Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Midsummer Night's Dream Perfume Event ~ Reviews of The Scented Djinn's Peaseblossom Eau de Toilette

All I am - a redhead wrote:

This is an edt and when you look at the notes, you cannot but wonder how Justine made them in such light and refreshingly warm perfume. The notes are so well combined and blended you cannot (well, I cannot tease them apart). I can smell the oakmoss and lavender and rose and vetiver and resins but they are all light on their toes and they play around on this warm, sweet breeze.

Monica Skye Miller of Perfume Pharmer reviewed in poetry:

Peaseblossom: Like gossamer wings, fragile, thin and shimmering this scent whispers on my skin drawing me in layer upon layer all transparent it is like looking at myself in the kindest way omniscience like seeing a reflection of my original face in a fairy forest pool

Carol at WAFT (What A Fragrance Fanatic Thinks) wrote:

Ah Justine has created a beautiful , resonant scent with great finesse . This is at once sunny and deep , grassy , floral , resinous . I love it ! I consider this a very sophisticated composition , the top notes are unusual with her tinctured wheatgrass adding freshness and green tinged sunshine , the heart is well blended , the base is deep and earthy ( love the mitti , she has used it with a deft hand ! ) . I will wear this joyfully .

Diana at Feminine Things wrote:

As to the scent: three cheers for a sweet floral, but not fruity, patchouli! How did she do it? It’s not overly green, and yet definitely a patchouli scent on me. It’s a gentle scent, possessing a playful quality I’m happy to see in a scent based on a fairy. Green and mossy at first, it quickly becomes sweeter, lavender and sage and vetyver providing a strong base for the dance of the floral notes.

Sample sets of all the perfumes in this perfume event are available through Carol at WAFT ~

Distilling Lavender

Tonight I'm staying up late to begin the distillation process for these bags and bags and bags of lavender that Shannon at Seasons of Spirit in Sanger gave me for helping out with the bundling, and because I'm going to give her a big bottle of hydrosol. It looks like I might get a couple of gallons of hydrosol out of this (did I say bags and bags? yes? so, yeah, bags and bags ad infinitum) of lavender buds, stems and leaves. I have a bunch of just stems too that I think I might grind up and make a nice kyphi-like incense with for the fall. I think I'll throw in the little bits of sweetgrass clippings I got into that kyphi too. That should make for an interesting natural incense ball, eh?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Summer Solstice ~ May Your Blessings Be Many

Mum called this morning with this breaking news ~

"I got a tomato!"

To which I replied, "This is cause for celebration!"

"Yes, it is!" She answered.

"Well, what will we do?" I asked, fully aware that today is the day of summer, the solstice, a significant mark on the calender (and incidentally our first over 100 degree weather ~ we're staring down the face of 106 degrees Fahrenheit, perfect tomato incubating weather).

And she answered with enthusiasm, "Dance naked in the garden!"

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Is it Overwhelming or Exciting?

I don't know about the rest of you, but this past week has been for me a three-ring-circus, a county fair, a backyard burning man party, and train-wreck all rolled into one, and I'm the conductor who fell asleep in the tunnel, and the entertainment director who has misplaced her organizer . . . and her flip-flops . . . and a green lighter she was asked to hold onto that the owner now wants returned to them.

A Midsummer Night's Dream and Summer of Patchouli Love are in full swing and I'm in the throes of writer's block and editor's frustration. Ever have that hurry up and wait feeling? That's where I'm at. Hurry up and get this done, but wait, don't do that yet, it's not time! It's not just with the writing and the blogging and the sniffing and reviewing -- it seems to be everything right now.

I seem to be going through another transitional phase which normally would scare the living daylights out of me, but not so much this time around. The changes are welcome. But what does that say about my life, eh? Even with so much going on and so much to do, I still feel like I'm wading chest-deep through cold molasses. I feel as if everything is going past me at breakneck speed, and there I am, the little slug that almost could, squiging along the dirt, dodging the sunlight and salt patches, trying to catch up to-- what? I may never find out if I keep up this pace.

Waiting to get reviews is like waiting in the doctor's office for a tetanus shot in the eyeball; preparing to write reviews is like trying to find the only cherry at the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket of rock-hard ice cream with your bare hands. Neither is fun nor easy. And it feels like I have two heads -- one focused on selling me, and one focused on -- well, selling still, but selling someone else.

I had prepared two perfumes for the AMND perfume event hosted by Amanda Feeley, but in the end, and at the very last minute, I opted to send only one. Peaseblossom. Puck's Love Juice is still stewing and a few samples have been decanted for future sale. My gut told me that PLJ wasn't the 'one'. It's good, don't get me wrong -- it's a lovely strong fougere, but it just didn't strike me as very magical in that midsummer night's way. Peaseblossom, however, has a few tricks up his sleeves.

In a sense, I feel like I'm cheating on the AMND event -- I've had the happy fortune of being able to smell ALL of the submissions via LPR reviewer Scott Ellis' stash. I am humbled and impressed by this group of perfumes and perfumers -- two or three in particular really tickled my fancy, and I came to a dawning realization that some of these 'old-timers' whose 'fumes I'd tried years ago have really honed their craft to perfection. I mean, some of their compositions are so far and above what they were producing, say, six or seven years ago -- y'know, in the dark ages of modern NBP -- that their signatures have changed.

Well, I'm off to crack the whip, as it were, on my LPR reviewer who is currently une personne disparue. Perhaps I just need to relax. Having two heads seems like it will never be a smooth, workable situation.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Full Moon Dreams Soap

New floral-citrus soap at The Scented Djinn Etsy Apothecary.


The Scented Djinn Etsy Apothecary now has vetiver hydrosol and a lemongrass-vetyver co-blended hydrosol available -- in a new, bigger bottle!

Summertime and the Living's Easy

Ah, that's what I'm talking about ~ summer made it, and as hatefully hot as it can get here in the valley, the long hot days to come are welcome -- for now.

I just caught a whiff of peppermint -- someone in the house is spraying some peppermint hydrosol to cool down. Earlier it was lemon and rose. Just smelling these fragrances seems to bring the temperatures down, makes the sticky humidity inside the clothes less gross.

Everything in the garden gets watered at night now so the sun doesn't scorch them to death. Night watering is best, especially tonight, when the moon is full. The plants seem to grow several inches within a short period of time after a night watering. Plus it keeps the nasty kitty butts out of the food gardens.

Now that the heat's on, the flowers in the front garden will slow down blooming. The roses won't, no, they love the heat, but the jasmine will, and the honeysuckle too, to some extent. I'm still planning to make a little honeysuckle liqueur this summer . . .

This afternoon mom brought me a cutting from a 75-year-old lilac bush. It was planted in the front garden of Mrs. Bali just before World War II, around the time her much older husband passed away. The lilac cutting is growing beautifully, and the 75-year-old bush at the old homestead? It bloomed last year for the first time in almost 25 years. Goes to show what a little love will do for an old plant; they're more like us than we think.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


The Summer of Patchouli Love has begun -- because I got my coffrett! I did a quick sniff of about half the box yesterday, but only after scaring the beejeezus out of the mail person! I don't think stalking the mail carrier while loitering behind an overgrown oleander bush is the smartest thing to do ~ ha! They get a bit tetchy and irritable when people do that kind of thing.

So! The coffrett's here, it's pretty and beautifully packaged, and contains an array of some of the most exquisite patchouli perfumes I've ever had the pleasure of sniffing. Stunning stuff, this.

Now I'm off to pick my top three . . .

Have a wonderful PLAP filled day!

A Midsummer Night's Dream Commences

Today kicks off the first day of the perfume event "A Midsummer Night's Dream", and the flurry of activity and level of excitement is palpable. There are already reviews rolling out ~

WAFT by Carol reviews The Scented Djinn's Peaseblossom

Fragrance Belles-Lettres reviews Blossoming Tree's Fair Thee Well, Nymph

Perfume Pharmer's Monica Skye Miller reviews three perfumes ~ En Voyage Perfume's Titania, Bellatrix's Titania, and Artesa Perfumista's Robin

Feminine Things reviews Bellatrix's Titania

The other blog I co-host, Le Parfumeur Rebelle, is also a reviewing blog of the event, but we've decided to review ALL the participating perfumer's perfumes, instead of just a handful, as most of the other bloggers have done, and we're really feeling the pressure! It's the opening day and we haven't posted a single review! Scott Ellis, LPR's reviewer for this event, is awash in Midsummer bliss at this very moment, leaving me FB messages and phoning me every so often to talk about this perfume or that one, or WHO is this perfumer?! He's beside himself with fragrant happiness.

I'd also like to give a great big smelly hug and a fat wet rosy kiss to Amanda Feeley, host of this event, for coming up with such an exciting and wide-ranging topic on which to draw inspiration in the creation of perfume. The solstice is coming upon us quickly and what better way to celebrate the change of seasons than by showering oneself in the scent of Midsummer?

Let the merriment commence ~

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Natural Cucumber Scent

There seems to be a debate over this cucumber thing. I didn't realize it until I saw how many people were coming to this blog to check out 'cucumber essential oil' -- like hundreds! I wasn't aware that cucumber was such a popular scent.

So the debate was that I had done some research and was unable to locate any "real" cucumber essential oil for scenting stuff and I wrote about and was argued with over it, which sent me on a more extensive hunt for this elusive naturally derived cucumber essential oil that everyone was insisting existed. I don't have a problem being wrong if I am wrong. And if any of these folks leaving messages that cucumber essential existed had left a link to where this shy little company producing the stuff was so I could check it out, I wouldn't have taken after the subject like a pit bull with a chicken flavored teddy bear in its mouth. After a bit of research, I found a source of cucumber seed oil, which is a completely different critter altogether. And I blogged about that. And was argued with again.

Now I've been informed, and read about, a company named Treatt that do in fact make a naturally distilled cucumber. It's a flavoring agent rather than a scenting agent, but the scent is sufficient enough for use in compounding fragrance for whatever you want, or so the original source states. And, did I mention it's naturally sourced?

So there.

Just let me chew my teddy bear in peace now.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Repurposed Soap

The darker chunks in this soap represent the original soap I made the other day that was so full of essential oils it was oozy and squijee. Those bits are still oozy and squijee, just less so now with a solid foundation of newer soap around them.

I just made a small batch of soap, tossed in a few of the squijier pieces into the pot and whipped them in, then chopped up the rest of the squijee soap into pieces, put them in the mold and poured the newer soap over the top. And this is what I got. And it still smells like heaven.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Detecting Smell

I have not read any of the newest tomes on scent detection, and there are several in circulation at the moment. I've read Luca Turin's 'Secret of Scent' and have to be honest and say that while I find the study of smell fascinating, this book left me wanting something a little . . . different. I guess I wanted a 'how-to' manual on scent detection. And less chemistry.

While I consider my nose to possess average sniffing abilities, I have learned to better listen to my nose. Yeah, listen. Okay, maybe that's the wrong word.

I've learned to consciously sniff the air ~ everywhere I go. I've always done this in close proximity to plants, even years ago when I wasn't knee-deep in aromatics and hoping to become a perfumer.

I distinctly remember an incident which occurred several years ago, when my big boys were still little boys, and we'd taken a day-trip to Monterey, California. While walking around the historic Cannery Row, I subconsciously brushed my hand through the the plants we passed, then cupped my hand over my nose to inhale the scent. There was rosemary, lavender, sage ~ herbs in abundance growing along the sidewalk in planter boxes ~ that scent, combined with the smell of the sea, provide an olfactory profile that is distinctly 'Monterey'. What I remember best about this particular trip was walking along, dipping my hand into the plants, sniffing and suddenly realizing I was walking alone. I turned around, and there was my family about three yards behind me, watching. Then one of the boys, I don't remember which one, shouted, "Why do you do that? You're embarrassing us! You look like a crazy lady when you do that!" Like that wasn't embarrassing.

Well, I didn't stop doing it. And maybe I am a crazy lady, so what? I considered the ritual a valuable olfactory lesson. Still do.

There are certain things one does not need to train the nose to detect ~ car-struck skunk, for example. Carrion. Poo. Halitosis. Sweaty feet. Stale perspiration. They have a way of making themselves known.

Years ago, when I was a girl, my mother babysat two little boys who lived a few houses down from ours. Every afternoon, after the little boys' mother returned from work, I would walk them down to their house and deliver them to her. Upon walking into the house, I would be struck by the overpowering odor of burnt maple syrup. I could never quite figure this out, how someone's house could smell like burnt syrup. Then one day I told my mother about the smell in their house and she shook her head and said, "It's not syrup. It's pee. Old, stale pee in their mattresses." This left a scent impression in my mind that even today I cannot shake. As much as I love the scent and flavor of real maple syrup, every time I smell it I am reminded of those little boys and their mapley smelling, pee-stained mattresses.

Consciously smelling things makes a huge difference in how I interpret the world. Sometimes it is strange what I pick up on the air that other people don't, or what my grandson, for instance, can detect that I cannot. He once sniffed a bottle of gifted ruh khus and proclaimed, "Tea!" Initially, I didn't get that particular note from the ruh khus, but after his little non-biased review, I definitely 'got it'. He also called Vietnamese oud, "Gicky mud." Got that, too.

For years I mistook the scent of mountain misery for the scent of manzanita. It wasn't until very recently, when I attempted to tincture manzanita leaf, that I realized it was the wrong smell, not the one I associate with what I refer to as 'my mountains' ~ the Sierra Nevada mountain range from Sacramento to Bakersfield. Nope. It was kit kit dizzee, aka mountain misery, which held the scent I so love, and, I as I recently learned, my husband abhors.

We get used to smells, I think, and after a while we tune them out. Not those overpowering smells, the skunks, carrion and the like, but the every day smells of our homes and the people we love. We should probably open up a little, take in all the smells and refine our sniffing abilities, so we don't miss anything.

Finally! Summer is HERE!

Okay, so still not the usual early-June weather we here in the central valley are used to, but at least the clouds have cleared and we aren't receiving anymore record levels of rain. On a clear day, the snow is visible on the mountains. In June. It's crazy.

But heavens! The tomatoes are loving every minute rise in temperature. One of mum's transplanted volunteer mini yellows is already throwing tomatoes ~ and the plant is less than 18 inches tall!

As well as they are all going, they're in desperate need of some TLC -- with the rain and the cold weather, I hadn't spent as much time out in the garden weeding and picking off pests as I should have, as demonstrated by the half-eaten heads of cabbage I discovered yesterday. I can't express how unreasonably furious I was at those effing little worms for eating up my cabbage the way they did. I had been using diotomaceous earth to thwart their efforts, and it was working too, until this last damned rainstorm that washed all the DE away and left my poor cabbage vulnerable to the voracious little buggers -- to them and their slime ball friends, the slugs. The cabbage were unceremoniously pulled from the ground yesterday afternoon and tossed into the dead leaf heap. And just for extra measure, I gave the remaining wormies a dose of DE in case they thought of moving on to greener gardens. That sure ticked off the slug that was running as fast as he could to get out of the sun. He didn't make it very far before the shower of shards rained down upon his greasy little body. Under any other circumstance, I'd say live and let live. But when it comes down to feeding the family or feeding a wad of bugs, the family wins out every time.

The cucumbers probably suffered the most from the recent deluge -- they're all muddy and look half-wasted, but they're not. They're quite spry and beginning to spread out, and they're getting little nubby cukes popping out all over. For some reason my daughter insists on calling them 'bebe coocumbahs' whenever we're out doing a garden check. That's about the extent of her gardening participation.

The herb bed is being decimated by cats and their never ending stream of poo. I may as well call it a litter box for all the action it's receiving. I shoo the culprits out when I catch them in the act, otherwise it's the pooper scooper and a sprinkle of coffee grounds to the rescue -- mum said the coffee grounds are how she got the cats out of her garden beds, so I'm trying it. It's that or I hire a pit bull bully to stand guard . . .

As long as the weather remains warm and increases to hot, the garden should flourish into an edible jungle. Can't hardly wait!

LPR's new reviewer, Scott, is being inundated with AMND submissions, and I don't think I've ever seen him so excited about perfume before. Have I mentioned what a perfume whore he is? He's in heaven right now with all these beautifully formulated Natural Botanical Perfumes at his disposal. There have even been a few he's claimed he'd love to have in a full bottle. That's something. He was to review my perfume, Peaseblossom, but we've jointly decided he will not. It may be perceived as a conflict of interest seeing that Scott is my son and he loves his mama, and that's a pretty big incentive toward bias. So he's going through them, giving each one a day or two and writing his review. He has said that there isn't a stinker in the bunch -- he'd happily wear them all.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

When Inspiration Goes Awry

I consider myself to be a fair to middling soaper -- okay, a pretty good soaper -- but sometimes even I surprise myself with my rookie moves. I got completely swept away by the anticipation of the scents of summer -- greenery, citrus, juicy fruits, intoxicating florals, so I compounded a soap fragrance that looked like this:

fresh grated lemon peel
fresh chopped rosemary
juice of a green lemon
fresh grated peel of a green lemon
Australian sandalwood
petitgrain sur fleur neroli
distilled lime
jasmine grandiflorum
bitter orange
jasmine sambac
gardenia enfleurage
ylang-ylang extra
frankincense absolute
rhododendron leaf
kaffir lime tincture
vanilla Bourbon
bee goo
blood orange

for a grand total of 5 ounces of fragrant stuffs to pour into just over 3lbs of soap base. Can you guess what happened? Well, of course you can't, I haven't finished telling you what I did.

Here's what I did:

I used virgin avocado oil as the main base oil and blended it with olive leaf infused extra virgin olive oil and a little virgin organic coconut oil, then when that bit came to trace, I added about four ounces of the fragrance compound to the soap base and blended well, poured it into the mold, then made the big mistake. I poured about an ounce, perhaps a smidge more, of the fragrance compound over the top of the soap and began to fold it in. And fold it. And fold it. And fold it some more, to no avail as it had made up its mind it wanted to sit atop the soap and take its sweet time soaking in. And so it soaks away.

This soap may be listed later on this summer when the oils either soak in or evaporate. Or, I can make a new "clean" batch of soap and incorporate this lovely fragrant mess into it -- not rebatch, oh, no! -- but a new batch. Yeah. Sounds good.

Regrets? Only one -- I can't use this soap right away and I really want to! It smells like heaven!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The CSI of NBP

Getting hung up on the NBP politics is like finding yourself in a tv crime show on the rave murder episode -- after the bubbles have popped, some poor innocent soul is discovered lying flat on her back with someone's glass stirring rod in her eye.

Just avoid the rave.

Feeling Nostalgic

When the idea of consolidating my little blog here with two others was proposed, I agreed wholeheartedly, with much excitement and hopes for the future, but now that it's nearing the time to actually make the move, I'm feeling a bit -- nostalgic. I'm going to miss my old home here. I mean, it isn't perfect -- it's a bit run down, perhaps too familiar and in need of a renovation, but it is (or soon will be 'was') my home. Since 2005. November 20, 2005, to be exact. The first post went something like this:

What's this all about?

Hmmm, good question.

It's about sensuality through scent.

It's about finding that single golden needle of perfect essence in a haystack of olfactory mediocrity.

It's about skin.

It's about heart.

It's about seduction.

It's about telling it like it is.

Beautiful, baby!

I think I've pretty much stuck to the theme of that original post. Though, 'telling it like it is' sometimes got me into a pickle a time or two ~ ha! I remember having such high hopes for this blog. I wanted desperately to share what I knew about NBP; to learn from others, to build relationships and friendships and readership! Had I known how hard it would be, how long it would take to accomplish those things (and I still haven't gotten to all of them), how many obstacles would be thrown in my path, I might not have started this blog at all. But they don't call me stubborn for nothing!

This has primarily been a Natural Botanical Perfume blog. A blog about the ups and downs of the absolutely not glamorous life of a perfumer (self-trained, self-supported, self-everything except self-centered, but I suppose one could argue that point since you're reading about how un-self-centered I'm claiming to be on MY blog), a blog about the truly heinous politics of this business (this is the pickle issue I mentioned above), a blog about the truly glorious, spectacular, fabulous and special people and perfumes that I've encountered in this business; a blog about passion, education, sharing, love, spirit, hope.

There have been moments during these past six years that I've thought of throwing in the towel -- with blogging, with perfuming, with anything to do with the internet and its bs cliques and public crucifixions. Sometimes these things can be overwhelmingly depressing. But I always got pulled in again -- by the perfume. By a gifted bottle of 60-year-old sandalwood oil, or an aged rose geranium, or hinoki, or a distillation of frankincense resin, or the discovery that I too can play more the mad scientist with butaflors, or that I have enough good perfume making information stored in my tired old brain cells to share it with others. These things have never failed to bring me instant joy in the face of all this insanity.

No, I won't stop sharing or flapping my yap about my opinions or giving advice or simply rambling about perfume. I will just be doing it in a new home.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

La la la tee da!

Things are still pretty much in a state of -- well, disarray just sounds too polite, and chaos sounds too horrible, so I guess maybe 'messed up' works? You know things are a unraveling at the edges when your first thought upon waking is, "Oh, crap, this again?" It's nothing too specific either, just the general, this-house-is-too-damned-small-for-this-many-people-and-pets thing. Energy, y'know? I feel the energy pouring off everyone and sometimes I just need to get out!

My perfuming of late is just a moment or two of jotting down notes for a new perfume I'm making, something in a series of perfumes representative of light and very wearable fragrances. Enough of the weird stuff, it's time to make perfume people understand. Lylli Bleu is the first of the line, a soft floral/herbal fragrance -- an eau fraiche -- that is still in the bones stage of production; then Isabella Rose, an obvious rose floral with rich caramel notes, also in the bones stage. And then Paisley, Sky and Layla, but I haven't really sat down and figured out the bones of these last three. Paisley is almost a no-brainer, right? I'm thinking a powdery patchouli with subtle spice and floral notes, some warm balsamics in the background . . . Sky & Layla are just names at this point. And you're probably wondering why all these names, right? Because these are real people -- real people who happen to have fabulous names! I know, not very djinn-like, are they? Well, some people just don't get it. When you hear someone completely butcher the name of a perfume you make that they like, you begin to understand that sometimes paring something down to its simplest form saves everyone a lot of embarrassment-- and spelling errors.

Well, some of you may have read by now that Oh, True Apothecary! is moving. When appropriate, I will be posting the forwarding link so y'all can continue reading my ADD riddled scented ramblings. And this blog-o-mine here will be up until blogspot decides to kill it. I'm sure some of you are wondering why I would do such a thing, and it's pretty simple in a complex way (yeah, you know you're never going to get a straight answer out of me ~ ha!) -- collaborations, when they work, work beautifully. My co-collaborators are Monica Skye Miller and Felicia Hazzard and we'll all be writing on anything and everything fragrance at Perfume Pharmer. As the year progresses and we get things going over there at PP, you'll begin to understand better what we offer as a group of like-minded individuals to the NBP community. It'll be a fun ride. I hope you decide to come along.

In the meantime, I pretend everything is chill, as the kids say, whilst I stumble and trip over possessions not mine in a room that is (mine), longing to get to the organ to begin the trials of Lylli Bleu . . . so fa la la la la, everything's peachy, babe!

Friday, June 03, 2011

June 14 ~ June 24 -- A Midsummer Night's Dream Perfume Scent Event Online

The 'A Midsummer Night's Dream Perfume Event' is set to launch June 14th and proceed through to June 24th with participating bloggers giving their opinions and evaluations of perfumes made by a number of fabulous Natural Botanical Perfumers.

I can hardly wait as I am a participant, and the other blog I edit, Le Parfumeur Rebelle, is a participating blog of the event. I know, you instantly thought, "Oops! Conflict of interest!" But no. LPR won't be writing anything about my perfume, and whatever is written about the other perfumes won't be written by me -- we've handed over the reins for this event to Scott Ellis, LPR's newest perfume reviewer, and he's informed me that the packages are just rolling in, one more stinkin' fabulous than the next!

Participating blogs in this event are:

Fragrance Belles-Lettres: The Magazine
Bloody Frida
The Windesphere Witch
WAFT by Carol
Scent Hive
Le Parfumeur Rebelle
Perfume Smellin' Things
Perfume Pharmer
Feminine Things
All I Am ~ A Redhead


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