Saturday, January 13, 2018

Studio Update 2018

I'd say this job will take at least another 48 hours -- as in 48 total hours, not two days -- to finish up. The more I crack open, the more space I require to store things. So far I've found little, if anything, that I'm going to get rid of except for the few things here and there that were straight up junk. My son went in behind me and checked the empty boxes that are piling up on his side of the garage now and found some 10 ml graduated cylinders and a couple of blending cups that I overlooked. That's what happens when you work without your glasses on to see stuff up close and can't see the clear glass things at the bottom of a big box.

So some jarring news came through yesterday that Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studio is getting out of the artisan perfume business. She's been a staple in the artisan perfume community since the early 2000's, and I know I'm going to miss perusing her online perfume aisles. A few years back I bought a few of her pieces to gift to the scent whores in my life, and they were more than well-received. My youngest son has a bottle of an amber perfume from SSS that was discontinued some time ago, and he hoards every precious drop while at the same time wearing it as his signature scent. I know Laurie's decision to set aside perfumery is weighing heavy on her heart, and I wish her the best of luck in the future, whatever it may hold.

Well, back to the studio.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Studio Update 2.0

I finally made it into the garage*slash*studio to begin the sorting process. Right now it's all preliminary as most of the boxes and whatnot that were placed on the studio shelving wasn't put there by me but by 'them' to get the boxes out of their way. Once I sort through the boxes on the ground, I'm going to begin in the boxes on the table and shelves. Yeah, there's a table in that mess on the right of the photos that you can't see, and it's piled over 6 feet high with stuff. I found my old perfume apothecary box that I used to use as a portable organ back in the day, 2006 or 2007. Most everything in it has dried up, but a few, like the patchouli, have aged to perfection.

It may be a bit difficult to get perspective with these pictures, but bear with me here. All photos are taken in roughly the exact same spot, though the camera angle may be higher, lower, a little to the left, or a little to the right of the other photos. 

Studio before beginning to sort

After about three hours of sorting

After five hours of sorting

Thursday, January 11, 2018

There Will Be Worms

There's so much to do around here I hardly know where to start! I got as far as one box in the studio before giving up. Whilst the gentlemen here were cleaning their side of the garage, they piled up all of the textiles they found on my side of the garage. Pillows, blankets, clothes, coats, sweaters, throws, sheets -- you name it, there it sits, apparently waiting for one of the womenfolk to break down and wash. There are only so many hours in a day, and I've got a full -- FULL -- plate to deal with, so that pile is getting pushed back onto their side until I can get my side sorted. The wash can wait. I need to clean my room, but that can't happen until there's studio space to put all the business stuff accumulated over the holidays. Getting organized has always been an enormous pain my arse, and I feel like I do this moving and unboxing thing every two or three years. It's exhausting. I'm looking forward to getting rid of a lot of stuff too. Things I've accumulated and either never used or used once and deemed irrelevant to the cause. I'm also looking forward to creating perfumes again! I haven't sat down for a good formulation session in at least a year. The last perfume I made was just before I joined the International Perfume Foundation and gave up natural isolates. That final perfume was made with some natural isolates and it never quite sat well with me. I'm just not very good with the isolates, I guess. Giving them up hasn't felt like much of a sacrifice, but then again, I haven't made a perfume since then. There are a few ideas on the calendar for future perfumes. I'm going to revisit one of the more popular perfumes I made years ago, Sahar, and attempt to update it. There is also going to be a new amber perfume awaiting birth. Ambers are a particular favorite of mine because I've rarely met an amber I didn't like. And then there's going to be something deep and deliciously attar-like happening. So there are three, at least, that will be introduced this year, and more if the clutter can be controlled. 

Another benefit of sorting through the studio wares is that I will finally locate my seeds! Witching seeds aka medicine, perfumer's seeds, food seeds -- they're all packed away in various envelopes and packets tucked into boxes of resins and gums. I've been prepping the raised beds since October, and there are already hyacinth bulbs laid down and popping up to bloom next month. Most of the tuberose have been planted in their own bed as well. There's a decent mulch pot brewing, and soon, when the threat of frost subsides, there will be worms. I think that would make a great t-shirt logo -- There Will Be Worms. It could mean so many different things. I'm hoping to have a prosperous garden of herbs, food, and flowers galore. 

Well, I'm off. 

Monday, January 01, 2018

Queen of Diamonds

It is sad that as a child the holidays are anticipated the whole year long, and as an adult they are something to 'get through'. "Once the holidays are over," we say. Or, "Let's get through Christmas first," before embarking on a new adventure. It all relates to rampant consumerism and money, money, money, and, let's face it, sadness, loneliness, and the need for acceptance. I didn't buy a lot for people this Christmas. I made most of what I gave, but the few times I did venture out to get something I couldn't put together myself, I felt like people had gone insane. Bags laden with crap no one is going to use, people buying things just to mark a name off their list. It's sad. How many years in a row are you going to 'gift' grandma a bogo buy lotion from B&BW? Or slippers? I know this is what goes down because I cleaned out my mother's room when she passed and found a half dozen unopened fancy scented lotions from Christmases gone by, and a closet full of unworn slippers. And I admit that I was responsible for some of those purchases I found buried in her room. 

So what did I buy this year? 

Cigars and a humidor because I don't grow tobacco -- yet.

A gun case with locks because a shoebox is dangerous and stupid. 

Much-needed winter clothes because freezing to death at recess is never a good option. 

Everything else came from my hands, and this is because of my mother's passing in 2013. In her last month she gave as much of her things away as she could. Her last gift from me, on the day that she died, was a box of chocolate because I knew that anything else would not be welcome -- it would just be more crap to give away. When I came to her home after she had passed, I opened the box of chocolate I gave her that was sitting on the coffee table where she played hours and hours of solitaire, and found that she had eaten three pieces. And then she died. Right there on that coffee table, her raggedy worn cards beneath her. 

So, now that the holidays are over . . . . 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Patchouli Royale ~ A Delightfully Perfumed Natural Soap

I made a luscious soap last night, half of which will make it into the shop, and the other half to be used as one-of-a-kind gifts for family & friends. I'm calling it Patchouli Royale, but I could have also called it Neroli Royale, or Royal Cologne Soap. Why the royal designation? Because it's over the top decadent. It is made with organic olive oil, organic coconut oil, raw yellow shea butter, and scented with a few different bottles of aged and vintage patchouli oils, petitgrain sur fleur neroli, bergamot, oakwood, vetyver, rose geranium, and linden blossom CO2 (the real stuff, not the natural isolate hydroxycitronellal that was floating around some time ago -- well, it's still around, but no real natural perfumer believes it's the scent of linden blossom anymore -- it's derived from citronella oil, not linden). This soap has all the hallmarks of a rich and deep eau de cologne. And it's kind of pretty.

I'm putting it up in the shop later today. I know, you've heard all that about 'curing' for four to six weeks, well, as long as it's gone through the process of saponification, which it has, and the pH level isn't crazy, which it isn't, and you use a water reduction method, which I have, and curing soap relates more to the release of excess water than anything else, well, then, it's kind of already there. Wait too long and it loses scent and may even become rancid if it got too hot during the heating of oils or overheating during the gel phase. Handmade soap has a shelf life, and each batch is different. Some last months or years, and others go off within weeks. 

More awesome stuff is getting made later today. Bath bombs, ooh, and some whipped body butters. It's going to be another busy day.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Special Orders

I'm finally getting 'round to those special orders -- 10 bars of soap, a custom fabu butter, etc., and the house is reeking of peppermint and juniper and I'm already considering making another batch for the shop it smells so flippin' ALIVE! I'm also thinking of putting together a simple soap of frankincense just for good measure. I've got a lovely 10 year aged frankincense that will do the trick.

The house is just coming awake now and I can feel the energy rise. I'm hoping for those who tend to wake up on the wrong side of the bed that they find the intoxicating scent of juniper and peppermint altering and invigorating to their moods. 

I'm starting to get into the holiday spirit, finally. There's still a bit of stress and trepidation, people tend to get snippy and stupid this time of year. I'm sure it's because everyone is running around like chickens with their heads cut off while some of us are just trying to go about our non-rush business. 

Off I go. The soap is ready to mix and I haven't a moment to spare on these special orders.

Oh! Starting tomorrow and through until Saturday the 16th I am offering free shipping on all orders over $50 at The Scented Djinn Etsy shop. I'm adding new stuff in the next few days, so there will be a slightly wider selection for you.

Have a lovely and fragrant day!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Work & Play

It's going to be a busy week here at the Plum Palace. Last night my son and I had a chile verde throw down and invited some friends to taste test the results. He won, but I already knew he would. Years ago he was gifted the 'secret family recipe' from a now defunct (but not because of their food) taco stand he loved. I remember the day he was given the recipe. We were shopping at the local grocery store, and he saw the man who used to run the taco stand and they got to chatting about this and that and how the man became disabled and wasn't able to keep his business going, and then my son mentioned that the man's chile verde was the best he'd ever had, so the man whipped an old receipt out of his wallet and wrote down the recipe and handed it to my son while stating, "Don't forget to pop the tomatillos before you cook 'em." My version of this same recipe has been only slightly altered, but my son's been building on the original recipe, tweaking the spices and using different techniques to get the best flavor from the meat and the verde. He is a trained chef, after all. He's been perfecting his spice blend and has now decided to package it as gifts this holiday season for family and friends. Next year he hopes to expand this into a real business.

While he's working on that, I'll be working on some custom holiday orders -- 10 bars of peppermint and rose geranium soaps, custom nilotica shea face butters, more tub mud, and probably more soap. I might also make a pretty little roll-on oil-based perfume featuring jasmine grandiflorum. Like I said, it's going to be a busy week. I'm also going to be making some cookies featuring juniper berries as flavoring, and others with a fir sugar icing to gift family and friends. I got these recipes from the blog 'Gather' that features wild food recipes. I've only just begun reading this blog and so far I love it. I wish I had the energy to create a blog like theirs with videos and hefty content. Instead you get this ~ ha!

I've been rolling the idea around in my head to write an expanded version of the Kyphi booklet. I'm actually getting emails and FB messages from people who've bought the book asking questions about it. This has been going on pretty much since the book was published, so it isn't anything new, it's just that now seems the time to focus some attention there. I've learned so much more since I wrote that book, so much more about incense in general, and a lot about the raw materials thanks to some very generous and adventurous suppliers. I've got reams of research and first-hand evaluations of incense raw materials that I'd like to sort out and share. Since I know that Kyphi making, and burning, can be a transformative venture, now, in this time in history, a positive transformation is necessary if we are to thrive.

Friday, December 08, 2017

A Little Tasseomancy With My Tea

I have been drinking tea since I was about two-years-old, coffee since I was 10, and I still regularly drink coffee, but tea holds a special fascination for me. There is so much variety in tea, so much potential. A nice cup of Earl Grey with honey can start your day on a positive note, and it's even better in late afternoon when coffee would be too much. My tea preference has always been loose leaf as I love to see and smell the swirl of tea dust and leaves in the cup. Jasmine green is an especial favorite and I pair it with madeleines, Earl Grey is always paired with pecan shortbread or my own homemade petitgrain sur fleur neroli shortbread cookies. Pu-erh tea is for introspection, matcha for inspiration. Lapsong souchong is for dark, cold nights when comfort is required. I also love the ritual of tea. It's my own ritual, and it's relatively new to this fall and coming winter season, but it is a ritual nonetheless. Hot tea must be drunk from a tea cup with a saucer, otherwise it doesn't feel right. It must be sniffed while sipped, the cup held with two hands, as if to cradle it. When the liquid is gone, the cup is inverted onto the saucer for a moment, and then tea leaves clinging to the inside of the cup are 'read'. What is in store for me today, sweet tea? And the leaves tell me in dots and shapes that today will be good, or bad, or ugly. Sometimes the leaves tell me nothing at all, but leave a lingering shadow of bitterness and rust on my tongue. 

A recent class I've been taking has brought back all these memories of tea leaf reading from when I was a kid. I've always been a voracious reader, and my mother, also a voracious reader, would get boxes and boxes of old books donated to her from well-meaning relatives and friends who knew how we whiled away our days. In one of those boxes was an old fortune-telling book missing its front and back covers. It was a fascination to me, and I devoured it with my eight-year-old eyes, and took to heart what was written in its pages. I learned palmistry, iridology, scrying with mirrors and crystal balls, reading tarot with playing cards, how to use pendulums for divination. It was a treasure trove of information that fed well my very active imagination. There was also a small section on tea leaf reading, and I remember trying to use chopped Lipton tea in a drinking glass to 'divine' my near future. It was all relatively tame stuff, and that book is long gone, lost in a move or left behind somewhere. Also lost to the ravages of time, and a fair bit of stress in my life, is what I learned from that book. So I've been on a quest these past few months -- actually since a friend and I put on a high tea in October -- to relearn tea leaf reading, or, rather, tasseomancy, the art of divination through tea leaf shapes. In October I asked everyone I could think of if they knew a tea leaf reader and no one did. In fact, it seems to be a dying art. Too quaint for some of these hard-core divinators who use multiple tarot decks, stones, blazing candles, and chicken blood to get answers from the universe or the other side or wherever.

So I'm relearning tasseomancy. I think it's the sweetness of it, the practicality of it, that has drawn me in.

But, I also love tea. Just drinking the stuff. Finding nice blends of teas and savoring them, and it's been a dream of mine for some while to create my own tea blends, but there was always something else to do, soaps to make, perfume to invent, incense to conjure, and tea blending was pushed further and further away. Until tasseomancy came back into my life. On a spur of the moment decision, I ordered a mess of tea blending raw materials and have created two teas for drinking and tasseomancy. 


Thursday, December 07, 2017

Jingle Bells

I went out the other afternoon, alone, to shop for gifts for Christmas. I got caught up in the rush, the anxiety, and the stress of the it's-not-enough-stuff-or-time-to-buy-it syndrome. In my mind's eye, I see how I want to celebrate the holidays. It's quieter than what it's been, it's resplendent with love and sharing and food and lacks the trappings of a so-called 'good Christmas' -- fewer gifts under the tree, more hot cocoa and shots of Bailey's (for the big 'kids'), fewer familial obligations and more juniper short bread cookies, fewer hurt feelings and more joy. When I see the absolute insanity that this time of year brings to America, I wonder what our forebears might think about it. How we've turned a ritual of introspection into the biggest tool for creating unsecured debt in the history of ever. While I was shopping the other day, my arms loaded with stuff that I knew in my heart would go unappreciated, and thus were unnecessary, the woman standing in front of me, her arms also loaded with crap, looked down at her phone and proclaimed, "Shit! I have to pick my kid up from school!" She sprinted out of the line, dumped her armful of useless junk into a sock display bin, and headed out of the door. It was then that my heart won. I slowly and methodically replaced everything I had picked up for purchase back where it had come from and left the store. All the way home, as I drove past tree lots and weaved through shopping traffic, I thought what an absolute waste of time and resources this holiday economy has wrought. I could have been at home, working in my studio, putting a half-made batch of Kyphi together, or sewing wee bags for wee soaps and incense pastilles, not flipping out over a pair of sparkly leggings my granddaughter may or may not like.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Bobbling Tub Mud

I've been very busy lately, not just with business business, but with life in general. Been doing a LOT of babysitting in spurts. There will be days when I don't see hide nor hair of a grandbaby (except for the quiet one who lives here), and then for three days in a row the ones who don't live here are staying the night and I'm driving them to school and picking them up and changing diapers or potty training a very stubborn one, making buckets of mac 'n' cheese (organic, of course), pouring gallons of juice and cutting 5 lb bags of apples for their pleasure. I've even learned how to create bath stuff with them here playing chase and throw-the-ball-grammy-said-not-to-throw-in-the-house and Let's Scream for No Reason -- love that game. The trick is to include them, even if they're not really doing anything but making a mess. 

For the older, more coordinated one, she actually got her gloves on and helped, then had the most fun with the wee bit of leftover tub mud mix, stirring in dishwashing detergent and making a huge gelatinous mess of the whole thing. For the littler, diaper-bound ones, they got flour and cocoa and the odd stirring implement and went to town. I've mellowed in my old age because I never would have allowed my kids to make messes like this. 

While these little guys were making whatever it was they were making, my assistant and I got these done.

Coffee & Cardamom Bobbling Tub Mud

Each of these bobbling tub mud things started out with this in the middle:

That's right, a little truffle of raw yellow, unrefined shea butter. You will have to wash your tub out after this one for certain. Shea butter is one of the best butters for winter skin, not so great for the tub, though. 

The original plan for these coffee & cardamom bobbling tub mud things was to add some rose damascene concrete, but I changed my mind halfway through and decided to use the rose concrete in a nice soothing soap. I'm going to use my little 2-lb soap mold for this, and maybe add some neroli and a 20-year-old patchouli, just a splash, and maybe a smidge of jasmine grandiflorum -- or sambac! The point is to make something beautifully scented and totally extravagant. Oh! I found a supplier of sodium hydroxide (lye), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and citric acid (citric acid, duh) right here in the valley who offer same-day delivery, which roughly translates to tomorrow shipping. Anyway, I ordered pounds of baking soda and citric acid yesterday and just got a call that they will be delivered by noon. Noon. Guess what we're going to be doing later today?

Just a bit of a side note here: None of this is easy, but all of it is magical to me. What I mean is that I put my heart and soul into the products (and I hate using that word) that I create. I do it because it's important. I won't get into the blah blah blah of self-care and all that bullsh*t. I believe in being good to yourself because the world isn't going to do it for you, and if a stupid little bath bomb or a silly little soap helps with that agenda, then so be it. For me, it's creating these things, that's my idea of self-care, along with some meditation and avoiding social media except for the daily ads for the shop. 

The studio is in the beginning stages of being put back in order. The shelves are up, and so is a single table (out of three), and I'm beginning to think that the bulk of the studio won't be worked on until the new year. However, I've not been idle, as you can see. I'm using a corner in my bedroom as a mini-studio, which is mostly just baskets and boxes of raw materials newly purchased and tools for making soap and butters and muds. I was gifted a new chest of drawers so my old dressing table drawers are now storage for finished product. Someone recently walked into my room and backed out immediately stating, "The energy in there is amazing! How do you sleep?" Quite comfortably, actually, as I am surrounded by all the things I love most in the world. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tuberose Tuberosing

Remember a few weeks back I said that a single tuberose bloomed? Well, now there are two more, and I just picked one for a photo shoot. It is beautiful! And it smells like heaven. I can't wait to get these babies in the dirt (once they die back) for next year's crop. I already have the hyacinth in the ground for next season's enfleurage crop.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Exorcising Ugly Soap

I am my own worst critic. Nothing you or anyone else could say to me could possibly make me feel worse than the nagging voice inside my head does. Nothing. I tend not to trust people, so their opinions of me, or my work, mean little. But I trust myself completely, and if I say to me, hey, that last batch of soap you made was a real dud, I believe me. I was in a rush yesterday and had just finished creating a gorgeous custom soap for a client and wanted to keep up the momentum, so I grabbed what was nearby -- a jar of tuberose concrete, some rose damascene absolute in oil, a lush 10-year-old natural amber composition, and mixed them all up, put together a half-batch of soap base, threw in the scenting elements aaaaaaannnnndddd the whole flippin' mess seized in the pot! So I plopped and glopped and slopped (sounds a bit like a Dr. Seuss story) the soap into my 'signature' lotus molds and into a wee loaf mold. Hours later I popped them all out of the molds aaaaaaannnnnndddd they look like crap! They smell pretty good, though. I'm debating whether I should make a small soap base of olive oil and tuberose floral wax and chop some of this ugly soap into it and call it Tuberose Soup -- yes, soup, not soap. Or I could take this heinously-slow-to-dry orange blossom incense I made last year and create a soap from that mixed in with this ugly stuff . . . options. 

Ugly a** soap ~ smells good, though!
Needless to say, I was pretty glum for the rest of the day after this soap tragedy, to the point of near grouchiness. I even went to bed early I was so mad at myself, and I kept staring down the ugly soap, threatening its life with a swift flush down the toilet. I will chalk it up to A) I'm out of practice, and B) bad residual energy in the house. I will sage and calm myself down with a shot of gin (or two), then get back into it. Or maybe I'll just sage and take a nap and do all of this soap sorting later.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Scented Djinn's Super Fantastic Sugar Scrubs & Tub Tonics

I never did get around to making the facial sugar scrubs yesterday, but I did get three fabulous, botanically enriched lusciously scented super fantastic neck down sugar scrubs and tub tonics done. I have spent months researching the raw materials used in these new sugar scrubs, and besides some of the scenting elements, there isn't anything in these scrubs that don't have some super fantastic skin benefit. Not only can you scrub with these, but you can toss a tablespoon or two into the bath and still reap some of the benefits of the extracts and oils without scrubbing. These are the scrubs I wanted way back when I was using other folks' scrubs, sugar or otherwise. The best parts about these -- they're natural, botanical, vegan, with a few organic ingredients thrown in, aaaand they smell really good.

Chamomile & Cardamom Super Fantastic Sugar Scrub & Tub Tonic

Chamomile & Cardamom Super Fantastic Sugar Scrub

Ingredients: Demerara sugar, non-gmo unrefined cane sugar, rhassoul clay, chamomile extract, baobab oil (unrefined), German chamomile essential oil, and Guatemalan cardamom essential oil.

Demerara sugar ~ exfoliating, contains alpha hydroxy to slough off top layer of dead skin, acts as a humectant to attract moisture

Non-gmo, unrefined cane sugar ~ exfoliating, contains alpha hydroxy to slough off top layer of dead skin, acts as a humectant to attract moisture

Rhassoul clay ~ rich in skin-loving minerals (calcium, potassium, magnesium), and an excellent exfoliant

Chamomile extract ~ known to soothe and calm irritated skin, has been known to help soothe conditions of eczema and psoriasis

Baobab oil (unrefined) ~ high in vitamin C (crucial for skin's elasticity), rich in omega fatty acids, Vitamins A and B, and antioxidants, all contributing to hydrate and protect the skin

Chamomile essential oil ~ soothing to irritated skin, and it smells really nice

Cardamom essential oil ~ can contribute to the overall tone of skin, and it smells really nice too

Roses & Rosehips Super Fantastic Sugar Scrub & Tub Tonic

Rose & Rosehips Super Fantastic Sugar Scrub

Ingredients: Demerara sugar, non-gmo unrefined cane sugar, rhassoul clay, sacha inchi extract, argan oil, red rose petals, rosa damascene concrete, rosehip extract, oakwood CO2

Demerara sugar ~ exfoliating, contains alpha hydroxy to slough off top layer of dead skin, acts as a humectant to attract moisture

Non-gmo, unrefined cane sugar ~ exfoliating, contains alpha hydroxy to slough off top layer of dead skin, acts as a humectant to attract moisture

Rhassoul clay ~ rich in skin-loving minerals (calcium, potassium, magnesium), and an excellent exfoliant

Sacha inchi botanical extract extract ~ this fabulous organic botanical extract is a miracle! Rich in omega fatty acids and Vitamins A and E that combine to retain moisture in the skin and improve its elasticity

Argan oil ~ contains Vitamin E, carotenes, and essential fatty acids, all of which help maintain healthy skin

Red rose petals ~ rich in Vitamin C (a crucial Vitamin for skin elasticity), and an exfoliating agent 

Rosa damascene concrete ~ beautiful, all natural, rich rose scent that smells beyond nice

Rosehip botanical extract ~ rich in Vitamin C (another dose), has antioxidant and astringent properties

Oakwood CO2 ~ smells divine!

Neroli & Green Tea Super Fantastic Sugar Scrub & Tub Tonic

Neroli & Green Tea Super Fantastic Sugar Scrub & Tub Tea

Ingredients: Demerara sugar, non-gmo unrefined cane sugar, rhassoul clay, camellia seed oil, green tea botanical extract, petitgrain sur fleur neroli essential oil, bergamot essential oil

Demerara sugar ~ exfoliating, contains alpha hydroxy to slough off top layer of dead skin, acts as a humectant to attract moisture

Non-gmo, unrefined cane sugar ~ exfoliating, contains alpha hydroxy to slough off top layer of dead skin, acts as a humectant to attract moisture

Rhassoul clay ~ rich in skin-loving minerals (calcium, potassium, magnesium), and an excellent exfoliant

Camellia seed oil ~ absorbs readily into the skin to help maintain suppleness, especially in mature skin types

Green tea botanical extract ~ potent antioxidant, contains Vitamins A and E

Petitgrain sur fleur Neroli essential oil ~ delicious and rich floral/citrus scent

Bergamot essential oil ~ also delicious and rich with a floral/citrus scent

So there they are, the fantastic three sugar scrubs*slash*tub teas in two sizes, 2.1 and 3.5 ounce jars.

Now to make the labels. Thank heavens the jars are bigger than the other jars I use -- how much space do you think the names of these products will take up?

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Sugar Scrubs

Big deal, right? Right. Folks tend to underestimate the value of a good, nourishing sugar scrub. Salt scrubs, however, seem to get all the praise and adoration of the masses. Yeah. But salt scrubs hurt! Heaven forbid you have a scratch or cut somewhere you don't know about and nonchalantly stick salt in them. Ow. Sugar doesn't do that. Sugar won't dry out your skin the way salt does either, and sugar melts a little quicker than salt so there's less junk on the bottom of your shower or tub when you're done scrubbing.

Here are the facts about sugar skincare -- sugar contains glycolic acid. That's an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) the stuff that was in every anti-aging serum on the market a few years back. And it's still out there in the hundreds, Alpha-this, and Alpha-that, promising to turn your leathery elephant skin into a baby's fragrant and sweetly soft bum. Apparently this stuff packs quite the punch as it is used in amounts of less than 10% in products and still works by dissolving the upper layer of skin to reveal the fresh, new, baby butt stuff underneath. So, sugar's got this.

Sugar is a natural humectant. Remember what I wrote up there earlier about salt drying out your skin and sugar doesn't do that? This is why. Sugar attracts moisture, which explains the brown sugar brick in your pantry that you're chipping away at to make those really good shortbread cookies. So, sugar's got this too.

Sugar is exfoliating. What? Who'd have thunk it? All joking aside, sugar is a much gentler scrub than salt, and one I've preferred over salt for these past 15 years or so for all the reasons above, even though I didn't know about the alpha hydroxy thing until about 5 years ago. Sugar's got it.

Sugar scrubs are great in baths. Just like salt baths, sugar can be dissolved into your bath water and you can reap all the benefits of sugar, except for, obviously, the scrubbing part. Because you've melted the sugar into the tub water. But won't it be sticky? No. You'd have to put a couple of bags of sugar in your tub for it to become sticky. Watch, a couple years from now some obscure scientific study will show that putting exactly 2 four-pound bags of plain sugar into the bath will turn a woman into Venus when she bathes with it.

Needless to say, but I will anyway, lush, fragrant, botanically enriched organic sugar scrubs are on the work list for today. Two types -- one for your face, and one for your body, in a couple of flavors, including rose. Watch for it.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Super Duper Extra Squishy Soft Launch

Well, that was a bit anti-climatic, but then I always work myself up doing these things and then find that it wasn't the least bit necessary. It was the turtle who won the race, am I right?

The new re-launch of The Scented Djinn reloaded was met with a single piece of confetti and a pathetic toot of a horn somewhere far off in the distance. In fact, it may not have been a horn at all, but a lonely toad near the canal. Still, I feel a sense of satisfaction that I'm back in the game, even if I am standing on the field of an empty stadium. My re-emergence into the world of luxury skincare has garnered me a custom gig, for which I eagerly await more details before the work begins. After the custom gig is sorted, I'm going to be working on more 'stuff'. Soap, more than likely, because the shop is in short supply. But then when the months become darker, the work turns inward, and more incense and perfume oils will be born. It's just how I work. But now I have assistance so the work will be organized and purposeful and less, well, disorganized and sporadic. I've actually got dry erase boards, calendars, and a cork board up in my office, things I've never had much use for in the past. I'm beginning to feel a bit grown up.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Here's what I've got done in the past couple of weeks ~

Taking photos of product, creating labels for product, creating product itself, marketing, advertising, doing the best I can to get this re-launch in order, yet doubt still lingers. I worry about price points, are they too high? Or are they too low considering the long-term goals of this newly revised 'edition' of The Scented Djinn? I still have very little in the way of goods to sell as I've been making very, very small batches, in numbers that I can manage and still call 'fresh'. I've learned a few things over the years, like don't make too much of a single product because
you don't know how quickly it will sell, but do have the goods to recreate that product if it turns out to be a winner. I can't tell you how many times I've had to give stuff away or throw it away because it was past its expiry date or very close. Working with naturals is a tricky business. You're either in or you're not. You can't just dump stuff into a jar, slap a label on it and call it done. There's work involved. Research. Experimentation. A willingness to lose a little money in those endeavors. I have spent thousands of dollars over the years just to see if something I've thought up would work out in real life. I've pored over research papers, books, correspondences for hours on end trying to figure something about about, let's say, green tea extract. You really have to love the materials.
I've watched as people in my field have come and gone, and also watched some rise. I always like to see them rise because it gives me hope that I might rise as well, and it's possible that I have, a little anyway, and just don't know it yet. I've been in this business for over 20 years. I started with conviction when my youngest son was 9 months old. He celebrated his 22nd birthday last month. I've been in it this long and it still feels new to me. I'm still excited to receive a big box of organic cocoa butter, or a package filled with petitgrain sur fleur neroli, rose otto, and geranium oils. I still get a thrill when I open the bottles and boxes to begin evaluations. I love pulling out perfume bottle catalogs (Brosse!) and digging through the pages of a Uline
catalog for cool packaging ideas. Eco-friendly, of course. I love learning about new ideas, new ingredients, innovations. I also love the solitary and meditative life all of this affords me. And I equally love the people with whom I share this passion, perfumers who are artists and stewards of a vibrant planet, students who want to change the world one enfleurage at a time. 
Once this stage of production ends, a new one begins. The old formulation books will be pulled out, and the best of the best will be reformulated and made into oil, butter, and alcohol perfumes. And incense will be reborn. I know a few people who are waiting anxiously for more sultry sticks of The Ram. 

See you on the scented side.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Despite the Delays

Nothing ever goes as planned around here. There's always something stepping in the way of progress, usually related to jealousy and spite with a bit of paranoia (mine) thrown in for good measure. I must get beyond all that and remember that I'm running a business here! I've been so long away from the work that I feel I'm on a permanent vacation. Not a very good vacation, either. I've not gone anywhere exotic or historically significant, I've not learned anything new beyond the four walls of the houses I've been living in for the past year. The places I used to love to visit for inspiration are dessicated from years of drought or burned to dust. The world is changing too quickly for my not-so-elastic mind to keep up.

I just want to create.

As soon as I'm off this box, I'm headed to the brand new kitchen to cook up some beautiful lotion bars for the shop. Jasmine and Green Tea Extract lotion bars, to be exact. Part of a wee set of natural nourishing skincare that includes a rhassoul-based facial mask and a jasmine and green tea extract infused soap. The soap is incredible smelling! Everytime I pass the drying rack, I'm hit with the strong and intensely beautiful scent of jasmine pearl tea. Like I said, incredible.


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