Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Natural Perfume Give-Away

I have in my possession three gorgeous natural eau de parfums from Opus Oils that I'm itching to share ~ Isis, Starlet and Island.

For your chance to win the triad, simply comment on the post that you're in for the set, and I'll put your name in the drawing.

If you win, you'll receive a .5 oz Starlet parfum, a 1/4 oz roll-on Isis parfum, and a 1/3 oz roll-on Island parfum. These are oil-based, very long-lasting and lusciously scented.

Deadline to enter is July 10, 2007.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Rain

Challenge two ~ Rain.

The first incarnation of my impression of rain was awful. Smelled of stale urine with a touch of grandma's lilac talcum.

I toyed a bit with the type of rain I created. I called it 'Montana de Oro' after a particularly awful camping trip to the coast about 11 years ago. Just south of the town of Morro Bay, on the southern arc of the bay, is a state park nestled in a little cove surrounded by coastal pines and scrub brush-lined walking trails that are packed with some very unhappy Pacific rattlesnakes.

We spent an entire weekend in mid-July at this picturesque location, watching the sun go down over the ocean, chasing waves and laughing at our kids' crazy antics. The blight, and you know there's always a 'blight' on any vacation that's almost too good to be true, was the truly heinous scent wafting from the public facilities. Wouldn't have been so bad if we could have gotten away from the smell, but the scent filled the little cove from stern to stem, and mingled with the smells of camp cooking, pine and sea.

Using the facilities was a nauseating experience. They weren't dirty, per se. The park staff came in twice a day to scrub them out with bleach and toss the garbage. The problem lay in the type of toilets they were. The building itself was permanent -- a concrete slab with wooden walls, sheetrock, porcelain toilets and sinks. No, it was the flushing apparatus that was in question. There wasn't one. This beautiful bathroom was nothing more than a glorified port-a-pottie. A huge pooty-filled tank hanging under the toilet is where all the lovely essence originated. I remember using a wet rag over my mouth and nose and trying to pee one-handed -- that was fun.

So, yeah, Montana de Oro -- not where you want to spend your vacation if the caca sucking truck hasn't been in for a while -- and definitely not a perfume you'd want to wear.

I've chosen to reformulate. And I may still call it Montana de Oro just for giggles.

Monday, June 11, 2007

When Everything Turns to Schlopp with a Cherry on Top

This is a piss poor picture of the wedding cake I made for my son's wedding. Not that a GOOD picture would have made the cake look any better.

This is a classic case of what my brain sees my fingers can't do.

First of all, this was supposed to be a classic champagne cake. Instead it turned into a purple Lambrusco cake with a quite lovely filling of whipped cream, powdered sugar and boysenberry jam.

Who the hell ever heard of a purple wedding cake?

The picture doesn't do the frosting justice either. The frosting in this photo looks rather tame -- quite pink -- but tame, nonetheless. The real live version of the frosting looked more neon and less pastel. And that isn't cheese laying all over the cake -- it was white chocolate -- that looked exactly like mozzarella.

Everybody had quite a laugh at my expense for what could have passed as a 1960's fuzzy faux fur hat. But y'know what? There wasn't any left. Just a silver cardboard tray with purple crumbs and bits of curling white chocolate.

Never judge a pink hat box by it's cover, I always say.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Here it is . . .

. . . the bra portion of the belly dance costume I made.

I know, not perfumey, but I promised to post a picture, so here it is.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Rhassoul & Rooibos Cocoa Butter Smoothie

Taking a page, and a picture, from the Anastasia Crabtree book of How to Make a Great Bar of Soap, comes this little piece of indulgence -- Rhassoul & Rooibos Cocoa Butter Smoothie.

Long name, yes, but remember how Ana used to give her creations incredibly long, and oftentimes bizarre names? Take, for instance, her famed Gnarly Bitch Body Butter. And the recipe? Who the hell knows? She never made it the same batch to batch, but somehow managed to make it oh so special each and every time.

Anyway, so I used a recipe from the Queen of Soap, bastardized it a bit by replacing a good deal of the shea butter with organic cocoa butter, and managed to produce a really nice soap (if I do say so mahself). Obviously it's got rhassoul and rooibos and cocoa butter in it. It's also got coconut oil and shea butter, plus a tiny pea-sized kernel of amber resin, not so much for scent, but to keep the soap from smelling too much like dirt.

All the soap that doesn't fit into the formed molds goes into a big box mold, layer after layer, from days of soapmaking, until I have what is referred to around here as 'the house soap'. The current house soap is composed of a bottom layer of poppymint soap, then lavender 'n Himalayan cedarwood soap, then patchouli soap, then vanilla lemongrass soap, then mocha java soap, then finally the top layer of rhassoul and rooibos cocoa butter smoothie soap.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Questions


A few folks have been asking questions about things I do and say and report here on this teensy, beansy, insignificant blog.

Like, why tincture something that can be cheaply purchased? Well . . . because I can. Because I like the way the tinctures smell and behave differently in a blend than, say, an eo or concrete or absolute or whathaveyou. Because I enjoy the extreme poopy aspects of home stewed orange blossom flowers in contrast to the sweet lushness of the absolute. Or the bitter bite of magnolia tincture pressed against the fruity sweetness of the eo. I like layering; adding dimension and depth to a composition with like elements that are processed in different ways. I just freakin' like it, ok?

I'm also asked why I don't push my own business more aggressively here on this blog. First of all, this isn't 'The Scented Djinn' blog. It's a blog about aromatics in general (along with some other stuff) -- your stuff, my stuff, the guy down the street's stuff. I like sharing my experiences with and about all these talented, beautiful, creative people who do the things I do -- or wish to do -- or aspire to . . . y'know? And I'm really not all that competitive.

And last but certainly not least, I'm asked why I don't have PayPal buttons or 'buy now' buttons on my website (I know, it's a contradiction to bring up my business again after having stated this blog isn't about my business, but it is my blog), and the simple answer is because I want to get to know my customers. I have the ability to process credit cards, I just choose not to put it up on the site because I want you to e-mail me -- or call me. I like the personal contact. I like hearing your voices and getting to know you. Makes my job easier, actually.

Anyway, that's all for now.

Any more questions?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Soap

Why is it that every time I get a big soap order, I cringe? I love making soap. It's soothing and meditative -- I feel really connected to the work.

I think I cringe because I realize what it takes to make soap -- even a small bit of soap. It takes a big steel pot, a big heavy-duty plastic bucket, a small heavy-duty plastic bucket, various wooden spoons, a heavy-duty plastic spatula, measuring spoons, measuring cups, molds, mold liners, a hand blender, a scale, lots of time, and space to store the drying soap. That's only half of the 'ingredients' needed to make soap. Now you need oils (olive, sunflower, coconut, jojoba, etc.), butters (shea, cocoa, avocado, mango, etc.), lye and water -- in industrial-sized amounts. And then there are the additives -- essential oils, clays, seeds, flowers, herbs and whathaveyou. Then you have to make everyone leave the house for a few hours so you're not freaking out every time they go near your soap lab.

But, when it comes right down to the actual making of the soap, it is bliss. The measuring and the melting, the stirring and the blending -- it's beautiful. Especially when the end result is something so vastly different from the single elements from which it is composed.

When I first began making soap, I was an absolute fiend. I would kick out four or five 12 lb batches a day, every day, for weeks on end, no problem. When the closet space got so full I couldn't fit more in, I made room -- in the den, in the garage, in boxes under the bed -- anywhere there was space. And when I finally reached every soapmaker's nirvana -- the perfect bar of soap -- I quit obsessing. I followed the same formula time and again and each time I would get these gorgeous bars of soap. The goal had been attained. Production dropped. The lure of the soap pot didn't seem so important anymore. Now, instead of an obsession, it's a meditation. I really dislike setting up for soapmaking, but I dearly love making soap.

So that's what's going on now -- making a big order of soap. The house smells like an herb garden with mints and lavender and rosemary in the air. Another reason to love making soap.

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