Saturday, September 29, 2012

On the Up Again

Remember that post I did a few days ago? The one entitled 'Holding Back'? Yeah, that one. Well, interestingly enough, since I posted that post, I've noticed a decline in the number of followers I have on Networked Blogs. Hmmm. It dropped significantly, to the point where a normal person (clearly not me) would have some concerns about whether she/he stinks, or committed an enormous social faux pas, or has become the subject of a nasty online rumor, and I'll admit I had a moment of 'normal' wherein I immediately thought I'd done something terribly wrong, but then my not-so-normal psyche kicked in and said, "Who flippin' cares? I got bigger fish to oven bake." And I do. Well maybe not fish. And no baking today, it's going to be in the high 90s (where did fall go?) -- so maybe that should be 'better soap to stir'? And I'm pointing it out here because? Well, I may have fibbed just a little bit, maybe I am just a bit more normal than I let on. I mean, yeah, my feelings are a teensy bit hurt.

So I didn't get to formulate the soap I had planned to last night. I went to my third job as an apprentice bookkeeper and ended up visiting with my 'boss' until late, late, late, so that when I got home (and discovered it had been invaded by out-of-town relatives) all plans for soaping went out the window. Today I'm going to my second job to work for an hour or two, then back home, where a dirty house awaits. Meh. If all goes well, I will be going out tonight to listen to some Caribbean music and maybe have a glass of wine or three. So perhaps that soap will have to wait until tomorrow ...

The new batch of students in the Academy are remarkable. I'm so impressed with them and their accomplishments. They're an amazing group of people from all walks of life, and from all corners of the globe. This six-month intensive should prove to be an interesting ride for all of us. I'd also like to say that our past students who've stuck with us through the years and have become mentors and friends are an amazing group of people. Truly amazing. I don't know what I would do without their support and input at the Academy. They're accomplished perfumers as well and I appreciate them so very, very much.

I've not distilled anything this year! I'm so bummed about that. My friend, S, has white sage and lavender that needs harvesting and distilling, not to mention sweetgrass and all the other herbs that would make wonderful hydrosols. The kumquats are ripening again and the thought struck me that it would be nice to distill ripe and green kumquats, along with a few leaves, to create a petit grain of kumquat hydrosol and oil. But time is not on my side these days. I'm currently stealing time from my second job as I type this. I mean, by all rights, I should have been in there and out already, but here I am, pecking away. Blah-blah-blah. Everything is scheduled for tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes.

I'm super psyched for the kyphi class. I haven't sent all the invites (is it appropriate to call it an invitation when one is requesting recompense?) because I'm hoping to keep the room small. I don't like big crowds and teaching one-on-one or one-on-two, or three, or four even, is more my style. I'm looking forward to the 'after party' as much as I am the class itself. It should be fun. Maybe you could come?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Autumn has arrived, at least on the calendar. Unfortunately here in central Cali the temperatures are still in the high 90s, but the nights -- oh, those blessed nights -- the temps fall down into the low 60s, that's where the spirit of fall creeps in. Mornings are beautifully chilly sitting on the back patio, a light cool breeze tickling the leaves on the old pecan tree overhead, listening to the symphony that is the quiet, contented clucking of the neighbor's hens, and the scent of holiday chai tea steaming up from my mug ~ yep, autumn is wrapping us in her embrace.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Day 83 ~ One Year, One Nose

Two more treasures from the box of aromatic wonders -- oakmoss brown, and oakmoss green.

I've saved the best for last from the goodies' box. Well, at least I think I have -- they are my favorites.

The scent of oakmoss has been present in my life since childhood. Living near and growing up in the central Sierra Nevadas, one cannot help but explore the woods, especially if 'one' is a child with a huge imagination and few creative outlets. Gathering moss was a game for us as kids; we'd use moss to 'carpet' the floors of our lean-to 'cabins' made of cedar branches and pine boughs. We'd huddle in our little cabins and pretend we were all alone in the forest with the critters -- crows cawing ominously overhead, woodpeckers pounding furiously on the trees up high, and the occasional snap and crackle of squirrels and chipmunks having a game of softball. And ever present was the scent of the woods, from the scent of pine resin, sweet and bitter at once streaking down the trunks of the trees, pine needles with their distinctive breath-catching astringency, and moss -- oakmoss in particular, earthy and airy and a harbinger of seasonal change.

Though oakmoss is usually harvested (around here) in the spring and early summer, it is a scent that always brings to mind the autumn. Why? Because autumn is when the wood stoves would be put back into use in the old cabins in the sawmills near Dinkey Creek, where I grew up. The wood used was usually pine, but every so often a nice piece of oak would be tossed into the morning fire and the oakmoss, the hairy gray bristles clinging to the smaller branches of oak, would sizzle and vaporize into a puff of aromatic smoke. Dizzyingly delicious.

Oakmoss brown ~ absolute alcohol extraction from concrete, France, sourced from Sunrose Aromatics, date unknown ~ divinity in a bottle. This is a smooth, exquisitely elegant oakmoss, not nearly so bucolic as the moss itself -- really, not even close. This oakmoss absolute is sweet, like a fine vanilla flavored tobacco or a stick of sweet agar. It is full and lusty and embodies all the elements of rustico with a bit of elegance and allargando, typifying the great wide forest yet viewed through the sparkling clean window of a genteel country cottage.

Oakmoss green ~ absolute alcohol extraction from concrete, France, sourced from Sunrose Aromatics, date unknown ~ brown's less sophisticated younger brother. Oakmoss green lacks the smooth sweetness of brown. Green is the forest near water, the air less dense, clearer, the empty spaces filled with bitter greenness. Green also possesses the tobacco and agar notes, but in a much more rustic manner -- it is much less elegant and refined, with only touches of sweetness.

Brown is a big, warm, well-mannered sitting-near-the-fireplace-on-a-fluffy-rug dog, while green is a sweet-tempered though wild-at-heart country cat.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kyphi Class in the Tower District

The kyphi making class is scheduled for October 13, 2012 from 1pm to 4pm -- I'd like to 'invite' whoever wishes to join me for this special class. The class cost is $20 and you receive full instruction in the creation of Ancient Egyptian incense making, plus 9 grams of very strongly scented handmade kyphi (Golden Kyphi) from The Scented Djinn.

If you should choose to pay for the class in advance, please use the button here on the blog (to the right) to do so.

The class address is:

835 North Van Ness Avenue
Fresno, CA  93728

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Astarte is the ancient Greek goddess of war -- well, that and fertility and sexuality. She is often depicted in the altogether, nekkid, starkers. And for good reason. You can't get your fertility on whilst wearing knickers. Nor your sexual groove. And I've read historic accounts of naked warriors (warrioresses?) conducting battles quite efficiently with their junk bobbing about, so ...

Astarte's common symbols include a horse, a dove, a sphinx (half human/half ???), a lion (part of the sphinx symbolism?) and a dove. She is one bad-ass mamma-jamma. It makes sense that a soap bearing her name would also be pretty bad-ass.

Astarte by Eleneetha is quite possibly one of the most mostiest soaps I've ever used. As shea butter soaps go, this one is tops. Big and chunky and smelling like -- well, goodness, smelling like something soft and feminine and sensual with a bit of a hard edge, something strong and unyielding is swirled around in there. Davana is in there, and davana -- believe me on this one -- is a tough aromatic to work with. She takes no prisoners, she consumes, she infiltrates and devours. And there's frankincense in there, this lends the sweetness and holiness to the soap, the calming, nurturing aspect. And the odd thing is, both davana and frankincense embody like attributes -- both can be in your face and demanding, and both can be (when dealt with by a deft hand) subtle and sublime, sweet and lovely, feminine and forgiving. So here we have two sides of the feminine; the life giver and the stalwart warrior. The lion and the dove.

Bottom line, this soap is spectacular.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Golden Kyphi

For sale at The Scented Djinn website, category 'perfume', sub-category 'kyphi'. $4.40 per 9 grams plus shipping.

Naked Onion

A few happy accidents resulted along the kyphi road. One was that I had hidden a small packet of brie in the aromatics' refrigerator along with the loosely wrapped kyphi in the days after the galbanum was added. A few days later I removed the brie to serve and discovered, to my delight, that the brie was completely infused with the scent of galbanum! I told a friend about the experience and she said, "You enfleuraged your cheese. That's an enfleurage." So the experience got me thinking about other food items that I could accidentally-on-purpose enfleurage, and then another accident occurred. My daughter placed a bag of yogurt covered raisins in the aromatics' refrigerator, again, to hide them, and they had picked up the remnants of scent left from the kyphi, which by this time was removed from the refrigerator and left out in a cabinet to dry.

Basically, it's the naked onion theory ~ you leave an unwrapped, partially peeled or cut in pieces onion in a refrigerator, and other fatty foods begin to pick up the onion scent -- butter, cheeses, other foods not properly covered (leftover soup, etc.) -- until they smell and taste like onion.

The yogurt covered raisins seemed the best choice for flavoring through osmosis as I could find, since I love them, and so do most of the people here, which is the primary reason they were stored in the aromatics' refrigerator in the first place. I bought a huge bag of yogurt covered raisins, split them into four parts, placed them in covered containers along with a bit of paper towel saturated in different aromatics -- orange blossom absolute, white rose attar, and rose de mai. The fourth was container was left un-enfleuraged as a comparison batch. After 24 hours I tested the rose de mai yogurt raisins and was very happy to note they smelled divinely of rose and had a slight rosy flavor. It's now been a week and I plan to test them again soon to determine when the right time to quit the enfleurage for future naked onion experiments.

This technique in scenting/flavoring fatty foods uses very little raw materials as far as aromatics go -- I used only two or three drops of undiluted rose de mai, orange blossom, and white rose attar to 8 ounces of yogurt raisins.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Day 82 ~ One Year, One Nose

Creosote ~

I have two library pieces containing creosote in two dilution ratios, each in a different menstruum. There is creosote in jojoba and grapeseed at a low dilution ratio (not specified, but the liquid is pale golden yellow) and it smells slightly leathery and tarry, a bit greasy, like a barbeque grill four days after the barbeque. On the skin it changes almost completely -- the tarry and greasy notes disappear and leave only a brush of scent which can only be described as sweet, supple leather. I would have never thought that creosote could smell this way, or have any kind of application in perfumery. The scent is much less aggressive than, say, choyas, which to me smell acrid and burnt and their application in perfumery has to be very diligently and gently dealt, and the results about 80% determinable. This creosote 'feels' as if it could camouflage itself in a composition, kind of Vulcan mind meld itself to certain elements within a composition and round them out, smooth them out, make them better, give them a little kiss and a pat on the bum.

The other creosote is dark and reddish and is diluted into organic grape alcohol. Something about that grape alcohol does beautiful things to the creosote -- it is fruity sweet with soft leather notes with a very faint smoky burnt note in the background. It is lovely. There is also a hint of cassia in there, or tolu, it has that same minty-cinnamon character, but again, that could be the result of the creosote marrying the grape alcohol. For whatever reason it is there, it's no matter, it is gorgeous! Who'd have thunk it? Creosote smelling so damn beautiful and potentially useable in perfume?

What this makes me want to do is go back and revisit my burnt oils, the choyas and such, and dilute them way down into treated and infused organic alcohols -- like a lightly tinctured gardenia in organic grain with a 1% dilution of nakh, or loban in a peach tincture, or ral in a raisin tincture. Possibilities.

I don't know if these samples are wood-tar or coal-tar creosote, but my instincts say wood-tar.  Correction: It has been confirmed the creosote in question is from the creosote bush ~ I should have known that. Here is an interesting article about Creosote Rings Preserve in Lucerne Valley, California.

*From the box of aromatic marvels.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Golden Kyphi

I am taking pre-orders for the kyphi, but please understand that the incense will not be mailed until AFTER September 8th 2012 -- it's a timing thing and it's important to the efficacy of the kyphi.

AND I'm selling it through my website, under 'Perfumes', sub-header 'Kyphi'. Not through Etsy.

I'm also teaching a kyphi making class on October 13th for those who can make the trip to lovely Fresno. The class runs from 1 o'clock to 4 o'clock PM and refreshments will be provided after the class for those not in a rush to leave.

Please contact me here or through my website to order kyphi or reserve your place in the kyphi making class.

Natural Perfume Academy Six-Month Intensive Perfumery Course

The Natural Perfume Academy is set to begin another six-month intensive perfumery course beginning September 8th 2012. Late entries are welcome, but the deadline for late registration is September 15th -- any later than that and you'll have a lot of catching up to do.

The premise of our six-month intensive natural botanical perfumery course is to provide the student with the information necessary to begin the creation of natural botanical perfume in a very short period of time, however, quite a few of our past students have taken their time getting through the course (a year or more), while others finish within the six-month time frame.

Our motto at the Natural Perfume Academy is 'once a student, always a student', so if you need to take a break for personal or professional reasons, the structure of instruction is set up so that a student may take a leave of absence and return at a later date, either beginning a new course or picking up from where they left off.

We value your time and understand that life isn't a race to the finish line, but a beautiful journey.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Day 81 ~ One Year, One Nose

Kunzea oil ~ not necessarily a perfumery oil as it is astringent and bitter, along the lines of eucalyptus and tea tree, but gentler, not as medicinal. I add it here because is it lovely despite its obvious medicinal scent -- it possesses a lavender-like quality of softness, and peaky lemon notes as well. It is touted as a kind of miracle anti-infection oil, used to cure resistant staph and resolve sinus issues that may be related to mold or bacterial infection. I like it. I mean, I wouldn't want to put it on my skin because I don't want to smell like I spent an evening hanging out with a koala, but I would use it in a steam to help with recurrent sinus bugs.

Elderflower absolute ~ yummy! Elderflower absolute is sweet and green and hay-like, but also possesses this weird cherry note, like syrupy cherry cough medicine. I am a huge fan of elder anything -- as a child living in and around the Sierra Nevada's, elderberry picking was common in the fall. We'd run amongst the elder bushes, clipping off the loose clumps of elderberries into a gunny sack, then run off to the gooseberry coolies, slip on leather gloves that were borrowed from people with big hands, and clumsily pull the spiky berries off and toss them into the gunny sack with the elderberries. Then to home when the sacks were full to boil and mash and strain and create the stock for jellies and syrups and wine. It's been years since I went elderberry picking. The last trip was made when all my children were still living at home and it was a lesson in futility -- not having been raised in 'the wilds' as I was, my children didn't understand what they were doing and we made it home with only enough elderberries to make a very small batch of winter syrup. In the spring people I knew in the hills would pick the flowers for tea, though I never acquired a taste for the stuff, I always loved the scent of the flowers, fresh and dry.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Day 80 ~ One Year, One Nose

Buddha wood ~ from the box of aromatic wonders, dark and leathery without the smoky undertones leather scents carry. There's a sweetness to Buddha wood, and a fire-like quality, but again, nothing smoky or bitter about it.

Antique oil of Cade ~ here is where the smoke lives, within the cade. This scent is burnt and bitter and smoky, roaring and crackling with heat. Also has a leathery quality, like old well-worn cowboy boots drying by the fireplace. The scent is indigo blue with piercing yellow streaks.

Tolu, Baumarome ~ Grasse ~ I love tolu. I have an antique tolu that makes me smile every time I smell it. This newer tolu (from the goodies' box) is stunning -- more sweet and candy-like and less spicy than my antique. Tolu does beautiful things when it's diluted, like turning floral and narcotic, akin to hyacinth and jonquil. There's a watery aspect to tolu, which makes it silvery blue.

Green vetyver aka ruh khus ~ this ruh khus is grassy green, visually brilliant and appealing; the scent is fresh vetyver, rooty and earthy and warm with tones of rich black cold creek muck and damp moss.

My treasure chest of scented wonders is not yet empty, so I shall continue to share the discoveries in the coming days.

Fragrant dreams, my friends.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Golden Kyphi Pre-Orders

The Golden Kyphi will be ready September 8th, so I will be taking pre-orders for those who want to get the jump on it. 

Golden Kyphi
Par fume of the ancients, The Scented Djinn's
Golden Kyphi is a lush fragrant smoking incense infused with intentions to
Banish Negativity ~
Golden raisins and organic apricots are soaked in rose wine and combined with
warm honey infused with frankincense resin; over the course of weeks, more
aromatics are added ~ benzoin, hand crushed myrrh resin, Egyptian chamomile,
aloeswood, galangal, white santal, green cardamom, calamus & saffron.
Oils of olibanum from Oman, India and Somalia are added,  as well as oils of
myrrh, styrax, labdanum, vintage Mysore santal, Himalayan
cedarwood, balsam fir, coriander, spikenard & galbanum
As the kyphi dries the oils of rose, ambriene and Siam benzoin are added
~ the kyphi rests for 60 days ~
9 grams ~ $ 4.40 (charcoal NOT included) 



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