Monday, September 26, 2011

Wonderful Wonderous Fall

Oh, how I love the fall. I love when the mornings are chilly and sharp with the scent of the crush from the winery up the road, and the sweet agrestic smell of wet yellowed straw left on the ground after harvest. I live on the edge of town, near the farms and the foothills, where if the wind is right, a rooster's crow can be heard as the sun begins to peek over the edge of the jagged peaks of the Sierras to the east. The eastern sky becomes pinky-orange and misty, edged in dark blue lace dotted with brilliant white stars. It's magical. Enchanting. And it makes me want to make yummy skin stuff -- pumpkin scrubs and masques, pumpkin and green apple soap (think Roman chamomile as the "apple"), vetyver baths to entice benevolent spirits.

And the very best part? No. More. Blasting. Heat.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Magic of Scent

I really do love what I do. The scents, the formulating, the calculating, the wonder when it all turns out right, the absolute shock and disappointment when it does not. I love walking into my cluttered little studio and picking up a whiff of dark, aged Indonesia vetyver from the drop that slid down the side of the bottle and solidified there; brushing the dust from the "goodies" box and opening it to reveal a vial of champa concrete, the lip of which wafts the odd sweet floral minty~ness into the air; the air-dried green goo along the edges of a glass stopper plunged firmly into a near-full bottle of Peaseblossom, giving off snaking fingers of scent redolent of a classic fougere tinged violet. Bottle upon bottle of dark mossy green, pea green, gold, amber, yellow and crystalline colored tinctures glittering in the dim studio light.

I love that these elements speak to me; that I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about an old bottle of boozy dark patchouli that smells of a thousand first rains on a thousand dusty roads, or the last milliliter of a particularly beautiful season of rose otto aging to buttery rose perfection, tucked away in a dark box, or the crate of luban resin in which I hide muslin bags of cash in hopes that the luban will bless it with fortune.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New News

Redundant, eh?

Well, NNAPA is gearing up to add another course to the list -- a Portuguese language six-month intensive begins October 1, 2011 for our Portuguese-speaking perfumery friends. The course cost is the same ($725 USD) as the English language course, with full tutor and mentor support (many of our past students are fluent in both Portuguese and English). Both the text book and the work book for the course have been translated into Portuguese, so self-study is also an option, though at the moment only the text book is available through CreateSpace or through direct purchase here (see right sidebar). I hope to have the work book in Portuguese published within a few weeks to help those students who wish to utilize a structured course for essence evaluations, trial study evals, and perfume formulation worksheets.

A lot has happened in the past few weeks. My entire life has been turned upside down. I walked away from a long-term relationship, started a new job, was offered another part-time job, and -- well, does there need to be an 'and'? My head is still reeling. I feel like it may be a while before I feel 'normal' again, whatever that is. As for formulating, I have only one perfume in mind that I will share next year, and I'm still in the throes of a soap making frenzy, but thus far have managed to create really scary dark soaps that obviously reflect my recent emotional upheaval. I haven't made hydrosol since September 3 during the Psychic Fair -- made about a liter of fresh white sage hydrosol which I gifted to Shannon at Seasons, where the fair was being held. There's another fair being planned for November 5, 2011, so if you're in the Central Valley and have nothing important to do that day, stop by and give it a visit. You'll like it -- promise.

My current projects are: cleaning out the studio to turn part of it into a bedroom for myself and my mother; make money (duh) to care for my family; write, write, write; be happy. Not necessarily in that order. But so far have managed only to drag a mattress into the living room to sleep at night, and keep the front lawn watered. Not making much of a dent in my current projects list.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Pandora by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

The past few days have been wrought with signs from Pandora. In my personal life I’ve found myself opening a box of mysteries that I pray lead not to tragedy but to new opportunities. I’ve also been listening to a lot of music of late -- Marvin Gaye, Dave Matthews, Sade -- on what else but And then comes in the post a package from Colorado which contained a spray vial of emerald green juice – The Pandora.

Pandora, the perfume from renowned perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, is sensual and sublime. It is viscerally appealing – one cannot help but sniff, sniff, and sniff again where it has been applied. It is feminine, floral, a bit green, woody and softly sweet.

Pandora is a slow embrace; a kiss with a promise; a warm hand at the small of your back. It is both vintage and contemporary, pulling those romantic scent elements from perfumery’s origins into the modern age and marrying them exquisitely. A classic.

Other blogs reviewing this stunning perfume are:





monica (w/ david lb):




Friday, September 02, 2011

Natural Perfume Academy Fall Session 2011

The Natural Perfume Academy online is set to begin its Fall session beginning September 22, 2011. Sessions will no longer run for 12 months, but will instead run for 6 months. We discovered that 12 months was simply too long a period of time to run the course and it was effortlessly converted to a 6 month time frame.

Other changes made to the course include the elimination of the 50+ Essence Evaluation Kits and Blending Kits included with tuition. The Essence Evaluation Kits will not be offered at all, however, the Blending Kits, or Perfume Formulation Kits at the Academy store online, are being offered at a separate cost and include:

* Oakmoss- 2ml
* Rose de Mai- 2ml
* Bergamot FCF - 5ml
* Coriander - 5ml
* Frankincense - 5ml
* Geranium, Bourbon - 5ml
* Ginger - 5ml
* Ho Wood - 5ml
* Jasmine Sambac - 2ml
* Cistus - 5ml
* Lavender - 5ml
* Lemongrass - 5ml
* Neroli Absolute - 2ml
* Patchouli Absolute - 5ml
* Petitgrain - 5ml
* Grapefruit, Pink - 5ml
* Vetiver Bourbon - 5ml
* Ylang Ylang Complete - 5ml
* Bulgarian Rose Concrete - 5ml

Because we eliminated the Essence Evaluation Kits and only offer the Blending Kits/Perfume Formulation Kits as an option, and the course time frame has been cut in half, the cost of the course has been drastically reduced from $1350 for a full session to only $725 for a full session.

NNAPA/Natural Perfume Academy is accepting new students for the Fall session. Reserve your position in the course with a $240 deposit. Payment plans are available. The course is completed March 21, 2011, at which time the students will receive their Certificate of Excellence in Natural Botanical Perfumery from the Natural Perfume Academy.

To register for the Fall session, please contact Justine Crane at, or go to for more information.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Soap, Holistic & Psychic Faire, Betty Yi

The newest soap, The End of Chaos, had to be chopped and incorporated into another batch of soap scented with just patchouli and a drizzle of antique cade oil because I used an extraordinary amount of grapeseed oil, which though moisturizing and conditioning to skin, doesn't make a terribly hard bar of soap. I had Sponge Soap Square Blobs that smelled like something dug from deep in the cold, dark earth. I even used one and it turned gelatinous and squigey in the shower. To remedy the problem, and to preserve the beautiful deep dark essence, I simply made another batch of plain Castile using organic extra virgin olive oil, and shoved slices of the original soap into it -- everywhere. The soap is cut into towers with the slivers of super scented soap poking out of the top, like a weird geometric landscape. The original soap, if you remember from previous posts here, was made with extra virgin olive oil, pressed grapeseed oil (lots and lots of this oil!), and organic unrefined coconut oil, then was scented with patchouli, luban, Turkish sage, ylang-ylang, antique cade (just a smidge as it's on IFRA's dirty list), helichrysm floral wax, champa concrete, a mashed-to-dust combination of frankincense and myrrh resins (warmed and slightly melted), antique saffron spice, and a homemade Egyptian incense blend made with more frankincense and myrrh powders, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel and anise. It will be wrapped and put up for sale at the Renaissance & Psychic Faire scheduled for this Saturday (September 3) at Seasons Gifts & Gardens at 1121 N. Nelson Street, Sanger, CA 93657, ph. 559-876-9000, and the "leftovers" will be posted on Etsy on Sunday.

Holistic & Psychic Faire at Seasons ~ this is the first time for me doing this show, but I have been a regular customer and instructor at Seasons since this past May when I began teaching soap classes there, so I feel comfortable and fairly confident this show will be quite nice. I will be exhibiting the distillation process for hydrosols and giving a brief hydrosol workshop, distilling more of Season's gorgeous white sage, this time taking a bit of the oil off the top for spiritual work and bottling up the hydrosol on site. I will also be selling only two types of soap this year as two were all I was able to get prepared, and I wasn't going to sell any but convinced myself it might be a good idea, and I will also be setting up a small display of Natural Botanical Perfumes.

Shannon, proprietress of Seasons, has just yesterday undergone a major heart procedure -- the timing couldn't have been worse, but her recent declining health necessitated the procedure. She will be in attendance for everyone to talk with and mingle, but she probably won't be doing her usual running here and there and everywhere. I commend Shannon for continuing with the Renaissance & Psychic Faire despite this setback and hope that it brings her more joy than stress, as preparing for these types of events can bring immense amounts of unnecessary stress.

Later this afternoon, it's off to scrub floors and dust door frames as Betty Yi products are in full testing mode. One product in particular, a light castile soap based all-purpose cleansing spray scented with peppermint and thyme, is phenomenal at cleaning darn near everything. This particular formulation was originally made with lavender oil and lavandin hydrosol, but for some reason the fragrance compound wasn't working -- it just wasn't pleasant enough. So we switched out the fragrance compound to something more cheerful and, in the case of the thyme, more bacteria battling. Thus far it is the favorite amongst the customers. It is our favorite as well. The lavender compound smelled heavy and sluggish, perhaps making the cleaning crew drowsy as they scrubbed!


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