Friday, February 12, 2016

Linden Blossom Fabulous Facial Serum, and More Angst

There is another new product at The Scented Djinn Apothecary at Etsy-- a sweet little sparkling facial serum with hempseed oil, argan oil, and a generous sprinkling of linden blossom CO2 courtesy of Enfleurage of NY. The CO2 doesn't blend well with oil, so the serum looks like it's got little globes of glitter floating around in it. Doesn't deter from the overall effect of skin yummy-ness and blossomy scent. 

I'm working on more serums, more complicated scent combinations using essential oils that really love doing nice things to skin. The hempseed and argan mix is so nice -- I use this blend, scented and unscented, on my face nearly every day and I can really feel a positive difference from how it felt before slathering on the serum.

I've been making a point of getting up early so I have more time to work on the computer, mostly fielding questions from readers of my books and from students. I've noticed, however, that the earlier I get up, the earlier the bearers of children get up, bearing the children, who are promptly tossed into my arms so some menial task can be completed. This while I sit here with six questions to answer, a notebook and pen under my hand, a few bottles of diluted aromatics at my elbow,and a Skype discussion on the computer screen -- looking, for all intents and purposes, BUSY, and still. Nothing I do is respected here by anyone in this house. I'm nothing more than the person who keeps the fridge stocked and the dishes washed. This is another reason for getting out of the house and into a real studio space. Not that I won't still be relied upon to do these things, but the effort to work out problems will fall back into their laps and not be conveniently placed into mine without a thought. 

I'm in the process of putting together the tea house soaps, beginning with the Kyoto Cherry Rose Tea soap. Then I think Russian Caravan next, Cinnamon Fig, and then finally Butterscotch. I also dug up from my tea stash a wee bag of White Chai, which smells fabulous! I may make that one for myself. Perhaps even a simple Moroccan Mint with light peppermint, green tea, and a hint of vanilla. These scents, depending upon how well they perform in a soap base, may also find themselves in wee perfumed butters. Maybe even a sweet pot of sugar lip scrub.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

New Stuff at The Scented Djinn Etsy Apothecary, and Some Crazy On Top

I've put a few new things on The Scented Djinn's Etsy page, some of you may be interested, others may not.

First up is the new Hempilicious Raw Shea & Argan Decolletage Butter made with raw yellow shea butter, hempseed oil, argan oil, a wee bit of fractionated coconut oil scented with rose Edward bourbon and olive absolutes.
This stuff is super creamy and was whipping in the mechanical whipper for nearly two hours as each ingredient was carefully added and incorporated one by one. I'm really digging the olive absolute -- it's got this piercing green note that is almost floral, like fresh mimosa blossoms. Together with the rose, the butter displays a really pretty delicate floral aspect. Plus it just feels good schmearing it on the skins.

Next is Rose & Olive Fabulous Facial Serum. I'm a big fan of the face serums. I think most people truly underestimate the value of a well-composed serum. This one is made up of hempseed and argan oils and again scented with that gorgeous blend of rose Edward bourbon and olive absolutes.

I've been using this one and it is every bit as special as the Helichrysum & Hemp Fabulous Facial Serum that was just temporarily discontinued in the shop. I'm planning on adding a few more perfumed facial serums to the shop in the coming days -- unusual and special and gorgeous. Like you.

I also decided, after literally years of self-debate, to add a wee natural isolates evaluation kit to the offerings. This one includes a handful of the natural isolates I discussed in my book, Working the Bench II. I've diluted them to 10% (org. cane alc.), the proper dilution ratio for evaluation and use of perfumery materials, and packed them in 4 ml amber glass vials. That's a dram if you're not up on your archaic forms of liquid measure.There are six natural isolates in each eval kit, as listed:

Allyl caproate natural (CAS 123-68-2) - pineapple, rum, fatty, boozy, tropical

Shoya furanone aka Ethyl-2 5-Methyl 4-Hydroxy 3(2H)-Furanone (CAS 27538-09-6) sweet, burnt sugar, caramel, yeast, roasted marshmallow, maple, honey, soy sauce

Heliotropin (CAS 120-57-0) sweet, delicate flowers, vanilla, bitter almond, coconut, pastry, spun sugar, marshmallow confection

Laurine aka Hydroxy Citronellal (CAS 107-75-5) delicate floral, green, fresh, waxy, lily, linden

Neryl acetate (CAS141-12-8) sweet rose, orange blossom, citrus peel, leafy greens, cool apple, pear

Valerolactone gamma (CAS 108-29-2) woody, cinnamon, amber, balsam, suede, herbal, tobacco, cocoa

I'm not adding in scent strips or evaluation sheets, just a sheet with a description paragraph for each of the natural isolates, and then the isolates themselves. I suppose these are meant for a more advanced natural perfumer to play with.

Anyway, a fun little diversion, those natural isolates.

Once the dust settles around here, I'm going to dig into the resins chest and start work on incense again. Once again, the plan is to build some from-scratch incense sticks. There's a problem, though. Through the grapevine I've been informed that the primary company selling bamboo splits is no longer carrying them. The alternative is Alibaba and buying in super bulk -- like I have the space for that -- in weights of 100 kilos or more. What would I do with 100 kilos of bamboo splits? I'd HAVE to open an incense shop then just to have a place to put the splits until they were sold. Fortunately, I still have enough splits to complete a couple more projects before things become dire. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to work so hard to make the progress by centimeters that I'm making. Sometimes I wish some fancy pants money bags person would get in touch with me and say, "Hey, I'll invest. Let's get started," and then we do. Wishes and dreams. In the meantime, I work it alone.

Lately I haven't been feeling my usual generous self. I'm catching myself being hyper critical of, well, just about everything. I think the minus gang who I live with are beginning to rub off on me in a big, big way. I need a psychic detox! I need the bad stuff out and the good stuff flowing back in. So. I find myself scrolling my FB page and wonder if anybody I know has ever had an original thought. Completely unfair observation on my part because I am the culprit here too, posting and re-posting lame memes and sharing silly crap. I find myself wondering how many more selfies of THAT person I can look at before I vomit on my foot. Totally unfair because their journey counts, even if it includes a lot of selfies. I see posts from peers and I want to punch the computer screen with envy or angst. Also unfair on my part because I get enough strokes to survive, so I have no right to deny them getting theirs. Like I said, I feel unbalanced right now, like the wicked is growing and overriding my normally kind nature. Or maybe I've finally lost it. Completely. It's time for the rubber room. Mmm, maybe not!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Natural Isolates & the Devil

So, I've been thinking (and you know how things can go when I do that!) that I will offer a few small natural isolates samples, diluted, one in fractionated coconut oil, and another in organic cane alcohol, and perhaps a brief description of each natural isolate. Nothing else though. No scent strips, no evaluation sheets, just the samples and the descriptions. I've been thinking on this a long, long time. That and offering wee natural perfumery kits that do include scent strips and evaluation sheets, but I'm not in a position to store all that is necessary to do that just yet. There are more things coming in the post to help push this along -- this being ALL of this; the business, the educational aspects, the writing -- and, as I often and annoyingly harp on about, space is at a premium here. What I offer for sale must be compact, and have big potential to be swept off the shelves in record time. And if you think any of this is motivated by greed, you're dead wrong. I see an order come in, and my initial reaction isn't, "Oh, goody! Money!!!!" My reaction is more likely to be, "Aw, man! Where's the packing tape that was RIGHT HERE five minutes ago? Can someone give me a lift to the post office later? Who's got my label pen?! For Pete's sake, can someone please tell me why the priority mail boxes are stuffed behind the couch?"

I really need a private studio.

It's taken a while to get back to posting here. We had an extra long weekend with the oldest grandchild visiting from Fresno, and then all the touristy things we did to entertain her, and then the recovery from it all. The older I get, the more slowly I snap back into normal after visits and visiting. We went on one of those 45-minute bay cruises in Morro Bay, and the wee one made a friend named Charlie, another five-year-old, who she chattered on with during the entire ride. At one point, when I wasn't listening to the Captain of the boat going on about the differences between a sea lion and a seal, I overheard the wee one tell Charlie, "My sister is the devil." There is a cute little back story to that statement, one which I won't go into here because it's long and has nothing to do with anything, but the feeling one gets when a five-year-old tells a total stranger that her six-month-old baby sister is the devil -- well, it's indescribable. To Charlie's credit, he ignored the statement and the two of them continued on in their conversation about dormant volcanoes.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The FedEx Man Texteth

Nothing like waking up to Alarm by FedEx. Did you know they will text you if an adult's signature is needed for a package? Like, hours before they deliver said package? I love that they do that -- nice reminder, especially if you're not prone to jumping on the computer to read emails at the crack of dawn. What bites is the time between the text and the actual time of delivery. It's like setting an appointment with the cable company. Or death.

Me: "When did you say you'd be here to pick me up?"

Death: "Oh, somewhere between 1963 and the early to mid-2000's. Is that convenient for you, or do you have to be somewhere? Forewarning, lady, there's a fee if you cancel your appointment."

Yesterday the wee one and I spent a little time gardening. We built a barrier in the back strip using animal crates and an old litter box to prevent wee-dog from trotting to the other side to do her business. Wee-dog still has plenty of poop space, but now the wee one also has some space to romp in, poop free. There are a couple of planter boxes back in the strip, one with a giant aloe vera octopusing over the sides, and the other is the tater stash. The tater stash is kind of an experimental incubator of potatoes I find at the farmer's markets around here -- I think the last one I planted was a Peruvian blue, or something like that. They're growing even though it isn't potato season. That's what you get in a micro-climate, weather unlike what the guy 20 miles up the road gets. And the honeysuckle is back there too. With all the water we've gotten this winter, the honeysuckle blossoms should be spectacular. There will be plenty for the enfleurage plates.

The front garden got some attention as well. After cleaning off the front porch of all the damp and ruined stuff, we set to work repotting the magnolia. My mother potted that magnolia for me several years ago from a seed that fell from a 100-year-old grand magnolia growing in her backyard. She cursed that tree too as it dumped leaves on her potting stand and buried many of her baby plants. The magnolia had grown about a foot since I received it three years ago, adding a few more bundles of leaves as it went, but I could tell it wasn't going to continue growing with such gusto without putting it into a larger container. The pot I picked was used for some strange celery smelling Australian no-water plant that got grossly overwatered a year back and finally gave up the ghost. My hope is that the magnolia thrives in this bigger pot as it was severely root bound in the last pot. We also checked the bulby things and they're all popping up! The hyacinth enfleurage is about a week or two away now. The pink jasmine is beginning to send out bright green fingers, slowly wrapping them around the bobbing long-necked succulents with whom they share a pot. Succulents like these grow like mad around here with little to zero tending. No joke, if one snaps in two, you can take the part that separated from the plant, poke a hole in the dirt, stuff it into the hole and it'll grow like it lived in that hole its entire life. They're Superman succulents. And they make good trellises for the jasmine to grow.

Today we were going to take a trip around the neighborhood so the wee one could ride her bike, but FedEx has put the kibosh on that idea. We'll probably end up on the driveway with a pack of sidewalk chalk instead.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

New Tea Shop Soaps

So, just before Christmas, I tentatively set up a bargain wherein I would create a small set of perfumed soaps for the local tea shop based on their four favorite tea flavors ~ Russian Caravan, Cinnamon Fig, Butterscotch, and Kyoto Cherry Rose. Work begins on those this week. These will include essential oils, absolutes, and concretes, as well as natural isolates, and will be sold exclusively through the tea shop.

Russian Caravan Tea ~ This is leathery and bitter-green with notes of smoky cade and a slight smoked salmon quality. This was an interesting piece to work out.

Cinnamon Fig ~ The first note is a delicious fruit skin scent, something like dried green apple peel with just a touch of spice. It's a sweet, whimsical scent.

Butterscotch ~ Straight butter CO2 and vanilla with a underlying dark tea note. Getting that dark tea note just right was the stickler because there isn't much of it, but it is definitely there.

Kyoto Cherry Rose ~ I've talked about this scent a dozen times on this blog. This scent is beautiful with cherry-almond notes, a hint of rose, and a sheen of brilliant and bitter green tea. I've already got this one entirely worked out.

I'm hoping to have all of these done and ready within the next couple of weeks so that I can at least present test batches to the tea shop. One important discovery I've made since embarking on this project is that all my barking about notes taking and evaluation, evaluation, evaluation is dead on -- if not for my notebooks and evaluation notes that often seem redundant and silly, this project would have been months in the making instead of the few weeks it took to narrow down the perfect notes. It feels a bit like creating all the chaos I struggle with daily in terms of physical space and the narrowing of mental storage. The more notes I take, the more notebooks I need, the more space is required to store the notes, the more evaluations I conduct, the more space is required to store the evaluation results, the more experiments I conduct, the more space is required to store the experiments -- yet it's all so very necessary! I feel a bit like the hamster on a hamster wheel. Maybe I'm just letting the lack of physical space take up too much mental space -- another attempt at self-sabotage? I'll work it out.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Writing, Gardening, & Post Officing

This week I'm expecting more raw materials to arrive. Yeah, I know, more stuff to stuff into this already over stuffed space. I've got some student papers to review, a soap class to format, some orders to fill, some post officing to do. I'm going to be busy the next month or so restocking perfumes (making them, actually), and coming up with some online classes and workshops based on the new book. I'm also dusting off the old incense manuscript and beginning work on that again. I know I said I wasn't going to write for a while, but I can't help myself. The exhaustion, confusion, and sense I loss I felt after finishing WTBII have diminished and I'm ready to tackle another project. With all this new stuff coming in, I'll have plenty to talk about.

I'm still thinking hard on that studio space. It may have to wait a few months until I get my bearings again, but it's always there in the forefront of my mind.

I wanted to talk about something I just received last week: Enfleurage's Linden Blossom (Tilia cordata) CO2. Amazing! It is sweet and succulent and warm -- parts of it remind me of damp tobacco, other parts remind me of dried fig, and there is this overall tone of fruitiness that is astounding. It's much louder than linden blossom absolute, much better defined. It smells like the little pink and yellow and white mimosa flowers from mum's yard -- the flowers that she railed against in the spring and summer when they'd fall indiscriminately down onto the carefully tended garden below. I can see this CO2 adding a lush, deep, dark floral and honey quality to a perfume.

I've been planting bergamot seeds everywhere! There is a 99% possibility that not a single one will grow, but I can't help but give them a chance anyway. Every time I use bergamot, I extract the seeds and poke them in one of the many empty planter boxes outside in hopes that the freezing temperatures will spur their germination. I still have quite the stash of seeds sitting damp and cold in the refrigerator. Soon they will go into the soil too, but in a more disciplined manner. Basically on purpose. Watch, those will be the ones that never germinate, while the ones I poked in the dirt in a hurry -- the dozens and dozens of them spread across the gardens -- will pop up like weeds. Whatever works, right?

Sooooo, I've been keeping a close eye on the planter boxes lately in hopes that the bulby things will show signs of emerging, and just the other day I was honored with the appearance of the pokey tip of a hyacinth! They seem to be right on time as hya's are typically in full bloom in mid- to late-February. The paperwhites already made their appearance just before Christmas and are still going strong, but I don't have nearly enough of those yet to enfleurage. Each year they've doubled up, so maybe next year or the year after I'll be able to get a wee pommade from them. For now, they're just looking pretty and stinking up the porch.

Monday, February 01, 2016

The Eclectic Collection of Exquisite Grab Bag Goods & Some Other Stuff

First, shameless sales tactic here ~ I've put together those grab bags, only they aren't bags, and they don't cost a dollar, or contain anything in them less than $40 ($50 to $90 is more like it), and I REALLY want them gone. Like, a burning desire to see those boxes off. They are pre-packed, and I have no idea what is in them individually other than they're crammed full of whatever I could fit, including soap (every box has soap), incense (not every box has incense), scrubs (not every box has a scrub), and perfume (every box has perfume -- some have more than one) -- and they're a great way to stock up your natural skincare pantry for next to nothing. Treat yourself, buy one -- heck, buy two! Get them out of here -- they're causing quite the mental stock block.

Last November, about four days before my birthday, I did something I literally NEVER do; I bought myself jewelry. Cheap jewelry, albeit, but jewels, my style. The website I bought the jewel from gave a 60 to 80 day delivery time (yow!) but it didn't bother me because it wasn't a gift to someone else, there was no timeline, just that some time in 2016 I should receive it. It was delivered a few days ago, and it was worth the wait, in my opinion. I love it. It's gaudy, brilliant, different, and 'out there' -- just my style. I love it so much, I went back to the website and ordered another one in a different setting with a blue stone (like a CZ sapphire or something). The one I initially purchased is like a CZ ruby. I've never worn a ruby in my life, but I'm rocking the rubies now.

I have vacillated on the salt/solid perfume idea to the point that I'm not certain anymore what to do with the goods I gathered to build them. I'm trying to downsize here, but I realized that I'm expanding (in some areas) instead. I'm resolved, however, to whip this ship into shape and purge a lot of stuff I don't need because what I need more than anything in the world is SPACE! I will eventually work on that salt/solid perfume idea. I have to. It wants it.

Two new items are going up at the Apothecary & Thurifercorum today -- a beautifully distilled, rare, and seasonal bergamot hydrosol, and an equally beautiful, not quite so rare, and completely seasonless Bergamot & Violet soap. Both are exquisite (yeah, I use that word a lot), the bergamot slowly and tediously distilled using the whole fruit to create the hydrosol, and the perfume formulation for the bergamot soap aged for nearly two months before being poured into a lovely soap base of organic extra virgin olive oil, organic virgin coconut oil, creamy coconut milk, and delectable raw yellow shea butter.

Sunday, January 31, 2016


Since I began seriously working in natural perfumery, around 2003-2004, I've seen a lot of people who were die hard advocates and creators of natural perfume just quit. One day they were there, the next they were gone, having moved onto greener pastures -- often green in the sense that there was money where they went. When Le Parfumeur Rebelle was first conceived in 2006, a lot of those perfumers were reviewed for the e-zine. I knew some of them, reviewed some of them, made life-long friends with some of them. One reason many of these first maverick natural perfumers stopped perfuming is because the dream of building a life and a living from it faded. Some stopped because the work was too difficult, the barriers too high, the politics too disgusting, or their life too difficult to share with the kind of dedication and work necessary to create. I'm not saying they didn't have heart. I'm not saying they didn't have the chops. I'm saying something happened. A slow progression of barriers and set backs and mean-spirited interventions, or a sudden one time bombardment of bad, and that was it. The desire to battle on, to continue creating the art despite the impediments, simply drained away.

What can you do to prevent it from happening to you? How can you stop the slow whittling down of your artistic resolve? First and foremost, unveil the art that you cannot live without. If it's in your heart to write, write. Write even if no one ever reads your words. If your desire for art lies in painting, then paint. Paint for yourself. Paint if no one ever displays your work; paint even if the work lies abandoned in a basement or attic. If it's pottery or poetry, playing the sarangi or dancing, do it because it's in your heart to do so, not because of some pay day you've anticipated, or because of some accolades you feel you deserve.

Art doesn't give a shit about you, it simply wants to exist.

It's raining again. Good rain. Nice, solid sheets of steady rain. We were fortunate here on the central coast to have on and off again El Nino rainy patterns, rather than the days on end of buckets of rain pouring down. Those days may still yet arrive -- this may be one of them, but the on and off thing helped prevent a lot of problems, like oversaturation of the soil causing mudslides or tons of trees toppling over. I live in oak tree country, a few miles in from the ocean, and though I love the rain -- adore it, in fact -- seeing some of those huge old oaks losing their hold and falling tears at my heart. Four years of drought, with 2014 having almost zero rain to speak of, have taken its toll here in Sunny California. Certainly at some point the rain will be a nuisance, as it becomes every El Nino year, but for now I say, bring it on.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Doing What I Do

I'm watching the stock in the apothecary dwindling with a little bit of nervousness in my gut. I have things to put up, I'm just sitting back on my hands a bit, waiting until a lot of things are ready, and then it's going to be a wave of new, new, new stuff. I started on those eclectic collection packages (grab bags for the lay person), and once those are off the table, it's onto the next, new, and hopefully better. Without a doubt you're going to be slapped in the nose with some bergamot product. I've really just been taking things slow, no particular reason other than I'm still working out a lot of things that are in and around the studio and I don't want to F up. That's all. Not my typical procrastination thingy I do -- or did -- I'm working. I work in the studio every single day. I'm getting things prepped, and I'm taking time to create some really lovely stuff for you. It's the way I'll be working from here on out, I think. I'm no novice at this anymore, I can't always be looking for the next fad product to stick in my line up, or thinking up something that I think someone else will like. I have to stay true to me, and I do natural perfume, and soap, and body butters, and hydrosols, and body and beard oils, and delicious incense, and I teach. So that's what this is going to be from here on out. Perfecting what I know, doing better than what I did the time before, and always striving to make something absolutely stunning and exquisite with simplicity and mindfulness and gratitude.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Endless Possibilities

While I was away, I set the bergamot enfleurage to the side sans bergamot peel because, well, it's just stupid to leave an enfleurage enfleuraging for days on end -- causes molding and other nasty things to happen. Anyway, I expected some of the scent to fade, as citrus does, but was pleasantly surprised to find that not much fading occurred. Some of the bright citrusy bits were more toned down than before I left, but that gorgeous floral note that bergamot possesses was still there, very present. A few more charges and I think I'll bottle her up and put her away for future use. I might put a couple of wee jars up for sale too.

Ideas are flowing like mad right now -- I can't even get a decent night's sleep, my brain is going on and on with the endless possibilities. I'm back to plan A, the one where I rent the condemned space for a studio, but I still need to row up the ducks. Contacting the appropriate people to find out who owns that building space and what it will take to get it up to code again are on the agenda today. I dream about that specific space so often that I have to pursue it to the end. I'm sure you're sick of hearing about it by now. Hopefully one day I'll just announce that I have the space and leave you alone about it. Ha!

I've actually got a couple of soap blends moving along -- a lovely violet and patchouli blend, and then a patchouli and linden blossom blend using this absolutely gorgeous and true to the flower linden blossom CO2 from Enfleurage. It's just stunning. I know, that's a lot of patchouli soap, but in this case, the patchouli serves as a wonderful platform for both of these scents -- and I like patchouli. Lots of people do, despite its poor reputation. What YOU need to realize, patchouli hater you, is that all patchouli is not created equal. For example, some patchouli can smell soft and powdery and floral, while another example can smell fresh and herbaceous and green. Some smells woody and smoky and dry, while others smells leafy and sweet and honey-like. It's like that tomato crop you grow every year, some years, depending on what you do to the soil, how much rain there is or isn't, how often you fuss or don't, your tomatoes grow large but tasteless, or they grow perfectly, or they grow wee and tasty, or you get a bumper crop and have to give baskets of them away to your neighbor, Fred, or you get three tomatoes the whole season. It's never the same. The same thing happens to patchouli, and the oil reflects those variables. So saying you don't like patchouli is like saying you don't like pizza when your only pizza experience has been the French loaf with ketchup and Velveeta your Grandma Flossy made for you as a kid.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

New Stuff! (Again!)

I'm going to be bottling up some new stuff today, and make some soap -- or at least getting the scent formulation made and married before pouring into soap. My storage and studio woes are not over yet, but I can't sit about twiddling my thumbs waiting for everyone else to pop up off their arses to help, so I have to do it on my own. I've come up with a temporary fix, one which I think everyone around me can live with, and it won't cost me half my monthly budget to do it, and it frees up a lot of space for everyone else to use, so . . . . crossing my fingers and toes that all will be well. The off-site studio will have to wait until I get this new incarnation of The Scented Djinn Apothecary & Thurifercorum worked out. It all boils down to $$, as does most everything. I've got to get those ducks in a row before I can move forward, so this is duck #1 rowing up.

I'm getting ready to take what remaining stock there is on The Scented Djinn Apothecary & Thurifercorum and box them up as product medleys at a set price (at least 50% less than retail) to get them off the shelves and into your hands. I have so many single items of product and I really need to clean things up a bit. This would be a great opportunity to get a sampling of what type of work I do at my shop. The medleys may contain a soap, a perfume, a body oil, an incense, or perhaps two soaps and a perfume and . . . or Kyphi and soap, or perfume and a balm. Depends on what there is in stock and what I think would make the most eclectic collection. I don't know how many of these collections I'll be making. Once they're gone, all the old stock, and some of the rare and never-to-be-made again stuff, they're gone. Forever.

Eclectic Collection 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Purpose and Repurpose

As you may have noticed lately, stock in The Scented Djinn Apothecary & Thurifercorum has been dwindling of late. I did create something -- that tuberose and coffee concoction -- but it caused an unfortunate temporary reaction on my skin when I wore it outside that I pulled it from the stock list. I'll repurpose that stuff into soap. Maybe a nice patchouli soap with some very expensive tuberose pommade laced throughout.

I'm still fretting about more space. I actually dreamed about it last night. There is a particular spot I'd like to get my stinky little fingers on but it's been declared unsuitable for occupancy by the local fire department. Apparently someone rented the space last year for their art studio and ended up living in it instead -- tore it up pretty good. I remember seeing the person who rented it fluffing faded silk flowers in the front garden container, talking to herself about how lovely her studio looked. Anyway, in the dream I got that space and with help from some very crafty friends, we put it to rights in no time. I just wish with all my heart that was the reality of it. For now, it looks like I'm going to rent regular storage space and move all of the non-perishable studio items into storage until I can find something that works better. There is another option I haven't fully explored, and that's renting space within an existing business. And there again, it all depends upon the size of the space. I need storage and studio space. With a small area for the girls to play while I'm down there. Still working on the details of it all.

While I was away from home this past weekend, I did have an opportunity to do a little rummage shopping, and I found some old Avon sachet jars (with contents) that I thought would be beautifully repurposed into solid perfume jars or incense jars. They're just pretty and it's a shame to think of them possibly ending up in a landfill somewhere because they're full up with old, rancid scent. They're soaking in a baking soda bath right now to rid them of their pervasive stink after having spent a little time in hot, soapy water and then a bleach rinse. They won't be done until the smell of Avon is completely eliminated. And the little round labels on the bottom come off.

Book sales have slipped dramatically from December's selling-like-hotcakes status. It's a little depressing. I've gotten some feedback privately from a few people who have the new book and are reading it, and all are positive -- thus far. I just hope that I've put in enough of what learning natural perfumers want to know at this stage. I've been discussing the book with someone who said it was loaded with information, but I cautioned this friend to remember that there is so much more left to learn and talk about. I simply wasn't up to writing the opus I had intended. The saying 'Biting off more than you can chew' came to mind more than once while I was writing that book. The discarded chapters represent the beginning of a new book, one which I am in no way ready to begin.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


I don't know if you noticed, but I haven't blogged in a couple of days. That's because I was no where near internet access, nor even phone service. I accompanied my daughter to the mountains to celebrate my granddaughter's 5th birthday with a snow trip. The wee one could hardly be pulled from the drifts when it was time to go. She absolutely loved the snow! As children will do. I, however, stuck to the warm cabin, my Nook books, and spent time watching the wee one sliding off the snow-covered porch. It snowed two of the three days we were there, which meant that each day the wee one went out to play, the landscape had changed from the previous adventure. Like I said, she was beside herself with happiness to spend hours bundled up in a snow suit, double mittens, and snow boots, and left to disk down short slopes -- and sometimes slipping into trees. One night, while she and I were up late watching cartoons, I heard banging sounds from outside and instantly knew what was going on. Having spent my childhood living in those very same mountains, I knew exactly what what causing the ruckus. I rushed to the window, switched on the porch light and caught the scurrying backside of a fat raccoon racing away from the tin trash cans, one lid expertly pried off. I went out and secured the lid and laid a snowboard across the can so the little devil couldn't open it again if he, or she, decided to come back. When I sat back down next to the wee one, I said, "Guess what I just saw outside?" She looked at me with half asleep eyes and said, "A bear?" I answered, "No, silly! A raccoon." Her answer was a shrug of the shoulders and more drooping of the eyelids. I guess if it had been a bear, she may have sat up and paid attention, but a raccoon, apparently, isn't worth her time.

So I'm back and all the projects will resume. I checked my remaining stash of bergamot oranges and they are holding up beautifully. I'm saving all of the peel from the enfleurage to create another hydrosol using peel only instead of whole fruit, as I had done before when the still decided to explode on me. All the pulp and mash boils up too easily into the tubing, plugging it up and causing pressure to build until -- BOOM! There it goes, splashed all over the window and walls, cupboards and ceiling. Not to mention the sauced up floor. I still need to save some peel for cooking. I've got my spring rose and bergamot marshmallows to work up to ship to family and friends. I'm hoping to get an early bloom from the Cecile Brunner's at the organic nursery in Los Osos and use those beauties as the rose component in the mallows.

I'm gearing up to resupply for the year -- organic alcohol, fractionated coconut oil, some raw shea for soap making, lots and lots of incense materials, lots and lots of oils and absolutes -- it's going to be a good year to rebuild and define my business.

A couple of dear friends lit the fire under my bum, sharing some insight into obtaining the studio space I'm looking for. I need to be a bit more flexible with the space and location than I have been. I'm going to start it out as a studio space, and then after a few months, open as a retail shop. The problem is storage. As I've said before, repeatedly, as I'm sure you're aware, is that there is zero storage left in the in-home studio. I have no space to store raw materials, and none to spare for finished product. I just have to get out of here! Because of the space the studio takes up in the house, many household items are left lying around in the open where they ought to be stored away. Anyway, I know I harp on about it, but it really is an issue with business expansion. I simply cannot do it in the current situation. And I'm ready! Able! So this month is a time of searching for a space to work in. Something small, affordable, and with potential retail opportunities.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Durraq eau de Parfum and the Power of Ageing

Durraq is the first composed perfume I created using natural isolates. I have dabbled before using natural isolates, but never really committed to them. But with Durraq, the goal was to incorporate them into natural perfumery so they would exalt and extend the compositions. When I first created Durraq, I feared I may have gone overboard on the gamma octalactone natural isolate as the scent was initially very screamy creamy and mallowy with soft peachy notes. The peachy note was what I was after, but what I got was more. Lots more. Now, however, it has come into its own -- the scent is definitely a beautiful fruity-floral Chypre, which is what I was aiming for but which did not appear until now, nearly six months after completion. It wears longer than the average natural perfume, but not much longer. Not into days or anything. Where Durraq used to be a loud opener, the gamma octalactone darting and zinging out of the bottle and off the skin, and then spreading like the Blob, a big sheet of mallowy peach, now it is just 'there', hovering, wafting, shimmering in its fairy sparkle peachiness. And I love it. Adore it, in fact. To the point that I'm wanting to use it as my signature scent. It's rose- floral with a soft, musky peach nuance, and a dry down that becomes more and more complex as it lies on the skin. This is not the Durraq I initially created. It is a grown up Durraq.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Stepping Up My Game

I had an epiphany just now about writing about my craft and selling product conceived of that craft. I'm surprised it took me so long to 'get it', as it were. Well, I did have a very vague notion, nothing solid, not quite real, because I'm not a seeker of the limelight. I'm not interested in fame one tiny bit. I like the realness of honest, equal ground relationships over insincere pandering just because someone thinks I'm something that I clearly do not (think I am).

It's that people expect a certain higher level of quality from my work. I'm just doing what I do and not really thinking about my level of expertise having anything to do with it. But people, clients, expect something more from me than what they get from anyone else offering the same types of products. So when someone gets something from me, a perfume or a fragrant butter, they expect it to be stratospherically (word?) excellent. Admittedly, that is not always what they get. I allow my frustration to get the best of me when a piece of work doesn't do what I want it to do, or when I think too hard about whether to use natural isolates or not to use them, or if I'm adding too much of something rare and finite to a composition thereby depleting my library. I worry that by using those rare and finite ingredients, I'm somehow throwing them away. I know. It makes very little sense. I also worry that my timelines are slow and sometimes stagnant. Am I getting stuff out there quickly enough? That leads to rushing the work and ultimately presenting something that isn't up to what my clientele expect.

So, I'm stepping up my game. Slowing down, taking time, but not procrastinating getting going on the work. Working methodically and carefully, the way I teach my students to work. I think at the heart of it all, I feel a lot of pressure to be too many things to too many people. I'm the perfumer, the soap maker, the artist, the writer, but I'm also the mom and the grammy and the familial glue. I have to balance my dreams of opening a shop with the reality of providing a living to myself and those who depend on me. I often feel split in two.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Marmalade & Enfleurage

I want to talk about the weather first. I know, small talk drives me bonkers as well, but here it is -- man! Is it ever raining right now! Sideways and in sheets! It's spectacular. I left the back slider door open during the night to allow the big cat to go out and do his business, and this morning I found a wading pool in the dining room. And the big cat didn't dare go out, opting for the litter box for the first time in years. At any rate, the pool saved me from lugging water to mop the floor. Now that it's cleaned up, the heat's turned on, and the slider door is firmly closed, me and the wee one can enjoy this cozy rainy day together. 

The marmalade turned out beautifully! Perfect. A mouthful tastes of sweet summer perfume. The little jars have been popping all morning, reminding me that they're waiting for later to be opened and smeared over freshly baked English muffins. I know, English muffins are a pain in the butt to make, but they seem the best delivery system for this lovely bergamot marmalade. 

I also got started on that bergamot enfleurage and it is turning out amazing. The scent is unbelievable. The enfleurage oil soaks up the peel scent so quickly. Honestly, for a while after I received these boxes of bergamot, I was regretting having spent so much on them considering the limited possibilities (or so I thought), but now I'm so happy that I did spend what I did because really, the possibilities are as open as my imagination. Last night it was suggested we take some of the juice of these bergamot on our snow trip this weekend and use it to make margaritas. Bergamot margaritas! Gin and tonic with a bergamot twist. Bergamot sangria. Bergamot simple syrup. 

Thus far I've made a small batch of bergamot hydrosol, 10 jars of bergamot marmalade, bergamot juice for whatever, and a bergamot enfleurage, and there's still a box left to play with. Oh, and some seeds! These are one of those orange trees that grow easily from seed and still produce fruit without any kind of grafting. We shall see. In a few years, I guess.


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