeping women out of the pokey for millenia! Make sure you carry them with you at all times, especially in the coming days.

      Drama of any sort – I am SO over it. These days I feel like doing a lot of Preventative Mayhem – if you even LOOK like you are going to harsh me in any way. Then I consider the idiocy of that – and I take a Borage Oil capsule. xo

  • Katherine says:

    Vintage Shalimar Bath oil blew me away! It brought tears to my eyes because it took me to the scent of my childhood.

  • Sun Mi says:

    Oh this weather! It’s killing me! We bought all these fruits trees and we were putting them out and then putting them in the garage over night, and then we finally planted them last weekend because it *looked* like there was only going to be 1 more cool night and then whammo! 1 turned into 4 or 5. My fig trees are unfurling their leaves only to lose them to freezing temps. 🙁 I haven’t planted the figs though, so perhaps I should just keep hauling them into the garage at night.

    As for vintages, I haven’t really tried any. I do have a bottle of 1976 Jicky, full, that I found at the thrift store a couple of months ago. I should probably try it, but I’m afraid I won’t appreciate it. And so I wait.

    • Musette says:

      as long as it’s leaves and not blossoms you should be okay. Annnd! If it is blossoms, there’s always next year. You shouldn’t be getting fruit the first year anyway.

      “and so I wait’ – for what, darling? Life is Uncertain. There is no ‘appreciation’ without experience, right? And if you don’t, you don’t. I could fill entire PAGES with the names of classic (and contemporary) perfumes that I do not like, do not ‘get’ . xoxoxoA

  • HeidiC says:

    Oh Musette, you are my spirit animal! Mitsouko and Coty Chypre and borage, oh my! These are a few of my favorite things. I have so much trouble finding borage, because the nurseries in my small town don’t appreciate it — I’m hoping that when I move to Minneapolis, it’ll be findable again. That blue is gorgeous. And speaking of gorgeous, I felt the same way when I dabbed my teensy weensy sample of Chypre — I fell in love with my arm.

    • Musette says:

      oh! I LOVE being your spirit animal!

      fwiw – you can easily grow borage from seed. Just get a packet and have at it. And it’ll reseed, too! I have a whole thicket of it (granted it’s only 1/4″ high) from last year’s plantings.


    • We’re good here in sunny Arizona, where temps have been swinging from the low-70s to he mid-90s. I’ve given up on gardening in the summer and will start poking stuff back into the ground come early October or so, when it’s not awful. Summer here manages to even kill my cacti, so.

      My first, for perfume? Uh… I’m still waiting for something to utterly blow me away here on the classy perfume side. Closest I’ve come was when it was summer just starting to fade into autumn and I ordered the 2013 Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Samhain – that brought me to an apple orchard in mid-Fall. It fades quickly on me, though. :/