Saturday, July 28, 2007

How Red is Too Red?

I've been dying my hair with henna for about 10 years -- bright, coppery red, dark, muted auburn red, dull penny red. My 13-year-old daughter has been using henna on her light brown hair since she was 10 -- would have been since she was 5, but I had to put my foot down. From the time she could talk, she's had a burning desire to be red. She's also had a burning desire to be a pediatrician, a dentist, a billboard painter, a muy thai belt holder, a rockabilly model, a make-up artist, a professional snowboarder and a lawyer, but I had to put my foot down. She now says she can be all those things -- on a stage . . . with firey red hair.

Last night we 'did up' our hair with red henna enhanced with boiled red wine, lemon juice, and a few drops of sandalwood and clove essential oils. Normally, the henna stays in the hair for at least two hours, but for some reason, last night we went three. What a difference an hour makes. Or maybe it was the red wine. Hers came out a vibrant coppery auburn, mine a bright coppery orange. It'll be another couple of days before the color settles to its true shade, but in the meantime, we both get to hear, "Gawd! Your hair is RED!" And until the typical henna scent dissipates, we also hear, "Your hair smells like pumpkin pie -- and cow patties."

Being a lifelong redhead, I must say there's no such thing as 'too red', and natural henna is the best way to get there.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Was gonna order some new aromatics from Will and Christopher, but I just found out the car needs a new timing belt -- or worse, a new engine.


Thinking Forward

Even though the temps are standing at around 100 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit in my neck of the woods, and summer is still kicking everyone's sweaty butts, I'm thinking of Autumn. In particular, I'm thinking of what to start putting together for the annual Intermountain Nursery's Harvest Arts and Peace Festival this October.

Last year I went quietly. One table, two chairs, one canopy. Half the table was lined with perfect, exactly-the-same shape/size/colors of soap, the other half filled with perfume bottles, sample vials, scent strips and brochures. Very uniform display, no frills, no chills, no excitement.

This year, I think I'll go artisan. I'm going to pull out the old wooden box molds and make some rich, dark, spiced coffee soap with little stamps impressed upon them. Some of my formerly famous organic yellow tomato and basil soaps, carrot cream soaps, spiced patchouli lavender soaps, lusciously creamy Himalayan cedarwood 'n rose floral wax soaps, lemongrass soaps made with organic cocoa butter ~ ah, just thinking about them makes me happy, happy, happy! I'm also going to make a black colored soap using mass amounts of alkanet root infusion oil -- help with scenting? Please? I had thought anise, but that's so predictable. Something else is in order. Patchoulis (dark and iron free?), jasmine floral wax, jasmine amber resin? And, of course, no mountain festival is complete without my widely sought PoppyMint soap. Yeah, I'm braggin'. Ha-ha!

Queens Who Obsess

Aromatherapy blends aren't particularly my favorites. I prefer the lush disregard toward mood enhancement that is found in mysterious hand-blended natural and botanical perfumes. That being said (stated in print, that is), I am attempting to give my honest opinion of a group of aromatherapy blends from divalicious perfumista, Ms. Bella of The Queen's Obsession.

Breathe ~ Camphoraceous (is that even a word?), clean, woody, and certainly capable of breaking down the most stalwart gob of boogies in the schnozz. Okay, that was a little gross, but you get the idea, right? It also reminds me of a specific eucalyptus forest that surrounds the road toward the sea near Morro Bay, CA. On warm days, you can smell the camphor wafting down from the trees, along with the damp forest floor and the dank stream that meets the road every so often. In a diffuser or humidifier, Breathe would probably work wonders during the cold season.

Calm ~ I get blood orange, sweet orange and mandarin, maybe some yuzu. Very bright citrus. It has a kind of warm, musty, vaporous background scent ~ very pleasant. I guess I'm calm. I don't feel like running a marathon or beating up my sister, so it works? I'm also thinking citrus packing house, how the clean, orangey air floats all around the busy-work of the fruit packers. I like the dry down on Calm much better than the initial nasal quaff ~ it has kind of a watery aspect to it.

Awake ~ Rose geranium -- maybe bourbon? Deep and sensual. Little bit of peppermint? I like this one! It manages to be muddy and clear at the same time. Maybe this one should be called 'Agitation' instead -- I'm feeling a bit antsy after sniffing it. Better 'n coffee for that get-up-off-yer-ass jolt! I think I need to go rake the grass . . .

I had to take a break right here -- no, I didn't really go rake the grass! The feeling I got after sniffing the last aromatherapy blend is similar to the drugged up feeling I used to get when I'd make mega batches of soap in my little space in the garage. Like I was hopped up on crack or something. I had to go breathe some non-scented air for a while.

Uplifting ~ Grapefruit and Rosa bourbonia -- perfume? Almost. This is a clean, fresh, flowery essence, and I do feel better after sniffing it. It reminds me of something -- can't quite pinpoint it -- a soap or balm or something I used to use. It's possible that it was something else Ms. Bella sent me years past. Ooh! I think I've got it! A perfume balm she made about three years ago -- a lovely, fresh blend that had a bit of rose geranium in it as well. Yes! I like Uplifting very much.

Euphoria ~ Oh, this girl knows her stuff. Euphoria is candy. Vanilla and oranges. A sweet, sticky Creamsicle. Dirty little girls playing in the fine dust of a country driveway, clear blue skies, mockingbirds twittering on a fence post, the sound of a squeaky screen door slamming and the anticipation of the treat mom brings within moments of that sound. Euphoria.

Fresh ~ Lemons? Roses? Fresh is alive. Of the group of blends Ms. Bella sent, Fresh smells closest to something you'd find whole in nature. Like a fragrant rose with notes of citrus and peach. This one is very nearly a perfume. Five stars!

Warmth ~ Subtle. Spicey. Warm ~ ha! This blend is a blast of contentment in a teeny bottle. It's a Fall scent basking in layers of pumpkin and apple pies, cozy nights before the fire, thick, fluffy blankets drawn close under the chin. Snugglin' time!

Forest Dawn ~ Himalayan cedar, Virginia cedar. This isn't a pine~y forest. It's a quiet forest. A morning forest. Ver'ah nice :)

Exotica ~ Coffee house slut. Me likey. I got a big bottle of this stuff in oil and I use it everywhere, including the ends of my hair. It's coffee~ish, chocolatey, spicy, exotic. One of my fav's.

The Queen's Obsession

Sunday, July 22, 2007

MoonaLisa: A Supernatural Clean

This is one of the craziest websites I've ever visited. Crazy is good. As crazy as it is, however, it's very easy to navigate, and the pages are packed with interesting ingredients' lists and fantastic photography. It's comfortable, homey, and witchy in a Mother Earth and reverence way.

Of course I ordered something -- how could I not? From the delightfully spooky Madame de Mal de Mort House of Voodoo holographic eyeball candle to the sinfully delicious, super fat (as in big) bars of sweet stanky soap, there was no way I was walking away from this site empty-handed.

Venetian Coffee Swirl ~ Oh. And that's an 'oh' in the 'oooohhhhhhhhhh, baby' way. This soap is the shiz (can I still say that? shiz?) Regardless, this soap rocks. It pops. Sizzles. Oozes and splashes and drenches with rich coffee chocolatey creamy yumminess. My bathroom literally smelled like a specialty coffee house while the soap lay dreaming mocha dreams on its little soap dish. *Swoon* Just so y'all know, this is a melt and pour soap. I'm not a fan of the melt and pours, but this stuff is different. Really different. It doesn't behave like m&p, it behaves like a super fatted, triple milled soap. The colors are made with micas, which give the soap a sparkling irridesence. And it doesn't dry up the dermis. On a scale of 1 to 10, this soap gets a 12. I'm getting more.

Chill Pill ~ Everyone needs one of these soaps. Another m&p that isn't m&p~y, this soap is a really refreshing, super scented bar layered with rhassoul clay. The description claims it smells like iced tea, and it really does! Clean, refreshing and green, this soap is a knock out.

I'll be ordering more of this stuff, only next time, I think I'm gonna pick up some 'Don't Get Your Knickers in a Bunch', 'Mr. Bombay', and 'Bohemian Velvet'.

Like I said, this stuff is the shiz and you need to check it out.

MoonaLisa: A Supernatural Clean

Monterey Soap aka Island Soap & Candle Works

This soap shop originated in Hawaii and specializes in coconut and exotic tropical style soaps. The shop I visited is in Monterey on Cannery Row, caddycornered from Bubba Gump Shrimp & Co.

Ok. I was really excited about this soap shop and saved my time for visiting as the last thing I did in Monterey so I could browse and peruse to my heart's content. Well, that didn't happen. Why? Because the little girl behind the counter ignored me for a good five minutes after her last paying customer left, while I stood next to the register waiting to place my order. When she finally got to me, she was a bit snooty and rude and the plastic smile she applied never quite reached her beady little eyes. This, I'm sure, was a classic case of judging a book by its cover on her side of the blanket. My hair was a riotous bouquet of wild red seaspray curled frizz, my face was a little flushed, I was wearing a stupid-ass Monterey souvenir shirt and didn't carry a purse with me. I guess that 'look' equals I-Got-No-Moneyitis? (BTW, I've met some brilliant intellectuals who were dirty, smelly street people, and some really frickin' stupid people who dressed in suits and held jobs like president of something-or-other, so what does that say about 'appearances'?) At any rate, I didn't let miss Nose-In-The-Air turn me from my goal -- getting my hands on some soap!

Colors in soap intrigue me. I've been making soap for a long, long time and I've never really added much color to them. The last truly wild experiment I conducted with colored soap was when I used alkanet root to color an anise scented soap -- boy, was that something! The soap turned out so darkly purple that it appeared black, which went very well with the anise-licorice scent -- sold that stuff at a craft show and got repeat requests the following year at the same show -- 'Where's that black soap?'

So, back to Island Soap & Candle Works aka Monterey Soap -- the first soap which caught my eye was Aphrodesia, a sultry, blaring magenta block scented with ylang, patchouli, cinnamon, clary and cedar. Not so much ylang that it makes me go 'blech!', but just enough to add that sweet floral quality necessary to call this soap 'Aphrodesia'. Nice. The color bleeds a bit in the shower and the bubbles are tinted pink, which is kind of fun. I bought two bars of this soap.

Invigorating was the next bar I picked up, a pretty little seaweed green block scented with tangerine, grapefruit, peppermint, geranium, rosemary and cinnamon. It isn't really all that invigorating and I quickly lost interest in it. It has just a tad too much geranium in it for my tastes, and geranium, to me, really doesn't imply anything invigorating. My husband likes this bar much better than I do.

Next up, Peppermint Pumice. Minty soaps, especially in summer, are one of my favorites. This minty soap is streaked with pink and quite cute to look at. I really thought I'd love this one, but I find that I am disappointed by it. First of all, it has that off smell that overheated soap gets, a hint of rancidity. I absolutely hate that a perfectly beautiful soap can go all stink-wonky with rancidity. I hate even more when I inadvertently purchase one of these bombs. I used the soap at least once, or I wouldn't be giving my opinion of it, and couldn't find any indication of any pumice in the bar. This one still sits in the soap dish, ignored.

And finally, Morning Mint, a sweet little spearmint number painted turquoise blue (or green). Of the four 'flavors', Morning Mint is my favorite. No off smell, plenty of spearminty gumminess, a little bit of exfoliation by way of crushed peppermint leaves. All in all, this is a splendid little soap.

Monterey Soap

Little Flowers

Sometimes you meet someone on the internet who you take an instant liking toward. You can kind of feel their vibe and you think they're pretty cool, and you also think it might be nice to meet them in real life. Then you meet their 'stuff' via a little box in the mail, and everything shifts. You no longer think you want to meet them, you know you do.

Little Flowers aka Nicole R. (or Nicole M., according to her blog) is a blooming natural perfumer with the 'touch'. Like my friend T. likes to say, "There are those who are made and those who are born." Well, Nicole is of the born variety, though I won't totally discount her efforts as easy because I know she busted her tail blending her version of Rain for the LPR Yahoo! Group's 'Rain Challenge'.

After the challenge submissions are sent off to the reviewer, we challengers swap samples with one another so we can get a feel for which direction the others went. Mine, as I've stated before, went the way of the sea with a base of seaweed tincture, and patchouli playing driftwood. Nicole's scuttled off toward ancient trade routes, meandering through desert sandstorms, lush tropical jungles, high mountain meadows, and still, quiet ponds, to end under a silk tent in the darkest night surrounded by incense and warm skin and strong arms. This rain is seductive and sensual, floral and resinous. The initial hit from the bottle is labdanumy, but applied to skin it mellows to floral, then grows more floral with a hint of incense, then more floral and more incense, then sweeter floral, more incense, and pretty much stays here until it fades away completely -- hours later. Lush deliciousness. My new favorite.

Nicole also sent me a little tin of Moisture Body Balm. Sweet! Note to T. -- remember Aroha Takaro? This is it, babe. All vanilla rich and patchouli dark with just a hint of sandalwood -- damn! I've been using it on the backs of my hands because, stupid me, it was the only place I DIDN'T apply sunscreen when I went motorcycle riding a few days ago. The Moisture Body Balm is so soothing on the burn. Also in the little package I received a solid perfume called 'Apricot Creme Perfume'. Well, I don't think there are any apricots in it, actually (haven't asked N). What it does have is a heavy floral hand with a soft, musky background and fruit weaving throughout. It doesn't last nearly as long as the Rain Challenge perfume, but it is really, really beautiful. Nicole sent one more item, a facial serum, which I haven't tried yet. If it's as wonderful as everything else she sent, I'll be sure to report it here.

Nicole's Etsy Store.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


I think I'm experiencing some sort of existential crisis. I've been at this game for about ten years now and I still feel like I'm standing on the edge of the taking-off point, still waiting for something 'big' to happen. I'm beginning to wonder if this is how I will feel in another ten years, and in the ten years after that. How depressing.

I've been busy with the world outside of perfumery and natural skincare for the past few weeks. Took a day trip to Monterey the day after Independence Day to escape the predicted heat of 111 degrees Fahrenheit. Yeah, it was that hot. But not in Monterey. A bone-chilling 60 over there. I was feeling especially sympathetic toward other valley heat escapees who were wearing their flimsiest summer togs, not anticipating the drastic difference in temperature. And most especially sympathetic toward the tank top wearing young ladies on the backs of motorcycles. We've taken the Beat-The-Heat trips on more than one occasion and know that winter wear is a must-have item on the western side of the coastal mountain range.

A few relationship disasters have also transpired. I've been craigslisting items for a dumpee, which is really sad. I've also been playing grandma in a major way as well. I've already raised a basketball team, coaching a sub won't be that big of a deal. And on top of all that, I'm helping someone move from their home of 30 years into a dinky little mobile.

I'd really love to write here more often. More pertaining to the blog's subject -- perfumery, fragrance, smelly skincare, pretty stank. But like I said, the ideas are shifting around in the old dusty attic of my mind and I'm having a hard time figuring out who I want to be when I grow up.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


The winner of the Opus Oils trio of perfumes giveaway is Veronica!

Please contact me at -- I need your address.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Formulating is a drag sometimes. Nothing bites more than having a perfectly lovely perfume mapped out on paper turn to sewage during the real world blending. Some scent elements simply do not play well together -- like my kids.

And then . . . sometimes formulating is exhilarating as hell. When you know, step by step, drop by drop, this one -- this lovely osmanthusy, figgy, oudhy concoction is IT.

I love sultry.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Don't forget!

Tomorrow (July 10) is the last day to enter the perfume giveaway for three of Opus Oils' all-natural oil-based perfumes ~ Starlet, Isis and Island.

Just post a comment, say hello, how's it goin', and you'll be entered in the drawing.

Winner will be announced July 11.

Good luck!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Thai Chili Sauce Facial Peels 'n some other ramblings -- Or, Who's Got the Funk?

The title bar isn't working on blogger, so I'm 'designing' my own title ~ ha!

I made this lilac blend with ylang (I HATE ylang!) that turned out nice. I can almost forget it has ylang in it -- almost, but not quite.

Also formulated this truly funkilicious adolescent mutant Ninja 'fume that actually smells like books. Maybe I can market it to retired librarians.

Oh, yeah, gave myself an unplanned Thai chili sauce facial peel. Yeah, that was fun. I was using the super hot sauce on a collard and avocado wrap when I stupidly wiped my sweaty forehead before washing my hands. It just went straight downhill from there. My forehead began to itch, so I scratched and my fingers slid to my temples. My temples began to itch, so I scratched . . . well, you get the idea. Before I knew it, my entire face was bright red and swollen. I looked like I'd been at the boxing gym using my head to punch people. The Thai chili sauce facial peel's effects lasted two full days. There's still a little swelling under my eyes, but no redness or itching anymore. That ought to learn me, huh? Or maybe not. Remind me to tell y'all about the AA battery disguised as a tampon fiasco. Oh, get yer mind out of the gutter!

Off to rearrange the blending table -- for the one hundred and eighty-seventh time this year!

Got the creative stuff-making bug up my bum.

I am fed by inspiration that comes streaming in from a drastic change in diet -- or maybe I'm hormonal. Been on a creative roll this past week. I've put pen to paper and mapped out no fewer than six new future (tomorrow?) perfume experiments, made a small test batch of beeswax, rose wax (Anatolian Treasures), rosewood and rose geranium (White Lotus Aromatics) mini votive candles. Those little babies smell fresh and rich. I'm thinking I'll bump up the rosewood . . . then I knocked out a 10-bar batch of organic yellow tomato and holy basil soap -- wow, talk about fragrant. My soon-to-be-employed-and-moving-out-of-the-house,-please-god son said, "It smells like coke in here."
"Yeah, coke."
"Soda coke or crack coke?" I asked.
He laughed, "Not soda coke."
"How do you know how coke smells?"
He just grinned at me, "I'm going on memory here, ma."
"Does crack have a smell?"
"I don't know. I never did crack."
Eeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkk! Why do kids think that when they turn 18 they can suddenly confess all their past transgressions as if you were the local parish priest?

Anyway, tomato and holy basil soap smells like coke, in case you were interested. And my son is clean and sober -- the gang tattoos on his neck, however, will need lasering (I'm just kidding, guys!)

Don't forget to sign up for the perfume giveaway!


Friday, July 06, 2007

Ambrette Musk Seeds

Okay. I'm doing it again. Plugging my biz. This time, it's on Ebay. I've GOT to get rid of the remainder of 10 kilos of Ambrette Musk Seeds (abelmoschus moschatus), so I'm selling them off on Ebay at $9.99 per 4 oz.

If you're interested, please hit me up.

Ambrette Seeds fo' sale.

And don't forget to enter the contest for the trio of perfume oils from Opus Oils of Hollywood and Paris.

Later, babes :)


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