Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tomorrow Begins the Challenge ~ One Year, One Nose ~ 365 Days of Olfaction ~ Join me!

Well, that title says it all. February 1st, tomorrow, Wednesday, is the launch date of what may prove to be my undoing ~ ha!

So come join me. Check in daily or weekly, and catch up on the olfactory journaling. My hope is to inspire and intrigue you (yes, you), and possibly create an olfactophile of your nosey little self.

And here we go.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Artisanal Perfume

Artisanal, or, as my friend B. likes to say, "Art-is-anal," perfume is more niche than niche, more indie than indie, and, to quote another friend, "More specialer," than regular off-the-shelf stuff. So what if the label is a little thready on the edges and sits crookedly on the bottle? Or the bottle is run-of-the-mill, nothing special? It's the art contained within the sometimes ordinary packaging (though packaging can be the #1 selling point for some perfumes) that is important. How many times have you opened a beautifully packaged and bottled perfume to a reaction equivalent to crickets chirping in the middle of the night? Nothing special here -- pretty bottles with boring contents make prime real estate for dust. Again, it's what's inside that counts (as with most things in life) -- juicier than the average juice.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What happened . . .?

What ever happened to the woman who could crank these out like just-add-water pancakes? I need to find her . . .

Woe and French Macarons

My books, my perfume instructionals, were stolen off my porch, or perhaps mis-delivered, about a week ago. These books were long awaited, especially by the students who've been anticipating the evaluations' unit and base/perfume building sections of the course.

Though the past few months have been hard on me both financially and emotionally, I feel extremely fortunate and lucky to have such good friends and good luck (knock on wood) -- I feel blessed in many ways.


This book thing knocks me down. I feel what little credibility I've managed to build over the past few years is slowly draining away. It just sounds like one more lousy excuse for being irresponsible, and I'm not that person. The background on the books is stupid long, and just stupid -- first I was in revisions when the course started but I couldn't even think straight to get them done on time due to my personal life (damned personal life getting in the way of everything!) -- then the new publisher is so good they sticklered (not a word, I looked it up) me to death over details of the book for a good two months; then I moved and had no internet access for a month, then new roommates and adjustments came, then the holidays, then more revision of the books, then this -- the flippin' stolen books!

Now that I've finished whinging, I'll pull up my big girl pants and get to doing something constructive. The project (One Nose, One Year) is coming along beautifully. I ended up getting lost in frankincense, for the 1028th time in my life. I can't get enough of the stuff. It's like perfumer's crack! *

I think opening yourself up to smelling everything is a great lesson in life. It conjures memories like you wouldn't believe, while simultaneously creating new ones; it sparks the imagination and these 'ah ha!' moments come rushing in, overwhelming. There's a bakery up the street called Frosted that makes the most divine French macarons I have ever tasted. I could write volumes (yes, Proust) on the scent and flavor of those macarons -- salted caramel, raspberry, pomegranate wine, key lime, vanilla bean, pink champagne. Oh, and the textures! Scents have textures, yes! Imagine the macaron with its delicately brittle covering embracing a soft, gooey center that emits a mouthwateringly juicy berry scent, hints of vanilla and salt wafting up your nose, tickling your baser instincts. It just makes me want to hop up and down ~ ha!

Image by Frosted Cakery, Fresno, Ca.

*I mean no offense to anyone who has ever had a drug problem or a dear one involved in drugs. I thoroughly understand the heartbreak and devastation of addiction.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

One Year, One Nose ~ 365 Days of Olfaction

The official start of this project is February 1, 2012. That should give me plenty of time to get some journal entries down so I'm not feeling so pressured. Though I work well under pressure, it's not good for my well-being in the long run. I'm already sweating the details here. This is a huge undertaking -- not the journaling but the dedication to sharing the entries on this blog.

I imagine that some entries will be long and detailed, while others will be short and concise, more a reflection of mood than the availability of subjects to smell. There is plenty here to smell, no doubt, from the hundreds of perfumery raw materials to the streets outside my doorway. This part of town can also be called the garden district, and though the lovely herb and rose gardens are dormant at the moment, during this blogging project they will come to life again, and then there will be plenty to write about. Not only that, but just walking to the market is a lesson in olfaction, from the restaurants, bakeries, incense shops, pubs and the smell of goings on in the tattoo shop parking lot, well . . . plenty to write about.

So mark your calendars as February 1, 2012 is the official launch of this heady project.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Project: Journaling

So in the mad morning internet dash this morning, I hopped onto FB, the usual course of events after checking the email accounts, the press accounts and catching up on the fake Yahoo news . . . and what do I see? This link here shared by Kedra Hart of Opus Oils, a blog post by Glass, Petal, Smoke blogger discussing 'olfactory and gustatory' journaling. "You'll have 365 scent memories worth cherishing that will last a lifetime" ~ and I immediately thought, this is exactly what I've been waiting for, the sign. I am a huge fan of Julie Powell's blogging escapade in which she stakes a claim on the blogosphere with '365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen', not to mention Hollywood's rendition of the book with perfect casting and the appropriate amount of sentimentality. I've been wanting to do a blog *slash* olfactory journal with depth and a capacity to teach the reader something about scent detection and how to properly conduct a love affair with their noses/sense of smell. The problem for me is that I often don't dedicate enough time to sitting down and writing a useful blog post on olfaction, whereas a journal, this substantive, tangible thing, something I can toss in the backpack and write in during breaks at work or while sitting somewhere smelling, something no one gets to judge (until it gets posted) could be done with a few months' head start on the blogging so the continuity, once the posting begins, isn't broken. 365 days. That's a lot of time to dedicate to a whimsey. Well, not a whimsey. A project. One year, one nose.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rose Moss

Lately I've been thinking about roses -- a lot. Rose moss scents stick in my mind. Nostalgic, vintage, familiar. I think about roses while working at the j o b. An obsession is beginning. I see late roses still clinging to bushes in the neighborhood while I walk. I haven't yet, but I want stop and smell them. It requires stomping across a stranger's yard and looking foolish for a moment. Rose moss. Rose moss.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

A Few Words on Happiness

It has taken my whole life but I have finally figured out (I think ~ ha!) what happiness is. I am partner-less. I work a part-time job. I don't have a car. I have debts I need to get in order. I have few assets and little money. I've severely neglected my perfumery. A few of my grown children are harboring grudges against me. But still I am happy. I won't say blissful, but content. Truly. It could be the result of a lot of different factors in my life at present -- healthier eating habits, moderate amounts of exercise, a sense of self-sufficiency, a renewed interest in creativity, a break from toxic relationships, and the realization that I have some of the most amazing friends a person could ever want. So what is happiness? Simplification. Whittling off the layers of gunk that "society" claims we need. Releasing oneself, no matter how painful, from relationships that are damaging to the psyche. Allowing oneself to let go the unnecessary responsibilities thrust upon us by others. It's a start.

Last night was Jeanne Rose's 75th birthday party hosted by Yosh Han in San Francisco. I wanted to go but obligations here at home kept me here at home. Quite a few of my friends attended the soiree and I look forward to hearing their accounts of the event as the initial reports sound smashing.

I've been running trials on the perfume submission for the 2012 Primordial Scent Event -- my chosen element is water. I'm feeling the need to step up my game, so I've chosen some scent elements that may seem unusual to the theme. Like tolu. I have a bottle of vintage tolu resin diluted to about 50% in organic grain alcohol. Something about it 'feels' watery to me -- like the rain dampened leaves on the edge of a slow moving river, a beautiful marriage of decaying vegetation and warm, murky water. Tolu has that cinnamon-like spice to it, so it will be somewhat difficult to tease out from it what I want. I feel the need to incorporate a touch of some of the other elements into the theme since in reality water is cradled by the earth and blanketed by the air. We shall see. The trials continue on.

I moved my bed into the studio. It was an idea that rolled around in my head for weeks before I actually did it. I just felt the need to be closer to my art, I guess. I cannot accurately express the joy I feel upon waking to all the glittering bottles and the sheer potential in this room every morning. Since moving into the studio, I've slept better than I have in months. I get up, make a pot of tea, sit down at the bench and begin sniffing the materials I laid out the night before. It's a re-education in olfaction.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Sienna Musk

So I've taken off my perfumer's hat (for this post) and slapped on the reviewers' hat to tell you about this perfume that I've been wearing since last Wednesday ~ Sienna Musk by Sonoma Scent Studio.

I usually don't like to cheat before I do something like this, but I did this time, reading all the previous reviews of this perfume before coming back here and doing my own thing.

What happened is I woke one morning about a week and a half before Christmas knowing full well I had to go to the box mall or hit up an online shop with super fast shipping to get the perfumeophiles some new holiday scents -- time was ticking away, this was the last thing on my list, I was vacillating between going for what I know and heading into the wild unknown. So of course, you know me, I chose the latter! I think it must have been something I saw on FB (yes, I have a new FB account with fewer than 50 "friends" and it's refreshingly manageable, just how I like it) and Laurie Erickson's name popped up and a link to Sonoma Scent Studio and the interest was piqued and my 'buy small and not corporate' ire kicked in and I thought, what the hell?

I have never had any previous contact with Laurie Erickson, though I do know about Sonoma Scent Studios as it's quite popular and non-NBP, which is probably why I waited to so long to try them out (the non-NBP part), so I wasn't completely in unknown territory here -- just a little on the dark and shady side, perhaps, and I mean that in an ophthalmologically myopic sort of way.

I never really know what to expect when I get packages from the small niche perfume houses, and believe you me, I've been receiving truckloads of late and -- well, let's just say that some of the creations I've worn and brusquely washed off were zombie-scary. Really. I have segregated these baddies into a perfume coffin, a tin box with a latch, kept far away from the goodies, lest I accidentally dab a bit on in the mad morning scramble before work and rue the day . . . all day . . . along with my co-workers who have to pass me at the door when coming in and out for work.

I perused and perused, going from one scent description to the next on the Sonoma Scent Studio site, clicking the links to blog write-ups and trying to decipher the codes of scent I was reading. I chose two perfumes based on the descriptions I found and purchased those for the perfumeheads -- this was about a week and a day before Christmas (I did say I perused, taking two days to decide what to get) -- and guess what? I actually received the order before Christmas, as well as a number of lovely samples, and that's where Sienna Musk comes in to play.

Sienna Musk was literally the last perfume I tried out of the sample packet because I'm not a big fan of the musk family -- at all -- the sad result of years of mother's Jovan Musk days wherein she sprayed, and quite liberally I might add, that smell on her person and clothing, thus imbuing her closet and most of our house with its reek. So, yes, I delayed the wearing of Sienna Musk 'til the very end. I don't know for certain now whether that was a mistake or a blessing, suffice it to say, I am enraptured by Sienna Musk. It opens with a flush of ginger and spice and a soft backnote of citrus, then goes straight into a nostalgic soapiness, like shave soap smelled from a few rooms over, then tumbles into the 'musk'. This isn't a furry in your face musk. No, it's skin-like, with mild smoky undertones and a sweet creaminess that tugs you not so reluctantly further into its warmth. Then the spice returns and then wavers, folding into the skinness of the scent, rolling in and out, back and forth, until it's no longer a perfume on the skin but is you. Or, rather, me. Sienna Musk reminds me of L'Artisan's Tea for Two, not a doppelganger, but more a scent of a similar thread. Which is why I now adore Sienna Musk.


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