Friday, May 31, 2013

New Kyphi in the Works

This newly formulated kyphi represents protection and empowerment. It won't be ready for months yet, but I thought it would be nice to see the progression through.

Pinon pine resin pre-powdered

All the powdered herbs and resins pre-wine

Blurry picture of powdered herbs and resins post-wine

The whole mess, post wine/gin and post boiled honey

More of the whole mess

Close up of the whole mess, which looks suspiciously like something I cleaned off the lawn a few weeks ago . . .

Here's the list of ingredients:
golden raisins
pinon pine resin
benzoins (Siam and Sumatran)
dragon's blood resin
gum arabic
sweet grass
acacia flower

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Beginning a New Kyphi

Except for my private reserve, I am now out of kyphi, both kinds, the Egyptian and the Golden, so I am embarking on another kyphi making session, again, taking my sweet a** time getting there because that's what makes a good kyphi -- time and reflection and reverence for the materials.

So we begin with spearmint, organically grown, harvested from the four quarters garden at Seasons on a dark and moonless night.

Freshly cut spearmint, ready for drying.

Dried spearmint in the mortar ready for pestling.

Finely powdered spearmint.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day 93 ~ Gardenia Hydrosol

A few days ago I steam distilled about a half pound of gardenia flowers picked fresh from the bushes out back. Today I'm going to talk about how that turned out.

The project began as a steam distillation of star jasmine flowers, but because I was raiding the neighbor's jasmine, even with permission, I still felt guilty, like I as up to no good, so I stopped and focused on what was in my own garden, and that's when I noticed the gardenia in the backyard just popping with snow white flowers. I've been kind of detached from what's going on in my own garden this spring because of housemate issues (not the ones in my apartment, but those living upstairs in their own apartments) that got a little weirdly territorial for a while. Everything is okay now but I've been reluctant to go out and tend to the plants out there. Some people, no matter their age, never grow up, never learn basic social protocol, and never learn boundaries.

I am the only tenant in the building who tends the gardens, front and back. I sow, I reap, they enjoy the view.

Moving along ~ I plucked enough gardenia to fill the steam chamber of the al embic, I didn't want these gardenia floating in water (the picture shows them filling the water chamber but that's because  I was gathering them and placing them into the water chamber -- like a basket) because I felt it was the best method if I was to get anything out of them at all.

A few hours later, and I have a lovely miron bottle about two-thirds full of gardenia water.

From the bottle, the gardenia hydrosol smells green, a bit murky, like leaves and soil, then it quickly dissipates to reveal a very light, very sheer, pale gardenia scent -- heady, sweet, creamy, floral, like the scent of gardenia on a cool spring breeze. Light tuberose notes flit about, something warm and honied, sweet, like the tip of the tongue on a ripe muscato grape.

I don't know if this hydrosol is strong enough for scenting purposes as it is very light and delicate, but I think I might use it as a pre-moisturizing skin toner.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Zinziba A Lush Naturally Scented Handmade Soap with Activated Zombie Repellent

Zinziba A Lush Naturally Scented Handmade Soap with Activated Zombie Repellent
Zinziba A Lush Naturally Scented Handmade Soap with Activated Zombie Repellent Zinziba A Lush Naturally Scented Handmade Soap with Activated Zombie Repellent Zinziba A Lush Naturally Scented Handmade Soap with Activated Zombie Repellent Zinziba A Lush Naturally Scented Handmade Soap with Activated Zombie Repellent Zinziba A Lush Naturally Scented Handmade Soap with Activated Zombie Repellent
Admittedly silly title, yet appropriate, considering . . .

Whipped up on no particular day for no particular reason other than the love of the art of soap making, and the desire for something minty on the old apothecary shelves, comes Zinziba, a delightful burst of chilly dew-dipped frothiness ~ organic spearmint and wild verbena oils mingle and marry to create a lovely cool and honey-ed scent -- spearmint is calming and cooling, great for relaxing in the tub after a long stressful day; wild verbena is special in so many ways ~ not only is it great for skin in helping to calm rashes, scratches, stings and insect bites, it also has been used as a wash after handling corpses (I know, not much of a selling point, is it?) ~ but! That's where the zombies come in -- or don't come in, actually. The wash is used to protect from the spirits of the corpses or bad mojo or -- well, whatever it's meant to repel after you've handled a corpse, AND it' serves as a protection from crocodiles, lightning, and dogs, a more likely scenario there. After using Zinziba, you may walk freely through hordes of ravenous zombies without threat of mutilation, crazily ride your bicycle through a pack of pit bulls and receive nary a woof or a glance, dance upon the backs of crocodiles lying lazily in the lagoon and never suffer a prick of a tooth, and last but not least, you don't have to dodge those pesky lightning bolts anymore! How's that?!

Aside from all the mumbo-jumbo up there, Zinziba smells divine! Fresh and cooling and deliciously nose tingling.

Made with: Organic extra virgin olive oil; organic refined coconut oil; organic spearmint oil; wild harvested wild verbena oil, water, sodium hydroxide, coconut milk, organic rose petal dust, organic calendula dust.

2.5 - 2.7 oz (70 - 76 grams) 

Get it at The Scented Djinn's Etsy Apothecary

Friday, May 17, 2013

Hell's Bells!

So this was going to be a rant about poorly described ebay listings by money-hungry dips, but further investigation revealed that I am said 'dip' for not properly reading the description of the listing for which I just plunked down not-a-whole-lotta-mulla. Anyway, I'm pleased with the buy now as I've appeased myself with potential alterations of the purchased items.

Perhaps I should tell you what I'm talking about, eh? That'd be nice, I'm sure.

I've been looking for bell jars, little bell jars for use as monclins (I already have bleeding cups that I use for that purpose, but I get so many comments ...). So I find some 'bell jars' in a listing with a few other things, three vases, four pitchers, and two 'containers', all of Royal Worcester fame, some with little birdies, others with little fruits. These were not clear glass, and that's what I liked about them (you know me, always doing something different aka weird), so I watched the listing for a few days and when no one else bid on them, I did and won. Here they are, FedEx'd to the house (and left on the porch, which is so iffy in this neighborhood) box ripped asunder, bubble wrap torn through, and then revealed to be -- BELLS! Actual bells. Ring-a-ling-a-ling bells! Granted, I have a butler's pantry in my old house, but I don't have a butler! Who am I ringing these bells for? My daughter suggested rape bells or fire bells, one in each room in case of an intruder or emergency, but the sounds of screaming and crashing about are louder than these bells, so we nixed that idea. Then it was suggested we use them as butler's bells, to which I asked, "Who's going to answer them?" Everyone obviously looked at me. My reply? "Those won't be butler's bells at that point, they'll be 'hey, come punch out my front teeth' bells." (You know I'm kidding, right? No? Ha! Well, okay.)

The bells will be modified with either tape or wire snips and will then truly be bell jars.

(Sorry for all the parentheses.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Day 92 ~ Wild Verbena

Wild Verbena, get to know her (him?) -- haven't quite figured out the gender of this yet, but I'm thinking, like pine, it's androgynous.

Wild verbena is not the same as verbena oil lippia citriodora; wild verbena, lippia javanica, doesn't come with a prohibited use tag as the lippia citriodora does (prohibited for use in leave on products, rinse off products, and household cleaning products by the IFRA, revision date 2002). So. Introduce yourself to the glorious scent of lippia javanica, wild verbena, zombie repellant! Okay, I made that last part up -- while researching the historic uses of wild verbena, I found an article which stated African tribes, including Zulus, use/used the leaves of wild verbena in a tea to bring down fever, and that it was also used as a cleansing wash after handling corpses. The article didn't specify why it was used as a cleanser after handling corpses, so naturally I inserted my own myth to the mix. Hey, whatever works to keep those zombies away, right?

Wild verbena is pretty special, actually. I'd not given my bottle much notice since I bought it in 2007(!) and found it tucked away in the back of the scent fridge. Hadn't thought about it, that is, until I needed something to put in soap that was a little different, effusive and nose-catching, and there was this little bottle of wild verbena sitting there, unused, abandoned, cold.

It took me 10 minutes to get the cap off the bottle. It was really stuck on there. I mean, I was thinking I'd have to do that champagne bottle thing where you chill the bottle then take a machete to its neck, but the cap succumbed to my persistent twisting and finally popped off, ooey gooey strings of resinified (?) wild verbena oil clinging like spider webs between the cap and the bottle opening. And then I was struck by the scent -- clear, piercing, warm, breathy like chamomile and parsley, with a ruby red thread of citrus and a deep, amber-like heart. Mint notes emerge, peppermint, not spear, and leafy greens, freshly crushed feverfew petals with a sheen of vanilla. If you sniff long enough, you get this dill effect, like it all went bad (unless you like the scent of pickles), but after clearing the nose a moment, sniff again and there are all those other clear, crisp, non-pickly elements alive and expanding in your head. Magnificent scent.

So I did make soap with it. 'It' and organic spearmint oil with rose petal and calendula dust sprinkled throughout. The effect is quite nice, bright, cheery mint and breathy resins. Good for keeping cool in the summer and scaring away those pesky zombies. As for use in perfumery? Top note -- definitely a top note, would probably work nicely in a cologne style perfume, or a fougere, or amber perfume. It has a lot of built-in bridge notes. 

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Day 91 ~ Resins

Today I did what I said I decided not to do, and if you've been reading here long, you know I do that a lot. I put resins in the apothecary box, which I had previously decided not to do, but then I ended up not doing anything with the apothecary box, so I figured ...

Each drawer holds a resin or herb ~ frankincense, olibanum, benzoins, dragon's blood, angelica, mandrake, eagle's claw.

Day 91 ~ Resins: While filling the benzoins I decided to play around with them, burn a bit, assess the fragrance, see if there were any significant differences between the Siam and the Sumatran. And there are. Sumatran is bold and spicy, like a piercing hot cinnamon oil laced with vanilla, mouth watering but dangerous (you can feel the impending burn of this benzoin).

 Sumatran benzoin is a definitive yang element, it sits squarely in the sunlight, bright, demanding, aggressive with a light, soft buttery side (yin) that lies quietly in the background.

Siam benzoin smells like a vanilla sugar cookie. Sweet and dense with a slight warmth and buttery attitude, and almost no spice element to speak of. The yin of the two.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Day 90 ~ One Year, One Nose ~ A Little Voodoo in Your Violets

I'd forgotten what a sedative reading before bed can be. I've been struggling with hay fever for the past few weeks, ever since Mother Nature decided to start summer early and accelerated the bloom -- everything from star jasmine and jonquil to olive trees and pine have been going at it for weeks now, tearing up my sinuses and forcing me to use antihistimines in order to be comfortable enough to breathe. I've been taking them before bed so I don't awaken in a sneezing fit and lose precious hours of snooze time trying to settle back down to sleep. Dreams are fitful and seriously disturbing when you drug yourself to sleep. Not the same as a naturally sedating book to lull you off to la-la land. So that was a nice change. It rained so the hay fever was halted for a bit. Also watered the plants on the front porch that I'd planned on watering this morning, so it's freeing up time, that lovely rain. I'm feeling rested and content today.

So quite a lot of things were borne out of the Bay Area trip at the end of March. That little sweetheart up there, for one. Well, actually, it's three little sweethearts now, one nice tall baby, a little crooked baby, and a wee fleck of a seedling right there in the off-center to the left portion of the pot -- you can just see her sweet baby head peeking out of the soil there. What are they? Little baby etrog. It was Passover when I was in Berkeley, and Ms. C. took me to Berkeley Bowl for a perusal of the 'Aisle of Misfit Fruit' and what did my eyes espy but piles of fruit to delight even the most joyless of perfumer's hearts -- bergamot! Fresh, squeezy bergamot, etrog, apples as big as a baby's head! So of course, I bought it all. Dragged home in a Berkeley Bowl bag were fruits and wondrous other elements to create smelly tasty things. I used the juice from the etrog in a marshmallow blend, and was struck the number of seeds they carry (the etrog, not the marshmallow) -- so like any experimental gardener would, I planted a few seeds and stored away the rest in the refrigerator. And there you see the results. After what? About five weeks of germination, ping! Up popped these three little girls. Now to just keep them going.

Day 88 ~ Violet Disguise (the aforementioned voodoo) by Imaginary Authors 

How apropos that I should choose this particular perfume to talk about, in the Merry, Merry month of May, since it's the very heart of this perfume, as per the website: NOTES: Plum, Violet, Dried Fruits, Balsam, Amber, Evening Air & The Month of May ~ see?! I knew there was some May in there . . .

Ah, Violet Disguise, how do I love thee? With gusto. I'm prone to fall deeply, madly, and embarrassingly in love with violet perfumes, but this one -- this one is beyond all that nonsense. This one I cannot do without and I will forgo all other little luxuries to procure a full bottle of this lovely, necessary perfume. Violet Disguise opens with a burst of piercing citrus with a soft undercurrent of sweet vanilla and balsam, then comes the violet in a rush, like a bride late for her wedding day, the satin of her dress whispering in the breeze as she runs down the aisle. Innocent, but eager this violet. From here on out it's a pink and purple poof of sweet violets and mellow amber -- very characteristically not me, but as I said before, deeply, madly, embarrassingly and beyond. Lasts for hours and hours, remains fairly linear after the headnote dry down, but a fabulous pick if you love soft, floral, sweet, girly perfumes that don't reek of fruit jam or melons. So where's the voodoo in all that? Violets break down the barriers of indifference according to hoodoo tradition.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Day 89 ~ May Day Blessings ~ Aghori by Smells & Bells

So yesterday was May Day and nothing was planned in celebration here at the Djinn studio because the ceremonial stuff had occurred the day before, as the clock ticked toward the May. A nice bit of affirmation, some arts and crafts, a delicious meal, and a leisurely discussion 'round the bonfire that went into the night. Much nicer than last year's May celebration when I bought and prepared the May feast, set up the garden with firelight and bells, and invited the Cavedwellers up for a bit of fresh air and a nibble -- they came, they saw, they ate it all, then promptly stomped down into the cellar, leaving me to finish with the clean-up -- alone. Merry May, I said, and in return I got a cross-eyed sneer. Some people just don't acknowledge, or even know, how precious every day we have here is.

Anyway, since this year's festivities were done and done on May in the waning hours of April, I decided I'd celebrate with scent (duh, right?) -- and for this year's May Day scentilicious selection I chose Aghori by Smells & Bells, a natural perfume company based in San Francisco, California. I received samples (boy did I receive samples) of perfumes from many perfumers while attending the SF Fragrance Salon in March, and amongst them were the samples from Smells & Bells. I chose Aghori because it embraced this feeling of everythingness (not a word, I know) and cohesiveness, compatibility with the environment, taking elements from air and earth and making them one. What am I going on about, you're probably wondering? Well, this wonderful perfume, of course!

Aghori is deep. Transcendent. I wore it all day yesterday until I came home and rubbed on a bit of my own Moss & Violets solid perfume just before bed. There were moments during the day when I'd catch this gorgeous earthy vetyver and honey-like scent wafting on the air, and I would smile. I do so adore a nice vetyver. Aghori opens with bright honied citrus notes with a spicy edge, quite diffusive for a natural -- it just jumps off the skin into the air creating this lovely halo of airy spiciness with a hint of darkness, and it lasts -- the citrus doesn't spring out and disappear within minutes -- it hangs around, floating a bit, crystalline rays of sweet sunshine (air) and warmth. Then slowly, and I do mean slowly, it deepens, more of the darkness (earth) rises with creamy notes of santal and a nice, smooth vetyver. There are no jagged edges in this perfume, it is seamless and perfect. And it sticks. I detected a hint of vetyver well into the evening, hours after I last applied the perfume. I would say this perfume is a unisex number, in spite of the healthy dose of jasmine in there -- it's not an overtly sweet, heady jasmine, and there's just enough to floralize the perfume, but not so much to turn it girly.


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