Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Day In May Celebration

The Farm's first official introduction to the masses (mini-masses?) commences on the 20th of May at our long-awaited 'A Day In May Celebration' craft show. We're nearly done setting the adorable shop which is housed in a 1952 travel trailer. Oh, the stuff we've managed to cram in there . . . and there's more. The plants on the farm are thriving, though I noted to my partner in crime, Shannon, just yesterday that I'm frustrated the plants aren't on the same page and growing faster to keep up with demand. It's going to be a scorcher that day in May -- predicted to be around 92 degrees F. All week it's been a lovely, liveable 75 to 78, but the day of the event the powers that be decided to turn up the heat.

What a wild and often harrowing last few months it's been getting this farm and shop in order. What we imagined in the beginning as a month or so at most putting things to rights has turned into five months of toil and tears and a niggling feeling that we're still not quite there. But alas, we must forge on with what we've got or else we won't be making any money to get those loose ends tied up.



There is road construction on the main road from Fresno to the farm so alternate routes will have to be mapped so that you arrive on Belmont (the main road) from the east, and bypass all the "Road Closed" signs to reach Nelson Avenue. Parking is provided in front of the redwood trees on the road in front of the farm. Hopefully, we will be able to get the signs done indicating where to park and where not to park.


Saturday, May 06, 2017

Bad News and Other Normal Stuff

This past week has been flush with bad news. First, I discovered that I had single-handedly RUINED an entire early season's harvest of Cecile Brunner tea roses by incorrectly packaging them. Into the incense box they go and not into tea or potpourri as intended. Cecile Brunner's are nice tea roses because they bloom intermittently throughout the summer, so all is not lost. All but that first flush of lovely sweet pink blooms.

Then we were called to pick the granite for the new house -- the actual slabs -- and while talking with the builder we foolishly inquired about the timeline for completion, thinking it would be sooner and not later. Well, it's later. Much later than we had ever anticipated. In fact, the news put me in a funk that I'm having a very difficult time pulling out of. I know this kind of thing takes time and that the timeline changes, but I never thought this would happen. In November we were assured move-in was going to be in April, at the latest May, then the rain came and that was pushed to late May, early June. Now they're saying late July to early August. Up until they told us that, I was driving past the house every evening on my way home from the farm. Since they told us that, I haven't been back. I just don't care to see how close the house is to completion only to be told it will be another eight to ten weeks. And most of these feelings are borne out of where I'm staying now. I can't get in any studio time. I can't locate all of the perfumery. I have nowhere to store things that I might buy to begin perfuming again. I'm in a rut.

And, of course, there's more. I foolishly read yet another poor review of Working the Bench (the first one, the one that ain't that great), and the reviewer was fair and brutal and stated something that was confusing. They said there was no index in the book and there is an index. I don't know where this person bought their copy, but they must have received an older, unrevised edition. Anyway, I don't know if I'm cut out for this anymore.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Harvesting the Blossoms

So far on the farm what we've managed to do most is harvest flowers. Lots of calendula, and lots and lots of delicately pink, sweet Cecile Brunner tea roses. Yesterday I managed to get a few of the seedlings we started back in March into larger pots -- some nasturtium, tomatoes, a couple of Thai basil babies. Today I imagine it will be more of the same. All of the witching herbs I started from seed were eaten by birds as soon as they popped their wee heads out of the soil. Those that didn't get gnawed on were beaten to death by the drying wind we've had in the past few weeks. It's been brutal. We're to be subject to another storm this coming weekend but are trying to see it as an opportunity to not have to water rather than as a setback.  I replanted the witching herbs yesterday and will be much more diligent to their needs than before. There have been many successes too. We've got tomatoes, squashes, and beans coming out of our ears. The boysenberry and blueberry bushes are throwing fruit (duck!) and most of the orchard pit fruit have nice, fat, unripened fruit hanging from the branches. We did get one distillation done, but there are much more that we can do. There's just so much to do that it's reached a point of becoming overwhelming, and that's not where we want to go with it.

Yesterday I purchased a truckload of raw materials for soap making mostly because I'm too disgusted to dig through the boxes in the garage to find what I know is in there (more raw materials). Every time I locate shop items, they become lost again when the folks around here decide to do a bit of housekeeping -- in the garage. I'm still looking for the stuff I had out during the holidays that I used to make soap. That was all sorted back into the wall of confusion. Anyway, enough of that. The point is -- soap's on! I got mango butter and cocoa butter to add to the usual shea/coconut/olive blend I use.  On a different note, I'll be forced to pack all of this up after the next soap making foray as our house is nearly complete. We're due to move in sometime in June. Not sure the exact date yet. Initially, we were told April or May, but thanks to the much-needed deluge of rain we've had this year, those plans were delayed. Yesterday the house was given color and all the doors are on and locked, which is a good sign the interior is getting close to being finished. Just a few houses down from ours, people have begun moving in. The first four houses on either side of the street are now occupied, and most of the homes are near completion. There are a few here and there that are still just frames, but the neighborhood is filling up quick. I think the last time I looked at the little street map in the builder's office, there were only three or four in the entire development that hadn't been sold yet, including the big monstrous one right next to our house. The only part of this that I am not enjoying is the moving -- again. That makes five times in five years. I am so over it.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Repost Vintage & Antique Oil Collecting ~ From the LPR Blog

Vintage & Antique Oil Collecting ~ Repost from LPR Blog


Acquiring vintage and antique raw materials for perfumery is often just a one-click bid away. Many Natural Botanical Perfumers spend a great deal of time and money obtaining rare vintage and antique raw materials through sources such as Ebay, through private collections, at flea markets, auctions and estate sales, and less often at garage and yard sales. A great deal of these vintage and antique bottles sold on Ebay are acquired by the seller through auctions of lots of materials from old turn-of-the-century pharmacies.

The demand for vintage oil collecting has increased as the number of Natural Botanical Perfumers has increased, and bidding for the most rare oils can be extremely competitive. Horror stories pop up on occasion about unethical collectors and sellers making surreptitious deals, bargaining off individual bottles from auction lots without the current bidders of the items being aware. Only when the parcel arrives does the bidder realize that they have been ripped off. One such story in circulation relates this very situation. Several years ago a cooperative of buyers won a large lot of vintage and antique oils for which they paid a premium price, with one oil in the lot of particular interest -- the single bottle of oil for which the cooperative was formed and the reason bidding went so high. When their parcel arrived, the rare bottle was missing, and after a short investigation, it was discovered in the collection of another NBP. In these cases there is often little recourse. Buyer, or rather bidder, beware!

There are also stories of happy fortune as well, as one perfumer recounts her experience with purchasing a lot of antique oils for which she paid a very reasonable price. Excited about the prospect of receiving the oils, her joy was amplified when she discovered a nearly full one ounce bottle of vintage sandalwood tucked in the parcel, a freebie the seller slipped in, clearly unaware of its value. When conducting a search of vintage and antique oils, a few of the more popular perfumery and essential oil manufacturers and suppliers names to look for are: Fritzsche Brothers, Dodge & Olcott, Magnus, Maybee & Reynard, Givaudan

Less popular are:Field & Company (Aromatics) Archer-Daniels Midland Co., Ltd.,
Plaimar Limited, Schimmel, W.J. Bush &Co., Ltd., Antoine Chiris Ltd., Mallagh &Co., C.W. Field Ltd., Payan & Bertrand, Robertet, Albert & Laloue Camilli, Charabot & Co., C.A. Charpentier, Bruno Court, Pierre Dhumez, Flora Aromatics Co., Ltd., W.H. Hobbs & Co., Ltd., Lautier Fils, Ltd., Victor Mane Fils, Old Strand Chemical & Drug Co., A.W. Munns & Co., Natural & Synthetic Perfumery Essence Company, Stanley Nicholas & Co., Roure Bertrand Fils, P. Samuelson & Co., Schmoller & Bompard, Tombarel Freres, Alfred Paul White,Wilson & Mansfield, Ltd.

Why would anyone wish to collect old oils? Because without a scent history, without a tangible piece of our Natural Botanical Perfume past, we have few points of reference. As important and helpful as Steffan Arctander's book "Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin" is, it is not a replacement for physically smelling a 65-year-old Mysore sandalwood, or a perfectly preserved 40-year-old cassia. Most perfumers who collect these old oils don't use them in formulation. They save the contents in a scent library or in a focused personal museum collection as a form of preservation.

Some perfumers decant the contents into a more appropriate and safe bottle, send a few samples off to friends, and display the empty bottle as a museum piece. Though in rare instances, as with oils of resins, woods, grasses, and patchouli, using these old oils in perfume formulation is an exhilarating experience, and can also be a selling point in marketing a perfume.

Anyone can collect rare and vintage oils. There isn't a trick to it, just a matter of research, investigation and investment.Happy Hunting.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Aged Oils

I was just inspired to write about aged oils as they seem to be a topic natural perfumers can be quite excited about. For example, hundreds of vintage and antique oils have been sold on Ebay over the past 15 years with natural perfumers in the forefront as buyers. Aged sandalwood, aged vetiver, aged patchouli, aged rose -- all of these are highly sought after by the natural perfumer who seeks to bolster his or her library with these oils which hearken back to a day when everything was better -- right? Maybe not. Well, I don't know for sure, I wasn't there, but the oils may have been, so let's let them do the talking.

A few years ago I was 'gifted' a full 1 oz bottle of vintage sandalwood oil when I bought a lot of vintage oils from Ebay. Why the seller thought giving away such a valuable commodity was a good idea, I will never know, but I am forever grateful. It was good stuff and I couldn't help myself but to use it, all of it, in a matter of a couple years. All trace of this rare gem are long gone as I sold off most of my vintage bottle collection three years ago to pay an old debt, and that empty sandalwood bottle went too. I still have a few bottles of oldies but goodies, but I have to admit, a few aren't so good anymore, which lays to rest the idea that these old oils never go bad. All oils will go bad -- eventually. If kept cool, in the dark, and as air-free as possible, most oils will survive a little while after their sell-by date. That one-ounce bottle of sandalwood must have been buried deep, and the fact that it had never been opened proved it had very little contact with oxygen. Which is why it was so flippin' good.

I still have in my collection a bottle of vintage sandalwood oil that is gooey and resinous and stinks like sandalwood dancing in a jar of dill pickles. This would be an example of how not to store essential oils. And its existence proves that ALL vintage oils do not improve with age. There's a 50-year-old bottle of patchouli oil in my collection, a one-ounce bottle about 3/4ths full, that is nothing to sing about. It's okay, but not like a smooth, creamy Sri Lankan patchouli, or a honied copper distilled patchouli out of India. I bought this vintage oil with the hopes of sharing it in 1 ml bottles with whoever would like to smell the late 1960's, but it just wasn't up to snuff. Or sniff. It's not adulterated and doesn't smell like the hippie patchouli, it's just pale scented and doesn't have the depth that I'm used to.

So what did those vintage oils tell you?

Honey From the Farm & A Honey Extraction and Exhibition

Yesterday's distillation was put on hold. It was hatefully windy and the still needs to be outdoors as 1) it's huge, and 2) it gets super hot like a furnace and we weren't interested in heating an already 80F degree room. It was so windy that when I set out to water the air dried farm plants, the stream kept blowing off to the left or right and never on the plants being watered! It took some patience to get everything watered, but I finally got it done. By that time, I was finished with being outdoors. Today we're going to begin setting up the little store-in-the-vintage-trailer. At least that work is out of the wind.

Our house is coming along very slowly. What with the spat of dry weather, however windy, there's been a mad rush in the new neighborhood to get these houses done. Ours is one of those houses. They've got the stucco on outside, finally. Last week I saw boxes of tiles in the garage and peeking through the door I see that nothing downstairs has been tiled, so I can only assume that tile was for the upstairs master shower. Those boxes weren't there when I drove past yesterday, but the garage was full of door trim and doors, so . . .

Sold at Curio Apothecary on Etsy or at the Apothecary Farm in Sanger, CA

So, we finally got a farm-grown product for sale! The farm hosts the beekeeper, Francisco's, bees. We find the bees in the white sage, the lavender, they were all over the jasmine and hyacinth when they were in bloom, they're also visiting the neighbor's orange trees, and they've been known to kiss a few calendula and tea rose blossoms. I guess this would be considered 'wildflower honey' as the bees feast on a flower buffet around here! Don't forget, we're hosting an exhibition on May 13th at 1121 N. Nelson Avenue in Sanger, CA (the Apothecary Farm), presented by the beekeeper. The fee for this exhibition is $10.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Distillation Begins

So begins the season of distillation. We, Shannon and I, distilled a fair bit of Myrtus communus, aka sweet myrtle, and got a nice gallon of deliciously aromatic hydrosol with wee droplets of essential oil floating about. Sweet myrtle is great as part of a refreshing skin care regimen. Myrtle oil is known to help with acne and other troublesome skin ailments, but only if highly diluted. Our hydrosol is highly diluted, yet so very fragrant. Next up, if I can get out to the farm today, is the rose geranium. They're in bloom and ready for the picking. That should yield another gallon or so of fresh rose geranium hydrosol. What I REALLY want to get going is tea rose, but I think I will have to gather buds for a few days before I have enough to get a good, fragrant hydrosol out of it. There is the white sage, of course, and the musk sage, which is intoxicating, but it is the rare beauties I'd like to get done while they're blooming and throwing out new growth. We may distill some sweet grass for hydrosol further along in the year. And maybe some spearmint or peppermint, depending on how well they grow and multiply this year.

Monday, April 17, 2017

IPF, Farming & Perfume

It's a teeny bit depressing when you get some major recognition and write-up within your own association and nobody seems to care. I told my daughter about it and she immediately went back to scrolling through her phone. It just makes me want to run out to the shop and dig through the goods for inspiration. I'm sh!t at promoting myself, and when I do I feel like my daughter-in-law's dog Muppy, hopping around on her hind legs begging for attention. In a very cute way, though. Ha!

International Perfume Foundation interview.

 This past Saturday I received some seeds in the mail from India. I had ordered santalum album seeds, Indian sandalwood, and also received osmanthus seeds and palmarosa seeds. I've done some reading on all the seeds and found that the palmarosa will be the easiest to grow, the osmanthus nearly impossible to grow, and the sandalwood a very close second to the osmanthus. Osmanthus requires temp variations from cold to warm in three-month intervals before it will germinate. Sandalwood, if the seeds are fresh enough, will germinate with a host plant/tree to feed on. It's all very complicated, except for the palmarosa, which, honestly, is just grass -- but oh so sweet smelling grass -- that I probably won't do anything with them until I get into the new house. Which won't be ready until early June now due to the drought busting rain we've gotten this past winter and spring.

I've gotten back into the habit of burning resin daily. It helps with the feelings of anxiety and the blues over still not having a place to unpack my suitcase or my studio. Thank heavens for the farm or I'd be a mess. Planting, harvesting, watering, and planning things at the farm have saved my sanity many times over, which is why, despite the setbacks there, I've continued to do it. It just feels good, and I know that something good will be borne of it once things begin to grow in earnest.  We've done a fair bit of harvesting -- that Cecile Brunner tea rose is really throwing off the blossoms -- that soon we're going to be packaging things up for sale. At some point, probably mid-summer, we'll begin saving the tea rose blossoms for a distillation of rose hydrosol. We also planted over 60 tomato plants of differing varieties. Plus squash and cucumber and okra and eggplant and dozens of other things, and that's not getting into what we've started with seeds.

The Four Points Garden, or the witch's garden, is coming along nicely. We've got mugwort, lavender, rosemary, black hollyhock, nasturtium, Christmas holly, honeysuckle, cedar, pine, manzanita, blue sage, lupine, ivy, wisteria, and other things I'm sure I've left out, that are growing beautifully.

I wish I had more to say on the perfumery front. There just isn't space and time now to work out perfumes, but come June, I will be a formulating fool.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

John In The Wall Update

Okay, so, after a thorough examination, it appears that John-in-the-Wall isn't a 'he' but an 'it'. Several its, actually.

I was alone, everyone else was either out of town or working late, I was watching scary stuff on the telly and then just spur of the moment got up with a screw driver in hand and began pulling down vents. The intake vent was painted over, screws and all, so I had to pick the paint out just to find what type of screw driver to use. Turns out, all of them. There was a Phillips head screw, a slot head screw, and an Allen wrench head screw! Whoever put this vent back after removing it years and years and years ago used whatever was in their junk drawer to secure it. The only thing I didn't have was a flashlight when I removed the vent, and it was dark in there. So dark, in fact, that I quickly retreated from the enormous pile of long white fur that lay snuggled against the inside of the vent with the long-dead maggot larvae throughout. I called the sil and told him to bring home a good flashlight -- and a stick. Long story short, it was just a pile of dog hair, and the 'maggot larvae' were old rat poops. Not that that's good! But it's a smidge better than a dead animal and maggots in the vent. And the smell, it turns out, is just old dry rotted wood and drywall as the heater closet used to house a swamp cooler back in the day. A big, cumbersome, leaky swamp cooler. It's a matter of sweeping out the fallen rot, getting out the dog hair and rat poop, and spraying the whole thing with bleach water, but has anyone done it yet? No. Apparently I'm staying in an if-it-ain't-in-yer-face-it-don't-exist house.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

John In The Wall

Life switches up on a dime. One minute you're minding your own business, sewing curtains or whatnot, and the next minute you're the bewildered 'grandma' of a new baby pig. A literal pig. "Meet Jake," she says, stuffing a cold black snout in my face. A. Pig.

There's been some speculation here at the daughter's new homestead that something is off. First, she claimed ghosts, now we're beginning to wonder if she's not too far off the mark. No one has had the courage to find out, but we must, and soon. There's a smell in this house that when traced to its source is found in the hallway under the heater in the closet, a crawly space that serves as the intake for both heat and air. It's an odd smell, not quite mold, and not quite poop, but somewhere in between, with a bit of rot and toe jam thrown in for 'flav'ah'. While the entire house appears sound (there are no water stains on the ceiling or crumbly walls), the closet which houses the heater tells another story -- one of dry rot and general abuse of sheetrock. It looks as if someone took a hacksaw to the closet ceiling (a dropped ceiling as the house doesn't have a proper attic space except for where the ducting resides in the hallway, bathrooms, and that nasty heater closet), and just ripped the thing to shreds in order to get a too-tall heater in with its piping. Below the heater is an elevated floor, and beneath that floor is the intake, where the scent of withered zombie emanates.

A few weeks ago, on one of the rainiest nights we've had this winter, a young man and his mother came to the door claiming to be the previous tenants. They asked if my daughter had received any mail for them, which she hadn't, and then the woman stated that her husband had passed away and things were crazy with life, and maybe some mail of hers had come to her old address, my daughter's current address. They didn't leave us a forwarding address, or even their names, as they walked away from the door in the dark and the rain. I thought nothing of this encounter until the weather began warming up and the smell in the hallway began to bloom. Then I remembered the woman saying her husband had died, but she didn't say where. I've been trying to get someone to open up that vent or check in the attic above the heater to get some idea what the stench might be, but so far everyone's poo-pooed my concerns. My son-in-law said he will wait until we move (within the next six weeks or so!) to call the landlord to check what's up with the stink. In the meantime, there could be body parts inside the walls and nobody but me seems to be the least bit concerned by it. Go light some incense, they say.

We now live with a pig, Jake, and Rotten John-In-The-Wall, whoever or whatever he may be. 


Saturday, March 25, 2017

I can feel it in my bones, the impending move. For giggles and grins today, me and two of my offspring drove through the new neighborhood to see how far along the homes are, and lo and behold! People are beginning to move in on the street over from ours! That means soon, folks. Very, very soon. It's hard to believe that less than four months ago our new 'house' was literally a dirt pile and today it is a house! A full on house, albeit without inside walls or toilets, but a recognizable house, nonetheless.

Today I've been spending a bit of time in the garage picking through incense materials and working on a loose incense project -- I know, I said it's difficult to do with the space restrictions and time and generally not having anything to inspire me to create, but this itch struck this morning while I was doing laundry, and again when I got the mail and in it was a wee package from a land far away -- frankincense seeds nestled in paper ready for the hazards of germination. Wish me luck. I hear it is notoriously difficult to germinate frankincense. All I need is lime, sand, and lava rock crushed to dust, a spray bottle, and the blessing of all the gods, and about 40 to 50 years of growth. Shouldn't be too difficult. Ha!

I have an enormous bag of balsam fir needles just yelping for some companions and a lighted charcoal. In fact, I'm burning some of the balsam fir with myrrh and previously distilled frankincense resin right now and it's quite frankly divine. It's put me in quite the uplifted mood, let me tell you. I'm thinking of soap with that black frankincense resin throughout, and perhaps a sprinkling of balsam fir and balsam fir absolute atop.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Another Rainy Day, and a Full Body Rash

So we're staying with my daughter until our house is built, and all of my studio stuff is in various and sundry boxes spread from one end of her garage to the other end of her garage, and a few boxes are MIA, which means they're at another one of my children's garages, that I feel like I'm spinning my wheels here getting nothing done because of space restrictions. I don't feel motivated to open and empty too many boxes because, in a month or two, I will be repacking those boxes to move. I've managed to locate most of the boxes with most of the things I normally sell on The Scented Djinn at Etsy, but I'm having zero luck creating anything new unless it's at the farm, and there are some temporary space restrictions there as well. I've also not been cooking much, one of my other great passions, for a few reasons. One, the stove here is electric and I have a hard time cooking on electric stoves, and two, there's no space make things. The stuff I love to cook and make, like bierocks, homemade pizza, enchiladas, marshmallows, bread, they all take up counter space, and there just isn't any here. It's a wee cottage of a house, cute as a bug's ear, but not for someone like me unless some major kitchen remodeling is done. I'm really feeling the short-timers fiercely. I cannot wait to get into my own place again.

This area has an annual clean-up-your-junk garbage pick up where you can get rid of your old appliances, furniture, and general junk, so my daughter and her husband cleaned their junk out of the garage, as well as a few pieces of furniture of mine that did not pass the test of time in a leaky garage, which led to her husband getting a severe allergic reaction. The cause is all speculation, of course, but my feeling is that he moved a box of eo's of mine in which something leaked and got on his skin resulting in a full-body rash that required a visit to the ER, a megadose of Benadryl, and a handful of Epi-Pens to take home.  I could be entirely wrong on the eo's. I don't know what else he's been doing, eating a new food or using a new body wash, I just found the timing of the rash fit perfectly with the garage cleaning. He's okay now, thank heavens. This demonstrates the need to get my stuff out of here, inventoried, and then safely stored. Besides, when they "clean" the garage and move all my things, they're like baboons looking for food, pushing and shoving and dropping and smashing everything in their path. I'm not surprised I lost furniture given their propensity to uncover the covered and stomp around on top of boxes clearly marked "do not crush".

With the house nearly done, we've been doing a lot of window shopping for things like washers and dryers, curtains, ceiling fans, chandeliers, cabinet and drawer knobs, and things that are both functional and reflect our eclectic tastes.  We've also been looking at and "collecting" more art for the house. I was at a discount home goods store the other day and found 10 gorgeous Moroccan tea glasses for less than half the cost of what I'd been finding them everywhere else. I love my Moroccan tea and it just doesn't taste the same in a regular old teacup. I bought a couple of prints from Harold Roth that I feel would fit perfectly in the Plum Palace. There are a few new things stashed here and there, but for the most part, it's all seeking out and making a mental record for when we are in the house. As I said, space here is restricted.

We go to the house on Monday for a pre-drywall inspection. Can't wait.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chapman Plan B

It's raining and things are on hold at the farm. There's just too much to do to have a deadline for opening the shop and farm, so we're going to wait until we have things set up and ready before setting the date again. Today is a shop day. We'll be working to get things in order in there. Forward motion, always.

I'm getting the final submissions in from the perfumery students at the Natural Perfume Academy, and I must say that these perfumers are pretty good already. They are thinking outside of the box and putting in a lot of effort to formulate cohesive and harmonized scents. I'm so proud of them all! When I work on their evaluations, I feel guilty that I'm not working so diligently on my own formulations. I think to get more deeply into it, I'm going to work on formulas I've already created, like Sahar, and perhaps tweak and twist until I get something much more beautiful -- though, Sahar won a blogger's choice award a few years back as-is. I think a less sweet version of Atay, and an exact duplicate of Jamaal are in order as well. It requires space and that's being worked on as well, in the Plum Palace.

It's coming along, our new house, but with this new spot of rain which is to last for a few days, things will be delayed -- again. The electric is finally in, and the outside of the house is being prepped for stucco, all the windows are installed, and the plumbing, air vents, AC lines, etc., so the guts of the house are there. Because we are gluttons for punishment, we spent a good deal of time Sunday looking at other model homes and came to the conclusion that our house was made of better stuff. One model home we looked at had trim in the kitchen area that was broken off, and when I picked up the broken piece and tried to refit it, I noticed that there were several nails in it and the wood that it attached to, and I saw the reason why it kept falling off -- the wood that made up the counter was not cut but torn, as if someone had set it up against a rock and stomped it to break it in half. It was that jagged, uneven piece that they tried nailing the trim. That was never going to work. Plus the cabinets and countertops were made of the cheapest materials they could get. And the homes were about $50,000 more than ours for less square footage. One set of models was made of nicer stuff than our house, but they cost more, and they were being built by the same developer as our house. Speaking of which, when we went to the model of the Plum Palace, we noticed the decorators were there in the back resetting the patio furniture and changing out cushions and whatnot. One of the decorators came in when he noticed we were talking about the upgrades we were going to do with the house on our own, and he said we were right on track with that idea. Why pay the installer all that money when you can have it done by yourself after you buy the house and pay two-thirds less for it? We all agreed it was a good idea. How do you like the house, he asked? And we told him we were having one built and were over the moon about it. Then he asked, "What's your name?" and extended his hand. I took it, told him my name, and then he said, "I'm XXX XXXXXX, good to meet you." He was the developer -- the builder of our home! He was incognito for the first few minutes of our conversation to get a feel for what we thought of his houses. I took it as a sign our home is going to be a good one when the guy building it takes a personal interest in how the models are decorated, and, more importantly, that he thinks it's a good idea to make upgrades after the home is in the owner's possession. He also told us a lot about the appliances that come with the house, which was nice.



Thursday, March 16, 2017

Back Out On the Farm

Things are rolling once again on the farm. All of the hyacinths bloomed and have been picked and are stewing in coconut oil for next season's extract. The calendula is really popping and throwing off flower buds for delicious skin-loving potions. We've been planting seeds to grow some seriously witchy herbs, like rue (which are starting off their germination in the refrigerator), elfwort, mugwort, sweet william, black-seeded poppy, black hollyhock (which I'm SUPER excited about), and various other medicinal and magical herbs. We also planted seeds for a seriously well-rounded vegetable garden -- dill, basil (two types), tomatoes, rainbow carrots, several types of cucumber, beets, peppers, cabbage, lettuces, mustard -- you name it. Later this week and into the coming weeks we'll be planting more and more as seeds and plants we've ordered come pouring in. We also planted lavender in the Four Points Garden. When we first broke ground in the spot that we call the Four Points Garden, it was nothing more than a flat expanse of freshly plowed earth. I think if you come out to visit on the 26th of March for the grand opening, you'll be surprised with what's been done there. Prior to the plowing, there was a travel trailer, two large car canopies, and a mound of chipped mulch where the FPG now resides. It's an amazing transformation. Plus the gardens themselves have been transformed. We have a row of table grapes and Oregon grape and blueberries and boysenberry and in between each large plant is a creeping strawberry plant -- this was fallow ground two months ago, and all the plants dormant, but now they're just bursting! Even our wee hops plant has shown signs of life just as we were wondering if it had gone to green heaven. It's all coming together.

Yesterday my kids surprised me with a trip to Murphys, CA. I haven't been there in over five years and I really missed the place. We did a little wine tasting, got a little tipsy, bought a few bottles of wine, ate a great dinner at the Fire Wood restaurant, and then brought our tired bums home. It was a nice, easy, relaxed mini-vacation that really lifted my spirits.

I've begun burning frankincense again for the purpose of mental health. I found that I had gotten away from my daily doses and was feeling the difference in a big way. I was becoming easily stressed out, snappy with the grandbabies, slightly depressed and completely off-balance. I've been burning for three days now and I'm back to my old self. Who needs valium when there's frankincense to burn? Well, some people do, but not me.

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