Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ode to Mercury Retrograde and New Perfume Course

Oh, Mercury Retrograde, my dear old friend, also known around these parts as Murphy's Law, or Sheer Dumb Luck, thank you for once again proving you exist. You almost never are the harbinger of devastation, but you still manage to throw a monkey wrench into the cogs, don't you? I ordered a batch of lip balm tubes so I could finally get this lip balm idea out of my head and into the world, and what shows up at my doorstep? One half ounce balm tubes -- not splendid little lippy tubes -- so what now, Mercury? Oh, I hear you, make lemonade out of that unexpected basket of lemons. So it's fat lippy tubes now, is it? Lip Smacker style. I can do that. What about those two beautiful hydrangeas I bought, Merc? Where'd they go? I set them on the front porch off to the side so the Tower Zombies wouldn't see them, and what do you know? All that's left are the sweat rings left from the bottom of their pots staining the porch. Does Mercury direct thieves as well? Oh, you're blaming the moon now, are you? It was so bright and those hydrangeas were so beautiful, luminescent even, glowing in the soft silvery light, a pale pink and a baby blue, that no one could resist snatching them off my porch, is that what you're saying, Merc? But you had nothing to do with that one, I get it. So how about last night's debacle? Wasn't my dumb luck, and it was kind of funny (high five, by the way) -- the cave dwellers set about 20 pounds of flank steak to marinate so they could dry it up in the dehydrator (which makes the house reek of pork and beans for days) and make jerky, and whilst the cave dwellers were dragging their hunks of flesh down the stairs, they tripped. Yep. Stinky flank and juices went flying and landed with a plop on the dirtiest floor in the house. Yeah, I had a little chuckle over that one, Merc, but I know you'll make me pay for my glee soon enough. A month is too long to stand still and quiet until you finish messing with people, so I guess at some point you'll catch me up again. In the meantime, Merc, your game with the flank didn't work out as planned. The cave dwellers are dehydrating it anyway.

I know, I mix up these posts sometimes, don't I? This part should be separate, but what the hey. I'm already here and this isn't a grand announcement.

The new course at the Natural Perfume Academy has just begun and already it's full with excitement and fun. I think this is the most engaged and excited class we've had to date. We have a LOT of return students as well, those who nearly finished in one of the previous courses but didn't quite make it through, mostly due to personal concerns. Because of that, this is the largest class we've had yet. I just hope I can keep up with them! We're also considering adding workshops to the Academy, short courses in specific techniques or modalities relating to perfumery. These would include videos, workshop manuals, course text and still photos to help guide students through the workshops. Watch for it!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Quickening Moon

To honor the quickening moon/full moon in February, I've decided to make the draw for the book and perfume today. So without further delay, drum roll, please, the winner is .....

... Princess Ellie!  Please send me your address and your prize will be mailed shortly ~ email


Monday, February 18, 2013

Purchase Working the Bench, A Practical Guide to Natural Botanical Perfumery

Purchase Working the Bench.

*UPDATE!  Since the poor review of my book came out July 15, 2014, I've seen a dramatic drop in the sales of the book. I agree with the reviewer, the pages were a mess, way too small print, print in boxes, and no where near the margins of the page -- but I've remedied those issues and the book is no longer a 210 page disappointment (though, when Amazon lists a book, they list ALL pages, including introduction, preface, bibliography, sources, and blanks -- all the stuff that isn't really the reading part of the book) but a 176 page fully functional instructional on natural perfumery. This same reviewer left a poor review of the Essence Evaluation Workbook as well, but I have no excuses for that -- it IS a workbook, and what Amazon chooses to show as preview pages is entirely out of my hands. I've remedied the description of the EEW to reflect that it is 95% worksheets to help students keep track and record their experiments.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

One More Brilliant Aromatic Find

Blood oranges ~ into the al embic they go!

Update ~  the blood oranges are on a very slow distillation -- very low heat, very long time to get the gorgeously sweet orangey hydrosol (and loads of essential oil). It is at about the halfway mark in terms of filling the bottle. I expect a couple more hours to finish up this batch and then perhaps I'll start a new batch. So far, so good, and it feels great to be distilling again ~ it's been over a year since I did any significant distillation of anything. I'd forgotten how wonderful the process is. A bientôt!

Monday, February 11, 2013

I Have Roommates

As most of you know, or at least those of you who've been reading this blog for more than a minute know, I am a newly single woman living 'on my own' in the bottom floor of a lovely old 1920's era mansion in a so-called trendy part of this backward little city I live in. What you may not know is that while I consider myself living on my own, I am not actually alone alone. I have roommates. This old house sports a lovely finished basement and the roommates are lodged there, in what I now not so lovingly call 'the hole'. The reason I'm writing about my roommates is that they hate what I do -- the 'smells' I make, the incense I burn, the aromatics I'm always sashaying about the house with -- absolutely hate it. They try to cover their disdain, but sometimes when they think I'm not here they'll come up from the hole and upon opening the door will say, "God! She's burning something again!" or "Can't she ever make something that smells normal?" I would also like to note that I am nearly 100% in control of the main floor -- it's my own -- except for the kitchen and bathroom, obviously, which I share. In fact, while they are burrowed in the hole, I could potentially be murdered and chopped into 1000 tiny pieces and strewn from one end of the main floor to the other end and they wouldn't notice until one of them slipped on a piece of flesh in the foyer on their way out the door for a Starbucks, and even then they might just wipe me off the bottom of their shoe and toodle on down the road to finish their business. That's how alone I am. Which is good. I'm not complaining. I am, however, not keen on the snarky remarks about the smells emanating from MY part of the house. I mean, I have rarely said a word about the smell coming up from the basement -- the smell of sweaty pits and pee-pee diapers (they have two babies in diapers). Or the overflowing bathroom garbage, also full of pee-pee diapers and other things I cannot mention here because they would make you blush with embarrassment -- things most normal people would wrap up and toss in a less public receptacle are on display like prized art, and it all smells gawdawful.

Why am I sharing this information? Because I'm a shit. I'm a shit who's had enough and will burn and tinder and waft and distill until this house smells like a perfume factory; to my heart's content I will do this because for me, beautiful smelling things are normal, all that other stuff, no matter how necessary an evil they are, is disgusting and shows a level of complacent laziness and blatant disrespect that is unacceptable, and not normal. Now I'm off to leave a message on the refrigerator white board about that bathroom trash --- again.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

The 100,000 View Draw

I predicted it would take a bit longer than it has -- but a week? It took a week to jump 900+ views for this blog to reach the 100,000 mark. So about that celebrating I mentioned in an earlier post. How about a giveaway? A perfume and the nearly published 'Working the Bench' perfume making book -- 1st edition, as yet unsullied by the critics' evil eyes? What say you? To enter for the '100,000 View Draw', leave a comment and subscribe to or 'follow' this blog ~ simple.

Spring has not yet sprung but I am in a tizzy over the potential of plants. Again, I've gone off my rocker for jasmine and lemongrass and wildflower seed balls. Due to the lack of conditioning and nutrients in the soil 'round this old house, my vetyver plants died a slow and painful death, withering away to nubs before the cold weather hit. I am so disappointed. My rose geranium, however, has flourished on the south-facing wall and is, even now in the cold, growing like an unwanted weed. I also have a lovely and rare white geranium that has taken off with a boom. Come spring, both will be divinely in bloom and brightening up that dull wall that 'til now has been the home of boxy nondescript bushes and the occasional beer can tossed carelessly away by one of the Tower zombies. 

A new class is gearing up at the Academy and lots of changes are going on there -- the course is being completely restructured for this new group of students in the hopes of keeping the momentum and passion and inspiration fired up. Too often in past classes students have become bored and anxious to get on with it, the bones of perfumery becoming much too tedious to study ad nauseam. And I cannot blame them -- looking back over the history unit alone is eye crossing -- as the tempo is quickly lost shortly after they realize that real study is involved. So we're mixing it up, putting the excitement back into the study, presenting challenges that create passion and exhilaration. At least we hope that they do.

I'm once again gathering the materials to create another kyphi, this one leaning more toward benzoins and sandalwood, something a little different than the traditional kyphi, however keeping the basics, the fruit and honey and wine, in the mix as they are the very body of kyphi, the resins and herbs the soul. I am enamored of kyphi these days, my mind races with the possibilities of varying lush aromatic smoking incense, one that embodies the essence of honey, another that highlights the delicacy of sandalwood powder and oud -- the very thought gives me goose bumps. 

Today I go a~hunting for something to distill. I began a distillation of kumquats a month or so back and due to the daily bustle and buzz that goes on (and a fair bit of ignorance too) around here I had to shut the operation down and then toss the mash away when I realized the halt in production wasn't temporary. What. A. Bummer.  Wish me luck on my foray to find something delicious to distill.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Resin Box

I received a lovely herb apothecary box with 10 tiny drawers stacked in a pyramid for Yule, and I've yet to fill it up. The moment I saw it the thought that this could be the resin box dashed through my mind. Resins for kyphi, for tincturing and distilling. No, the drawers won't hold a huge amount of resins, perhaps up to eight ounces each, maybe an ounce or so more, but would serve me well as a dispensary for quick trials of small test batches of kyphi incense, or speedy access to a pearl of myrrh for a mojo bag. And just imagine, years and years of raw resins dwelling within the drawers of this box will leave the box smelling of heaven, the arms of the gods, the breath of angels ~ aahhh.

I know, the picture isn't the greatest, the lighting is wrong and there appears to be a smudge on the lens. But you get the idea of what I am trying to achieve here with a resin box, or resin apothecary.

So now that I'm over the flu, everyone else seems to be suffering the effects of the virus -- my granddaughter was awake most of the night last night crying, "Owie, owie, owie," about her poor little sore throat. Nothing eased her pain but a 2:00 AM showing of Caillou on Netflix and a dose of acetaminophen. Needless to say, I'm exhausted.

I'm planning to attend an essential oil uses workshop on Sunday at a local herbalist's. Normally I'd deck myself out and go to the Mardi Gras parade, but after having lived here in the 'hood of the wild, wooly, strange, outlandish, and bizarre, it just doesn't seem so novel anymore. Now I understand why the long-time residents of the Tower seem so cool toward Tower goings on that draw the rest of the city in -- after years of putting up with the daily craziness that typifies the Tower mentality, a day of super-crazy just doesn't seem so appealing. Sometimes the shenanigans around here just get old.


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