Category Archives: High Street perfumes

Rosie for Autograph Summer Rose: A Little Beauty

rhw summer rose

Look at that! Two Marks and Spencer reviews in two days. As you may gather, I didn’t leave empty handed yesterday.  I came away with a tiny 15ml bottle of Rosie for Autograph Summer Rose.

Rosie Huntingdon Whitely is the face of many M&S lines, namely her lingerie and make-up range.  In 2015, the first scent, Rosie for Autograph, was launched, and jolly good it was too. You can read my review here.   I’ve recently run out and need another one.  It’s a fabulous centifolia rose scent.  After that, came Rosie for Autograph Nuit (which I haven’t tried) and in summer 2106, the latest flanker Summer Rose was launched, which is what I’m reviewing today.

summer rose

Summer Rose opens with pear and blackcurrant which hooks up with the sandalwood straight away. I’m afraid I got a few whiffs of pencil shavings before this settles down, but no matter, that phase didn’t last long.

The middle is all about the heady jasmine sambac,: a highly popular ingredient lately which appears in many bestsellers. If you read between the lines, you may see me roll my eyes (it’s in everything right now!). There are roses which are fairly prominent, and lily of the valley, which I couldn’t pick up at all- shame, because lily of the valley is one of my favourite notes.

The grand finale still has pear, roses, a bit of woody stuff and some heady jasmine. In a blind test, I would have said this was peony and patchouli, which gives you some idea of how it comes across. Even if the notes don’t match. This is of course, subjective- you may have a different experience.

florentyna ma and s shelf

Summer Rose is pretty and light and will be a big crowd pleaser.  I applaud the availability of 10ml and 15ml bottles in Marks and Spencer. It puts perfume treats within everyone’s reach and it’s a great way of testing a scent before committing to a full bottle. The rest of the perfume department is pretty good too: check out the Monotheme range, the Fragonard and the Roger & Gallet.

Stockists You can buy Rosie for Autograph Summer Rose instore or online. It’s exclusively stocked at Marks and Spencer.  A 30ml bottle is just £14 and makes a great gift.

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rhw 15ml mk2

Marks and Spencer Florentyna: I Took Another Look

florentyna bottle and box

Marks and Spencer Florentyna has been there for so long that it was almost off my radar. I tried it many years ago, declared it old fashioned and never bothered again. Until today. With a new attitude, I took another look at Florentyna, and if you’ve ruled it out, as I did, then I encourage you to re-sniff with new eyes- or should that be nostrils? Because, my dear fellow sniffalots, Florentyna is actually pretty good stuff.

florentyna 10ml

For years, I was convinced that this was mainly a rose scent. I’d even heard people say it smelled similar to Estee Lauder Beautiful. It sort of does-ish, a bit. Slightly. In fact, I went into my nearby House of Fraser and tried Estee Lauder Beautiful for comparison. I would say they are the same family, but not close relatives.

Florentyna opens with big, white, creamy, feminine Gardenia. Almost immediately all the other white flowers burst in then: jasmine, orange flower and lily of the valley. The base note is musk, but a clean laundry musk, not a sexy animalic thigh-sweat musk. This is so respectable it should wear pearls.

Oddly, tuberose, the Queen of the white flowers, is missing. Now this is actually an appropriate omission in the case of Florentyna, because, as much as I like tuberose, it can take over, and when it’s really strong, it can have that vegetal/celery note which I love, but not everyone does. Here, all the “naice” white flowers are included. That’s a deliberate misspelling by the way- you’re saying “nice” in a genteel voice with your pinkie finger sticking out as you hold your bone china tea cup.

florentyna ma and s shelf

The background and frame of these white flowers is a beautiful and very noticeable white soapy note.  It’s good old fashioned pure white, very posh, thrice milled luxury soap, and along with the  bigwhite flowers, it smells terrific.

Thinking about it, it reminded me of an eighties fragrance- remember how Dior Poison was all giant tuberose and  Givenchy Amarige was all big jasmine and green soapy tobacco? Well this is massive too.

As for longevity? Well, three squirts should last you an entire weekend. florentyna

 

Florentyna is worth a second look and worth a lot more than its small price, but please keep that price where it is M&S!

Stockists: You can buy Florentyna from Marks and Spencer.  I also recommend Florentyna White, which I reviewed here. Florentyna is available at prices starting at £3.50 for 10ml.

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Yardley London Royal Pink Diamond

royal pink bottle and box

I often find Yardley scents off the beaten track on the High Street and this is a shame because they deserve to be centre stage. If you go into Boots for example, there’s a wall of testers (all locked up these days. Humph) and a totally separate shelf around the corner for the lower budget scents, including the Yardley range.  Needless to say,  I spend more time in this aisle than I do pressing my nose agaisnt the locked glass shelves of  testers.

Yardley Royal Pink Diamond is an excellent fruity floral that deserves to sell like hot cakes on a cold day.  Let’s start with that darling little bottle: it’s cute as a button with its fancy lid and pink juice. I can see that it’s designed to appeal to the, shall we say, under forty-seven age group, but I really like this and am sorely tempted to add it to the many bottles on my groaning dressing table.

royal pink diamond

Yardley London Royal Pink Diamond opens with tempting summery fruits: peach, cassis and mandarin. These are juicy and clean, rather that sickly and sticky.

Early on in this, the cedar pops up and adds a few woody notes to the melange of fruit.   Just as I’m getting used to fruity and woody together, along come the peonies and orange flower.  There is also pink pepper, which is pretty much a ubiquitous note in fruity florals and is a tiny sweet berry, not a spice.  The woodsy base seems to get bigger and bigger until the cedar pretty much takes over. Personally, I don’t mind this, but you might. However, there’s a lovely clean white musk note that turns up later and hangs around for a while., keeping the flowers and fruit company  as they fade.

At under £20 for a 50ml bottle, this is a great gift for someone else or for yourself, and I’m a big believer in gifts for oneself!

latest launches

I feel quite protective about the Yardley name.  So many um…under forty sevens might think of it as a “Nan-brand” but it takes talent, stamina and innovation to have been making fragrance since the 1770s and still be going strong.  Yardley London Contemporary Classics has produced some of the best single note florals ever. I swear by Yardley April Violets, Yardley English Lavender ( which Marilyn Monroe wore, fact fans- not just Chanel No 5) and Yardley Jade. I also loved Yardley Bluebell and Yardley Freesia. They’re reasonably priced and you can wear them alone or layer them for a little bouquet on your skin.  What can I say? I’m a fan.

from www.YardleyLondon.co.uk
from www.YardleyLondon.co.uk

Stockists: Yardley London Royal Pink Diamond is available from the Yardley website or from Amazon UK.  I found my sample in the Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box, which you can read about here.

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Missoni Eau de Parfum: Something New and Something Old

MIS15_ADV A3_D

 

I have to admit, the sum total of my Missoni knowledge prior to this is posh stripy knitting, so I apologise in advance for my ignorance.  You can find out more about the origins of the brand here in this superb round up from our trusty friends at Fragrantica.

I was recently given a sample of Missoni Eau de Parfum as part of a goody bag from my Perfume Society Improve Your Sense of Smell workshop ( see my write up here) . The brand came to my attention again when it won a FiFi for best packaging back in May at the annual Fragrance Foundation UK Awards ( see my write up here. Again) . Sure enough, its simple white background and coloured stripes are certainly eye-catching and immediately says Missoni across a crowded perfume shop.  The bottle itself is a fabulous unicorn blend of irridescent colour, and since it’s pretty cheap (around £20 for 30ml) you could do a lot worse for your dressing table.

missoni amazon

So what does it smell like?

Well I have to admit, it’s not smashing any barriers or covering any new ground.  However, if you want a pretty “pink” scent that doesn’t dominate a room, this is just the ticket.

It opens with pear and citrus, which straight away makes it blend in like a school uniform in a school.  In the middle, there’s a big batch of florals: namely  synthentic “petalia” i.e man-made general petal scent, along with floral notes and the ubiquitious note-of-the-year jasmine sambac.  Then there’s a sort of woody cedar base where the sweetness of the pear and the synthetic florals kind of blend in with a floral woody finish and… voila! A generic pink beauty counter fragrance that fits right into summer 2017.

The  pear/ jasmine sambac/woody base thing has been done to death lately so either this lacks originality or it taps into what the kids are buying.   No harm done, but I’ll sit this one out.

Sorry Missoni. I guess you won’t be sending me a free stripy jumper any time soon. Good price and great bottle though.

Stockists

You can buy this from allbeauty.com. The price is very good at just over £20 for a 30ml bottle.  You can also try amazon.co.uk.

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Thierry Mugler Aura: The Mugler I’ve Been Waiting For

aura ad

A new Mugler female fragrance is big news in perfume land. There have been flankers a plenty, but only three big ones since gamechanger Angel barged in and took over beauty counters in 1992: Alien, Womanity and this one: Aura.

It was in 1995 that I first tried Angel in the Harrods Perfume Hall, which seemed such a good place to try a Mugler for the first time that I did it again on Saturday.  I managed to sweet talk the lovely Sales Assistant in the Harrods Perfume Hall into not one but two samples of Aura.   Also, it provided brief respite from supercar spotting with my son in Knightsbridge.

aura bottle parfumo net
Photo by profumo.net

Aura has two brand new ingredients that were invented to fox bloggers and perhaps to ensure a lack of imitation.  When you think of how many big patchouli gourmands Angel inspired, it’s hard not to expect the same here.  However, Aura is not so easy to describe.

It opens with rhubarb and orange flowers.  I love rhubarb in fragrance.  If you have ever smelled Jour D’Hermes or Aedes de Venustas original then you will know how fabulous it can be.  It has a kind of  vegetal autumnal fruitiness that is perfect alongside the other ingredients in Aura.  The orange flower is to my nose, very girly and has facets of clean white soap alongside its typical white-flower headiness.

Photo by Mugler.Fr
Photo by Mugler.Fr

The two secret ingredients are Wolfwood from Firmenech (The flavour and fragrance  brand) and Tiger Liana, which  is totally going to be my stripper name if times get tough.

Tiger Liana alleges to be a smoky sugared almond note, but it’s hard to pick out a note I’m only guessing at, so in all honesty, I can’t tell you if it’s there or if my brain is putting it there .  I can pick out some wonderful dry, smoky woods, but I don’t know if its Wolfwood or just dry, smoky woods. In any case, the woody notes are there alongside the big. big orange flower, which I found to one of the most prominent notes in Aura.

photo from Fragrantica
photo from Fragrantica

The strongest overall impression Aura gave me was one of huge, juicy leaves in a rainforest with added gourmand and floral facets that frame  this green scent for the modern palate.   Aura has a wonderful “wetness” note to it that smells as leafy as the bottle is green.

As for the vanilla bourbon, well I didn’t really notice that until the end of the day when the leafy footprints  had faded and left only a rich vanilla liqueur in its place.   Longevity, by the way, is excellent.  I wore two sprays from morning until night.

Of all the Muglers, this is my favourite.   I don’t think it will be the game changer Angel was, but I think it’s one of the most palatable of the Muglers and the turned-down volume of it will be a crowd pleaser.   As for the  chiselled green jewel of a bottle -it is a huge divine emerald, which, if it were real, would be unapologetically vulgar and would look great on my third finger.

aura 9

My verdict? This is my favourite Mugler, but not the best. The best one is Angel, but that’s not my favourite.

Further reading: Thomas Dunckley, aka The Candy Perfume Boy, is for me, the last word on Mugler.  Here’s his review of Aura, which, and I’m not just saying this, is better than mine.  Please don’t enter it in the Jasmine Awards Thomas. I’d like an outside chance next year.

Stockists

This launches on June 30th and will be widely available. You can currently pre order it from The Fragrance Shop UK.   You should be able to find it post launch  from John Lewis and Escentual to name but two.  The bottle is refillable, which I totally applaud in this wasteful day and age.

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First impressions of First Instinct For Her by Abercrombie and Fitch

 

abercrombie

Until this week, I had never tried any fragrance from Abercrombie and Fitch.  In fact, I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t even know they did any.  I guess I’m not their targeted market,  being a 47 year old with a serious charity shop habit.  No matter.  With perfume, age means nothing, and it will ALWAYS fit, even after Christmas.

On my skin,  First Instinct  For Her opens with magnolia and orchids. Now,  I always have a problem with orchid.  No matter who makes the fragrance,  orchid always smells like plastic to me.  Unfortunately, the case is no different here.  However, the magnolia rallies and a touch of grapefruit lifts it a bit higher.  The passion fruit adds a faint hint of tropical taste, a bit like Lilt, and the orange flower comes in to give this a heady white flower  blanket that complements the magnolia and makes it even richer.  The base is warmed with some cosy sweet tonka and amber.

abercrombie ad

Unfortunately, the overall impression this gave me was white flowers, vanilla and orchid.  It reminded me of so many other fragrances that I just couldn’t get excited about it.  However, another way of saying it  is that it’s right on trend at the moment and there is clearly an appetite for fragrance of this genre.

If you like this, you may also be a fan of Paco Rabanne Olympea, or Avon Far Away Infinity or Avon Incandessence (very orchid-y) or Christian Lacroix Bijou for Avon.

Stockists

You can get a sample of this ( among others) from The Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box, or buy a full bottle from The Fragrance Shop UK online or instore, or from Escentual.

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Shay & Blue Dandelion Fig: The Scent of the Garden

dandelion fig bottle

If you spent hours playing in the garden as a child, you may well stop in your tracks and think that Shay & Blue London Dandelion Fig is like a Tardis, taking you back there. That’s certainly the effect it had on me.

dandelion figShay & Blue London make the kind of scents you always wished people would make. Dandelion Fig is one of those.  It’s not a fruity floral and despite its fig notes, not really a gourmand, although the scent of it certainly made my mouth water.  Dandelion Fig takes every refreshing and earthy note from the garden (and not necessarily a neat garden) and brings them all together in one uplifting, leafy, earthy accord.

Dandelion Fig opens with dandelion and lemongrass. When I was growing up, there was a rumour that picking dandelions would make you wet the bed. As a result, they were often seen, sniffed and never picked, at least not until they became clocks.

dandelion quora

The handy thing about dandelions, and one of the reasons why I love this fragrance, is that dandelions provide dock leaves.  Dock leaves when crushed can cure the heat of nettle rash when you’re playing out all day and can’t be bothered to go home and get Germolene (another great smell, if you ask me).  It’s left me with a lifelong liking for green leafy notes in fragrance.

Like THIS!
Like THIS!

After the dandelion there is tomato vine and lemongrass.   You may recall my review of Library of Fragrance Tomato, which I raved about.  It had hints of lemon verbena and that uplifting earthy green scent of the slightly furry vines that hold those juicy plum tomatoes.   Well, tomato vine is here again and teamed with juniper.  The last word goes to fig, which is eked out into a perfectly sized measure against the other ingredients,  enhancing the  juiciness and adding a touch of depth. Dark, juicy fig, to my nose, always borders on wrong and stops just short of it.

This is a scent that doesn’t try to please the masses, but ends up pleasing little old me in spades.  Muddy garden spades.   Dandelion Fig is green, fresh and earthy and out of all the scents in the Perfume Society Latest Launches Box, this and the Annick Goutal stood out from the rest as my absolute favourites.  This is a great fig scent for people who are still unsure about fig. fig tree

Further reading: Check out my reviews of other Shay & Blue fragrances: Framboise Noire, Amber Rose, English Cherry Blossom, Blood Oranges.

Stockists

You can buy Dandelion Fig from the Shay & Blue London website, or you can obtain a sample from the Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box, like I did.   You can also find this in store and online  Marks and Spencer.
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The Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box: What’s in it?

latest launches

As you may have realised, I’m a sucker for a Discovery Box. I can’t get enough of them. When the Perfume Society launched a year after I started blogging about perfume, it was a match made in heaven.  This is not a sponsored post by the way, I’m just a bona fide fangirl with nothing but a dream in my pocket, a cup of tea on my desk and eleventy billion perfume samples.

ll cards

The Latest Launches Box does what it says on the tin (box) and serves as a great way of getting your hands on samples that would be nigh on impossible to get hold of any other way.  I don’t know about you but I find that perfume counter sales assistants demand nothing less than dinner and cocktails before they’ll hand over a sample these days.  Even the Avon brochure charges 75p now.   And don’t get me started on the price of butter.

delina

So what’s in this lovely box of delights? Well, ~I’ll give you a list but I also give you a little tour via the medium of home movies. Not those sort of home movies, the nice sort.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my face in the shot to make it like a proper Zoella thingy but it was hot and I didn’t want to put make up on.  I know you’ll understand my dear chums.

What’s in it?

Parfums de Marly Delina 1.2ml eau de parfum. I haven’t heard of this line before, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and reporting back.

tenue

Annick Goutal Tenue de Soirée 0.8ml eau de parfum.: Another brand that never lets me down.  I can’t stop sniffing this wonderful patchouli iris. It really stands out from recent scents that I’ve tried. Gorgeous.

 

Miller Harris Lumière Dorée 7.5ml eau de parfum in the same bolumierex as Miller Harris Ètui Noir 7.5ml eau de parfum. They can be worn alone or layered together. I wasn’t massively keen on Lumiere Doree but when you layer Etui Noir over the top, it’s a real game changer.  Etui Noir is more masculine and leathery and really sets off Lumiere Doree.

E Coudray Rose Tubéreuse10ml Natural Spray.  I adore E Coudray. They always provide very high-quality scents and this is no exception. I crose tubereusean’t say I love this one as much as I love E Coudray Iris Rose. In fact, this one reminded me more of Miller Harris Noix de Tubereuse, so if you like that you’ll probably like this too.

Shay & Blue Dandelion Fig 2ml Natural Spray. Our trusty friends at Shay & Blue London can be relied upon to dandelion figturn out a high-quality scent that uses interesting combinations of notes such as Amber Rose or the amazing Blueberry Musk.  I also recommend English Cherry Blossom and Blood Oranges. Dandelion Fig is a wonderfully earthy scent that I can’t wait to review, so watch this space.

abercrombie

 Abercrombie & Fitch First Instinct For Women 2ml eau de parfum- Initial thoughts: this is a fruity floral, but I will come back and add more details. It’s a hot day so I can only smell so many at a time. I bet you know the feeling. First impressions: loving the magnolia and grapefruit combo.

royal pink diamondYardley London Royal Pink Diamond 1ml eau de toilette. A prettier and fruitier version of the original Yardley Royal Diamond.  This combines peaches, pears and oranges with peony and roses, rounding off with a very pretty musk note.

emblemMontblanc Lady Emblem Elixir 2ml eau de parfum. A pretty enough fruity floral with the emphasis on the fruity (lychee and mandarin with muscles). A vanilla base makes this smell fairly generic to me, but strangely, I’d still buy it. It reminds me of another scent but I’m blowed if I can remember the name. It’ll come to me.  Probably at 4 am,

lav

Weleda Lavender Relaxing Body Oil 10ml. A dab here, a dab there- on your temples, on your wrists, few drops in the bath. You can’t beat lavender on a hot day.

The Very Nature Amethyst Rush– I currently have this scented sachet hanging from my desk as I write and it scents everything I do, which is most welcome in this horrible sticky heatwave. It smells like beautiful talc.

 

And last but not least, here’s me with a little tour and commentary of the box itself.

Stockists

The Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box is just 17.50 from The Perfume Society. If you sign up as a VIP member, you get £5 off this and a discount on all other boxes, access to The Scented Letter fragrance magazine, and exclusive invites to events and launches- and not just in London ( see my Bristol write up).  Boxes can be bought on an ad hoc basis so there’s no 12-month obligation or anything.   My box was given to me by The Perfume Society , for which many thanks.   Opinions are my own.

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Michael Kors Turquoise: Summer is Open for Business

By David Hockney, shared from the TES
By David Hockney, shared from the TES

Summer begins the day I leave home without a cardigan. Today is that day.  What better scent to review than one that immediately made me long for an infinity pool somewhere hot?  As lovely as Pontypridd Lido is, I want more.

Michael Kors Turquoise was an immediate  hit with me.  It opens with sea notes, which is a rather handy subjective term.   I’m pretty sure  that many brands have their own definition.   In this case, it is a clean unsalted sea note that reminded me of that scent of churning water outdoors- you know, the scent you get when you stand at the top of a water slide in the sun?  Yep.  That.   I could even smell rubber inflatables, but I think that’s memory and association, rather than this actual fragrance.

turquoise

The lime is astringent  and not sweet like cordial.   If you don’t normally like cucumber notes, you’ll still like this: it’s in there faintly, but hard to pick out.  The water lily adds to the aquatic feel : It’s a clean, subtle flower note.  The jasmine comes out somewhere in the middle, but gently,  not in a big white flowery way like tuberose can.   There’s nothing heady about Turquoise at all.

This claims to bed down into a cedar and amber base, but I can report that after two hours, it smells like a swimming pool with flower petals in to the point where I want to start looking at holiday brochures.

Turquoise is the perfect name for this. It’s David Hockney, water slides and infinity pools. It’s the perfect summer fragrance. I wish it was stronger so that my whole day smells like this.  Suddenly, indoors seems a bit stuffy now.

Oh, is it for men or for women? Don’t know, don’t care. It’s gorgeous.

Stockists

Michael Kors Turquoise is available from House of Fraser where I drenched myself in it more than once.   Sorry, not sorry, ladies. You should be used to me by now! You can also buy it from John Lewis.

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Dear Aunty Sam: Your Perfume Problems Part Five: Womanity & Travalo sprays

painting by John William Waterhouse
painting by John William Waterhouse

Well I never realised that I’d be answering perfume problems for s fifth time, but here I am. I guess I’ve opened a can of worms. Still, as a perfume blogger, it’s clearly my job to end olfactory suffering. Call me white rosethe Florence Nightingale of fragrance foibles. By the way, did you know that Florence Nightingale wore Floris White Rose? Florence Fact.

I’m going to answer two problems today.  Do join in if you have anything to add. I bow to your greater knowledge, my dear chums.

My first letter was from Dawn, who has kindly allowed me to quote from her email

Dear Aunty Sam,

I am in horrible mourning because I found out that Mugler absolutely stopped making Womanity. I tried wearing Jo Malone Wood Sage and Sea Salt but I hated it. Is there any way you can give me some fragrances to try that are as quirky as Womanity and that might actually dry down as wonderfully as Womanity did?

Dear Dawn,

Thank you so much for writing to me. First of all, for full disclosure, Womanity is very much not for me. However, there is no right or womanitywrong in perfume and if you need something, then I I want to get it for you. The two biggest notes in Womanity are caviar and fig. My suggestion is that you find a fragrance with caviar notes and layer a decent fig over the top. However, you told me that caviar scents are hard to find, and you’re right. It’s a pretty niche sort of note. If you wanted vanilla or jasmine I could write a list as long as my arm.

Looking at trusty Fragrantica, I can see that Diesel Bad For Men has a caviar note that smells “like a trickle of sweat down a man’s chiselled body”.  You could try layering this with Library of Fragrance Fig or L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figueur, which  has some of the woodiness of Womanity.

Now I’m not sure if this will work, so you may have to mix and layer until you find something you can live with. I do sympathise with you though. I am bereft at the loss of Gucci Envy ten years ago.

My other question was from the lovely Rachael, who asked a question that I once had myself until I figured it out.

travalo close up

Dear Aunty Sam

I’ve been wondering how to decant stuff for ages to make it more amenable to carrying around. I have a tendency to buy ‘bargain’ 50 or 100ml bottles and then don’t want to lug it everywhere with me, particularly in hot weather, when you need extra top-ups, but carry less stuff!

Rachael

Dear Rachael,

if you don’t mind my using unladylike language, a Travalo travel spray has  a sort of  cat’s bum on its bottom. You take your 100ml bottle, remove the nozzle and stick it up the bottom of your Travalo, and then you pump away until its full.   No spill, no waste.  Hope this helps. Once you get stuck in, you’ll find half full Travalos all over the house!

 

 

How About You?

Do you have any advice of your own to add to these dilemmas?  Do you have any problems you’d like me to look into?  (perfume only please, ahem.)   Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.

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