Ten fabulous (Northwest) smells

It's Monday Listicles time, and this week I've put a local twist on the topic, "10 fabulous smells." I live in a part of the world full of great smells...good thing, as I have a very keen sense of smell! Two smells I am most definitely not fond of are eggs cooking and boys' bathrooms...which can be a challenge in my house of egg-loving males!

But here are wonderful smells I never get tired of, many native to or widespread in the Pacific Northwest:

Tryon Creek State Park,
 near our house
1. The forest after spring rain
This is, hands down, one of the best smells in the world. And in Oregon, we have abundant forests and rain! I wish I could bottle it up to sniff whenever I need a lift!

2. Roses
Photo taken at the Rose Gardens last summer
Portland, my hometown, is known as the City of Roses. We have a number of beautiful gardens, including an amazing Japanese Garden, the Chinese Garden, the Rhododendron Garden, and several public rose gardens. The most famous of all is the International Rose Test Gardens in Washington Park--which is completely free. Wikipedia says it has 7,000 plants of approximately 550 varieties and it's the oldest continuously operating rose test garden in the world. Roses bloom there from early spring to late fall--absolutely gorgeous and so fun to go from rose to rose, smelling as many as possible!

Mike's cousin Tammy had a flight attendant
 layover last year, so we took her to see the roses

3. Fresh rosemary
One of my two favorite herbs, we have found rosemary to be prolific in this climate. We have a large bush in our front yard (which grows very little because of the enormous trees) and another one in the back garden.

4. Fresh basil
And this is my other favorite herb. We grow some every year, but never enough, it seems, to satisfy my demands! I love to eat fresh basil on garden-fresh tomatoes with mozzarrella cheese...or make pesto pizza.

5. Daphne odoro
This is one of my favorite flowers, but our plant doesn't seem to produce many of the wonderful-smelling flowers. I guess rosemary does better in our front yard than daphne. When daphne does flower, the blooms don't last very long...similar to lilacs.

Stumptown Coffee
6. Local coffee, freshly brewed
Portland is a big coffee town, and we have amazing locally roasted and brewed beans. Stumptown is the classic Portland coffee (it prides itself on its direct trade with coffee farmers), and as much as I enjoy coffee, I do think it smells even better than it tastes!

Perhaps the last time we
 went to the beach--last summer--too long ago!!
7. The beach
Since the kids have gotten heavily involved with theater, we haven't been able to get to the beach nearly as often this year. I miss the sounds, the smells, and the feel of the ocean and the beach. Whenever I smell the sea air, my cares ease away and I feel much more relaxed.

Just to point out to Erin and Ellen, I would have fit in on your Big Love camping trip with my Keen shoes! Can I come next time? ;)

8. Lilacs
We have two lilac bushes in our backyard--one lavender and one white--and they smell heavily in the spring. I usually cut a few bouquets to place around the house and take one to the office. They always make me think about Walt Whitman's poem, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd."

Stash tea store
9. Looseleaf tea
We have so many great tea outfits in Portland nowadays...we are the home of the world-famous Stash tea, and last year I visited their local store for the first time. We now had a tea shop right in Multnomah Village, the quaint little village within a city that is just 1/2 mile away from us. Service is still a bit uneven there, but it's fun to be able to choose your own teapot and drink freshly brewed tea. Teabags don't smell like much, but looseleaf tea is aromatic and reminds me of the terraced rice fields in Bali, Indonesia, and the sweet smell of fresh tatami in Japan. I do use teabags often for convenience, but the taste of looseleaf tea is vastly superior.

Tea Zone in the Pearl
Having tea with my dear friends Shelia and April at Medley
 10. My homegrown babies' heads
Babies smell so delicious, especially when they are your own! Of course, boys don't smell nearly as delectable as they get older! But even now, when my kids have bathed and shampooed, I still like smelling their heads! Babies no longer, though...
Chris, June 1997 (9 months adjusted)

Kieran, 2003

Nicholas, 2006
Visit Stasha's blog to read about more wonderful smells or join in the fun!


  1. Lilacs are my favorite!

    Here's my list:



  2. I love basil, too. (Pesto!) And I dislike the smell of eggs cooking, as well.

    1. When my husband makes eggs (scrambled seem to smell the worst) I even get the room freshener out. For some reason, when I cook them the smell doesn't bother me! Must be something in the way he does it.

  3. I like your whole list up until 10. the baby smell must be a Mom thing. The forest after the rain, you're right best smell ever

    1. Interestingly enough, the baby smell isn't just a Mom thing. My husband loves it too. In fact, whenever we have the opportunity to have a new baby visiting, he always grabs the baby, cradles his/her head gently in his palm, and, eyes closed, sniffs away, the most serene smile on his face...

    2. Someone commented on my Facebook link that she loves the smell of puppy breath. I just couldn't relate to that!

  4. I love lilacs but they don't love me. They are a great smell though, until I start sneezing.

  5. The way my children's heads smelled when they were babies takes me right to my happy place.

  6. I love that you had pics for them all. Homegrown baby heads was my favorite. I love the smell of fresh herbs. I don't know what they are by looking at them. But it's like a game to sniff and guess.

    1. Kenya, I can relate--I know what only a few herbs look like!

  7. I've never heard of the Daphne Odoro flower. It's gorgeous though. And nothing beats a baby's head!

    1. Thanks Stacey--I wonder if they are rare or unique to the Northwest?

  8. Mmmmm -love basil too! Makes me think of summertime, with tomatoes and mozzarella!

  9. I love my lilac trees. cannot wait!!

    And I so wish I lived by the beach, because that is just about the greatest natural smell. sadly, I live by the Ottawa River and smell nice it does not. nor would I swim in it. but that beach smell...I'd never close my windows.
    and I will of course be drinking good coffee while I sit at that window, staring at that beach. :)

    1. Oh, that's too bad...a smelly river! That's unfortunate. Imagine how relaxed we would all be if we lived near the ocean.

  10. I LOVE the scent of a forest - nature is the best.

    Fresh herbs are also the best...

    I definitely agree with the scent of a coffeehouse...it's a place you don't want to leave right away. I also like smelling the coffee at the gas station mart - another good scent.

  11. I have to admit that I'm a coffee snob...I only like the smell of GOOD coffee...so I don't think I'd like the smell at a gas station mart. Although so many people have expressed their love of smelling gasoline, so maybe that's why it appeals--gasoline + coffee?

  12. Sweet baby photos. And how could I forget about rosemary? I love it and have a fabulous chicken recipe where I stick twigs of rosemary all around and inside of it. Yum.


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