Sunday, November 25, 2012

The New Tattoo

I said I would, and I did. Get the tattoo I've been thinking about for months and months. I know, it's a little unorthodox, but it works for me. My reasons are my own, no explanations necessary.

That bit on the left there is bandage debris -- that was the toughest bandage I've ever encountered, it really didn't want to let go!

Now that the house has emptied out of holiday visitors, it's time to get to work. I've packaging and 'creating' to do, with the help from a slice of pumpkin pie.

Bonne odeur!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Posting Perfumed Soap

The latest batch of soap I spoke of here is taking its sweet a** time curing up. It's still quite soft -- well, the bottom portion is soft, the top portion with the clary and G. cham is solid. I always test run the soap well before I post it for sale, and this one was no different. The lather was spectacular, and more notably, the soap is super moisturizing. I tend to dry skin and this soap didn't give me any of that crackliness I sometimes get from using body soap, even my own at times (alas, the soap did not survive the week as it was too filled with water yet to maintain its shape -- plus my house is overfilled with humans bathing in rotation at the moment). Hitting that perfect balance of moisture is important, and even for a practiced soap maker such as myself, not always attainable when the oils get changed up. I'm rather slow this year getting product up for the holidays. That shouldn't be a surprise to any of my long-time followers as I'm famously unhurried. The new packaging and bottling concept is coming along nicely. I hope to introduce those before the year's end. Again, a spot on business woman would have had that done and done in time for holiday sales, but I've decided that I'm going to cut out impulsiveness and really think things through, use that time that I procrastinate to do other things to actually contemplate future business moves. I'd love to take the next few days off work to create beautifully smelly skin stuff, but I'm booked! I've finally got some kumquats picked and ready for distillation (hydrosols are on the way!) and I've got two soap scent formulations marrying in their bottles as I write this, so two more soaps very soon on the horizon. Perhaps I can squeeze in a session while everyone is napping ... I know, some of you are thinking, what's the big deal? Why can't she just get that soap done and out? Because I time things. I can't have crying babies and barking dogs and people roaming through the house; mouth breathers and 10-year-old spandex clad buttocks shimmying and shaking as the owner of said buttocks stomps through the house on a mission to pee. All that stuff makes me anxious and nervous when I'm hands-on creating. It almost feels like getting caught having sex. Almost :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving and the Upcoming Black Friday

Thanksgiving is a longstanding American tradition, and kicks off the insane frenzy of pre-holiday shopping with Black Friday (thank you Mr. Lincoln). I've always been a big promoter of small business and handmade for gift giving choices for the holidays, being a small business myself, I understand on the most basic level what a good holiday sales' season can do for me opposed to everyone rushing out to B&BW for their smelly goods and turning their noses up at my (and hundreds of others') rustic goods. So I'm going to post some picks/pics of quality handmade gifts that someone you know, or you yourself, might love to have rather than that dust-collecting X-Box 360 sitting next to the TV or the new coffeemaker to replace the coffeemaker you bought yourself last summer or the house slippers from The Wanda (aka Walmart) to add to the growing collection of other house slippers crammed in that bottom drawer you never open.

Without further ado ~

SeaSalted Caramel Marshmallows

Crazy Cat Lady t-shirt

Handmade Vintage Hippie Boho Bag

Watercolor Caleche Parfum Bottle

I know, nothing technologically challenging in any of these, but nice nonetheless, and special in a way that a mass produced item can never be -- unless it's perfume. And I realize that all these sellers are on Etsy, but the truth about Etsy is (or one truth) that it's got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of sellers of every ilk who even have websites off Etsy from which they sell -- Etsy is a mall for small businesses, a one-stop internet shopping extravaganza, from gourmet luxury foods to art.

Let's talk turkey. For real. How does one cook a perfect turkey? Or any fowl, for that matter? Everyone strives for that perfectly juicy, lovely browned turkey at Thanksgiving, he is, after all, the star of the show, right? As a self-taught cook beginning at the age of 10, I've learned a trick or two through sheer trial and error, and cooking that perfect turkey is one of those tricks. And the kicker is, it is so easy, sooooo easy, that some people who've slaved over a turkey with a baster will wonder why, oh, why, did grandma swear by a baster when CLEARLY it doesn't work. Here's what works, and it's a trick I've taught all my kids, who also make perfectly cooked juicy birds ~ take one lovely fat bird and wash him thoroughly, betwixt and between, under the wing and under the tail, inside and out, then dry him thoroughly. Peel a large Vidalia onion and push it as far back into the bird's cleaned cavity as it will go, then wash and peel two large carrots and two stalks of celery, chop them up and push them into the cavity as well. Then close birdies legs and begin the massage. Some of us don't buy the injected birds because, well, we're not quite sure what they're injecting in there, so we do our own form of 'injection' -- butter under the skin. And that's butter, not margarine. Wherever you can, slip bits and pieces of butter under the skin until the bird looks pocked, then melt a few pats of butter in your hands and rub the bird's frontside until well buttered, salt and pepper and place carefully into the turkey pan. The pan is important too, the best pan being those old-fashioned black pans with the white and blue speckles on them, and a nice tight-fitting lid. It's good if you put a little turkey rack on the bottom of the pan to make lifting the bird out much easier. Tie cooking thread at four points onto the pan rack and once the bird is in the pan, loosely tie the ends of the thread over the top of the bird so you can just lift the whole mess out at once when it's done. Okay, the next step is to calculate how much time and at what temperature your bird needs to cook, set the oven, let it get up to speed, close the top of the turkey pan onto the turkey, place it in the oven, set the timer and that's it. I mean it. That's it. When the timer goes off, take the turkey out of the oven and DO NOT IMMEDIATELY OPEN THE PAN! Give the bird about 15 minutes to soak up the juices and 'settle' before opening the pan to drain the juices for gravy. Put the lid back on the pan while you're prepping the final touches to your dinner, plate the big guy and serve him. I guarantee he'll be thoroughly cooked, browned and juicy. And wear Chanel No.5 while prepping dinner, for some reason dinner turns out perfectly all the way around when Chanel is involved.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Perfumer's Cookbook Volume I

So I decided a long time ago to put all the food recipes I've come up with using perfumery ingredients into a cookbook, but the original notebook for such recipes has gone missing, perhaps permanently, due to the changes that have occurred over the past 12 months. I scrambled around and found a few loose paper notes with recipes, plus I pulled a few from the blog, and I created a couple of new ones which have never seen the light of day in print until now. Oh, until now -- yes, the first volume of the cookbooks is done and published. It should be for sale on Amazon in a week or so *it already is on Amazon! There are eight food recipes and one soap recipe. Volume II will be a slightly different concept and those recipes are being tested throughout the holidays and into the beginning of 2013. I am hoping that once the ball gets rolling, the number of recipes within each volume increases with no increase, or very little increase, in the cost of each book.

Special thanks to Lisa C. for the kalamata and patchouli dream -- a few months later, several experiments later, a few tweaks here and there, and I actually was able to create something deliciously edible.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Soap Batch #6337

That number is a gross exaggeration, of course. I don't know what number batch it is, I never thought to keep count. However, the soap is verrah nice indeed. The scent formulation I used, aged a week, was a combination of frankincense absolute, davana, holy basil, vetyver, mitti and old patchouli. I poured pretty much all of the soap into the mold, reserving about 200 grams for topping, and between the bottom and top portions I applied a generous layer of powdered patchouli leaf. To the topping I added German chamomile and clary sage essential oil. I don't know why. It just felt right. The scent is out of this world. There is an amber-like tonality to it with strokes of earthiness and wisps of air. It's just lovely. Next on the soap roster is a formulation of peppermint, spearmint, and German chamomile with a handful of poppy seeds. And I'm seriously considering making a strong rosemary soap this season as well. Every day on my ride to work in the morning, I brush past a drapery of rosemary that I cannot resist putting my hand into. I arrive at work with the scent of urban garden on my skin, the perfume of the day, and whatever has infused into my clothes through formulation sessions. Running into that rosemary on a daily basis has ingrained its magic into my brain to the point that I think of rosemary soap for at least an hour after arriving at work.

I reserved a bit of the soap scent formulation, sans G. cham and clary, to create anointing oils that go hand-in-hand with the soap. I based it in sunflower oil since it was handy, and also because sunflower is viscous and rich and carries scent beautifully. Doesn't hold up well in the heat, though. Tends to rancidity if left in heat and light, so proper storage (the fridge?) is required to keep sunflower from going bad. The house has been quiet of late, just me and the dog -- well, pup. A silly short-legged bully boy with severe separation issues and a penchant for eating dirty laundry. He's also very hit and miss with the potty training. One day he's an exemplary student taking his business in the yard or on the puppy pads, and the next he's pooping under the dining table giving me his best 'I didn't do it' face, while the waist cord from a pair of sweat pants dangle from his mouth. Never a dull moment around here. But again, despite the occasional puppy tangle, the house has been quiet, which has lead to a lot of introspection in regards to scent creation and to what to apply the scent. I have a bit more surface space in the studio to work with, a station of sorts, which makes working on projects much easier than before. Formulating at the 'bench', aka big perfumer's desk, works beautifully if that's all I do there. Production is a no-go there as the space, by the time I get to bottling and whatnot, is so cluttered with bottles and trial formulations and scent strips and piles of books and notes that I literally feel the urge to just lay my arm on the desktop and sweep it all off onto the floor in a heap. That will never happen, nor will it do -- can you imagine? A fragrant pile of books and glass and glistening liquid on the wood floor?

Note from my ADD: Did you know if you Google 'olfaction nude girls' my blog pops up?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Perfumed Yogurt Raisins

I have placed a few stocking stuffer sized bags of perfumed yogurt raisins on Etsy. The flavor/scents available are Rose de Mai, Orange Blossom, and White Rose Attar. They're actually pretty tasty, and the way they leave your breath smelling -- och! Delicious indulgent treat.

Monday, November 12, 2012

No Title is the Title

This post has no title because it's about everything. Perhaps I'll choose a title from something I write further along. So, it's been a while. The last post was an attempt to get some of my readers engaged in this passion of mine. I got two brave souls to share their experiences and I think for their efforts I will choose them both as winners ~ each of the participants will receive a bar of soap, that I just this minute decided will be a bar of the soap I am making today, a concoction of patchouli, davana, frankincense, vetyver, mitti and holy basil cut fat and bulky, and an anointing oil of the same concoction, as well as a 5 ml bottle of The Scented Djinn organic alcohol based perfume. This whole year, from last September 2011 'til today I've been re-evaluating, well, everything. Whether to continue working in aromatics as a merchant, or just dabble and play and while away my days germinating, planting, harvesting, distilling, teaching, creating butaflors, hydrosols, soaps, perfumes, cooking up aromatic foods and whatnot for no other purpose than to write about them, and enjoy them. But the cruel reality is that I cannot continue to dabble and play without some remuneration, other than the .50 per book sale I currently incur from the single book I have for sale to the public, or the equally small amount of money I'd make from any other books I might publish in the future. So a merchant I remain, and now branding is the game. I'm not good at it. Awful, in fact. I've changed bottle designs and label/logo designs and remained fairly unfocused since I started all this back in 1996. Blame the ADD, blame the bad relationship, the 20-odd kids (I'm joking about that number), the bill collectors, the long days working for others, the lumpy mattress and lack of sleep, the headaches, the transportation issues, the whatever doing whatnot whenever --- oh, what a mess I've created with all these excuses. The plain fact is that I like simple. I like apothecary, oldness, dust and parchment, brown glass and corks and syrupy aromatics, the smell of old wood and the inside of antique steamer trunks. I like twine and handmade labels and handmade paper and sealing waxes and handmade incense -- Kyphi to be precise -- and patchouli powder under my fingernails, and beeswax on the air, and I especially love the old TSD logo, the lovely gypsy woman created by Kimberly Ayers just for me and my then-vision. So my then-vision is my now-vision, and I suppose my secretly always-vision (mostly a secret to me it seems) so that's where I'm going. I'm back to creating beautiful rich soaps, gorgeously dense smelling anointing perfume oils, resin blends and magic spells and good juju and mojo bags stuffed with blessings, and perfumes, perfumes, perfumes. I've got people barking at me for baby head sized bath bombs of patchouli and glitter and blue lotus balms and hydrosols and I'm listening, I am! I'm finally, finally listening. Note from my ADD: If a person barks in my town, they can be stopped and interrogated. Yep. Barking is a gang thing and can result in calls to the police from concerned citizens. So if you're going to bark at me, do it over the phone or in an email.

Today I'm making soap, bergamot petitgrain shortbread with lavender sugar dust, sugar cookies with almonds I roasted with honey and gardenia enfleurage (there are no words -- absolutely none -- that can express the joy that lives in gardenia honey almonds) and I will be doing this while drinking pu-erh from a big yellow mug, and chasing a two-year-old with serious sock issues.

YOU have a lovely day. Have a lovely life, too.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Day 84 ~ One Year, One Nose

This one is for you. A bar of October Super Fragrant Soap and a bottle of The Scented Djinn parfum goes to the winner of the random draw ~ describe your discoveries to the following exercise in the comments section of this blog to enter.

Smell everything. Keep a mental log of the most interesting things you smelled and write about them in the comments section of the Oh, True Apothecary! blog.

Example: Smell the clothes you slept in when you wake up; smell the coffee smile (or tea or milk or whatever you drink with breakfast) ; smell the clean clothes you put on before beginning your day; smell your hands; smell the air when you step outside for the first time that day; smell your car keys, the interior of your car (or bus or train); smell the office where you work, or the classroom, or the cafe; try to smell what perfumes other people are wearing and describe them; smell flowers and plants, leaves and twigs; smell your hands again to see if they smell different now than they did before --- and so on throughout the day until you go to bed.


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