Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Working the Bench II: A Practical Guide for the Apprentice Natural Perfumer

This is the newest book in the Working the Bench series, written by moi. They are currently up for sale at Amazon, and soon to be sold through my Etsy shop, The Scented Djinn. The information provided is great for those natural perfumer's who've just begun to dip their toes into the aromatic arts, those who have done a bit of study and perhaps want to learn a few of the finer points involved in the creation of natural and botanical perfumes.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Coupon Code for The Scented Djinn's 50% Discount Sale

It looks like I typed in the wrong coupon code on the Etsy site for this sale, but I've since remedied that -- and for the sake of clarifying, the coupon code to get your 50% discount off all items at The Scented Djinn Apothecary at Etsy is NEWBEGINNINGS2016.

Tomato Tree Holiday

I went to Cambria, CA yesterday, a little town in the pines by the sea -- a little town FULL of tourists and cute shops and lovely restaurants. It was late when I got there, so some of those cute shops were either closed or closing, so I settled for a bit of a walk down the main street just to soak in the cuteness of it all, when I noticed a second story window with a very unusual Christmas tree showing -- a tomato plant with big green tomatoes dangling from the branches sat front and center in that window, decked out with a tree topper, garland, and ornaments. It seemed to represent a sort of perseverance (in my mind) that so many people are lacking these days. I don't have a clue what the person who put that tomato Christmas tree up in the window lives through, whether she or he is rich or poor, whether he or she is depressed or happy as a lark, but that tree -- that tree really left an impression. That tree told me that no matter what, make it happen. Whatever 'it' is, whatever the goal, whatever the dream, just make it happen.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

50% Discount Code

50% Coupon Code!

The Scented Djinn Apothecary at Etsy is offering 50% off everything using coupon code NewBeginnings2016 -- offer ends December 31, 2015, so you better get yours soon.

Post Paper Tearing Frenzy

On Christmas morning, I nearly wrote a scathing post here about how horrible Christmas really is. How one is forced to be with people who irritate them, and how commercialized the holiday has become, and how no good deed goes unpunished, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. But I didn't. Because by the day after Christmas I realized I was under the weather -- for the third time since October -- and that my angst and dissatisfaction with the holiday was due to a 'bug' rather than actual events. However, as an adult, I do still believe Christmas is completely overrated. For the kids it's a wonderland, and a happy dream world, and fairy forests aglow with twinkling fairy dust lights, and that's the only reason for the way we celebrate it anymore at all. For the wee ones. (I realize I kind of did write a bit of a scathing post about the horrors of Christmas, but trust me, it's much more toned down than the one I was ready to post before.)

I sat on the couch the remainder of Christmas Day, and the day after, drinking as much water as my bladder could hold at one time, and downing armloads of Vitamin C (yes, those again). My daughter brought me a big bowl of udon noodle soup yesterday and that seemed to send me around the corner to wellness. I'm all better now -- kind of. Still a little woozy and tummy's not so good, but I'm at least 75% better than I was yesterday.

So now that the dust has settled, all the money's been spent, the sales are done (at least for me they are), and we're looking ahead with hope and faith in our hearts for a better year, I'm thinking of renting a studio space outside of the home. Not a retail shop or anything like that, but a small space, slightly larger than the narrow hallway I now call the studio, away from home so it feels more like going to work than moving from one room to the other, and try to get the dream of the thurifercorium back on track. There are several small studio spaces available down the street from where I live, however, they are all mainly retail with a smattering of art stores that are both studio and retail settings for the people who are renting them. There is one space in particular that I'm looking at and I'm wondering if contacting someone about it is the right thing to do at this time. If I were back in the Van Ness house in Fresno, this wouldn't even be an issue as I had a full basement into which I could store everything not in use in the upstairs studio, plus the house/apartment was zoned commercial, so I could have, and in retrospect, should have, hung up a shingle. But as you long-time readers are aware, I have a fabulous knack for letting opportunity slip through my fingers.

Many things are changing for me this coming year, both professionally and personally. I just hope I can weather the storm in the meantime and make it out the other side in a better place than where I am right now. That's all we can hope for, right? To one-up ourselves over and over again until we are better than we were the day before. Reading is once again on the agenda, and fortunately I have a book store friend who is willing to part with a few tomes for a friend. I feel empty now that the book is done, and I want to restore some of the knowledge I imparted with new knowledge. That sounds a bit whacky, but that's how it feels. I'm also feeling a bit guilty that the opus that I had promised didn't happen. I cut so much from the book that may have been useful to a learning natural perfumer -- but I decided in the long run that it was just too much. Next time, I will allow myself more time to pull it together, or better yet, use the time I have set aside for book writing to be filled with book writing and not with 'oh, I don't wanna do this today' and trip off to the ocean to watch the epic El Nino waves, or hike up a hill to watch the mist settle between the hilltops. Naw, I'll probably still do that -- ha! If you knew how much research material, how much research in general, goes into writing a book -- nearly any book -- you'd understand how topsy turvy the space in which you create becomes -- all that research material, the books, the reams of printed paper, the files and notebooks and whatnot associated with it, the pictures you draw, the quickly jotted notes to yourself written on the inside of an envelope box (because you couldn't find the sticky notes anywhere!),  you'd probably just chuck it all in the bin and walk away. For every book, especially a book like Working the Bench II, there is 20 times the volume in research compared to what actually gets set down in the book. Once I cleared away the books, and the files, and the notebooks, and the scattered notes of notes, the diagrams and drawings, I had a stack of 'research' almost up to my chin. This doesn't take into account all the raw perfumery materials used in experimentation, from putting together perfume formulations to cookery, and time spent evaluating. But all in all, it was fun and exhausting and challenging and I'd do it again a heartbeat.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Winter Solstice

Tonight at 8:49 marks the beginning of the Winter Solstice here on the left coast, and we're celebrating it with a homemade chocolate Yule log -- a Swiss roll with all the mini mushrooms and powdered sugar snow and chocolate ganache frosting. Dinner is a winter stew with root vegetables, and a bunch of finger foods on the side -- cheeses and mini dogs in a blanket and prosciutto with mozzarella, maybe some homemade sweet potato chips with dip. And lots of candles and games and story-telling and roasting of homemade marshmallows, and maybe a little dancing if the music inspires us. It's a kind of lock down night for us since hardly anyone we know actually celebrates Yule this way. No rushing from house to house dropping off gifts and throwing back the nog. It's just a nice, calm, happy, festival of home.

So I'd better get off this machine and get to cooking!

Happy Winter Solstice, everyone!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Book Fixes

I was just going over the proof of the book for the 80th time and found five errors that really stand out -- I've corrected the errors and resubmitted the body of the book for further review, which means sales will be at a standstill until the review is approved. So. It really never ends. Two errors were substantial, the rest were just me being super picky. This is so frustrating.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Three Little Words That Pack a Punch for a Perfumer




Yep. It started yesterday morning with a thunderous headache that no amount of caffeine could alleviate, and after a day of running around town(s) doing a bit of holiday shopping, I arrived at home, plunked down in front of the computer and proceeded to sneeze. And sneeze. And sneeze. And sneeze, and sneeze, and sneeze until I thought my eyes would pop out of my head. Then it was on. Headachy, sinus congestion, watery eyes, sore throat -- aaaaaahhhhh! I love winter, but I hate that it means being cooped up with sickos in overwarm places that simply breed bugs that cleverly wait on door knobs and cross walk buttons and store counters to pounce and creepy crawl into your mucous membranes where they happily set up house. Granted, cross walk buttons probably don't qualify as being in overwarm conditions being that they're outdoors and all, y'know, at corners of streets, but have you ever stopped to think about how many fingers have poked those things in day? Hundreds. Literally hundreds. And if those fingers were just digging around in a virus infected nose hole before pressing the button, and then here you come, poke the button and then shove your finger in your eye to pluck out a speck of dust? Well, there you have it.

I don't know where I got this one, and as I've illustrated, it could have been literally anywhere between five cities I've been to in the past couple of weeks. Because I'm big on eye poking and all, it doesn't surprise me that I'm sick again. But the protocol is in play -- I just set up the pill dispenser with two-1000 mg Vitamin C every hour until I've downed 12,000 mgs.

The 'book' is finally published and selling away on Amazon. I've sold a few units already and I'm waiting to hear back from a couple of people about reviews and whatnot. I took a lot of risks with this new one, presenting a bit of the world according to me stuff -- or in this instance, the natural perfumery world according to me, and dialing back the capitalism horse poop. Perhaps the next volume, volume 3, will introduce that aspect of natural perfumery -- the selling and networking and the bulkiness of all that. But for now, this book is about the art of natural perfumery.

If you would like to purchase the new book, go to Amazon.com.

Amazon is currently offering ALL books (not Kindle or Audiobooks) at 25% off, so now would be the time to get this book if you have it in your head to do so.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Working the Bench II

Available at Amazon.com next week.

My original idea, the art nouveau custom cover wouldn't print out nicely -- it was way too pixelated and I couldn't get it adjusted out, so this is the cover I chose until I figure out how to customize my cover.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Discounts and New Perfume

From now until the 31st of December, The Scented Djinn Apothecary at Etsy is discounting EVERYTHING at 20%, including those items already clearance priced ~ if interested, simply use coupon code KRAMPUSNACHT2015 in the coupon code section to receive your 20% discount.

Now, onto something else -- there's a new perfume oil in the shop! A lovely sweet, dark, rich, floral and grounding scent called Tamra, which means 'dates'. I'd meant for the perfume to be darker than it is, but I realize this is my preference and maybe someone else might want something a bit lighter and less earthy, so I held back on making it less dark date and more fruity light date. The notes are patchouli, clary sage absolute (which smells decidedly different from clary sage essential oil) a nice organic geranium oil, a wee bit of yuzu, some pink grapefruit, and a big dollop of jasmine sambac. It's a very soothing and grounding scent.

And something else -- the book is not done, as I had previously thought. I might have mentioned this in an earlier post, but the index is way out of whack. I'm un-whacking it today and sending it back to be reviewed, and hopefully, if all goes well, it will be for sale on Amazon by next week.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Curio Apothecary & Seasons of Spirit

I'm back! I went away to work which felt more like a vacation fun, and while I was away, someone used my debit card information to purchase a nice taco dinner, a massage, and some booze down  in Los Angeles -- where I haven't been in, oh, five years at least. So I spent the weekend fund-less more or less because I had to shut down my debit card in case those LA robbers decided to buy more groceries and pleasure time literally on my dime. Aside from that little bump, the entire week and part of the weekend were fab. I helped a friend set up her physical store so she can get some business in before Yuletide. It looks really nice. Loads of herbs grown right in her garden, white sage wands, bay leaf branches, sweet grass braids, sweet myrtle berries (the other 'juniper' in Kyphi incense), bulk lavender buds, as well as seeds -- wisteria seeds, mullein seeds, and a myriad of other homegrown flower and plant seeds. There are essential oils and resins, apothecary bottles, incense, handmade soaps, crystals, beads, vintage glass drawer knobs, vintage door knockers, crystalized candied ginger, tarot and gypsy divination cards, perfumes and perfume bottles, teas, tea pots, tea cups and saucers, candles, hand painted silk handkerchiefs, pendulums and divination cloth, Chakra wheels, ink with glass and feather pens -- well, suffice it to say, it's a wee apothecary with a little bit of everything in it. If you're interested in purchasing her herbs or seeds, go to Curio Apothecary on Etsy, and if you're in the Sanger, CA area, go to her shop at 1121 North Nelson Avenue ~ Seasons of Spirit.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Coming of Yule

I was able to knock that cold right in the eye. 12,000 mgs of Vitamin C on day one, 6,000 mgs on day two, and another 6,000 today and it looks like the cold let go and left town. I read up on the Vitamin C cure and found that in order for the protocol to work, a person must reach saturation. This means that when the protocol gives you, um, a bit of gastric discomfort, you've found the cut off point. I found it at 6,000 mgs, but was a bit enthusiastic about getting rid of the virus so I doubled saturation. I've also discovered that a Vitamin C protocol might work nicely on these chronic sinus infections I've dealt with for the past my whole life.

I'm currently waiting for the proof copy of the new book to arrive. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to re-do the index -- again. Formatting the book to fit specs really kicked my butt so that by the time I got it right, from about Chapter 5 on (to Chapter 13), the pages were off enough to effect where the markers were for the index. Fixing the index post-publishing-of-the-proof won't effect the layout, but I'm a bit anxious to see how the book will look finished, which is why I asked for a proof before fixing the index. That's a roundabout way of saying there's more work to do. Indexes are exhausting. I worked on it for four days straight while trying to figure out specs and layout and getting one program to fit with another -- it was a flippin' mess, and I was frustrated to tears at some points. All the things that I'd remembered about the first book's layout came back in a tsunami of 'oh, sh*t' -- I'd forgotten that graphics and graphs, pictures and drawings, not to mention box framing the text (a big NO-NO), behave differently when transferring from a doc to a pdf -- proper spacing is crucial, as are font sizes. And allowing 'full color' instead of black and white jacks up the per-book price by about 300%. I must make a note of it this time so the next time I won't go through this much crap to get it finished. Simple and plain wins the day. Meh.

Only 20-odd days until Yule and I've gotten absolutely NOTHING done for it. And I'm going out of town today until Thursday, so nothing will be done until I return home. At the same time that I'm a little frustrated with the lag in performance, I'm also a bit confounded. I feel like the book consumed so much of my creative time, I'm a bit tapped out at the moment. I'm hoping this mini vacation will help spark the creative fires so that when I get back, I can go into production and really whip up some fabulous things.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Happy Post Gluttony Day(s)!

It's over. Well, this round anyway. Things are falling back into a normal rhythm. The carb packed foods are bagged and in the deep freeze, the studio is getting back to its usual efficiency in chaos status, and I caught a cold. Woke this morning to a string of sneezes and a stuffy head. I didn't go to bed this way. It kind of snuck up on me. So I"m sneaking back with about 15,000 mgs of Vitamin C a day until the cold is no more, or I turn orange.

I'm a couple of days late with my 'sale' at The Scented Djinn Apothecary at Etsy -- so here it is, folks, nothing new, just trying to reduce stock to make room for more. 20% off everything in the shop on orders of $35 USD or more. Use coupon code Krampus2015 (no italics) to your discount. International orders contact me for shipping arrangements if you want to place an order.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Prepping for the Feast, and a Fair Bit of Banging of the Head on Hard Surfaces

Since completing the book, things have slowed down considerably in the production area of things. I must remember in the future to not plan a book's completion to coincide with American holidays. The house is a mess of platters and boxes of foodstuff that don't fit into cabinets or closets, so they're lying around awaiting their 'day'. I've still got to pack up and temporarily store the shop goods so sticky, picky visiting fingers don't help themselves. It's happened before. Not that I hold a grudge or anything. It's just that product count means something when a customer orders the last of an item and I discover it is nowhere to be found. That can get pretty tricky. Even though the book is done, it's not. I'd forgotten this bit. The formatting of the thing so it jibes with the publisher's template. I've been up early and late into the night trying to get this straightened out, nearly rubbing the skin off my face with frustration, and during the night last night I had an epiphany of sorts about the formatting, so I'm trying it out as I type this. Crossing all phalanges that it works.

I'm planning a bit of a blow out sale after Thanksgiving (26 November) so the new stuff has space to live for a while. Plus there are a few things in the production line, one nearly done, the other still being tweaked a bit here and there.  All in all, it's been a very slow production year for me. It's the fault of the book. When something takes up so much of your time, it's a miracle anything gets done at all.

*UPDATE! The formatting for the book is finished! What a nightmare. Now more waiting as the publisher checks it out, then I have to change some things in the print specs because as it is, a normally $35-$40 book is pricing in at about $90. Can't have that. So just a week or so more and it's go on Working the Bench II: A Practical Guide for the Apprentice Natural Perfumer. 


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Profiles in American Perfumery at Cafleurebon

Remember when I talked about bios the other day? The reason I mentioned it was because I was asked by Michelyn Camen, editor-in-chief of Cafleurebon to write up a bio for her online perfumer spotlight series 'Profiles in American Perfumery'. If you click on the link and follow the instructions provided, you can win some perfume -- from me.

Another bit of news, which feels more like a heavy burden being unloaded, is -- the book is done. A little more than two years, dozens of studies, hours of research, early mornings, late nights, and all day ticking away at the computer keyboard have built this severely edited for content book. Basically, with all the discarded content, I can begin yet another book. But I need a break. I've been knocking myself out daily since last May to get this done, and honestly, I'm a little disappointed with myself. Why? Because I feel like I let myself down with this new book -- I feel like having to edit out entire chapters and honing it down to basic bones is a reflection of my impatience to see a project through completely and properly. I'm not saying the book isn't good (but what author/writer would admit their book isn't good?) What I've learned about submitting a book for publication is that once the editing is complete, do it. Submit and walk away because if you sit there second guessing yourself, you'll put that book back down on the desk and start writing in it again. You'll edit it to death, rewrite, cut out, add in, and generally fudge the thing up. Save all that other stuff for the next project. I'm currently adding the index, and let me tell you, what a rabid pain in the bum that is! Last night I spent hours working on it, leaning over the keyboard with my face mere inches from the computer screen scrutinizing page numbers and words until I actually cut off the circulation to my lower half and got a stomach ache. I also have this bad habit of holding my breath when I'm in deep concentration, which also makes me a bit light headed sometimes. So, yeah, I'm a weirdo.

Monday, November 16, 2015

So Far Behind

I can't believe how far behind I am in restocking the apothecary for the holidays. I'm so behind! I've made stuff, just not a lot, not like I have in the past, not like I know I can. I just feel so beat up by this book. I mean, as much as I've cut out I can start a new book with, yet there's still so much left to write! Basically I want to open up possibilities with this new book, new ways to look at the perfume building process, different ideas for using scent (cooking, for example), and in the process of bringing all this in, I have over thought it, tried to include way too much information. If anyone thinks for a second that writing a book, even a poorly written book, is easy work, they're deluded. Writing for an audience is a struggle -- it's mentally and emotionally exhausting, like having an existential crisis of the 'who do I think I am' variety, while diapering a  baby octopus with your ears. 

All the goods are here to stock up the apothecary -- the yums for the bath fizzies, a gallon of oil for the new perfume anointing oils, loads of stuff for new soaps -- the only thing missing is the decision to make them all. Once I've written a few hundred words, checked off notes, drunk a pot or two of tea, done some research, perused a book or two, stared out of the window in a daze, and gotten up 30 times to work the kinks out of my back, the rest of the day is shot -- even if it's only 11 AM when I peel my bum off the computer chair to get to the domestic chores. I'll get my groove back, I just hope it's before the holidays so I can make a little stocking stuffer money.

I am getting closer to the end of the writing of the book, though. I resist the urge daily to add more to it. However, when the end of the book does arrive, the editing begins, and then the page numbering, then the indexing, so the next few days (weeks?) will be me hanging with the octopus.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Bios and Such

Things get blurry as you age, even your own life. I've written my own bios in the past, and had someone else write one for me after talking with them for a few hours, or after answering a handful of key questions, and usually the writer inserts a few things that aren't necessarily true, embellishments and personal impressions. When writing our own, we tend to focus on what we think the person requesting the bio wants to hear regarding the subject -- in most recent years, the 'subject' for me has been perfume -- and skip over all the other stuff, like the teen pregnancy or the horrible first marriage or the cause of a lifelong battle with anxiety. No one wants to hear about their favorite perfumer, author, sculptor, actor, etcetera, dealing with real issues -- well, more and more people do, thank you reality tv. So bios. I've written a few for myself and each one is slightly different than the last, as if I've rewritten my past. We cannot think of how we arrived at a specific place as a result of walking in a straight line from point A to point Z (where we are now), because life doesn't work that way. One bio will state I made my way to perfumery via my maternal grandmother's gardens, another that my entry into perfumery began at my maternal aunts' dressing tables, or in a discovered box of old perfumes in a closet, or the geraniums in the front walk, or time spent living in the back country (twice). They're all true. The story told that particular time is based on the audience that will hear it, and the limit on word count. Regardless of how stained our past, we all want to appear squeaky clean for 'the big day', whatever day that is. The truth is, we come to our present via many paths from the past. We come from despair and joy, we come from loss and bliss, we come from pain and happiness. I can remember times as a child when I felt fear in the scent of mums because mums meant death (always mums at the family funerals), and I can remember a time when I felt joy smelling the green, earthy scent of geraniums (geraniums meant I was home). Everywhere in our lives our memories are imprinted with scent, some good, some horrible, and when we recount our past, we tend to avoid making a big deal out of the horrible. Well, I do anyway. One thing I will say is that creating perfume, all the devil-in-the-detail work, all the frustration, all the patience necessary, has changed me. I was never very detail oriented in the past, and I scored about a -3 on a 1 to 10 scale for patience.

I've begun working out the recipes for the final chapter in the book. Thus far I have two of ten finished. Salted Yuzu Shortbread Cookies, and Moroccan Mint Tea. I've played with other recipes that I was thinking of using, but those didn't work out -- the flavors might have been off or I just couldn't pull it off. Subtlety is key here. No one wants to bite into a deliciously fragrant cookie and feel as if they'd just eaten a bar of soap.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Culling Pages and Editing 'The Book'

After much consideration, I've decided to cut yet another chapter. This decision was based on the fact that it entailed production, something with which I have very little experience. The desire to step into large scale production of anything fled as if its ass were on fire years and years and years ago. This happened about the time I fell in with a distributor shortly after turning my garage into a soap studio. I hear some people dream about finding distributors to disperse their goods all over the globe, I did too, until one found me. I quickly discovered the experience to be stressful, disheartening, financially unsound in both the short- and long-term, and depressing as all hell. Talk about sucking all the life from a creative endeavor. I was gutted. Gutted, I tell you! This culled chapter consisted of buying loads of bottles, having them designed, getting them embossed, buying enormous quantities of raw materials, making contracts with suppliers and points of sale, distribution of goods, submitting goods to big fragrance awards' committees, and so on and so forth. None of these are in my area of expertise. I shun the spotlight, so nix on the awards, and I don't have a pirate's chest full of investor's money, so nix on everything else. I know about them, I know who to contact, where to go, what to do, I just haven't done them. Nor do I ever intend to. My focus on my own perfumery and in this book has been on the slow building of scent. Small scale, artisan (much overused word), low distribution, intent driven, with emphasis on the experience rather than the dollars to be generated. As long as my work pays my bills and leaves enough leftover for investments and a nice dinner once in a while, I'm a happy camper. Travel would be nice too, but I'm not holding my breath (or a grudge) if it never happens.

Culling and editing out this chapter has made the work on the book flow again. This final chapter is related to edibles -- not the pot variety, but the 'fume variety. Cookery is another passion of mine, and I've done a fair bit of work utilizing raw natural materials (essential oils and absolutes specifically) in the creation of edible goodies, with a lot of success. I just purchased a new set of stainless bake ware and sheets of silicon upon which to bake. So baking is happening. A few items on the list to be included in this edibles' chapter are saffron shortbread cookies with ginger lemon curd, lavender infused cupcakes, potato soup with nutmeg essential oil flavoring, a vegan version of Moroccan bastilla, among many other perfumed food creations, including teas, cocktails, flavored wines, and perfumed finishing salts. Since this chapter discusses something I truly, passionately love, my hope is that the writing will just flow. And the experimenting will be divine.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Winter is Coming, So Are Bath Fizzies

So here I was, thinking I'd lost my mojo. Truly. For the past few weeks, actually since the last post here, I've been struggling to find inspiration. Inspiration to write, inspiration to create, just plain old inspiration to get out of bed! I couldn't figure it out. I wasn't sleeping that great, was troubled with nightly headaches and general body aches, but nothing really seemed amiss, I thought, oh, the weather's changing, I must be getting old and rickety. I even blew off Halloween, my favorite night of the year. So not me. I thought it was a sinus infection creeping in, yet again, so I was irrigating and steaming and resorting to otc pain medications only in the direst of moments, but the quiet little affliction continued to linger, however unformed. I was even resorting to Benadryl at night just so I could sleep and not feel the headache that moved around inside my head. I was contemplating a trip to the doctor, something I haven't done in over a decade. Instead, I quit all the otc meds, the Benadryl and the acetaminophen, stopped contact irrigating and only steamed a few times instead of all day, increased the medicinal spices in my diet, like ginger and horseradish and turmeric and onion, swallowed tablespoonsful of apple cider vinegar, drank gallons of fresh-made green tea, and today I'm back to normal. Okay, my normal. And I'm here. Talking about the odyssey of the snozz. Again. One day I will have to go to a physician and get this sinus thing figured out. In a way that won't permanently damage my sense of smell. Although this time the sinus issue never fully formed, it was strong enough to sap my energy, play fast and loose with my sleepy time, and cause me to feel that my creative life was doomed. I know. I'm being dramatic. One thing that I have noticed over the years is that sometimes the sinus issues liven up when I'm under stress, and this entire past year, since August of 2014, has been a roller coaster ride of stress, some financial, some personal. I think this last bout was caused by the wrapping up of a huge financial burden -- the final payment came, a moment of stress and joy, and stress won. The crash was hard -- all those months of worry and now it's done. I think I was having a bit of an existential crisis -- what am I to do now that the purpose for working my arse off this past year has disappeared? Point inward, the voice said (voice, singular, not voices) and apply all that energy to fulfilling the dream. The thurifercorium. And more books.

I have some writing to do this weekend for a non-book project, so I'm probably not going to wear myself out on the final chapters of the book. I will, however, be experimenting for one of the final chapters of the book. And for the record, I missed my book deadline. Imagine that! A new deadline has been set and I have every intention of making it, with time to spare. I just need to pay better attention to my body and notice more quickly when things begin to go awry so they can be remedied before they cause me to become catatonic.

And, as usually happens when I'm burdened with a broken olfactory organ, I'm getting student submissions for evaluation almost daily. By tomorrow I should be able to get them worked out. Today I'm playing catch up. With everything.

Loads of new stuff are coming to the apothecary -- during the lull in creativity, I had been gathering the goods for when I was feeling better. The studio table is loaded down with raw materials raring to be turned into something exquisite. Patchouli bath fizzies, anyone?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hand Rolled Incense on the Menu

I'm going to be all alone this coming weekend. Everyone has plans to be off somewhere and I don't, so the house is mine! I'm working on a new incense formulation with Hawaiian santal wood, a gorgeous Somali myrrh and Omani frankincense -- the good stuff -- and I'm toying with the idea of adding some of this honey powder I've been hoarding as a binder. I'm also debating whether to roll the incense paste into long sticks sans the bamboo, or roll it onto the bamboo. Decisions, decisions. And there's soap on the menu as well. That hops and artemisia formulation has been stewing for a few days and is almost ready to go in the pot. There's also the writing, which has suddenly taken on a life of its own. The chapters I've been putting off writing have awoken and are very nearly writing themselves! Most of the time I think of myself as an amateur in this 'fume gig, and I am, actually -- no formal training and nearly all avenues of education leading to closed doors, I've struggled to dig up as much as I can about perfumery on my own, and the most important bit -- how to go about getting a hands-on education. It hasn't been easy. Digression! What I'm trying to say is that as much as I think I don't know stuff about building perfumes, once I begin to plumb the old brain pan for useful information to impart, the floodgates open and all this stuff I'd forgotten about comes pouring out! It's all about the 'bird-by-bird' idea -- taking each process and breaking it down into its parts and explaining from step one to step two and so on, and really focusing on imparting that information in a useful and understandable way. In this book, I'm trying very hard to make building perfume something anyone can do with minimal gadgetry, because creating natural perfume -- using those lovely rare aromatics -- isn't about how many toys you have to make them. It's about the sheer beauty of the perfume created. Right? A magnetic stirrer has never 'stirred' my senses ~ ha! But a beautiful aged absolute of frankincense has sent me to other worlds. Just sayin'.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

On Writing and Creating Perfume

I'm back to writing again -- well, I never truly stopped. The flow might be more stilted and jolty these days, but the writing is still happening. I tend to get too wordy, too explanatory, perhaps even over explaining things, so I am forced to go in with the editor's blue pen and mark, mark, mark until all those ragged edges are smoothed down. It's a bit like creating perfume. Smoothing down the rough edges in a composition can be very much like writing a chapter on perfumery. And much like my perfumery style, my writing on the same subject tends to be bold and risky -- I have ideas about how one puts together a perfume that others have not yet begun to entertain. There is certainly a process, but the process only works if the perfumer can make it work.

To date, the new book is over 46,000 words. With two chapters remaining -- well, three, one is halfway done, while two are still just the bones of the story. I've put much of the focus on the ART of creating perfume rather than the BUSINESS of creating perfume, and I'm finding that I dream about it often and lightning bolts of inspiration and ah-ha moments are found in those murky, misty dreams. I have a notebook and pencil next to my bed for when I'm able to rouse myself to write them down, otherwise they're lost to the ether of my subconscious, or I find traces of them in my memory when I wake. Like this sunflower graph. I was thinking of all the ways I've graphed perfume on paper using circles within circles, and colors within colors, and once even tried building a musical composition using Piesse's odophone (disastrous), and because I was working on a sunflower accord, this happened. It made sense in the dream state. I can see room for improvement in the light of day, but since it is conceptual . . .?

I fret overmuch.

I would also like to share a RESOURCE with you perfumers and perfumery students. My son-in-law works for Acme Vial in Paso Robles, CA (to my absolute glee) and they sell -- what else? -- vials! All sorts of vials up to 4 drams (14.7 milliliters = roughly 1/2 ounce) to anyone who wishes to buy them. The 5/8ths shorties are here, as are the tall clear with rubber corks, and glass dropper bottles in wee dram sizes too. They offer amber, green, and cobalt bottles (and clear), AND perfume sampler vials in 1/6th, 5/16th, and 3/8th sizes.  As far as I know, they do not have a minimum order requirement.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Oh, No!

For the past day and a half we've been under the gloomy stare of some seriously wicked thunderheads -- the humidity is off the charts (90-100%) and the soap I was planning to wrap today, the Honied Ginger, is in a bit of trouble. I poured powdered honey over the top of the soap loaf before cutting, and now the bars are weeping honey because of the high humidity! I'm going to pop them into the dehydrator for a while, then quickly wrap them and store them before the humidity gets to them again.

Windows 10 and Lost Computer Stuff

A few days ago I downloaded the new Windows 10 onto my chugging old computer, since then I haven't been able to figure out how to upload pictures from my camera! It used to be practically automatic -- plug in camera cable, and then *ding!*, a sound prompt and a window would open asking me what to do next, and then I'm happily on my way to both uploading pictures and erasing them from the camera memory card in one fell swoop. Now I plug in my camera, the *ding!* sounds, though a bit more aggressive and deep-throated than the previous *ding!*, and then nothing. No prompt screen, no window, nada. I'm definitely not a computer person -- I bought my first computer to connect with the internet for research and for writing, and to set up shop, and still that's all I do -- beyond that it's all in Martian context for me. I'll figure it out eventually . . . until then, I'm using a very convoluted method of getting photos of my stuff onto this dread box!

I'm nearing the end of what I can do with soap. Not really. It just feels like that because the soap rush has slowed. I'm still deeply intrigued by this honey powder, and then there's that hops soap I'm going to be making. The granddaughter was 'helping' grammie with soap stamping and wrapping and we were discussing soap scent and I whipped out the bottle of hops and an accompanying bottle of artemisia afra for her to sniff, expecting the typical reaction of someone who smells hops -- scrunched up nose, watering eyes, and a loud shriek -- "yuck!" But none of that happened. Instead, she inhaled deeply through her wee nose with her eyes closed, then opened them quickly and said, "It smells like something a witch would wear!" So that's it then. The designated Halloween soap of the season is hops and artemisia, both on the upper end of the narcotizing spectrum, both very strong, potent, and deeply green smelling. This will be a dreaming soap. Something to help calm rattled nerves and allow the user to settle into the dark side of the seasons, all warm and cozy and relaxed.

Here's something -- when I talk to people about natural perfumery, people who never experienced natural perfumes or didn't know they existed before meeting me, they almost always ask how did you get into that? And my answer is always because of natural soap. Yes. If it weren't for a trip back in 1996 to a little ramshackle wood building on the edge of the Columbia State Park in Columbia, California, and a beautiful mossy green bar of natural rosemary soap, I might never have grown into the perfumer I am today. Working with the natural soap making materials for all those years allowed me a slow and naturally progressing education in aromatics. I've never, not for a moment, given a rat's patootie about aromatherapy, no disrespect toward all the great and fabulous aromatherapists out there, but I just didn't care about what oils were used for an ailment. My approach was completely hedonistic in nature. I just wanted to make stuff that smelled gorgeous, period. So when the natural perfume revolution happened in the late 90's, early 2000's, I was on that ride. And what a ride it was! The roads back then were bumpy and poorly paved, and there were 'bandits' at every turn waiting to knock someone off the cart. It was little scary, and a lot of fun. Then I got off the ride because -- well, because it was all a load of pucky. I began to walk the side paths, deeper and deeper into the woods, and found a place I love to be. Right here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

More Soap

Poppymint ~ extra virgin olive oil, organic virgin coconut oil, organic hemp seed oil, with organic poppy seeds and peppermint essential oil

Honied Ginger ~ extra virgin olive oil, organic virgin coconut oil, organic hemp seed oil, honey powder, ginger root essential oil, rosemary essential oil, and Egyptian basil essential oil

I've been toying with the idea of a narcotic-like soap, something to put a person to sleep that isn't lavender or chamomile -- so hops soap is on the list. If you've never smelled hops, let me cue you in -- it smells like the skunky nuance found in artisan beer . . . or pot. As in weed. Mary Jane. Ganja. So if you use it, do so just before bedtime and not before work or school . . . or a job interview. Aromatherapy books suggest people who are in the throes of a 'deep depression' abstain from using hops essential oil as it can intensify the depressive situation.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Soaps! Finally . . .

Soaps are finally up at The Scented Djinn Apothecary at Etsy ~ making more today, so I'd best get this post done so I can get into it.

This is Original Kyphi. This soap was made with the leftovers of unfermented Kyphi incense made on September 19, 2015 at the Kyphi workshop I hosted. Nothing else was added -- no essential oils, no absolutes, no scent boosters of any kind -- it's just this -- this wonderfully dark and fragrant Kyphi soap. It's really quite unique.

This is Sunflower, comprised of whole raw aromatics like tuberose floral wax and marigold concrete and vanilla and galbanum resin. It's sweet and rustic, like wind rustling through the late fall harvest of golden wheat. Very nice grounding fragrance.

Herbal Yin is made up of perfumery alchemy at its best -- it started as a plain old spike lavender soap, a little bit medicinal and somewhat boring, but then I threw in some myrtle and then a bit of palmarosa, and just for fun, I chopped in four whole vanilla pods and then added a dash of vanilla to the mix. It's turned into something pretty interesting -- balancing and super fragrant and just lovely.

This is Djinn Rising, also very fragrant; a firey scent with resins and woods, ginger and angelica, and a bit of choya loban providing the char. The 'flames' in this soap are made of turmeric powder, patchouli powder, and dragon's blood resin powder. Enchanting.

And finally -- for the time being -- Honey, a surprisingly intense and beautifully warm scent made up of myrrh resin powder (lots) and honey powder (lots) enhanced with vanilla and jasmine sambac, clary sage and spicy warm mace. It's just stunning. I have a bar in the shower right now and I can't even describe how wonderful it is to use -- super bubbly and soft, and the scent that lingers on the skin is incredible -- warm and floral and sweet.

Well, I'm off to make a few more batches. I've got the usual Poppymint soap on the roster, then after that? I'm not sure. Wherever my fancy takes me, I suppose. I'm toying with the idea of pink lotus, or something else with that honey powder, maybe a cinnamon and honey concoction, or a cocoa and honey mix. Ta ta!

Sunday, October 04, 2015


The past week has been a roller coaster ride of highs and lows -- as usual. My very best friend in the world went in for surgery, and thank heavens, came out the other side better than she went in. I knew something was going on before I received the news she was in the hospital -- I had this pit of anxiety in my gut that kept waking me up with her on my mind. The next day she texted to say she was sick. A lot of emotional energy goes into worry. To let off a bit of steam, I went to Cambria, CA, about 30 minutes from home, with one of my older son's who was here for a day trip. I'd forgotten how lovely and pleasant Cambria was. They're in the throes of their annual 'Scarecrow Festival' and every shop and corner in the wee little town had a scarecrow on display. I found a sweet shop there called 'Verde' which is based around tea and fairies, and found bags of honey powder for sale, so, of course, I bought three. Honey soap is on the agenda this cool, cloudy, and damp Sunday. The shop keep offered to mail more honey powder to me if I was ever in need, then asked if I was a local, which I guess I am, so I turned down her offer of sending powder by post -- Cambria's too fun to miss even if I'm only going for a bag of honey powder. And the beaches there are divine. Not your summer fun-in-the-sun California beach, but a windswept, salty sea spray fogging up your glasses, coastal pines bending low to the ground, and tremendously vicious surf and rip tides kind of divine. Very grounding kind of environment.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Soap List -- She is Growing

So this is what I got so far -- a batch of smoky, pitchy, piney, resinous goodness; a batch of straight up Kyphi incense soap (those lovely dark bars), and a batch of herbal yumminess in the form of a spike lavender, palmarosa, myrtle, and wee bits of vanilla soap. All very fragrant, all made with organic oils, including hemp seed, all made chunky and big. The next batch on the list is the Poppymint, then sunflower (if I can pull it off), and then maybe something with pink lotus in it, perhaps a little red champa for 'sparkle', and a dollop of cananga to deepen and sweeten the soap. Then something else after that. Maybe. I'm a little rusty in the soap making department having not made any in a couple of months, and then none before that for even longer. I really should make an effort to make soap at least once or twice a month just to keep the skills honed.

I did write a bit yesterday, mostly a couple of recipes I was working on. The book is coming along, however, the plodding pace is beginning to wear me down. To my own credit, there is much more black print than red these days. When I started, the entire thing was a mash of red notes and outlines to flesh out at a later date. Once I got the pace the book writing was setting, I was able to fall in and get more work done. But still. It's just taking forever.

While doing some research, I found this diagram in a book written in 1917 entitled 'Sex and Sex Worship (Phallic Worship)' by Otto Augustus Wall. The source of the diagram was just as surprising and intriguing as the diagram itself, which outlines Piesse's Odophone in use.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Writing, Baking, and Soap

The writing hasn't begun again since getting back home from teaching the Kyphi class last week. I did go through the roughly 43,000 words for a quick edit yesterday, but didn't feel even the slightest inkling to begin work on it again. The inkling is coming back, though, so writing might happen later today or tomorrow. One of the subjects in the book is cookery with natural perfumery ingredients, and I've already got quite a stockpile of delicious recipes to add -- one that is literally fermenting as I write this is a sweet little sparkling wine made with fresh organic blackberries and lavender syrup (homemade, of course). The bottles for this beautiful rose colored confection are on their way and once they arrive, I will bottle them, label them, then pop them into the fridge until the holidays when they will be shared, chilled and sparkling and darkly herbal. I made a peach and rose pan tart as well with preserved peaches and a titch of organic rose otto. People hereabouts are wary of my baked goods because I do use so many aromatics that it's hard to slip one past them, but this one I did easily. I could smell and taste the rosy goodness, but no one else had a clue as they inhaled the sweet, fruity and delectable dessert.

I finally got to begin the soap making season with a strange little addition to the library -- a lovely elemi, cedar wood, ginger root, choya loban, angelica root and orange oil concoction that screams elemi (balance) with tendrils of creamy, woody Himalayan cedar and sparkling bitter notes of ginger root throughout. I wanted to add some punch to the usually drab colors so I played around with some turmeric powder, dragon's blood resin powder, and some deliciously fragrant and powdery sweet patchouli powder -- the effect isn't quite as swirly pretty as more fluid colorants and in spots it looks a bit gloppy. I like it. I've always been one to appreciate pretty-ugly in all things. Not quite sure what's on the soap making agenda next as I have a tendency to free style these things, but they all promise to be special, unusual, and made with purpose. The ingredients in this newest soap are extra virgin olive oil, organic virgin coconut oil, organic fair trade palm oil, and organic hemp seed oil scented with ginger root, Himalayan cedar wood, elemi, choya loban, angelica root oil colored with turmeric powder, patchouli powder, and fine dragon's blood powder.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Gather Ye Rosebuds

After the hub bub of getting my 15 minutes of fame, which turned out to be more like 10 minutes with commercials, I'm settling into my fall routine of soap making, incense making, butter making, balm making, and generally scenting things until they can't stand themselves. The going's been slow, though, what with the babysitting and all -- a two-month-old is very hard to please when the mindset is full speed ahead, no time to stop and plunk a bottle in the mouth, so listen up and pay attention, wee bitty apprentice soap maker, and stop yer pouting. Brainstorming the soaps and I've decided what I'm going to do with all these aged bottles of hydrosol -- the still good, been locked in a dark, cool closet, tightly sealed and squirreled away hydrosols -- they're going to become an ingredient in the soap, which if I don't get off this useless machine, will never come to fruition.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Kyphi Workshop, a Vlogger, and Chuck Leonard, KAIL, Channel 53 & The Central Valley Buzz!

It has been a roller coaster of events this past weekend for me and my posse. I'm joking -- I don't really have a posse. It was mostly just me and my friend Shannon, proprietress of Seasons of Spirit botanical gardens and gift shop in Sanger, CA. Anywho, the Kyphi Workshop was fabulous despite the fact that a few people I was looking forward to hobnobbing with were unfortunately unable to make it -- maybe next time? We had about a dozen folks show up for the workshop and everyone was chattering among themselves, asking questions, grinding herbs and resins in mortars, and generally having a good time. It was more of a community gathering than a strict teaching gig. One of the attendees took some video for her YouTube channel to make a 'newscast' type vlog post about the Kyphi Workshop -- more info about that later as it won't be ready for public consumption for a few more weeks. The Kyphi itself turned out beautifully, completely infused with good vibes and great positive energy. And I was asked to appear on a local TV talk show called The Central Valley Buzz with Chuck Leonard (Channel 53, KAIL, Fresno, CA) and I agreed even though that type of thing is so far out of my comfort zone and I felt completely unprepared. I have this new philosophy about my life and that is to live it. Jump into the deep end of the pool without the floaties, I say, because joy and accomplishment won't appear if you're just sitting on the side of the pool wishing for the fear to subside. Sometimes you have to look at fear and say, "Get lost!" Or something more strongly worded, preferably something with profanity.

So I did the TV show and I looked like a goober doing it, but I did it. Me, ol' Miss Melt in a Puddle of Fear, sat on a comfy chair and talked mad gobs of crap about Kyphi and natural perfumery and soap making to the host, Chuck Leonard -- I stumbled, lost my train of thought, my mouth dried up and I looked like a horse chewing gum trying to wet my lips, I blushed, I waved my hands around like a crazy person -- but I did it. Me - 1; Hurdle - 0.

It airs today (September 22, 2015) from 12-1PM on Channel 53, KAIL, seen through the great state of CA from Modesto to Bakersfield (about 200,000 viewers thereabouts) and in a few weeks I'm hoping it'll be up on YouTube for your comedy entertainment (I'll post a link so we can all laugh at me together). There are opportunities to go back on the show, for which I think I am going to take advantage, but I'll be more prepared and I'll take more stuff to share now that I know what it's like. I'll still be as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but I'll do it.

It was a fun, exhausting, and productive weekend and I can't wait to do it again.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Nerves and Jitters

The Kyphi workshop is coming up quickly and I've had little time to prepare for it. I have all the materials together (I think), and I've made Kyphi before (obviously) -- many, many times before, and I know that building Kyphi in a group makes the process a thousand times more spiritually infused than building it alone, though alone has its reverential perks too. There was business in Fresno Monday, nothing I can talk about, but stuff that puts a person on edge, makes them jumpy and uncomfortable and fearful of what the future may hold. I think a lot of my insecurities from all these non-related-to-Kyphi-building events is leaking into the Kyphi event. I have all of tonight and tomorrow to really prep and print out anything pertinent for the class, then it's on a bus/train Friday to set the whole thing up. Oh! And I was invited to do a podcast interview with a local Fresno TV/radio celebrity who wants to promote the workshop, but I can't make it because I won't be back in Fresno until Friday . . . it seems like I always miss these opportunities to educate people about natural perfumery and its related aromatic fields. It is ironic that I lived in Fresno nearly my whole life and I begin to get local recognition only after I've moved away! For two years I busted my bum trying to get the community interested and involved in natural perfumery and Kyphi and distillation and perfumed food with little (call it zero) results, but now -- now that I'm two hours away, I'm getting requests for interviews and local people are signing up for the classes and workshops I present over there. Funny how life works out. I guess in order to get folks on the coast interested, I'll have to move somewhere else. The desert maybe. Alaska. The moon.

I'm jonesing to build soap again. It's soap season and I'm behind right now. I'm waiting for the workshop to be done with before jumping into soap making for the holidays. I've already got some projects going for holiday gifts for family and friends, perfumed wines and whatnot -- homemade rootbeer, perfumed goodies, and soap and perfume and incense. I guess this could be considered incense season as well since it's when I'm most inspired to create incense. I'm ready to get some incense sticks going again. I've been getting requests for them, which always surprises me. I sell direct from Etsy and I do a brisk business from September to January, then things settle down to a more plodding pace, and surprisingly, as much as I do during the holidays, only about 50% of sales (perhaps a little less, maybe 45% or even 40%) receive feedback -- so what surprises me is that people who aren't leaving feedback on previous purchases from the apothecary are usually the customers who want to know when something will be in stock again. And here I thought you didn't like what you got.

Writing in the book has become mostly red notes again -- brief outlines of what I want to write about -- ideas that come in and need writing down before they're forgotten. I've woken up in the middle of the night to rush down to the computer and jot things down in red, so that when I'm more caffeinated I can flesh it all out. I'm up to just over 43,000 words now and still (and I say this all the time) no where near close to done. But I'm getting there! Slowly. There's just so much to impart and I'm not even scratching the surface because it can be overwhelming and some of it is just bull pucky anyway -- mostly in the gadgetry department. Must have this _______ (fill in the blank) machine or your perfume won't be good, or must have -- you get it, right? Magnetic stirrers and ultrasonics and vacuum filters and -- geesh, how can anyone just learning stick with it with all the 'must haves' when we all know perfectly well that it can be done simply and effectively (and inexpensively) the old fashioned way -- by waiting, by taking time and allowing the art to come to light on its own. Can you tell I've scaled way down in my own production and attitude about natural perfumery? Anyway, that's just my way and not everyone agrees with my attitudes about natural perfumery. I'm not into the commercialization of my art anyway. Do I want to sell it? Sure, it feeds my obsession and keeps me experimenting; do I want to sell cases of my art at Barney's? No way. I've done production before and it totally sucks the life out of the work because it all boils down to costs. They want it as cheaply as they can get it, and I want to get what it's worth, and those two concepts rarely match up. Years ago when I was selling cases of soap, I literally made something like .02 per bar because I refused to compromise on the quality of the raw materials. I could have made a dollar fifty a bar if I'd used cheaper materials, but I couldn't make myself do it because it wouldn't be my work anymore, it would be me trying to make money and not presenting the customer with a quality product. That's not what I was in it for (well, at first I was, then later I wasn't). So commercialization and mass production of anything I make these days isn't even a consideration.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hot, Muggy & Aromatic

It's been unseasonably hot and humid the past couple of days, with today promising to be the worst for the week. I'm so over summer, can I have some autumn now? Please?

My favorite tea shop is moving from just down the block to halfway across town, which, to be fair, isn't very far considering 'town' is small. I'm hoping for some opportunities to teach in their new location, which is bigger, grander, and more holisticky (?) than the wee shop they're in now. I've spoken to the owner a time or two about classes and workshops there, plus perhaps using her commercial kitchen to whip up some sellable (?) perfumed dishes. The owner has also shown some interest in obtaining some kopi luwak (civet coffee) for her shop, which I will be purchasing from her to distill for oil and hydrosols -- I'd go it on my own but I don't need much for my purposes, and I think it would be kind of fun to take something from the tea shop and bring something else back made from what I took from the tea shop. I'm happy that they have this wonderful opportunity for growth, but I'm a bit bummed that I can't just drag my bum down the road for a cup and a chat anymore. It's time to get the bicycle now, don't you think so?

The tuberose enfleurage has been put on hold again -- with the trips back and forth to Fresno and just the general schedule of who is doing what when has thrown a monkey wrench in my ability to be at the market where the tuberoses are being sold. The tuberose lady told me she sells well into October, so hopefully I'll get a few more rounds before then and have this super densely scented pommade to play with. So far it's pretty well saturated. I can smear on a wee dot of the stuff and it smells for a good hour or longer, pretty good for a pommade. I've been using it to hold down a couple of the perfumes I've been building over the summer -- the layering makes for an exquisitely classic floral bouquet perfume. Maybe I'll sell the perfumes with a wee tub of tuberose pommade for just that purpose.

I just evaluated a gorgeous valerian absolute from India, circa 2005 -- beautiful! Smells of sweet pipe tobacco, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, and has kind of a cola back note -- fizzy and tickly. So unlike valerian root -- none of the ripened cheese, dirty, sweaty feet essence is here at all. The left nostril perceives a coolness to it, like high mountain ponds filled with desiccated conifers and wet moss -- life! The right nostril finds the brackish notes, the tobacco and the caramel and molasses, the darkness that resides there. Valerian absolute is a surprise in its complexity and lack of valerian root ugliness.


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