Thursday, December 28, 2006

Happy New Year


I just knew I could do it! I finally got the blending station cleared out, cleaned up and put together -- again. The new blending table looks spectacular! With all my collectible jewel boxes standing in as oil and absolute containers, cruets filled with jewel-toned liquids, beakers, pipettes, scalies (that's a druggie term for scales that weigh in micrograms -- and you really don't need to know how I know that -- no, I don't sell drugs, if that's what you're thinkin') and notes scattered everywhere, it truly looks like an apothecary's bench.

I've had such fun these past few days arranging everything in a more organized way. I even had time to blend the beginnings of a perfume.

Onto things that are not me ~ ferreting out information and snuffling up scented goodies has become a passion. Here are a few of my findings (ok, so it is a little about me):

Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery ~ delicious little website with the most adorable graphics.

Molly's Artisanal Soap ~ Fresh! This chick also sells perfume ~ mmmmm!

Erzulie's ~ Bomb ass website! You could literally spend hours and hours perusing.

Go have yourself some fun hanging out at these gorgeous scented places.

And have a wonderful New Year.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Season's Greetings!

Jing, jing-a-ling! Hear sleigh bells ring!

Okay, maybe more like car horns and loud, twittering birds flying south for the winter roosting so heavily in the tree outside you can also hear the branches cracking. (I'm not making that up. Sparrows by the thousands have invaded my neighborhood. I think we are having our own episode of 'The Birds' right out under the umbrella tree.)

Today all of my 'little birds' come home to roost ~ at least for this one day. This is the best thing about this time of year. Bring it on home, boys.

This year was quite the fragrant year and the gifts I will give reflect my deep and abiding love for the moniker Natural Perfumer. I made a ridiculously huge (and expensive) batch of rose and vanilla body powder. Even with all the little tins sealed up and the 'leftovers' stored away, the house still carries the delicious warmth of rose. (The Schwan man made his usual stop this past Thursday and I gifted him a tin. I told him to give it to the lady in his life and he looked offended ~ "I'm not giving this away!" he said. "I'll use it." I could have kissed him.)

Later this evening, chaos will reign. With six children, half of them grown, their children, our friends, mums and other relatives dropping in and out, it will probably be pretty crazy. Out of control is a phrase that comes to mind. And I will rest easy in my heart knowing they will go home (eventually), and I'll be able to set up my 'new' antique blending table (with drawers, brass legs and a polished leather top) right after I clear away the leftovers, clean the kitchen, throw out the wrapping paper, ribbons and boxes, vacuum, sweep, mop and discover where the grandson hid all the stuffed mushrooms and horseradish cheese slices I know he didn't eat. Yes, right after that.

To you and yours . . .

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Connections

"Ok," the girl tossing tortillas at the burrito bar shouts. "Who's wearing patchouli?"

The line in front of me was long, so was the line behind me and I'm looking, or rather sniffing, just as everyone else is, for the patchouli wearer.

The girl smiles at me as I get closer to the counter to order and says, "It's you, isn't it?"

Then it hits me ~ ha! My patchouli and neroli and clementine hair balm, my neroli and patchouli facial elixer ~ duh.

"Yeah, it's me," I say quietly.

My husband, who is standing right behind me grins and tells her, "Yeah, she makes perfume."

The girl's eyes light up and she asks, "Make perfume? With natural stuff like patchouli?"

I nod in affirmation.

"Do you sell in shops?" she asks, wrestling with a tortilla.

"No, just online," I reply.

"Card?" she asks, then expertly rolls a burrito closed.

"Yes, I have one here." I dig through my purse for the card. "Oh, and in the spring I'll be teaching a little beginning naturals class at a plant nursery up in the mountains."

She stops all her rolling and scooping and tossing and flinging. "Classes?" she asks, her eyes wide.

"Yeah," I laugh. "Classes."

"I just love patchouli," the girl says, staring down at the business card, her crinkly plastic gloves dirty with sour cream.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Parfum

'Did not even the Shunamite plunge her fingers into the precious myrrh before meeting her spouse?'

Marjoram for the hair.

Apple for the hand.

Thyme for the neck and knees.

Roman slaves to fill their mouths with perfume to shower their mistresses.

Amber and vervaine.

Orris and orange flower.

Neroli and frangipani.

Anne of Austria with her pots of vanilla.

La Pompadour affecting the essences of rose and jasmine.

Rose predisposes one to delicacy of feeling; geranium to tenderness; lilies to reverie and violets to piety.

'The devil may smell of sulphur, I shall smell of orris.'

Some things are just too gorgeous!

Vanilla.

Overused? Common modifier? Easy out?

So freakin' what? It smells too delicious to care if somone remarks that everyone, dahling, is using van-nilla.

*Pointing to my face* See me caring?

Vanilla and rose otto dusting powder with silver sparkles.

Vanilla, patchouli and jasmine whipped body butter.

Vanilla and osmanthus perfume oil ~ yeah, baby.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Poetical Language of Flowers

'The flowers were full of song; upon the rose
I read the crimson annals of true love.
The violet flung me back an old romance.
All were associated with some link,
Whose fine electric throb was in the mind.'

I've been reading antique Victorian books on fashion and style for the 'modern' woman. I think we should take a cue from their gentle prodding words that a woman's scent, her perfume, should be personal, and thus smelled only within her personal space.

Can you just imagine how those long ago modern women would feel about perfume today? No more could they say, "Ah, she is a rose," or "She fills her seat with violets." Nope. Today, those women would be choking on toxic fumes of some unnamable essence for which no natural counterpart exists. Every woman who wears perfume today would be considered audacious and below society.

So, times change. Yet another trip to the perfume mart and $47 later, I hold a bottle of Opium. The salesperson asks, "Who is that for?" in her best trying-to-be-helpful voice.

"Mother-in-law," I say quietly.

"Oh, I didn't think it was for you. That's what the older ladies like," the salesperson says, using her fingers in the air to quote 'older ladies'. "Times change, don't they?"

Well, yes they do.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Strangerer and Strangerer

It's funny, this perfume evolution thing. Not the evolution of perfume, but the evolution of a perfume.

Take, for instance, these two distinctly different blends I've been working on.

Blend one ~ inspired by, well, erm, a lover. Base of patchoulis, both essential oils and absolutes. Choya loban, oudh, dirty smelling tinctures (Grains of Paradise, cumin), sandalwood, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, coffee, cocoa, frankincense, rose and magnolia.

Pre-Evolution: Blend one is beautiful in its infancy. Dark, mysterious, spicy, languid, sexy.

Blend two ~ inspired by a precocious girl, the epitome of '13 going on 30'. Blended in a base of berry tinctures, vanilla, rose maroc, rose bourbon, jasmine grandiflorum, green tea, honey, oakmoss, bergamot and amber.

Pre-Evolution: Blend two is a five-alarm fire siren blasting the hairs out of my nose, full of indoles and screaming citrus.

Post-Evolution: Blend one is mucky. No longer dark nor mysterious, this blend runs the gamut from sweet & powdery to rubbery leather asphalt. It never stays in one place. Toward the end, when it's run its willy nilly course, which, unfortunately, is about four hours later, it finally settles warmly on the skin. Darkly spicy and sweet. But what it takes to get there is sheer hell.

Post-Evolution: Blend two is honey sweet with vivid tones of lush, cloying florals and a warm skin finish. This one sticks for hours. And it should be worn by men.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Banishing Negativity or Preparing for a Better Year

Sever the ties that bind creativity. (Had initially written 'severe the ties' ~ little Freudian slip, no?)

*Snip!*

It's drizzly and cold out today. Not the best time to prepare bath bombs. But that's what I'm doing. They're drying on a rack with a portable radiator warming their little bums.

And do they ever smell sweet.

Jasmine Amber bomb ~ Eden Botanical's luscious jasmine amber essence resin, jasmine sambac absolute, jasmine grandiflorum absolute, a few other aromatic delicacies, organic sunflower oil, nilotica shea. Wish they were all mine and not being sent off to fizz in someone else's tub.

We've been anointing ourselves lavishly with all sorts of natural goodies ~ shea 'n virgin olive oil with rose otto, sandalwood, ylang and oudh ~ dollops of the stuff in tubs of warm water.

Maggie, a reader of this blog, sent a link for a natural skincare company I think would be worth visiting ~ www.talulahskincare.com

Friday, December 08, 2006

Honey Facial Scrub & Masque

This little facial scrub and masque will leave your skin glowing and radiant.

Take half a cup of pure honey and warm it in a bain marie. Once warm, add one tsp extra virgin olive oil, 20 drops of sandalwood essential oil or 20 drops of rose otto, or both. Mix well and return mixture to warm on bain marie. Finely grind two tablespoons of green tea leaves and add them to the mixture. Remove from bain marie and whip. Store in a clean glass jar in the refrigerator.

To use your facial scrub and masque, warm the jar in a water bath and stir the contents. Scoop out about one tablespoonful of honey masque and apply to your face and neck. The tiny bits of green tea leaf act as an exfoliant. Scrub gently for a minute or two, then leave the masque on your skin for four or five minutes longer. Rinse with warm water and pat your skin dry. Apply a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil to your skin as moisturizer. Dab off any excess oil with a cotton ball.

This scrub and masque is especially wonderful for dry, winter-beaten skin.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Untruths, half-lies and subterfuge

The natural and botanical perfume industry is hard to survive in. Especially if you've been disowned, disavowed, betrayed and set upon with spies by the current self-proclaimed industry leaders.

Let's take these suppliers who've been sacrificed for the pleasure of the Queens of Hearts.

Synthetic absolutes, you say? Truly synthetic? Were they, perhaps, a natural concatenate of say real absolute and a few other choice naturals? But maybe perhaps not really synthetic?

Claiming, stating, letting slip, shouting from the rooftops or threatening with legal action that a natural product provided by a trusted supplier is synthetic, and there had better be solid proof to back up the proclamation. Proof. That it's synthetic. That's a bit different from proof that it's not a pure absolute.

Speculation to proof/no proof to bashing. Lovely. Why? Well, because queens don't entertain defiance of any sort. Nor do dictators, zealots, despots, fanatics and nutjobs. 'My way or the highway' isn't how a democracy is run. No, really, it isn't.

Sure, we can all be duped. By a too-good-to-be-true jasmine sambac from France, or a sweet, cucumbery linden absolute or a to-live-for vanilla paste. So can suppliers. They find something they think their customers will enjoy; something they enjoy, then they buy some up and present it ~ as it was presented to them. Disclaimers might be added with a little hoo-haa that it might not be a true absolute/concrete/essential oil, but here it is anyway because it smells so damned good. What's dishonest about that? This is where YOUR common sense comes into play. Ok, there are some gullible twaddlers out there. I mean if you're in the habit of giving your banking information to a wealthy Nigerian who claims he's getting screwed out of his millions by his government, you probably need someone to dictate to you what's good for you and what isn't. Bear with me -- I'm getting ready to make an announcement -- are you waiting with abated breath for my next . . . . stupid . . . word?

Get over it! If you find yourself in a situation where you're holding in your hands fake -- egads! -- gardenia essential oil, don't buy it again! Send it back to the supplier, tell them it's not what you wanted and that you want your money back. Ask them to check with their supplier or warn them not to buy that particular product from their supplier again. If they're difficult, turn them into the Better Business Bureau. If you lost a lot of money in the transaction and the supplier isn't willing to reimburse you, sue them! Period. That's it.

Unless that supplier is in the habit of selling many bogus materials, it should end right here. No public executions. No maligning across the webosphere. Unless that's not the real reason the supplier is being crucified. Unless it's a personal vendetta because said supplier didn't bend to the whim and will of the sitting n&bp monarchs. Then it's just bitchy. The incessant braying of silly asses. A bit like this post -- hee haw!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Magic Patchouli Bean Soap

Magic.

Patchouli . . .

. . . bean . . . soap

Extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, avocado oil, nilotica shea butter soap scented with dark patchouli, oudh, a mere hint of Roman chamomile, and whole plump, lush vanilla beans.

Magic.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tis the season . . . and all that stuff

This picture makes me want to shout, "Ta da!" Just ignore the caption ~ hehehe!

I love this time of year. Not because everyone's seemingly in a better mood (though I've heard over and over again that this time of year should be renamed 'Suicide Season'), but because I love the way it makes me feel inside. I feel like hybernating. Curling up in bed with a thick, fat quilt and a big mug of creamy coffee, and one of my many books. So when someone calls and orders a dozen bars of peppermint and poppyseed soap, I give them a hearty 'hell yeah' response, but cringe inside. I know -- peppermint is the season's scent, but have you ever used a bar of soap or lotion containing this essential oil? In the winter? I'd rather eat soap than rub peppermint on my skin.

Cranberry. Now that I can live with. A fellow soapmaker friend of mine makes the most delicious real cranberry and amber butter shea soap.

Orange 'n clementine 'n lemon 'n spice. Pomander soap with hazelnut oil. Mmmmm.

Persimmon and olive oil soap is nice. Scented very lightly with clove.

I've been tempted lately to make egg nog soap with organic egg nog, fat vanilla beans and clove and nutmeg essential oils -- with lots of unrefined shea butter and hazelnut oil, maybe a dash of organic sunflower. Creamy.

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