Monday, February 29, 2016

Social Media vs. Spring

I think I need a break from social media. From all media, actually. The webosphere is awash with politics and Bernie, which I don't mind, and the television is awash with politics and almost no Bernie, which I do mind. And stupid sh*t on the national news that's so not news it's almost on the same level as our wee local news where stories about cats up trees being rescued by brawny firemen isn't an uncommon thing. The local news is forgiven; the national news, not so much. The social media stuff is depressing the hell out of me right now. I'm don't know 100% why, but I guess the bombardment of politics, the state of our environment, how the guvmint is hell bent on making peasants of us all, and all the racism and hatefulness that's being bandied about these days isn't helping. I'm not a pacifist per se, I will stand up for myself and my people, and if someone deserves a swift kick to the shins, and all other avenues of a peaceful resolution have been exhausted, then they're going to get one. I do not advocate violence as a first response, though my natural human instinct might be to take a bite, I will bite my lip instead and try to resolve the issue with kindness. What exhausts me is the hate and greed and ignorance and -- and hate! It's a disease of violence, and if not treated with kindness and love and understanding and a whole lot of compassionate explaining, it goes completely unchecked. And there are those who are immune to the cure. They hate because it makes them feel important. Because to have a cause, even if their 'cause' is to hurt others, is better than not having one at all.The haters are a sect (or a whole?) of the bully-victim tribe, the person who pushes and pushes and pushes, then cries foul when pushed back. They're the blamers. Everyone on the planet is responsible for their misfortune in life, because heaven forbid should they take a bit of responsibility, even if it's to say they won't let those things bother them. If you give it your best shot and someone still sh*ts all over you, then that's how it was going to be anyway. Nothing to be done about it, except to begin again. It's about attitude. And some acceptance. And standing up for what's right when it's right to do so. And learning when to take your toys and go home. And then charging back into the fray with a newer, intelligent, non-aggressive strategy. But never, ever is it about brandishing the sword of hate. The social media is like a perpetual ticker tape of the good, the bad, and the obscenely politically ugly, and I'm done for a while. I have some harvesting and enfleuraging to set up. Some stuff to evaluate. Some life to live.

The hyacinths are blooming big time! When I bought the bulbs, I thought I had a bag of all blues, but I'm getting blues, pinks, whites, and a weird fuchsia. So today me and the wee one are going to go a-plucking, and then I'm going to let her help me set the blossoms into the fat. On Saturday I found branches of just blooming lilacs from a grower, and I rushed them home, dipped them in root starter and then planted them in containers. They all have flowers and leaves and whatnot, so I'm hoping that at least one takes hold. My lilac from my mum's disappeared. It may have gotten frostbitten a ways back, but I honestly can't remember what happened to it. That lilac was a cutting from a 90-year-old lilac bush. I miss the history, and my mother's touch. I still have a lot of plants left that she started for me -- a magnolia from seed, a holly bush, some succulents, a pretty little scentless, fat-leafed geranium, two big, bushy asparagus ferns.

Pink Hyacinth

Blue/Purple Hyacinth

White Hyacinth

Fushia Hyacinth


Bee Food - Dandy-Lion
I love spring. I just hope it loves me back, which means, please don't kill my nose with your pollens!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Lovely Hippy Bread

Bread making is another of my passions. I get in a groove when I make bread, it's like meditation, some of my best thoughts are thunk while making bread. I learned bread making from my step-father's mother when I was about 10-years-old, as she made her own bread every Saturday morning to last the week. I was usually there on those mornings, with my flour covered hands, too-long apron, and the kinetic energy required for proper dough kneading. I perfected my no-recipe breads in my mid-20's and have been making variation after variation ever since, including this delicious and wild recipe. It sounds a little crazy, and to some, downright disgusting, but I assure you, if you love patchouli, as I know those who do, um, do, then you'll adore this bread. 

Patchouli Bread with Kalamata Olive and Feta Cheese

5-6 c flour (if using whole wheat flour, use 1/2 c less)

2 cups warm water

4 tblsp extra virgin olive oil (evoo)

2 tblsp active dry yeast

6 ounces drained and pitted kalamata olives

4 ounces crumbled feta cheese

1 tblsp sugar or honey

1 tsp powdered patchouli leaf and 1 drop patchouli essential oil, blended

1 tsp salt

Heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Dissolve yeast and sugar or honey in the warm water (keep the water temperature around 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit). Once the yeast bubbles up and becomes foamy, add two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, then pour the warm water/yeast/sugar/oil mixture into a large mixing bowl, add two cups of flour and mix well. Add more flour until the dough is soft but no longer sticky. Remove the dough from the bowl and begin kneading the dough on a floured surface, adding more and more flour as the kneading continues, until the dough is firm and pliable. Form the dough into a ball. Allow it to rest while you was the mixing bowl. Thoroughly dry the bowl and oil it with a tablespoon of evoo. Roll the dough in the bowl until it is cover in oil and let it rest in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a warm wet dish towel and place the bowl in a warm place to allow it to rise, about  double in size, for around an hour. Once the dough has doubled, punch it down. Flour your kneading surface well, remove the dough from the bowl and begin kneading again until pliable, and what air bubbles you may feel in the dough are popped out. Knead for about 15 minutes. This doesn't have to be a strain, gently kneading and rolling the dough is perfect -- pounding the life out of it isn't necessary. Once the dough is smooth and pliable and a little stretchy, roll the dough out as if you were making pizza, using a rolling pin until the dough is about half an inch thick. In a small bowl add the final tablespoon of evoo and the teaspoon of powdered patchouli leaf-drop of oil mixture and blend well. Spread the olive/patchouli mixture over the surface of the rolled out dough, cover as much of the dough's surface as you can, as if you were putting sauce on a pizza. Add the drained and pitted kalamata olives to the surface of the dough, distributing evenly (you may even coarsely chop the olives if you prefer), then top with the feta cheese, spreading evenly. Fold the right and left side of the dough inward about 1 inch so the filling doesn't topple out of the dough when you begin rolling it pinwheel fashion. once the dough is rolled up, place it on a lightly oiled sheet pan seam side down and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown. Allow the loaf to cool 20 minutes before cutting. Use a serrated bread knife. Serve with tomato soup, pasta, or on its own.

(Originally published in 'A Perfumer's Cookbook' written by me) 

If you make this, let me know how it turned out, and if you liked it. I created this recipe during a Mediterranean food phase, and that might not be your cup of tea. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Terpentine & Cider

A few days ago, while walking down the sidewalk near my home, I found a block of pine resin the size of my fist. Yep. A big ole hunk'a resin. So I dragged it home in my Radio Flyer wagon. No I didn't. I just picked it up and held in my paw until I got home. It's quite degraded, actually. A bit on the crumbly side, oxidized, smells of poop and terpentine. But still useful for incense, despite it's less than flowery attributes. Hey, if perfumers can use whale puke/poop in perfume . . . nothing is sacred or off the list. At the very least, my hunk of pine resin dust can be used as a binder in Kyphi or stick incense.

I'm officially into craft ciders of the hard variety. There's a brewery down the road that serves artisan beer and on occasion artisan ciders. Really, really delicious ciders. Potentially getting you into trouble ciders. I'm not a big drinker, but I do love a nice cider. I've 'sampled' a bone dry apple cider which was like sipping a slightly fruity/tart dry champagne; a red plum cider, a vintage apple cider (the apples are heirloom vintage, not the cider), a pineapple cider, a blackberry cider -- the varieties and the flavors, it's like perfumery for my tongue. I love -- or did love -- mead as well, but in comparison to these ciders, mead seems way too sweet. Less sweet suits. The trouble with ciders is that they slide down so easily. Drinking cider is like drinking tea or juice. Too easy. And these craft ciders are higher in alcohol content than most store-bought ciders. Anyway, you know me, I'm trying to figure out how to make cider and 'flavor' them with lovely perfumery materials, like rose otto, jasmine, orange blossom, etc. Tipping a sweet, cool glass of rose apple cider sounds absolutely divine. Not a rosé. A rose. Or a lip smacking glass of jasmine plum cider. I may be giving away ideas here! So do it, cider maker, make me a rose apple or a jasmine plum cider. Or an orange blossom bone dry. Do it.

I must get off this box and begin the day. I'm still working out how this new computer works, and I think that I might have bought more computer (much more) than what I need. Naw!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

New New

Got a new computer. It's pretty cool. Does tons more stuff than I need it to do, but now I know I'm good on processing and document storage for a while. It took me a while to figure out how to set it up as I was unaware it was a super gaming system with ports for two monitors. I troubleshot the hell out of it before I figured out I had the monitor plugged into the wrong port. Because there are two. Because I'm a complete nerd like that, right? To an extent, but not quite that far. Two monitors? It just seems like overkill to me, but then I'm not gaming or multi-tasking weird stuff either. I was also surprised to learn that all programs, like Word and Photoshop are either by subscription or completely online now. So no more disks all over the place. No more bootlegs -- hehehehehe. Anyway, I'll catch up to 2016 sometime in 2020, I'm sure of it.

New stuff is happening this year. I'm in the process of working out a schedule for classes. I've got a soap class scheduled for July at the Intermountain Nursery in Prather/Auberry, CA, then series of perfume workshops in Boulder, CO sometime this summer. Haven't really ironed out the details of that one just yet. I'd love to get a few more scheduled, some Kyphi workshops and at least one stick incense workshop. If any of you reading are interested in hosting a workshop or a class, let me know. I'm in a traveling mood this year.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Antique Oil of Cade & Hempiliciousness

Today I listed wee vials of antique cade from my library onto the Etsy shop. As I was dusting the library pieces, it suddenly dawned on me that I really have no need of eight ounces of un-rectified 116-year-old cade oil, even if the bottle is pretty. So I'm letting go of roughly an ounce and a half. That way, the bottle still looks nice on the shelf, and someone else gets to enjoy a bit of antique perfumery.

Last night all the major players here left for the weekend -- yay! The bulk of them won't be returning until tomorrow evening, which means I get two days to loll about, eating chocolate truffles and drinking sparkling wine until I fall down. Not really. I actually formulated a new butter -- in my head. Another in the Hempilicious line-up scented with a sweet, smooth spice, a little vanilla, and a touch of rose. I'm going for the texture of this:

This stuff was amazing! It looked like jelly and spread over the skin like warm butter and then melted right in. I made big jars of this stuff, something like four ounces or so, and sold out in less than a week. I'm looking for that again -- not so much the selling out as the look and feel of it -- I had a jar for myself that I used after showering and when it was all gone, I lamented its loss thinking I could never recreate it again. I have the formulation, I just felt then that I could never recapture the magic of it. Anyway, I'm going for it. Now that everyone's gone, I feel the air around me is lighter and all these magickal and mysterious alchemical creations are reaching out, begging to become. Watch tomorrow for the newest version of our Hempilicious Face, Hair & Body Goo, Guaranteed to Relive and Cure Nothing to hit the cyber-shelves.

Now that everyone's gone, I don't know what to do with myself. I have so many projects sitting here I could work on, but it's also a beautiful sunny day, the birds are chirping, the kitty is playing happily just outside the back sliding door, the hyacinth's are popping up, the breeze is . . . breezing, and everything has slipped into a zen mode. I love it! It makes me want to go out and explore. But then I have so many projects that I've put off because that zen feeling is so rarely here -- it's the perfect environment in which to create. I get so much done when the atmosphere is like this, so I'll stay in, light some incense, and whip up some goodies and infuse all that quiet joy into whatever comes from my hands.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Linden Blossom Fabulous Facial Serum, and More Angst

There is another new product at The Scented Djinn Apothecary at Etsy-- a sweet little sparkling facial serum with hempseed oil, argan oil, and a generous sprinkling of linden blossom CO2 courtesy of Enfleurage of NY. The CO2 doesn't blend well with oil, so the serum looks like it's got little globes of glitter floating around in it. Doesn't deter from the overall effect of skin yummy-ness and blossomy scent. 

I'm working on more serums, more complicated scent combinations using essential oils that really love doing nice things to skin. The hempseed and argan mix is so nice -- I use this blend, scented and unscented, on my face nearly every day and I can really feel a positive difference from how it felt before slathering on the serum.

I've been making a point of getting up early so I have more time to work on the computer, mostly fielding questions from readers of my books and from students. I've noticed, however, that the earlier I get up, the earlier the bearers of children get up, bearing the children, who are promptly tossed into my arms so some menial task can be completed. This while I sit here with six questions to answer, a notebook and pen under my hand, a few bottles of diluted aromatics at my elbow,and a Skype discussion on the computer screen -- looking, for all intents and purposes, BUSY, and still. Nothing I do is respected here by anyone in this house. I'm nothing more than the person who keeps the fridge stocked and the dishes washed. This is another reason for getting out of the house and into a real studio space. Not that I won't still be relied upon to do these things, but the effort to work out problems will fall back into their laps and not be conveniently placed into mine without a thought. 

I'm in the process of putting together the tea house soaps, beginning with the Kyoto Cherry Rose Tea soap. Then I think Russian Caravan next, Cinnamon Fig, and then finally Butterscotch. I also dug up from my tea stash a wee bag of White Chai, which smells fabulous! I may make that one for myself. Perhaps even a simple Moroccan Mint with light peppermint, green tea, and a hint of vanilla. These scents, depending upon how well they perform in a soap base, may also find themselves in wee perfumed butters. Maybe even a sweet pot of sugar lip scrub.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The FedEx Man Texteth

Nothing like waking up to Alarm by FedEx. Did you know they will text you if an adult's signature is needed for a package? Like, hours before they deliver said package? I love that they do that -- nice reminder, especially if you're not prone to jumping on the computer to read emails at the crack of dawn. What bites is the time between the text and the actual time of delivery. It's like setting an appointment with the cable company. Or death.

Me: "When did you say you'd be here to pick me up?"

Death: "Oh, somewhere between 1963 and the early to mid-2000's. Is that convenient for you, or do you have to be somewhere? Forewarning, lady, there's a fee if you cancel your appointment."

Yesterday the wee one and I spent a little time gardening. We built a barrier in the back strip using animal crates and an old litter box to prevent wee-dog from trotting to the other side to do her business. Wee-dog still has plenty of poop space, but now the wee one also has some space to romp in, poop free. There are a couple of planter boxes back in the strip, one with a giant aloe vera octopusing over the sides, and the other is the tater stash. The tater stash is kind of an experimental incubator of potatoes I find at the farmer's markets around here -- I think the last one I planted was a Peruvian blue, or something like that. They're growing even though it isn't potato season. That's what you get in a micro-climate, weather unlike what the guy 20 miles up the road gets. And the honeysuckle is back there too. With all the water we've gotten this winter, the honeysuckle blossoms should be spectacular. There will be plenty for the enfleurage plates.

The front garden got some attention as well. After cleaning off the front porch of all the damp and ruined stuff, we set to work repotting the magnolia. My mother potted that magnolia for me several years ago from a seed that fell from a 100-year-old grand magnolia growing in her backyard. She cursed that tree too as it dumped leaves on her potting stand and buried many of her baby plants. The magnolia had grown about a foot since I received it three years ago, adding a few more bundles of leaves as it went, but I could tell it wasn't going to continue growing with such gusto without putting it into a larger container. The pot I picked was used for some strange celery smelling Australian no-water plant that got grossly overwatered a year back and finally gave up the ghost. My hope is that the magnolia thrives in this bigger pot as it was severely root bound in the last pot. We also checked the bulby things and they're all popping up! The hyacinth enfleurage is about a week or two away now. The pink jasmine is beginning to send out bright green fingers, slowly wrapping them around the bobbing long-necked succulents with whom they share a pot. Succulents like these grow like mad around here with little to zero tending. No joke, if one snaps in two, you can take the part that separated from the plant, poke a hole in the dirt, stuff it into the hole and it'll grow like it lived in that hole its entire life. They're Superman succulents. And they make good trellises for the jasmine to grow.

Today we were going to take a trip around the neighborhood so the wee one could ride her bike, but FedEx has put the kibosh on that idea. We'll probably end up on the driveway with a pack of sidewalk chalk instead.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Writing, Gardening, & Post Officing

This week I'm expecting more raw materials to arrive. Yeah, I know, more stuff to stuff into this already over stuffed space. I've got some student papers to review, a soap class to format, some orders to fill, some post officing to do. I'm going to be busy the next month or so restocking perfumes (making them, actually), and coming up with some online classes and workshops based on the new book. I'm also dusting off the old incense manuscript and beginning work on that again. I know I said I wasn't going to write for a while, but I can't help myself. The exhaustion, confusion, and sense I loss I felt after finishing WTBII have diminished and I'm ready to tackle another project. With all this new stuff coming in, I'll have plenty to talk about.

I'm still thinking hard on that studio space. It may have to wait a few months until I get my bearings again, but it's always there in the forefront of my mind.

I wanted to talk about something I just received last week: Enfleurage's Linden Blossom (Tilia cordata) CO2. Amazing! It is sweet and succulent and warm -- parts of it remind me of damp tobacco, other parts remind me of dried fig, and there is this overall tone of fruitiness that is astounding. It's much louder than linden blossom absolute, much better defined. It smells like the little pink and yellow and white mimosa flowers from mum's yard -- the flowers that she railed against in the spring and summer when they'd fall indiscriminately down onto the carefully tended garden below. I can see this CO2 adding a lush, deep, dark floral and honey quality to a perfume.

I've been planting bergamot seeds everywhere! There is a 99% possibility that not a single one will grow, but I can't help but give them a chance anyway. Every time I use bergamot, I extract the seeds and poke them in one of the many empty planter boxes outside in hopes that the freezing temperatures will spur their germination. I still have quite the stash of seeds sitting damp and cold in the refrigerator. Soon they will go into the soil too, but in a more disciplined manner. Basically on purpose. Watch, those will be the ones that never germinate, while the ones I poked in the dirt in a hurry -- the dozens and dozens of them spread across the gardens -- will pop up like weeds. Whatever works, right?

Sooooo, I've been keeping a close eye on the planter boxes lately in hopes that the bulby things will show signs of emerging, and just the other day I was honored with the appearance of the pokey tip of a hyacinth! They seem to be right on time as hya's are typically in full bloom in mid- to late-February. The paperwhites already made their appearance just before Christmas and are still going strong, but I don't have nearly enough of those yet to enfleurage. Each year they've doubled up, so maybe next year or the year after I'll be able to get a wee pommade from them. For now, they're just looking pretty and stinking up the porch.

Monday, February 01, 2016

The Eclectic Collection of Exquisite Grab Bag Goods & Some Other Stuff

First, shameless sales tactic here ~ I've put together those grab bags, only they aren't bags, and they don't cost a dollar, or contain anything in them less than $40 ($50 to $90 is more like it), and I REALLY want them gone. Like, a burning desire to see those boxes off. They are pre-packed, and I have no idea what is in them individually other than they're crammed full of whatever I could fit, including soap (every box has soap), incense (not every box has incense), scrubs (not every box has a scrub), and perfume (every box has perfume -- some have more than one) -- and they're a great way to stock up your natural skincare pantry for next to nothing. Treat yourself, buy one -- heck, buy two! Get them out of here -- they're causing quite the mental stock block.

Last November, about four days before my birthday, I did something I literally NEVER do; I bought myself jewelry. Cheap jewelry, albeit, but jewels, my style. The website I bought the jewel from gave a 60 to 80 day delivery time (yow!) but it didn't bother me because it wasn't a gift to someone else, there was no timeline, just that some time in 2016 I should receive it. It was delivered a few days ago, and it was worth the wait, in my opinion. I love it. It's gaudy, brilliant, different, and 'out there' -- just my style. I love it so much, I went back to the website and ordered another one in a different setting with a blue stone (like a CZ sapphire or something). The one I initially purchased is like a CZ ruby. I've never worn a ruby in my life, but I'm rocking the rubies now.

I have vacillated on the salt/solid perfume idea to the point that I'm not certain anymore what to do with the goods I gathered to build them. I'm trying to downsize here, but I realized that I'm expanding (in some areas) instead. I'm resolved, however, to whip this ship into shape and purge a lot of stuff I don't need because what I need more than anything in the world is SPACE! I will eventually work on that salt/solid perfume idea. I have to. It wants it.

Two new items are going up at the Apothecary & Thurifercorum today -- a beautifully distilled, rare, and seasonal bergamot hydrosol, and an equally beautiful, not quite so rare, and completely seasonless Bergamot & Violet soap. Both are exquisite (yeah, I use that word a lot), the bergamot slowly and tediously distilled using the whole fruit to create the hydrosol, and the perfume formulation for the bergamot soap aged for nearly two months before being poured into a lovely soap base of organic extra virgin olive oil, organic virgin coconut oil, creamy coconut milk, and delectable raw yellow shea butter.


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