Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Contemplating Fall

It started out well enough -- the high temperatures were in the low 80's, the smell of the crush from the neighborhood winery was in the air, over the fields lay a hazy shadow of mist that burned off by noon. But since Saturday something has changed. The weather took a turn for the worse. We've been suffering 100 degree afternoons for the past few days, and today is no different. I woke this morning at 6am to 73 degree air. Indian Summer. A vengeful Indian Summer it seems.

I've been very busy getting everything together for both the course and the season, plus harvesting the dregs of the garden. The tomatoes are spent. They gave up offering fruit a few weeks ago, such is the nature of this variety of heirloom, I guess. So up they will come today. The butternut is producing small deformed squash every so often, so up it will come too. The patty pans were pulled a few days ago which left room for the basil to flourish. I'm happy now that I did not prune the basil for a hydrosol a few weeks back the way I had planned. It seems to be preparing to become something much bigger and fragrant than it was, so I will allow it to do so until the time comes to prune -- for hydrosol. The pumpkin is a blessing. It created three perfect little pumpkins, edibles, one for each grandbaby. They will become the highlight of our Thanksgiving dinner this year. The common sage is growing like mad after a stalled start. The lavender survives, but all the peppers are pulled. Once all the dead growth is culled we will start on the winter garden.

On the perfume front: waiting, waiting, waiting impatiently for supplies to arrive to begin building the evaluation kits -- again. I have a few made but not enough to supply the current course students, and with another course on the way in January -- it makes for quite a bit of busy work. I finally received my most prized (currently prized) possession ~ a lovely kilo of 5 year old patchouli oil procured through White Lotus Aromatics. It is blessedly sweet and lovely. I plan to tap off 16 ounces for further aging and use the other 16 ounces in formulation. This reminds me -- last winter or spring I made a hydrosol of dried leaves of patchouli and the scent was odd, to say the least. Smelled a bit like potato skins and mustiness and only a little like patchouli. More than likely the result of poor distillation rather than a bad batch of patchouli leaves.

I've batches and batches of soap to make and cure and wrap and sell for the "season". It seems I have no heart for it right now. So much is going on, so much more needs doing. Such is life, eh?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Winner of the 1 ml sample of Star Rio Red . . .

The winner, drawn at random by random*dot*org, of the 1 ml sample vial of Star Rio Red Grapefruit oil is ~ Lisa BTB!

Strange Few Weeks

Little glitches have plagued me the past few weeks, nothing really major or life changing, just irritating and frustrating. Temporary inaccessibility to our bank account was as close to "life changing" as things got, but we managed to get it straightened out before anything horrendous happened, like the internet provider shutting off service or cable being turned off.

The one glitch that really bothers me because I usually don't let things go like this when I'm in a mind to care is ~ well, it's kind of a long story. I put a lot of those little corked 2 ml bottles of parfums up on Etsy a week ago or so. They were all in their little labeled boxes, ready to be individually labeled and packed up with the coffretts. I got behind on a few projects and asked a friend to stand in as assistant for the day, for which she happily agreed. I was happy too -- thrilled, really -- that I finally had a little help clearing things off the desk and getting orders out. Happy, that is, until I saw what she'd done because by the time I noticed, there was no fixing it.

She took the bottles from their labeled boxes and dropped them into baggies with the other bottles in the coffrett without first labeling the bottles. So the coffretts are only identified by the card attached to the baggie. Nothing on the bottle. The only "fix" would have been to open each bottle sniff the contents and mark the name of the perfume on a tag wrapped around the neck of the bottle. These are the bottles with the potentially leaky corks. I didn't want to run the risk of having the uncorked bottles seep out their contents before arriving at their destination, so I just left them as they were. Now I'm not so sure that was the right decision.

It bothers me. A lot. I'm not angry at my temporary assistant. As they say, sh*t happens. I'm just not so sure I did everything I could to fix the problem. I actually dreamed on it. That's how much it bugs.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Vintage & Antique Oil Collecting

On LPR ~ here.

This series of articles includes a contest to win a 5/8th dram vial of vintage rectified cassia oil. Enter the contest. You won't be disappointed if you win the little bottle of cassia.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Funny Blog Notes on Stress

Click here!

I Used to Have a Vocabulary

Years ago, before I had kids --no, that's not entirely true, I did have kids, just not so many of them -- I actually wrote well, got paid for it once in a while. I was a "published writer" having written pieces for several fiction magazines, my college journal, the local newspaper. Somewhere along the road, the intellectual portion of my brain took an extended nap. All I know with any surety is that my article writing skills are in dire need of a good old-fashioned back alley ass kicking. Sometimes my brain returns and grinds out something remarkable, other times it staggers about like a 23-year-old tequila swigging trust fund baby.

Tequila. Mmmmmm . . .

Right now my brain is being stupid.

Have you heard of the new blog site called Tumblr? I actually thought -- no, my inebriated brain thought, "Hey! You can start a new blog here! *burp*" while my still cognitive brain (there is a little piece of it that manages to remain reasonable) said, "WTF?!" And that was it. That's all it said. Because it knows what a ridiculous notion it is to attempt yet another blog. I have two, plus LPR, which I'm trying to keep above water, so taking on another writing project is . . . just . . .

Not possible.

Formulating solids for the fall. Viridian Grotto and Divinity of Blue Lotus are coming back, with a twist. Won't say anything else about them until the twist is finalized.

Until then . . .


Saturday, September 11, 2010


Brings up a lot of conflicting emotions. I woke today feeling like the world is just completely out of control.

What I'd really like to do is gather up all my perfume making materials, my books, lab equipment, raw essences, distillation unit, bottles and all the various sundry articles of perfume building, and sit in a darkened corner and formulate, forgetting the world. But I can't do that. It's not mature. It's not facing the problems. It's not happening.

I have a commemorative luncheon this afternoon that focuses on strength established through tragedy.

I am, if nothing else, a glutton for punishment.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Star Rio Red California Grapefruit Essential Oil

This is from the first flush. The initial 3 or 4 hours of steam distillation of Star Rio Red California grapefruit. Less than 8 mls, with nearly 2 mls of oil.

Process ~

Thoroughly clean copper al embic (again), run 95% grain alcohol through receiver tubing, set aside to dry.

Cut 5 to 6 large Star Rio Red California grapefruit into quarters, toss into food processor and macerate until it is a mash. Add 2 cups of purified water to the mash to loosen it up. Pour the mash into clean, dry copper al embic retort. Add 2 quarts purified water and stir.

Connect top of al embic to retort and seal with rye flour paste. Connect goose neck to coil tubing and seal connection with rye flour paste. Connect coil tubing and receiver tubing and place receiver tubing over the opening or into the opening of a clean colored glass bottle. Fill coil container with cool water and set up cool running water system. Set al embic over a flame separated by an open ended aluminum can of sufficient strength and size (large refried bean can is perfect).


Wait some more.

After four hours of waiting, 8 mls of fluid is discovered in the colored glass bottle receiver, with 2 mls of luscious red grapefruit steam distilled essential oil floating on top.

Felt as if I was at loggerheads with some of my current projects ~ the Academy's upcoming new course session, rewriting the text book for the course, being involved in two formulation challenges, rethinking the aesthetic of TSD, keeping the Etsy site stocked, and still managing to do the things I really love, like experimenting with distillation, creating custom perfumes and guiding new NBP's through consultations. Nothing, it seemed, was getting done. I even let a whole bag of freshly whacked rose geranium leaves dry up and die because I couldn't find the energy to distill them. What a waste. School started and so did the illnesses. Bugs, bugs, bugs abound! The kids bring them home, I catch them, and we play toss with them until they've exhausted our immune systems. And then the kids bring home a new one. This will go on until June 2011 . . . yay. But, I was finally able to clear a few things away and the jam --um-- unjammed and things are running smoothly (or as smoothly as they get 'round here) again.

The formulation challenges were really getting me down. One was a recreation of what might have been worn 4000 years ago based on the items found at the ancient perfumery in Cyprus. It's not easy to create a perfume, or at least a something that we would call a perfume, with just 13 or 14 seemingly ordinary raw materials. This was just as challenging as a project requiring 35 or 40 essences, at least with that many to choose from, surely something wonderful would come of it? It took some time and some tweaking, but I think I've finally struck upon something that I feel comfortable allowing to leave the house and into the hands of the other participants of the challenge. I think of it as an agrestic amber, something denoting the flora and fauna of a Mediterranean island. Olive oil included. The other challenge was just as challenging, but in a different way. We were supplied the brief and based on the brief I came up with-- nothing-- at first, then I got stuck on the tea route again, reworking and reformulating until I came up with something I'd like to be showered in. There may come a time, perhaps after a bit more reformulation, that the results of this perfume challenge will debut as a permanent fixture on TSD as it incorporates some of my very favorite notes, and, of course, I feel compelled to share. Compelled. Yeah.

In celebration of the fact that I finally managed to drag my shaggy bum off the recliner and distill a batch of red grapefruit, I will give away 1 ml for a bit of your "Where's Waldo?" expertise ~ no, I don't know nor care about where Waldo is hiding, but I do want you to tell me what is different about the two pictures in this post. Leave your comments and the winner of the sample vial of fresh Star Rio Red California grapefruit will be chosen next Thursday, 16 September.

Good luck.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

NEW Perfume Course Begins September 28, 2010

There are currently only 5 spaces available.

Price $1,350 USD: A 52 week full support practical & academic course in Natural Botanical Perfumery.
The price includes
  • Natural Botanical Perfumery Textbook by Justine Crane,
  • evaluation kit containing 55+ essences,
  • formulation kit containing 22 natural essences,
  • bound workbook
  • 24-hour academy access,
  • tutor & mentor support
  • Certificate of Excellence in Natural Botanical Perfumery
  • Certificate of Achievement in Natural Botanical Perfumery
Status: Course starts September 2010
Deposits taken

Click to Email Administrator & sign up for the course

Want to join with a friend? Try our Tandem Course Package:

Got a buddy, relative, spouse or neighbor who is interested in Natural Botanical Perfumery? NNAPA is introducing a new course in which you and a partner (who lives in close physical proximity) can share in the fun, excitement and passion of Natural Botanical Perfumery. Share the costs and double the experience! You and your partner will receive: * Individual log-on information & student profile. * 52 weeks of Natural Botanical Perfume instruction (as per year long online course details) * One Natural Botanical Perfume textbook written by course designer, Justine Crane * One workbook designed by Justine Crane * One Essence Evaluation Kit to share * Two Essence Formulation Kits (one for each of you!) The cost of tuition for the NNAPA Natural Botanical Perfume Tandem Course Package is $1850 USD. Please contact the administrator for more details.

And remember, if you miss the sign-up date for the 52-week full support course, NNAPA offers several self-study programs to fit your study needs -- go at your own pace and take a couple of years to get through the program, or speed through and finish in 6 months!

NEW Giveaway at LPR

September 2010's sponsor is Magickal Realism perfumery offering a sample of their exquisite natural fragrance, Book Dust.

Enter for your chance to win!


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