Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011!

Goodbye! Fairwell! Auf Wiedersehen! Arrivederci!

Here's to a splendid new year, and a big hello to 2012.

I wanted to write one of those 'best of' lists, and maybe toss in a few 'worst of' holla's for some of the perfume-political rottenness that went on this year (same as it ever was), but I was late in gathering it all up, and honestly, my heart just wasn't in it. But I will say this -- the past 12 months have seen an advance in popularity within the niche, indie and natural botanical perfumery genre, pushing it further than it's gone since the early 2000's when NBP first began its upward march into popular culture. Bloggers who only blogged on commercial and designer perfumes really stepped up to the plate, reviewing indie and niche brands that included more than a few notable natural botanical perfumes in the mix, bringing the 'word' to the masses like never before. It's been exciting watching what I love so dearly grow into something more readily acceptable and even heartily embraced by groups of people who had never even heard of natural botanical perfumes, or knew that this small, dedicated group of folks were out there, blazing trails and creating a fervor; folks consumed by a passion for their art creating modern masterpieces in the confines of a small home studio or tiny shopfront in some obscure anywhere town.

But I think what I've noticed most this past year, and what seems to have really pushed NBP into the mainstream, has been the quality of work coming out of the perfumers. The bar has been raised again, and this time to a much higher level than in years past. And though it might seem a daunting notion to someone new in the field, and even to some who've been plugging away in NBP for years, it serves all of us in a positive way -- it forces us to be the best perfumers we can be, and that's what we want, all of us, to the best we can be. It's the rare perfumer, and the best, in my opinion, who sees their greatest competition in their last best creation.

I also wanted to mention all the projects that came together in 2011 -- A Midsummer Night's Dream with its whimsy and dreamy quality; the PLAP! project hosted by Monica Miller, which heralded in some of the year's very best perfumes based on patchouli, and also brought together a diverse group of people from perfumer to performer, and the Clarimonde Project hosted by Lucy Raubertas. These projects have proven once again that this NBP, niche, indie-thing isn't just a bunch of untrained know-nothings tossing together a few essential oils and calling it perfume. No, on the contrary, these projects have proven that the NBP, niche and indie perfumers are a force to be reckoned with. I'm also really excited about the 2012 line-up of projects, most notably the Primordial Scents 2012 project commencing in June 2012.

2012 may very well be the year we blow the lid off this thing.

So here's to us, the perfumers, for a year filled with blessings and new discoveries.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Update on the Quickie ~

I have dodged a bullet ~ it appears the imminent homelessness of a family member wasn't so dire a prediction after all. A reprieve has been offered and accepted, so I get to keep the studio!

Now for deadlines. I have been very lax with readying the studio for students, but since we've just emerged from the holiday season, I give myself a reprieve as well. Yes, with the holidays, the move, the upheavals, the emotional blackmail -- wait! Did I just say that? Yes, I did. The emotional blackmail. Y' know, that stuff there can paralyze a person. It's toxic to the enjoyment and progression of happiness. I fight very hard to reject the doom and gloom of someone else's lack of emotional balance, and it's exhausting! So whenever I see it coming 'round the bend, I take a different path -- cross to the other side of the street, so to speak. Oh, yes, I was discussing deadlines . . . I need to set a few. This studio isn't going to get prepped for public consumption until I set a deadline for its debut, so I think a tentative 'open house' will be set for February 11, 2012, a Saturday (all day), well past the hustle and bustle of winter holidays and just in time to interest people in love potions for St. Valentine's Day.

In readying the studio, I've decided to make use of a few things I've found scattered about this old house, such as the original wood doors with crystal doorknobs . . . yes, those are to be repurposed and built into a new, fabulous modesty screen -- hinge three together and voila! A custom antique modesty screen, which will do a fair job of hiding the back end of the computer desk and all its vital wirings. Can't have dangling wires around here since there are babies crawling about.

Oh, and I'm taking French lessons. Finally.

So! Mark your calendars for February 11, 2012 for the . . . well, I haven't made up a title for the event yet, but I will soon. Perhaps you can help?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Just A Quickie ~

I have only moments to write this (and probably not well, at that) as I'm running a bit late and still need to hop in the shower, wash the 'do, dress and bolt off on the bike to work in this chilly-yet-not-freezing 39 degrees F air.

First, I may already be losing my brand new perfume lab! Yes, my beautiful hardwood floored, antique paneled, built-in cabinetry'd perfume lab may soon be taken over by unexpected new roommates! Aaaarrrrggghh! But what can you do? Allow someone to become homeless because you want to mix a bit of perfume here and there in a gorgeously appointed studio? Oh, with some heartfelt hesitation I answer no. People are far more important than things, even things which make people (me, me, me!) so very happy and spiritually fulfilled. And, as I've said time and again, there is more than one way to skin a . . . critter!

I'm finally working on finalizing the formula for Primordial Scents. It's been a long and difficult road getting in the groove for this, one that officially began September 3rd, 2011 when the world went a little topsy-turvy. But in all actuality, it began unofficially years and years and years ago, like 18 or 19 years ago. That's a long time to try to make something work, don't you think? I think I gave it a fair shot. I realize this doesn't make much sense ~ I haven't been working on the formula for 18 or 19 years, but on something else -- my life! Or the life I was trying to create. You know, sometimes someone else's idea of what a life should be becomes a huge obstacle in the pursuit of creativity and true happiness. It's the old square peg, round hole fiasco . . .

But, yes, the Primordial Scent formulation -- mmmm, I'm hoping I haven't become so rusty these past few months of coveting yet not working on perfume that I am able to create something that isn't entirely amateurish. It's not quite like riding a bike . . .

So, yes! Time to wash up and ride off into the sunrise!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Winner of Holiday Parfum Draw

Is Linnea Wiedeman. Please send me your address at


And thank you to all who entered their names in the drawing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Perfume Pharmer Announces 2011 Niche Perfume Award Winners!

Yesterday Perfume Pharmer released its list of the top 20 Niche Perfume Awards for new releases in 2011, and it goes like this:

Pandora by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes

Transcendental Musc by Liz Zorn

Secret Garden by Mandy Aftel

Bohemian Spice by Tanya Bochnig, April Aromatics

Orcas by Ayala Moriel

Avalon by Ambrosia Jones of Perfume by Nature

Immortal Mine by Alexis Karl and Maria McElroy

Star F&@#*% by Kedra Hart of Opus Oils

Wild Child by Kedra Hart of Opus Oils (good goin' Kedra!)

Royal Water by Rodney Hughes of Therapeutate

Dreams and Visions by Jane Cate of Wing and A Prayer

Pentachord Verdant by Andy Tauer

Fleur #1 by Jessica September Buchanan of 1000 Flowers

Vanille Botanique by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (go girl!)

Nectars des Ils by Juan Perez, Vents Ardents by Shelley Waddington -- collaboration duo for EnVoyage Perfumes

Sharif by Abdes Salaam Attar of La Via del Profumo

Au Pear Tingle by Kedra Hart of Opus Oils (xo)

Paradise Lost by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes (xo)

Best Incense ~ Kyphi 2010 by Katlyn Breene of Mermade Magickal Arts

Best Perfumer ~ Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

Lifetime Achievement Award ~ Jeanne Rose

I have to say that I agree with quite a few on this list (since I helped choose some of them!), for example, some of my favorites this year were Pandora by DSH, Wild Child by Kedra Hart and Royal Water by Rodney Hughes/Therapeutate.

And I also wholeheartedly agree with the final award, the Lifetime Achievement award to Jeanne Rose. I just don't think Ms. Rose gets enough credit for her lifelong, and continuing, contributions to perfumery. A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Rose in her home in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco, and I'll admit it here to you, but please don't tell anyone -- I was petrified to meet her! First of all I got lost and was late for our appointment by almost an hour, then when I did show up I could see that Ms. Rose was sizing me up -- this odd lady from the inland come to talk with Grande Dame of San Francisco -- but it wasn't long before my nervousness settled down (just a bit, mind you, I was still pretty shaky by the time I left). It was quite the experience sitting alone with Ms. Rose in her home, going through boxes of very old oils and resins. I even got to hear with my own ears her famous, "Waft! Don't draft!" protestation while sniffing a very old bottle of benzoin resin. It was like being in the company of a mystic, the oils treated reverentially and with love as we wafted and slipped into conversation about how much had changed since she'd first begun in aromatherapy, how the oils now are different from the oils then, how much has been lost to poor distillation processes and scam artists and over harvesting. As I said, it was quite the experience and one I will treasure forever.

So congratulations to all the winners of this year's Perfume Pharmer Niche Perfumer Awards!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Apple Blossom Concrete!

I found it! Nearly 25 grams! Woo-hoo! I've been looking for this stuff for a couple of years, almost since just after I received it. It's in a big silver tin and I can't imagine how I lost it in the first place except that in my memory the tin was much smaller and had much less inside. I just wasn't looking for the right thing.

Oh, what does apple blossom concrete smell like? Granny Smith apples and hay and warmth and sunshine. The bright green apple scent fades away quickly leaving just the earthy warmth and leafy smell.

I'm up very late tonight, way, way, way past my bedtime, but I couldn't sleep for some reason. Very unusual for me. And I started thinking about my goodies just sitting in here still wrapped up and waiting to be released, then I hopped on the computer to see was Ana was doing and voila! Inspiration to begin work. I'm cracking down on the unwrapping and finding early gifts!

I'm going to be absolutely good for nothing at work tomorrow. Eek!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Perfume Giveaway


I feel as if I've been out of the game for a long, long time. Perhaps mentally and emotionally I had pulled back from my love of perfuming due to personal issues ~ in fact, yes, that's exactly what I did. As much joy as formulating and sharing perfume brought me, there was this niggling little voice in the back of my mind asking, "What's the point?" Sacrilegious, yes? I thought so too. It pains me to admit it. The point in the broader sense, I suppose, could be that perfume and its construction is art, and art doesn't need a practical reason to exist, unless one defines beauty and spirit and love and passion in practical terms. In the personal sense the point was quite ill-defined. It's very difficult for me, as a caretaker 'type', to set aside time for personal aspirations when someone close to me is spinning out of control, and worse when it is a whole herd of people dealing with various and sundry life hurdles. Taking the time to work perfumery, and the necessary concentration and focus one needs for that task, became nearly impossible, fraught with bouts of guilt and what seemed like terminal failure with every experiment I played out. So then I was dealing with two issues; my guilt and black cloud mentality due to taking the time to formulate, and the potential loss of my mojo! This stretched across the spectrum of body beautiful art I was creating, and revealed itself more prominently in my latest soaping endeavors. No more dark and gloomy soaps were ever made than what I had produced from about May of 2011 until the following September. Even the classes I was giving during the summer seemed soulless, the soap created uninspiring.

Since I have not created anything of note lately (though that may change in the next few months as inspiration gels and takes on a more solid, tangible form) I am offering as gifts a coffrett of some oldies but goodies from the treasure chest of aromatic wonders here at The Scented Djinn ~ 5 ml bottles of Serj eau de Parfum, Atay Extrait, and Amber Extrait for your olfactory pleasure.

Make a comment publicly here on Oh, True Apothecary!, or send me a private message via to enter your name into the drawing. The name of the winner will be chosen Thursday, December 15 and mailed immediately in case you want to give the 'fumes away as gifts. Open to those living within the continental US (sorry to those of you not within those perimeters ~ future giveaways here at OTA will include all the planet's human inhabitants).

Friday, December 09, 2011


John Mayer suggested I stop being my normal sarcastic self and just say "hello", something about sincerity . . .

Anyway! The studio is still days away from completion. Just over half the boxes have been emptied and the spaces within the room are pretty close to capacity. And my chair "got" broke. Yep. My antique blending bench chair that was discovered on the side of the road was the sore victim of chair abuse. Y'know how you tell your kids not to lean back in kitchen and lawn chairs because, you say, they'll fall back and break their heads, but what you're really worried about is your poor chair getting a broken leg and back? Yes, that action. Well, I must not have told the kids' friends' friends not to do that in my chair because -- well, you connect the dots here. So I'm chairless and 'working the bench' from under the bench, on the floor.

I have been using some pretty spectacular perfumes lately, my friends. You must go over to Liz Zorn's studio Soivohle for samples or bottles of Jasmine Summer, Queen City Rain, and the must-have, Vanille OTR -- I'm not a big fan of vanilla perfumes, but this one is different. Not a sweet, syrupy concoction, but a sophisticated spicy green perfume with low vanilla backnotes and tenacity for days. Reminds me just a bit of Chanel No.19. It's not an all natural perfume but it is worth checking out if you're of the all natural bent.

Monday, December 05, 2011

O, Happy Yule!

Whilst everyone about is scrambling to participate in such crazy and nonsensical antics as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I've taken the very shortest road and have put all my gifts on layaway -- in September. Except for a perfume purchase online here and there, there isn't much left to do but set up the tree (ooh, the ceilings are very high and afford space for a lovely tall tree for all the newest grandbabies to marvel), hang the door wreath, spike the nog and wrap the toys. Then begin on the food. I've gotten several requests already for the now popular Neroli Petitgrain Shortbread Cookies, as well as the Jasmine Green Tea Champagne Cupcakes. I'm also going to roll a few nuts in some patchouli sugar (no, not my mom or my crazy across the street neighbor! ~ though both could do with a bit of sweetening).

I've been poking around with a bunch of new perfumes I received -- some stuff from Soivohle and a shop on Etsy called AoStudio9 that makes lovely body sprays. No, they're not all natural but contain a goodly amount of the stuff and they smell remarkable. I must say, my daughter was quite taken with Liz's gorgeous Ankara, and the floral beauty Jasmine Summer. I'm kind'a digging them all, actually, having been a bit 'fume starved the last few months.

Here's to a happy Yule season. May all your wishes and dreams come true.

Sunday, December 04, 2011


'Nard, that is. Mmmm, baby. Someone special recently gifted me a bottle of spikenard -- about four ounces of the stinky, juicy stuff. Ahm in luuuvv! Oh, yes, it does have a slightly weird valerian-like undertone that almost takes you there, but then pulls back in plenty of time for the beauty of 'nard to come through. Stuffed Up Nosed Daughter professes it reminds her of roses! Which sent my mind reeling -- Christ being anointed with a pound of 'nard began to fill my imagination, coupled with a long-ago Pranic healing class in which we were told that divine yet earthbound spiritual masters naturally smelled of rose. Could it be, perhaps, a little magic lives in the spikenard? A bit of the mystical and mysterious?

Spikenard is a wondrous oil, not only having been used by ascended masters, it was also used by wealthy Roman women, and Egyptians adored the 'nard. (By the by, my prepubescent sons used to call their private parts 'nards', so writing the word 'nard seems very odd.) It is also shown to relieve migraines and help with insomnia. Since it is somewhat related to valerian, and subsequently contains a high level of valeranone, I would tend to agree with its effective use in battling sleepless nights -- these past few weeks have been awash in 'nard. Thank heavens it doesn't smell too much like valerian! Also, spikenard could be used as a sacrificial perfume material in a perfume which contains noticeable levels of oudh oil -- spikenard and oudh share a few olfactory similarities.

Frankincense on My Mind -- and all over my hands!

During the move, lots of things got dumped. Nothing I'm going to sit around crying about, but enough to make note of it. For example, frankincense resin. The smaller chunks and frank-dust filled the plastic bin about halfway -- it ended up on its head and there I was scooping resin dust and pebbles off the bottom of the chest of curiosities and fabulous finds. So, obviously, it got me thinking about frankincense stuff. Y'know, soap and body butters, facial oils (because right about now I'm in desperate need of some skin toning unguents to tighten up my recently fat vacated neck and face). I just wish I had a bottle of carrot seed oil, that'd surely do the trick -- oh, and a bit o' frankincense too, methinks. So as a treat to myself, soon, perhaps even before the end of winter, I will make a batch of frankincense soap with pumpkin and carrot oils and simply soak in in it.

Also in the dump was a beautiful vintage bottle (the bottle's vintage, not the contents) of Indo vetyver (very lovely stinky stuff that makes my toes curl) -- I lost about half of the full contents, which, as fortune would have it, soaked into the nearly bare wood of my moisture-starved perfume hutch. Walking past the hutch is quite the toe tingling experience.

Well, I got a good start on the studio Saturday. I figured out where the furniture would go at least, and the books are in the shelves. As for the "goodies", they're still tightly locked in their boxes awaiting their debut. Did I say I also have a butler's pantry right next to the studio? Yes, I do, and that's where the fridge and tinctures reside, as well as spill-over eo's and whatnot.

I want a love that's on the square. Can't seem to find somebody, someone to care, And I'm on the lonely road that leads to nowhere I need a Sunday kind of love I do my Sunday dreaming, oh, yeah! And all my Sunday scheming Every minute, Every hour, Every day. All I'm hoping to discover a Certain kind of lover, Who will show me the way. In my arms need someone, Someone to hold, To keep me warm when my Lips grow cold. Love for all my life to have And to hold. All I want a Sunday Kind of love, Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah! I don't want a Monday, Tuesday, Uh, Wednesday, or Thursday, Friday, Or Saturday. Oh, nothing but Sunday Oh, yeah, yeah. I want a Sunday, Sunday I Want a Sunday kind of love. Oh, yeah, yeah. Sunday, Sunday, Sunday kind of love.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

I'm Baaaaaack!

Yes, I'm back. And what a mess I've found! Regardless, it was a great break, even though the events that lead up to the break were both traumatic and life altering. It's not worth getting into the details. Suffice it to say, I am a bit less encumbered by outside sources of stress and am free to make some decisions for which I am 100% responsible.

I am in the process of rebuilding my perfumery in a new location. Where I currently reside offers me the opportunity to teach small groups of interested parties in the art and splendor of Natural Botanical Perfumery -- and bellydance ~ ha! I will post photos of the new studio as soon as I am able. In the meantime, enjoy these hideous post apocalyptic perfume studio photos . . .

I currently live just a few minutes from my J O B -- here's to jobs that pay the rent (on time)! Since I am turning a new page in my life, I decided to go all the way -- my new mode of transportation to work is a Schwinn. Hurrah for decreased belly fat! Yippee for stamina! Boo for hypothermia in the mornings!

Right now, life is pretty okay. Well, more than okay. I am so anxious to get back to the business of perfumery. I've made a few discoveries and can't wait to implement them into the course curriculum at NNAPA. Here's to life!


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