Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Radiant Dawn

Today is the Spring Equinox, a day of reawakening and the promise of flourishing gardens and ideas. I normally mark this day by making butter scones and drinking loads of milk washed tea, lighting candles and praying for a better year than the year before. This year I will be alone, so I'll go for something a bit more healthful in the food department, and drink loads of honied green tea, and light candles and incense with rosemary leaf and still pray for a better year than the year before.

I wore my perfume 'Atay' on my hands yesterday and the scent lingers yet. It has aged quite beautifully over the past year or so. I'm always surprised when I go back and revisit 'old' perfumes I've made to find them even better than when I set them down completed. Not that I'm tooting my horn or anything. I mean, I really am surprised at the beauty and chameleon-like aspects of naturals that they do that over time. How rarely do they ever get worse, but almost always get so much better as they age.

Happy Spring Equinox! Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rosemary Hydrosol and Weekend Twaddling

In the al-embic this morning is a lovely mash of rosemary leaf and flowers. While preparing the mash, I was overcome by a pollen induced sneezing fit -- though I must admit, it actually began Friday evening while collecting dirt at the farm. The best dirt, according to my mother, is that which lies beneath the 100-year-old bay tree, which is in full, robust bloom. Have you ever smelled a blooming bay? It's intoxicating. It almost smells like jonquil, deeply floral and headily sweet. It also sent me into a full blown hay fever lock down. I sneezed every three or four seconds for 15 minutes straight, then settled to a more reasonable rate of a sneeze per 15 minutes, 'til I returned home and slept in fits and starts, sneezing, wiping, blowing, cursing, until I was awoken at 3 AM by a horrendous crashing sound, which I honestly thought was someone falling through the ceiling from the apartment upstairs. But alas, as usual, it was the upstairs neighbor arguing with her boyfriend, who she insists on not calling her boyfriend, instead calling the young man her 'lover', like she's some tragically misunderstood and romantic character in a Gothic novel, when the reality is that she drinks too much vodka. It's too busy to explain. At any rate, there they were, yelling, throwing things, stomping, hopping, jumping, and who knows what else, when the police showed up, slapped both their drunken bottoms in cuffs and carted them off to jail ~ at 5 AM.  I can only hope that a trip to the pokey has taught Miss Tragic to lay off the fantasies -- and the vodka. But again, I can only hope.

So the al-embic is bubbling away and I think what may be a gorgeous rosemary hydrosol with tons of floating spheres of rosemary oil included will be the result. I've never distilled rosemary with its flower before. I love how sparkling rosemary is, how invigorating and joyous and happy an herb it is. I also picked a basket full of blue violas and dropped them into a bottle of organic grain alcohol. Within moments the alcohol took on a dark violet hue and smelled stunningly violet-y and sweet, reminding me so much of the Chowards Violet Mints that I could literally eat an entire package of in a sitting. I should be on that show about people with strange obsessions, mine would be eating food that tastes of violets.

Friday, March 15, 2013

New Stuff!

Okay, so the blood orange hydrosol isn't so new, but it's running low and I don't know when I'll restock -- that means I don't know when I'll find more good blood oranges and distill them. I have about two 4-oz bottles left with a bit of dregs which I'm keeping for myself. This is hand distilled hydrosol with all the essential oils left in -- and since it is distilled and not cold-pressed, there is little issue with sun sensitization. So spritz away.

Also put up a new solid perfume. Since the world's gone crazy with the cursed milliliters of alcohol being shipped here and there, I'm formulating and reformulating into oils and solids -- lovely perfume and body oils, and intensely scented perfume sticks and balms. The new solid perfume is in a stick tube which I find pretty convenient. I don't mess my fingers with dabbing it out of a tin or a jar, which is great because I spend the bulk of my day typing and having sticky, oily fingers slapping at the keys all day is irritating. With this new perfume solid, you just pull off the cap, adjust the perfume level and start rubbing it in.

 You can find these items and others at

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I was going to write a long post about how things are turning around, both personally and professionally, when I became distracted by Semrush -- apparently someone out there is questioning my 100,000 hits claim -- did you find what you were looking for six times? Perhaps I can put your mind at ease. Do I believe I have 100,000 legitimate hits that have come to my blog because people wanted to read the content? No. I don't. I have been the victim of fishers and scammers and bots long enough to realize this blog ain't all that and a bag of musk pods. I also have the distinct advantage of knowing most of my regular readers by name or moniker and country of origin. If I suddenly receive 3000 hits in one day from Russia or India, I'm not jumping with glee thinking that suddenly this blog is a hit in Russia or India. Some glitch occurred. One which I am not as tech savvy as I'd like to be to figure out. Nor do I care. But apparently someone does. Feel better?

So I got a double shot of great news yesterday, both personally and professionally. We have someone willing to pay 'rent' to store items in the basement, nearly enough to offset rent, and a few job opportunities have arisen. Some freelance stuff that can become permanent and quite profitable at some point in the very near future. And some travel plans are in the works as well. Seems being an unattached single woman has its benefits.

Anyway, this isn't much of a perfume post. Sorry about that. Like I said, I got distracted. That happens a lot...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Solid Parfum

For the past few months I've been struggling with the issue of postal regulations. I thought by dumping my alcohol based perfumes onto the market at greatly reduced prices to the continental US that it would remedy some of the issues, but it turns out Americans don't want my perfumes, Europeans do, so I'm back to square one with the postal issues. And the way this business is played, and I say played because it is very much like a game with the utterly horrendous politics -- yes, the way the business is played, it seems that we, the perfumers, are always trying to find a way to keep ahead of the dreaded regulations. Solid perfumes are finally being discussed in open forums -- niche perfumers, natural perfumers, artisan perfumers -- they seem to be talking about it now. Yet another change-up in the game. Like when the IFRA spews out a new directive, a perfumer's eyeballs bleed staring down the newly restricted or prohibited item, wonder what the hell? I know, so far this is all over the place, which is where my head is at right now -- all over the freakin' place. Postal regulations restrict shipping, the IFRA regulations restrict creativity, perfume politics are paralyzing and brutal -- a perfumer's gotta ask themselves, is all this worth it? Well, is it?

So I made a solid perfume. I worked on it for weeks. I poured my heart and soul into it and when it was all over, I had kind of a less than stellar reaction to it. As the base sat in its graduated cylinder stinkin' up the studio, it was sublime. Earthy and floral and rich and lush and I couldn't wait to set it down in the oil and beeswax. After I had, it kind of lost something for me. I couldn't ferret it out, whatever that 'it' was that was so alluring before. I've been wearing this solid every day since I made it, and I've figured it out. You'd think I'd remember this about solids, but I haven't made any for a long, long while (see years) -- as with all perfume, it needs aging. It ages suspended in composition, and again in the base solid (oil/wax) -- all these fragrant elements twist and turn and meld upon themselves before they settle down to something smooth and gorgeous. Now I'm writing down the bones of more perfume solids, reformulating old alcohol-based perfumes to solid. I can't see any way around it. I will still formulate in alcohol as it is, in my opinion, the most open and alive and shimmering form of perfume, but a large part of my future business will be done in oil and waxes.

Friday, March 08, 2013

And the Hits They Keep On Coming

In my last post I mentioned how Mercury Retrograde was zapping my life with some doozies -- a future layoff notice, an eviction notice for the roomies, and whatever other insignificant glitchy mundane thing that was happening that I didn't mention, but now things have turned once again in a direction of what can only be called the road to more upheaval. Along with that eviction notice we received a notice of intent to inspect the premises, so we spent a few hours spiffing up the place, washing and waxing the wood floors, dusting, exchanging bedding (mostly making the beds for a change) and generally stressing out whether the place would pass inspection by the property manager, a woman who was once described by my son as 'the lady who swoops in on her broom and steals the ruby slippers'. She certainly lived up to her reputation when she arrived for the inspection with a real estate agent in tow. Yep, folks, the abode wasn't being inspected to make sure I'm a good housekeeper, the inspection was scheduled to appraise it for SALE! Kind of makes me feel like I wasted my time prettily presenting this lovely house. The owner, a gentleman who now resides in the Bay Area is 'desperate for money', as the former property manager (the current manager's son) told me one balmy fall evening while picking up rent, and his solution to his financial difficulties is to render homeless (I know, I'm being dramatic) four families, five if you count the cave dwellers. But we were given some small ray of light in the comment, "It's okay, you don't have to move out yet." Yet. Geez. I hope it isn't going to be for some time because I would really, really like to enjoy the peace and quiet this house will hold once the cave dwellers, and specifically Mrs. Dweller, are out of the house -- at this moment she is in the basement screaming at her two-year-old, and if there's one thing that sets my teeth on edge, it's screaming. I cannot abide screaming, or stomping, or slamming doors, or heavy mouth breathing. Snoring I can handle. Not putting the toilet seat down, not so bad. Leaving a pile of dishes for me to wash is irritating, but manageable. Screaming? Huh-uh. You'll get a Ninja slap up the side of your head if you think you're going to scream in anger around me. It's just a reflex.

I just read what I wrote and it sounds so ~ crazy. Ha! The stress must be getting to me. I need a vacation. I guess it's a good thing, then, that I'm going to the Bay Area (no, not to punch the property owner -- boy, is this a violent post or what?) but to attend the Fragrance Salon! Woot! I'm going up Friday the 22nd on the train and staying with a friend until Monday the 25th. What happens in between, aside from the Salon, is up in the air. I RSVP'd to the Saturday event with Robertet, and was invited second-hand (I'm the plus in the plus one) to Ayala's tea event later Saturday afternoon. I'm really getting excited about the trip because it will serve a dual purpose of getting me out of my current funkified situation, and engaging in my favorite thing of all time, anything and everything perfume.

This weekend's agenda goes thusly: Pick up beloved youngest son from the train station to spend the weekend with his old mum, engage youngest son in the exercise of perfume balm manufacture, eat a lot of green things, go to a friend's yard sale, start formulation on the latest Natural Perfume Academy ambit (an all natural re-imagining of a vintage classic perfume), finally decide where that pound of frankincense resin will be utilized, in a hydrosol or a new batch of incense?

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Mutterings and Mumblings of a Perfume Bent

Well, I take back what I said about Mercury Retrograde NOT bringing the destruction. It has to me. Sort of. Or one could view it as a door closing, and another opening, though I'm still waiting to see what happens when I walk through those newly opened doors . . .

So March 1 I, along with my other co-workers at the jay-oh-bee (y'know, the one that pays the rent?) were called into an office meeting with the company's owner -- never, ever, in the 14 or so years I've been associated with this company, has there been an office meeting. A memo here and there, usually about holiday schedules or pest control issues, but never an actual all-of-us-together office meeting. Just making that clear. This had to be something serious, and it was. The short of it is, I may be getting laid off as soon as the end of March. No fault of my own, nor even my boss', but a manipulation of what now might be an illegal work contract, state budget shenanigans, and a fair bit of cronyism. In a nutshell, we're losing our biggest client, so the business, as well as 200 plus other businesses of the same nature in the State of California, are going out of business. We were told in the meeting to gird our loins, and begin to think about seeking employment elsewhere. So while I was sitting at my desk working away attempting to soak up the ramifications of that bit of news, I received a phone call from my daughter -- the cave dwellers had just been handed an eviction notice by a process server. My daughter and I are not part of the eviction. I guess this is a classic case of being careful of what you wish for. I'm getting my basement back, storage, space, and peace of mind, but I may be losing my job at the same time! Fate, you shifty hearted devil, what are you up to?

Desperate times call for desperate measures, but I don't like how being and behaving desperate (ly?) reflects on me, emotionally and spiritually. And it's definitely not good for the perfume work. One of the character flaws I have a hard time dealing with in myself and others is the wildly desperate 'what am I gonna do' behavior exhibited in times of strife. Optimism is in order. With optimism being the initial reaction, the paralyzing fear of what am I gonna do is bypassed and the action begins. Resources are located, opportunities arise, and doors graciously open. It did not go unnoticed that March 2, the day after I received all this news, was the day of the Roman god Janus, the god of doors. 2013 is going to be my year. Is.

So for my desperate measure, I'm announcing officially that my newest natural perfume making book for beginners is printed and available for purchase here.

I have also reached out to my community, as I instruct my students to do, in an effort to drum up business. I have an interested party for private natural perfume workshops and in-person courses and mini-intensives (accord building, evaluations, etc.). One interested party. One is more than I had before. One gives me hope.

This morning while checking this blog's stats, I ran across a blog post at the blog 'Diary of an Anarchist Soapmaker' and I realized while reading it that whilst editing the new perfume book, I'd left off what may potentially be some vital information. The sterilization processes of the environment, bottles, jars, lids, et cetera, in the creation of other than perfume topical skin care products, such as balms, butters and oils. There is very basic instruction in creating and perfuming these items in the new book, but no instruction in preventing ugly bacteria and mold from growing in the finished product. I will have to remedy that in the next edition.

So I won't lie. I have moments here and there where gripping fear clenches my insides, but I try to brush it away as quickly as possible. Fear destroys hope, and hope keeps our eyes open to opportunity.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Hand Distilled Blood Orange Hydrosol

Hand Distilled Blood Orange Hydrosol
This is the first hydrosol I have created in a year, and the first of 2013. Made in my lovely copper al embic on very low heat, it took hours of distillation to create the lovely crystalline oil filled hydrosol that smells sweet and juicy and fresh. Since this orange oil and hydro was distilled and not cold pressed, it is safe to use in the sun! There are no issues of phototoxicity with distilled citrus. So spray away! In your hair, your face, neck, decolletage, bum, knees and toes. It makes for a refreshing light spring fragrance and rejuvenating aromatic toner.

Whole fruit, including the juice and peel, were distilled to create this lovely hydrosol.
4 oz amber glass sprayer

 The Scented Djinn Apothecary at Etsy.

Meditations in Scent

Turn off the iPod, shut off the television, turn down the music -- when your brain is engaged with other senses, you fail to pick up on the scents that are all around you. A meditation on scent is a good way to start the day. If you have a monclin, use it, if not, use a wineglass -- each morning upon rising, stretch, open a window and let in the sun (or the rain or the wind) then sit some place quiet and grab a diluted raw material (don't look at what it is) drop a single drop into the bottom of the wineglass and set it down in front of you, inhale, exhale, breathe deeply at least 10 times, then lift the wineglass to your nose (don't stick your face in the glass) and gently inhale while moving the glass slowly under your nose. Allow whatever imagery, words, emotions you have float in and float out of your consciousness. Journal if you care to, or not. The point is to contemplate the scent under no pressure to evaluate or identify. Enjoy it.


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