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.



Monday, September 07, 2015

Book Reviews, Oh, How I Loathe Thee!

I hate reading book reviews. My book reviews, other writers' book reviews, just book reviews in general. They really aren't helpful to me anymore because I have something of an insider's viewpoint. I know that most self-published books are favorably reviewed by the author's friends and family, which isn't an accurate way to audit a book for content, as nice as all those lovely filled in stars can be. Also, people who personally dislike an author will write horrid reviews based on their hatred, and not on the book or the writing or content, or basically anything that effing matters to people who have zero affiliation and want to see a fair review to determine whether or not they want to spend time and money on a book! Phew. And then there are the trolls -- I've been one and I've been served by many. I no longer 'troll' because I have a conscience. I feel bad when I say something mean or snarky meant to put someone in their place; and I feel worse when I get trolled for trolling! So I don't. Troll, that is. Is 'troll' a verb or a noun?

Anyway, trolls. Mean people. Cruel people. People who can never be pleased no matter what a person does. The ones who poop on your parade, pee in your sweet tea, shame you for having a voice, call you out for some indiscretion, imaged or real. And the worst are the trolls who troll trolls (and this post may be doing just that). I've read book reviews wherein all-out troll wars were started, dragging the author in, then pulling her out to bicker among themselves, then back in, and out again, basically beating the crap out of her until moving on to the next victim. And you don't need me to tell you that this phenomenon is pervasive online. I'm no intellectual, and I have serious issues with attention deficit and processing information and overwhelming empathy that sometimes I just don't 'get it', whatever 'it' is, until hours or days or weeks later, making me a perfect target for these people. I sometimes have brief moments of genius, as elusive as the Victorian ankle, and then I become giddy with awe of myself in those moments, that I ultimately goof myself out of it. Back to hum drum dumb. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I just can't handle those assholes ~ ha!

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