Friday, May 29, 2015

Woe is Me

I fell down a rabbit hole for that title, just so you know. And no, there is really nothing woeful going on -- I just have the beginnings of a head cold and I'm already 'so over it'. First hay fever, then a cold -- when is it going to stop?! I had just begun to evaluate those natural isolates (what fun!) and now this. Ugh. Double-ugh. Beginning June 1 I'm going high raw. When I eat raw, my system reboots and my immune response to things like viruses and allergens changes to the point where colds and hay fever just pass me by. I did this high raw thing a few years back and it was, in my opinion, one of the most creative periods in my life. Not to mention the healthiest in terms of disease. I stopped eating high raw because of a turkey, a topic which I do not want to discuss. I'm hoping that being raw once again will put me in a better place mentally. I'm reading 'Initiation' by Elizabeth Haich, and it is messing with my head a bit. Strange magic abounds.

I have managed to get a few of the evaluations on the isolates done -- melon aldehyde and alcohol c6 (hexanol). Neither smells that great on their own, in fact, the alcohol c6 smells of an odd combination of fresh greenage and rubber soled tennis shoes. When it dries down it turns to freshly ironed linens, and then within 24 hours it's a mere whisper of sun-warmed cotton. The longevity is not like that of a pure synthetic. Or a good oudh. Twenty-four hours is about the maximum that either of these isolates retain their 'freshness' before petering away to nothingness. You would think that at least the melon aldehyde would have some merit on its own -- well, stop thinking that. It's weird and not entirely pleasant from beginning to drydown. Melon aldehyde smells melony, but it also smells like fusel oil and burning candle wax. I told you it was weird.

Tomorrow I'm heading back into the valley for a baby shower -- the event I'm looking forward to; the valley, not so much. I haven't been all the way into the valley since early April. I miss my friends and family but I do not miss the town anymore. Or the unbearable heat. My old house I miss very much -- it's up for sale now! If I were a woman of means, I'd buy the old thing and renovate it and install one of my kids in it. Owning a piece of history has always interested me. My dreams once were to turn the old house into a perfumer's haven -- a place to learn about perfumery and incense, a place to create and build things; relationships, perfume, Kyphi, soap, food -- a perfumer's B&B. Wouldn't that have been grand?

I've been jonesing to make another batch of soap but I'm hesitant because it turns out my new scale is a piece of crap. Sometimes it tares, sometimes it doesn't. I have a grand total of six useless scales now. And a scientific hotplate that causes the breakers to trip and doesn't keep a steady temperature. What is it with all these 'high tech' doohickies that don't work? I've also stopped using my ultrasonic because it too has decided to misbehave. In fact, I may have already tossed that lump of junk in the garbage. I've sold off my second distillation unit, the glass one, because it just didn't perform. I'm so tired of sinking money into stuff that fails fantastically two seconds after the warranty expires. Maybe I'll just do everything old school; eyeball the measurements and hope for the best. Better increase my liability insurance while I'm at it.

It will all work out. It always does. Somehow.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Writing the Book

Sometimes the inspiration to write doesn't come easily, so I cherry pick through my own old blog posts and read other bloggers' blogs, good blogs on writing and food and scent written by writers, real writers, who give a sh*t about how their work is perceived. They edit and perfect and leave meaningful messages that roll around in the readers' heads for a while. Inspiring. I often think if I took more care to write this blog, I'd have a larger following, but then I remember I'm not a spotlight kind of person and continue writing incomprehensible dreck. For the most part.

The new natural isolates are intriguing. I have already created the evaluation sheets for them, and while poking through my files I found one from 2010 that included all the natural isolates I had evaluated through Shelley Waddington's natural isolates course. I may include those in the new book as well. One thing that really struck me about the old natural isolates was the tenacity on some of the scent strips -- one in particular, the heliotrope iso, was amazing and still very present five years later.  The one natural isolate that intrigues me now is the apricot essence, which I will have to research further. It is stunning. Something I learned about the fruity nat iso's is to use them with a very light hand -- whisper light -- because any more will turn it all Jamba Juice. Not so great when a hint of fruit is all that is required.

I also wrote quite a bit about anosmia and its counterparts, parosmia and hyposmia. I don't believe people who have never experienced not being able to smell understand how devastating not being able to smell really is. One of my examples for anosmia is Molly Birnbaum, one of those lovely writers I talked about earlier, who wrote a book about being anosmic. I remember back in 2011 when her book first came out people posted long, nasty 'reviews' stating that losing one's sense of smell isn't as devastating as, say, dying in war, or dying of starvation, or getting a limb shot off. I think those people might have been coming at the subject at a tilt. Of course it is not as bad as death or starvation; it could be compared to having a limb shot off, but it does certainly merit discussion. I mean, life's destructive forces on us wee humans isn't about competition, is it? My sh*t's worse than your sh*t kind of deal seems a bit narcissistic.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Isolates Have Arrived!

Sixteen isolates! Some glorious, some kind of gross. If you want to learn more about them, you're probably going to have to buy my book when I publish it.

Day Two of Liquid Soap Resting

Because it's such a new endeavor to me, I'm finding myself becoming extremely impatient with this liquid soap. I've done hot water tests with it and have found that the longer it sits, the more cloudy the water becomes, which in liquid soapmaking, is not a good thing. It turns out that now it is only suitable for laundry, which is okay too, as far as I'm concerned. I think it would look fabulous in flip top bottles with a TSD label slapped on the side. And I'm still going to work on experiments until I get this right. I want some functional products in my shop. Luxury dish soap and beautifully fragrant laundry and general cleaning soap. I've never been a fan of liquid body soap but I might become one ~ ha!

I am also impatiently awaiting my shipment of natural isolates to evaluate and write about in my new book. I'm excited to be adding this to the work as natural isolates are still a thing of wonder and fear amongst some natural perfumers. Purists will bite off my head, while others will relish the notion of working with nat iso's.

My daughter and I made a couple batches of bath bombs the other day to use in the gift baskets she's creating for her baby shower next month. I haven't made bath bombs in ages. It's kind of like riding a bicycle, after a solid  year of making bath bombs every day for my Delicia shop, I found that the muscle memory was still intact and we were able to make two batches of perfect bath bombs. While making them, I was reminded of the enormous baby head sized bath bombs we used to make for Delicia, and how we loaded them with shea butter and cocoa butter and jojoba and deep, luscious scents like patchouli, vetyver, and sandalwood -- yes, sandalwood! It was a bit of a crazy madhouse at Delicia -- we did all we could to make our products as decadent and stinky as possible. People would visit the shop just to see what we had going on. I remember when we got in an order of Pussy Pucker Pots (lip balm) and we wrote "Pussy Pucker Pots" on our chalk sign outside on the sidewalk, listing all the flavors, and we had a torrent of customers coming in thinking our shop was a sex shop because of the flavor names -- Chocolate Nipple Ripple, Don't Need No MANgo, Clitoris Citrus -- yeah, it was a bit over the top, but it was a lot of fun. The company went out of business in 2006, which was a shame because they were just starting to get somewhere.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Liquid Soap

In the throes of liquid soap making. Watched many online tutorial videos, visited many soap making websites, gathered the tools and the raw materials and I'm probably at the halfway mark as far as getting to liquid soap. I'm at the taffy stage. Which apparently lasts longer than all the other stages because the taffy is becoming taffier and my stirring arm is weak and shaking like a hungry kitten. This is different, but kind of the same as far as progression of the soap -- at some point it goes through a gel phase and that's basically when it's done doing whatever it's going to do. Haven't gotten there yet. Crossing fingers and toes this isn't another failed experiment. I'd love to have patchouli dish soap at the sink.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


I finally figured out that when people tell me that I'm an 'enigma', what they're really saying is that I'm weird.
I'm a bit of an outcast. By nature. By choice too, if I'm being honest. I've always felt a little bit 'out there', and until recently, out there entailed a lot of loneliness. Not so much anymore. I've learned there are a lot of us out there, and we're all getting along quite nicely together.

I'm embarking upon a new adventure -- liquid soap creation. I recently purchased a small and very expensive bottle of natural dish soap which was embellished with a titch of real orange blossom absolute. It seemed as though I was perfuming the pots and pans every time I washed them, and the hot water helped disperse the scent throughout the kitchen -- it was sublime. So I thought, why not make my own? Why not finally after nearly 20 years making soap try my hand at liquid soap? Potassium hydroxide, heat on the stove, borax, and hours of stirring? Why not? Some time later today an order of potassium hydroxide flakes will be arriving in the post, I've got the recipe out and ready to go. The space is sparkling clean and I have no further obligations outside of the house to take me away from my experiment.

I'm also pretty darned excited to play again.

I've also been slowly gathering the goods for a new batch of Egyptian style Kyphi -- with a twist, of course, because I wouldn't be me if I didn't try to do something a little wickedly different, yes?

I'm also in the throes of not writer's block but writer's hesitation. I've got about half of the new perfumery book written and I'm considering adding a bit more of me to the text -- y'know, less of an instructional tone, like the first book, and more of a conversational tone, well, like me. That would mean editing and rewriting what I've already done, thus the hesitation.

So I've been reading a lot more. Lots of different books on different subjects. Things that make a person have wild and wooly dreams. Books that make me realize that 99.99% of everything going on in the world is based on fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of the future, fear of the past, fear of losing oneself, fear of not finding oneself, fear of hunger, fear of death, fear of poverty, fear of not finding the next fix, fear of abandonment, fear of looking foolish, fear of coming in last, fear of someone else getting ahead. Just plain old useless fear. I'm a hapless victim of useless fear. But fear is like a heavy jacket worn in the blazing sun -- just take it off. Bask in the unknown, the unanticipated. That's when things start to get interesting. Think of the things you could say, the things you could do if you didn't fear what might happen.

In the months preceding my father's death from terminal cancer, I asked him if he was afraid of death and he said, with his signature whiskey-rough laugh, "No! I'm only afraid of how much I will miss you until you find me again."

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Incense Days

The wee one and I started another batch of incense, and this time we're using the itty bitty gingerbread man cookie cutter to shape the incense. I haven't the foggiest notion how many little incense people we will get from this batch, but it's a great project to initiate the wee one into ceremonial-type incense creation. She was very excited and kept grabbing the cookie cutter during the grinding and singing part. I really had to reel her in a time or two. Once, while she was using the electric grinder to powder gum leaf, she pulled the cap off too soon, while the rotors were still moving, and slung gum leaf dust all over the counter. She's gone off with mum to have lunch so I have a moment or two alone to add the finishing touches to the incense powder -- vetyver essential oil and loads of oakmoss absolute -- before adding the water and creating the incense paste. Since the wee one is so in tune with nature and growing things, I think the bent on this incense batch will be toward honoring the earth spirits, particularly the Green Man.

On the gardening front, over the winter I read up on growing the best tomatoes possible and found a site, which I have since lost the link, stating that tomatoes can be grown very effectively in containers, for which I was thrilled to learn. Last year my container tomatoes were pathetically small and produced minimal fruit. As per the instructions on this website, I went to the local pot shop where they sell goods to grow ganja and picked up a 20-gallon bag container, a box of fish bone meal, and worm castings. Then I hit up my daughter's employer, a sushi chef, for a container of fish parts, heads, skin, bones and whatnot, and then I bought a bottle of children's aspirin and located the bucket of egg shells I save for the garden and went to work. The final ingredient was the tomato plant, which to my surprise voluntarily sprouted from heirloom seeds I planted last season, so I have no clue what type of tomato I'm going to get once the plant throws fruit. I also got a big bag of gardening soil. Here's what I did: First, I filled the 20-gallon bag container about a quarter full with garden soil, then I began dumping all the 'goodies' in -- the fish parts went in first (I actually let these set outside for three days to get rotty and gross before using them), then five baby aspirin on top of that, then worm castings, then a fair sprinkling of fish bone meal, and lastly the crumbled egg shell. I then poured in more garden soil to about halfway and planted the tomato plant at that level, then filled the bag to the top, which covered the plant by about half of its height -- that meant half the foliage was now  underground. It's been about a month now and that plant is looking so healthy and gorgeous. It's grown about six times its original size, and already has tomatoes on the lower branches. I'm so impressed with this technique for growing tomatoes, and I can't wait for the harvest.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Smelly Smells that Smell

I was digging through my treasure boxes, the boxes with the little bits and snips of aromatic rarities, and I ran across a wee bottle of massoia bark CO2. First off, massoia oil is prohibited for use in fragrance by the IFRA because of its dermal toxicity, having stated that, many natural perfumers still use massoia oil in their perfumes. Oddly enough, you can eat this stuff up to 10.0000 ppm in a 'finished product' -- massoia cookies anyone?

Massoia CO2 is a glorious smelling oil -- smells of butter and coconuts and creamy vanilla and I completely understand why a natural perfumer would want to use it in a natural perfume, despite the warnings. Years ago I tinctured dried unsweetened coconut to try and capture that lovely buttery coconutty scent with some success. The scent was fleeting and left me wanting more. Again, I see why a natural perfumer would turn to massoia as an alternative. There are coconut options out there -- a coconut absolute that's hard to find, and a coconut pulp CO2 that's more like a nut oil than an essential oil. Both have short scent life spans, though.

Massoia could be used in incense I think, to give a tropical lift to a floral based incense. It's definitely a material worth figuring out.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Oh, Bots

Every so often I notice the number of views for this blog increases dramatically. This happens about three or four times a year and it's always about bots. They're not real people but programs that jack up the number of views on a site for a variety of nefarious reasons. I used to name them when I first noticed they were hopping onto this blog, and then inevitably there would be another surge of views from the bots I'd name, so I stopped naming them. Now they're just generic bots, bothersome and sometimes malicious if one decides to follow the link to the source, meant to excite the blogger into thinking they've somehow opened a magical miracle doorway in an international forum and have hundreds of new readers. It ain't so.

I've been attempting to evaluate student submissions this week, as well as evaluating a few things perfumery peers have sent, but it's been slow going with the advent of spring, the wind, and the dreaded blooming olive trees. My eyes are itchy and swollen, my nose has had nearly all the outer layers of skin wiped off with rough tissues, and my sinuses are swollen and sensitive. I've been drinking local honey by the tubs, pushing fluids like hot green tea, irrigating as best as I can, but I think I'm just going to have to ride this one out. At least I haven't faced the miserable sinus headache . . . yet. Taking it one day at a time.

I've been reading a lot -- again. Guerilla Marketing, which is somewhat dated, is the latest read through. Also working on Stirring the Senses by Beth Schreibman Gehring. Uplifting and joyful, that book, and completely corresponds to my way of thinking 'small is best', 'simple is elegant', and grateful for even the most mundane of blessings (if blessings can be mundane). I'm also plodding along through the book 'Plant Resins' by Langenheim. Boy, what a book! It's so big you could probably see it from space. I kid. I'm just getting into it and don't have much to say other than I'll be working on that one a while. I just finished up 'The Secret of Scent' by Luca Turin -- for the third time. I learn something new every time I read it, a light goes on in my slow sluggish brain and I 'get' what he's talking about. Scent chemistry eludes me but I feel it is important to have some basic understanding of how it works to become a better perfumer. I'm a visual learning, however, all those hexagons (or whatever they are) with tails and straggly wild hairs sticking off of them are too abstract for me to understand, so I think of these scent chemicals in color blocks. It just makes it simpler for me to grasp. And impossible to explain ~ ha!

I've been trying to come up with ways to teach more classes online and I'm stumped. I am throwing the idea around of doing a series of videos (I know, you've heard that one before) to add to the Natural Perfume Academy's courses, and perhaps even a private course with video for people who are interested in a more one-on-one experience. I've thought about teaching a perfume oil class at the tea shop, but I just can't seem to get my arse in gear to do it. I've been busy with writing the new book and teaching the new course and putting products together and taking care of people and plants, and the weird thing is that for all of this stuff that I do, I still feel idle! Like I'm sitting here devoid of ideas and inspiration, poking about in the 'studio' and fiddling with the book writing and passing the time on Facebook becoming neurotic. That's what it feels like, that's not what I'm actually doing. I've got over 20,000 words on the new book (the old book is 45,000 words including indexes and contents information, bibliography and sources) and I'm no where near done. I feel I am writing a perfumer's opus here. I may need to get some professional help, or at the very least, a perfumer *slash* editor type to help me sort the whole thing out before it goes to publication.

I'm also revisiting the idea of writing some fiction again. Way before perfumery came into my life, my dream was to become a writer. I am a writer but my commercial success lies firmly upon the shoulders of non-fiction writing, instructional writing, which I love, but doesn't fulfill me emotionally the way spinning a yarn does. My hope is to one day use all this perfumery knowledge to write a series of fiction stories. I'm partial to mystery and horror. We'll see where it goes.

My little granddaughter and I spent last Thursday night, the Eve of May, forming wee cones of incense as my paste wasn't cooperating enough to roll onto sticks. She began calling the cones 'witch's hats' and it's stuck. We made about 100 witch's hats, seven or so were rolled by her sweet little hands as she attempted at one point to make voodoo doll-style incense people and became distracted with the task at hand. That was a bit of a light bulb moment as well -- voodoo doll-style wee incense people is a good idea.We can search out bitty gingerbread man cookie cutters and make some fun out of incense.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

New Stuff

First, I want to share some information about incense making. I've been searching the web for years looking for a site that showed how someone who doesn't make incense every single day for a living (ladies on the roof style) can make paste that sticks to incense sticks. Watching the videos coming out of India makes me feel extremely inadequate as an incense roller person as those ladies whip those sticks out in about -- well, I don't know, it's so darned fast my eyes blur just a little. So I developed my own technique, which after a couple of hundred incense sticks, I've gotten pretty good. Some day when my hands aren't feeling shy I'll make a wee video of my technique to share. For now I'm going to share a video of someone else -- Carl Neal, an incenseur for decades, he's got the gig down pretty well. And he has a YouTube channel, so if you want to learn some basics of incense mixing, he's the guy to watch. The problem with watching videos of other folks making incense is that they can get boring after a while because they try too hard to preface the work with wads of information you probably aren't going to hear because you're too busy speeding up the video to the good bits to listen. Carl Neal gets right to it.

I made a batch of soap last week and it's soft as a baby's tushie. My scale is so far off tare that none of my oil to lye to water ratios turned out right. The soap is super squishy and lye-free, so I'm thinking I miscalculated (or my scale did) the lye and didn't put in enough. And I hate rebatching because it funks up the scent and whatnot and I put in a LOT of super fine oils, like neroli and orange blossom and gardenia and white champa and Kaffir lime and davana and a bunch more (vanilla, petit grain, lemon, olibanum . . . and more . . .), so I'm really resisting the rebatch thing. I'm considering turning it into a super fragrant creme soap and putting it in jars. It's only two pounds, but dang if that isn't going to be a ton of creme soap to jar up.

I bought a new scale today. And a dozen 4-oz jars to put that creme soap into.

The incense dust I created a few days ago is still melding away. I haven't had a lot of free time to take the last step and add the liquid to create the paste and then begin the rolling onto sticks portion of the game. For me it's meditative, I get in a groove and don't want to stop unless I absolutely have to. I'm back at that place where every time I try to sit down to do that kind of work, someone needs me to bake a pie in 15 minutes and vacuum the house because so-and-so's coming over in 10 - 9 - 8 - 7 - 6 . . . . I told my daughter I was packing my bags and moving to France, to which my granddaughter quipped, "Oh, Grammy, you're so silly."

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Little Bit of Griping, A Little Bit of Incense, A Lot of Hot Air

Why is it when I set aside a little time for experimentation, suddenly everyone needs something from me, like, right now? A ride, a few bucks, keep an eye on something (don't move while doing so), organize something, wash something, cook something -- it's flippin' exhausting! I feel like a puppy chasing its tail these days. Basically sick of being everyone else's rock and no one being mine. I got nothin', except this jar of frankincense. And a bag of sandalwood chips. And some weird black resin that sort of smells like frankincense but mostly smells like feet. And I think I'm retaining water.

I know I already wrote a bit about the goods from Mermade Magickal Arts, but my nifty little candle powered incense burner arrived from Germany and I've had a chance to actually warm some of those baubles and bits, to my utter astonishment. The Labdanum & Myrrh pastilles are insane! The room began to fill with scent almost the moment I dropped a piece of the resin onto a wee bit of foil in the burner dish -- now the room is awash in labdanum's bitterish amber warmth. This incense reminds me just how much I appreciate and love labdanum resin, the rawest and hairiest form that can be found.
Labdanum & Myrrh Pastille ~ Mermade Magickal Arts

Long view: Labdanum & Myrrh Pastille
Yesterday I burned a pinch of Floating World and -- well, amazing again. The quality of the raw materials used in these incense selections is phenomenal. Top drawer all the way around. And funny, this time around, I barely caught the camphor note in Floating World, not the way I had a few days ago when my head was swimmy with hay fever.

I also burned a few bits of genuine Mysore sandalwood chips that I received from JK DeLapp and damn near passed out! The scent was beyond words, and so intense. My wee cottage house smelled like a temple!
I guess I'm really feeling put out right now with all the home maintenance and catering to ding bats who can't seem to wipe their own bums without assistance and really, REALLY, the core of it all is that I haven't had time to sit down and create. There's a backlog of scented ideas in my head that are just screaming to come out, but the damned cat wants to be fed! Right. Flippin'. Now.

Gotta run.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Floating World, Puh-Er Tea, and Sandalwood of Exquisite Origins

I've been very busy lately, not just with the perfumery, but with life and the various and sundry curveballs it seems to enjoy throwing in my direction. I suppose it's no different from anyone else's life, it's just in how you handle it that determines whether you become an open human being or a perpetual victim. I choose moving on and not giving the issue any more attention than is required to deal with it -- there's a life to be lived here and a finite amount of time in which to live it.

I ordered some new raw materials that I'm dying to share with you. From Katlyn Breene of Mermade Magickal Arts I received costus root (skunky!), some calamus root, and a packet of wispy warm powdered Himalayan juniper wood. The costus blows my mind, as costus usually does. It's deeply animalic and skunky and armpitty, but oh, so alluring and primal, and dare I say it -- sexy? My experience with costus up until about a year ago was limited -- most of it was highly diluted (now I understand why) and not terribly impressive, plus it's on the no-no list with the IFRA, banned because it's a very strong sensitizer. The problem with the IFRA banning stuff is that often the amounts necessary to cause an adverse reaction are hundreds if not thousands of times higher than what one would be exposed to in a leave on product. That isn't 100% the case in all instances, but it's pretty darned close. Some of the reason the IFRA bans or restricts stuff is based on the LACK of research and lack of funding to conduct research, hence it is stricken off the list of useable raw materials because they simply don't know what it does, if anything. I digress . . .
Costus root smells of dark, loamy earth and skunk butts. If one were to make a natural musk incense, this would be the go-to raw material to get that musk funk. I could probably also find a use in a cannabis themed incense, providing the desired "skunk" note of a well-grown plant.

Calamus is a material I used to use years ago in soap making, before I found out it was on the IFRA's no-no list. It was used as a magickal element in a soap called Green Man. The root is more herbal than rooty, however, I must confess to a recent bout of hayfever, so my nose may be off a bit. It's clean and fresh and more like cedar than something dug from the earth. I'll have to get back to it once this allergy issue clears up.

I also got a few dabs and dashes of finished incense and wee samples of other raw materials from Mermade -- we'll begin with the exquisite and mouthwatering Labdanum & Myrrh Frankincense Pastilles ~ Ho-Ly Mo-Ly! The labdanum is rich and warm and silky unburned -- gorgeous and toe-curling stuff. I've not burned any of the incense yet because I'm awaiting a fancy-pants brass censer from Germany to arrive so I can do it up right. The texture of these pastilles is like dirt clods, only denser and more sturdy -- they don't crumble away when you press them but will break up with some effort. The scent, as I said, is divine -- hits the pineal gland like the beating of a gong. Next is the kyphi -- sweet and powdery, resinous and honied -- very nice. I hope to learn more about it once it burns. Next is a light green frankincense tear, sacra of Omani, and it looks like a gemstone rather than a glob of oleoresin. It is fabulous. It sparkles and shines with cool and warm notes. There are no high bitter notes coming off this frankincense. Then there is Floating World, a finished incense. It is transportive. Moving. Gets you in the gut and the heart. I smell the camphor in it like I've never smelled camphor before. Usually camphor, despite how hard the incenseur works it, smells like a note out of the song, a brassy horn, out of tune and out of place in a composition of cellos, but this camphor is completely entwined within the music of the incense, a piece that if missing would throw off the entire composition. This one I cannot wait to get burning. I believe the reason that I really caught the camphor is because it's what my head needs right now -- with the hayfever abating and the sinuses being a bit sore and raw, the camphor is a balm. Again, I'll get back to it once I burn it with clear sinuses to let you know. All in all, everything from Katlyn is top drawer luxury.

Floating World

Another package I received came from JK DeLapp, a doctor of Chinese medicine, a fragrance compounder and perfume educator living in Georgia, USA. He sent these beautiful puh-er teas with osmanthus, rose, and chrysanthemum -- can you imagine? Chrysanthemum tea? I've only tried the rose and it was, to say the least, a revelation. I'm a huge tea fan, so this probably wasn't a hard sell here. It reminds me of the smell of Teazer World Tea Market in Fresno, CA, a little shop that started in the heart of the Tower District and has expanded to include a total of four shops in Fresno. Again, I digress . . . rose puh-er is earthy and subtle, and best served warm. It's a very round tea, meaning it doesn't have weird bitter notes in the back, like an over steeped black or green tea can have. It's smooth and calming and delicious. I haven't tried the other teas, the chrysanthemum that I drool over, or the osmanthus. I'm saving those for days when I need to treat myself. Also in the package from JK I received wee samples of sandalwood, and not just any sandalwood, the good stuff, the Japanese grade stuff, the stuff used in ceremony and ritual, the stuff that makes you dream in magenta and gold with the sound of bells tinkling in the wind. It's so exquisite, so warm and creamy and buttery and lush that I'm afraid to burn it! But I will, once my little brass brazier makes it in.

Another post about these gifts will follow in a few weeks. I have to get my head clear and the censer set up to really do these incenses any justice. Until then, may you be blessed with sweet smells as well.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

New Natural Perfume Course Begins April 20, 2015

The Natural Perfume Academy is happy to announce the newest session opening for the natural botanical perfume course. If interested, contact the administrator at

Natural Perfumes 2010

Sunday, March 29, 2015

What a roller coaster few weeks it's been! Personal stuff, business stuff, other folks' stuff -- it's overwhelming, yet . . . the sanity remains because I've got incense. And aged sandalwood oil. And a big bottle of beautiful cane alcohol. And determination not to let the world get me down. Just finished up an enfleurage of pink jasmine and made it (the pommade) into a hair serum that included some nicely aged sweet, buttery, warm, creamy Sri Lankan sandalwood oil from the heartwood. It's incredible! I'm still working on the lilac enfleurage (ran out of lilac but should be restocking those in a few days). Lilac takes a long time, especially since I don't use deodorized coconut oil. I love the rich coconut-y-ness of unrefined organic coconut oil. There's also a bit of French grapeseed oil for the antioxidants, vitamin E in particular. I'm tempted to keep the entire batch for myself, but alas, bills must be paid and work enjoyed.

Finally -- after what now, a year? -- got through all the boxes in the garage from the move and found the last bits of raw materials that had been missing from the organ this whole time. One would think that being in a dusty garage in a box for a year would make it all turn bad, but this garage is fully insulated and stays pretty much the same temperature all year round -- about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Besides, it never really gets hot HOT here. Found a 50% dilution of Biolandes cypress bioabsolute -- stunning! Smells like fresh fig flesh and blonde tobacco. It's really quite special. I also found a well-aged bottle of frankincense absolute, an eight ounce unopened bottle of Indonesian vetyver oil -- grassy, green notes in this one -- and my wee bottle of blue lotus phytol (3 grams remain). Oh, and a tin with 18 grams of apple blossom concrete, extra rare, that, and probably not much floating about in the world. I might be convinced to sell off a few grams since I will never, ever use it (all).

I'm once again considering teaching classes in person (I know, I say this often) but I've gotten a bit of encouragement from a local shop keep who would like to host a few workshops. I just need to get my head back into the game and make a plan for the workshops. Something I can handle with all that I do, without getting overwhelmed and wearing myself out. As an introvert, a day out shopping in crowds is often enough to send me to the divan for the remainder of the day, so a day spent teaching people eager for information can put me to bed!

Friday, March 13, 2015


Based upon universal rules, I should have been out of this gig long ago. I started with zero spare dollars in my pocket, five unruly kids in the house, a stressful part-time job, and a partner who'd tuned way, way, way out (he had his reasons), which left me to either flounder in the raising of children, keeping house, and working a hatefully stressful part-time job, OR flounder in the raising of children, keeping house, working a super stressful part-time job, AND creating aromatic art. I chose the latter. And let me tell you, it wasn't easy. Fast forward 17 years to where I am now, no small children in the house except for the occasional babysitting job, a partner who at least grunts every now and then, and years and years of experience in the trenches, nearly all of which went completely uncompensated. Why would anyone keep going knowing that year after year they were throwing money in a hole that might never fill up? Me, obviously. Because I'm stubborn, obstinate, determined, and tenacious. Because while doing it, as long as I told myself it was an education, it justified the costs. Because if I stopped, I might have withered up and floated away having never encountered the joy inspired by a beautifully crafted artisan extract of hyacinth, or felt the glow of saffron in shea, or met some of the most amazing human begins I've ever known.


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