Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Different Faces of Oh, True Apothecary!

As you might have noticed (or not judging by the new widget stats), I have been toying with different 'skins' for this blog. Again. I have this problem with static situations -- I don't like them. And instead of getting a spring cleaning, I perform an autumn cleaning. When the weather turns from sweltering to chilling, I go on the move. I walk more, reflect more, create more, write more, and change more than any other time during the year.

This time, I'm finally satisfied with the changes I've made here. I like the apothecary look of the background. The side panel is appropriately sized, the colors jibe, and I added that globe widget that tells you who is looking at the blog and when. Which, really, is quite laughable because at the moment, and for the past hour I've been messing with this blog, it's just been me -- hahaha! For the past three or four months, my blog stats have been unusually high, and I knew from the beginning I was being attacked by robot computers again -- I mean, how does one go from around 90 views a day to 900 views a day? One doesn't unless one has recently established a cult following, which I am pretty sure I have not. I tried contacting Blogger to sort this out, but that was pointless. Basically, I'm stuck with false stats until the robots stop picking on my blog, or the blog dies. So I am attempting to get more accurate readings by adding that globe thingey. We'll see if it works. I the meantime, look at your fine self up there on the globe, all alone. Ha!

I finally received my wee slip tins for solid perfumes and I'm champing at the bit to begin. I pulled everything out onto the kitchen table, much to the family's chagrin, as I'm supposed to be doing this in the studio/garage. I like working in the studio, but I have no heat source, and without a heat source, there are no solid perfume balms. I listed a few that I was planning to make in a previous post here, but that could change. The more I think about making the solids, the more ideas I get to make other solids, and it becomes a tsunami of work I put in front of myself when I realize I need to order more tins, and discover I'm nearly out of this or that, and the table stacks high with finished solids, and I smack my head against the computer table trying to figure out labels, and . . . it can be exhausting. But I'm up to the challenge.

I've begun another book. Yeah, it began as an e-booklet for the shop on the compounding of incense for perfumers and then it turned into this monster with chapters and headings and sub-headings and footnotes and sources. And now it's a book. And it will not be ready for the holidays as I'd hoped (for the e-book). It's going to be another 2-year ride, unless, of course, not having to babysit and chauffeur makes a difference in production. Hopefully, the current situation will allow me the time to give this book its due, instead of rushing it along and f*cking up key points and leaving things out because there isn't time to flesh them out. This book has to be better than the last, right? If it's worse, then surely the worms have done their jobs and eaten my brain entirely.

I had better get busy. I have this to contend with for the next few weeks.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


I'm beginning to experience that feeling of panic one feels when they realize they are (or may be) completely unprepared for the upcoming holidays. There has to be a name for it, like paratusluein, or stupid-self-sabotaging-dork.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A New Compounded Resin Incense in the Making

Though it looks much like all the other compounded resin incense I've made, this newest one in the works, the one with orange blossom and propolis and orange and lime and patchouli and sandalwood and frankincense and . . . more, more, more, is so very different from what I've made before. But then, that's kind of my thing. I'm always trying to outdo myself. And I am having so much fun working perfumery technique into incense creation. This gig seems so much more creative and fluid than perfumery because there aren't the same restrictions in incensury as there are in perfumery.

Having said that, there is a line-up of solid perfumes I'm putting together for the season -- there is Violetta (feature notes of orris, violet leaf, rose, and patchouli), Piedra (feature notes of orange blossom, orange oil, lime oil, and patchouli), Tuberosa (feature notes of tuberose, vanilla absolute, Himalayan cedarwood, and a touch of juniper berry), Everlast (feature notes of helichrysum, patchouli, black pepper), and Mimosa (feature notes of mimosa, lime, and sandalwood). There may be more coming, but these are the current solids that are being tinkered with at the moment. I may even revive some spectacular 'vintage' solids that I made a few years back, such as Aliah, a deliciously fragrant solid -- like petit fours of dark chocolate and cool honey sweetened tea, or Campania made with gardenia butter, blood orange, wild orange, cocoa absolute, orange blossom water absolute, antique santal, jasmine sambac, vanilla CO2, neroli, rose de mai and ylang-ylang, or Evergreen made with fir balsam, silver fir, hemlock, juniper berry, galbanum, organic santal, and nutmeg. It seems I've got my work cut out for me! And perhaps a few reformulations on those vintage solids too.

I've been working up the inspiration to make soap for Autumn, but it's not working. In fact, the slush I created for this newest incense was actually intended for soap! But when I smelled how glorious it was, I decided it wasn't something I was willing to screw up adding to soap. It just smells too good, and I felt that the best mode of transporting that scent was through the smoke.

So I leave you with this, cherubs making perfume.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Coming Soon & Already Here!

The label for this newest Kyphi ~ yes! It's the same label as Lylli Bleu Eau de Parfum

Blue lotus petal, blue lotus resin, blue lotus phytol, saffron, turmeric, frankincenses, & more

TheRam! Natural stick incense

TheRam packaged

TheRam just lying around being groovy

More grooviness

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Review of The Scented Djinn's Viniagres

I got this great review this morning from a customer/family member who has been using The Scented Djinn's Frankincense Viniagre for her severe cystic acne. Here is what she says:

So I want to post my before and after photos of a new product, I have been using by The Scented Djinn. It is new and I don't know if it is even for sale on the website (Etsy) yet but I am so astonished and so in love with my results, I feel I need to share. This was given to me as a tester because she knows the struggle I have gone through my whole life with what I consider a "plague" or several cystic acne. My whole life I have caked makeup onto my face to try and conceal this embarrassing and (adult) life long struggle I have had. I've seen dermatologist after dermatologist to try and get help with just easing it enough to where I could feel comfortable not wearing makeup even around my husband of 8 years. I tried every over the counter and prescription face washes and medicines any store carried. I could tell you the effects and names of each and every one. Everyone had suggestions, "drink more water" "don't touch your face" "use ____ product it's wonderful" and the list goes on. Which I followed all to a T. Eventually I went as far as trying a prescription called Accutane which was originally used for cancer treatment and came with booklet after booklet of warnings of negative symptoms that even warned of possible death. I was on it for 4 weeks and had to stop due to nosebleeds, coughing up blood, constant sweating and vertigo and nightmares I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. To say the least, I was reluctantly forced to stop the treatment before I could even see results. I felt I would have this terrible problem for the rest of my life and I just needed to deal with it. I just came to terms with being the one always behind the camera, taking pictures of loved ones, hiding at gatherings, and never being able to look at anyone in the eye fearing AND feeling their judgment. I avoided all mirrors and mirrored windows, I learned to avoid myself at all cost. I feel people without skin problems don't fully understand this struggle. The self-loathing and just wanting to look like everyone else.

Well, to say the least, at this point I would try anything although I felt in my heart it would not work.
I was wrong. Soooo wrong.

No exaggeration, the VERY first time I washed my face with water and my normal cleanser and proceeded to wipe my face with the "elixir of life" I call it now on a cotton pad and my face felt smooth, that feeling of swelling and warmth like an infected wound feels was gone. It was so calming and refreshing and I hadn't felt so satisfied since I could remember. As days went by redness went away, blackheads started disappearing, the cysts on my neck and cheeks began to shrink. I couldn't believe it. "This won't last long," I thought. Well, a bottle lasted me one month. And by the end of the month, even through my "monthly" hormone cycle no new pimples appeared. In fact, all my problem areas were disappearing. I'm on my second bottle, second month and I have had about 3 pimples and ZERO cysts. Gone. It's a fricking miracle. And that sounds nuts but it's true. I wish I would have done a daily log so I could show you the proof. But I have a few pictures from before I started to tonight.

I know this is the longest story ever but this has been a life changer for me and wallet. I no longer wear more than a bronzer for some color, eyebrows, and eyeliner. I never dreamed this day would come. Anyways here are the pictures and I hope this can help someone, who has struggled like me. Much love and respect. Thank you, Justine Crane, for not giving up and helping me become comfortable, NO proud to be in my own skin.

They're not flattering but it's about my skin

Before using the vinegar (you can just see the redness and bumpiness around her chin)

After using the vinegar

I realize getting a review from a family member or friend doesn't hold as much weight as a review from an anonymous client, but I have to share that this young lady, who I've known for 8 years, struggles with cystic acne daily. Having this kind of outcome from a simple home remedy has really energized her. She's excited about her skin for the first time since puberty.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Incense, Incense, and More Incense

After putting the final touches on the blue lotus Kyphi, and then doing the same for The Ram, I still had the energy (spiritual, emotional & physical) to begin a new compounded resin incense. I worked on it for a few hours yesterday afternoon and into the evening, grinding and sieving and grinding some more. Doing this type of work for hours straight makes me more and more appreciate the idea of a heavy duty spice grinder or hammer mill in my future. At the same time, I remind myself that it's the hand work, the physical grinding of the raw materials with a mortar and pestle, that help infuse the incense with the 'magic' if you will. A spice grinder that gets loaded and whizzes away while the incenseur sits and scratches his or her bottom doesn't do much for the building up of magic. I've already compromised on this function of the process by using the grinder I have in the most extreme cases, as with orris root, or certain gum resins that even defy the odd hammer strike, or if I'm working on compounded resin, in which case a pound or so of resin needs fine powdering. Other materials get slowly, methodically, and tediously pounded into oblivion in a clay mortar with a wooden baseball bat-like pestle. I have climbed up to my bed many nights with the dust of aromatics in my hair, resins embedded under my nails and cuticles, and an uncooperative right hand (my dominant hand) refusing to do even the most menial of tasks, such as opening my bedroom door. All this because I refuse to take the easy way out because it is my strongly held belief that what makes my work good is the attention I give it during its gestation and then its birth.

The new compounded incense resin is going to be a doozy, something completely out of my wheelhouse in terms of scent building, but I'm excited about the prospect -- I can smell this incense burning in my mind's -- nose? -- and it is fabulous! So, it's back to the grindstone.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Blue Lotus Kyphi & The Ram

Okie dokie. So much to say, so much to say.

First, the blue lotus Kyphi that is going to be 'done' the end of this month smells out of this world! It has this special richness to it that very much mirrors the perfume I made a few years ago with blue lotus called 'Lylli Bleu'. The blue lotus in its many forms is well-represented in this Kyphi -- the blue lotus phytol, the juicy, fleshy bits, is very present scent-wise; the blue lotus petals create a lovely visual texture, and the blue lotus resin adds a fruity, ambery depth to the blend. There are more components to this Kyphi, these are just the primaries. When warmed on an electric heater the scent is indescribably lush, heady, and narcotic. Yesterday I burned a fingertip-sized piece, shut off the burner and left the house for, like, 15 minutes, and when I came back in I was struck by a wall of blue lotus-y incense scent. It's safe to say that I will NEVER make this Kyphi again as the agents incorporated into it are costly if not entirely impossible to find on a regular basis.

The other incense project I'm working on is coming along as well, and it too is absolutely gorgeous. Based on a beautiful ambery and musky bee propolis resin from Canada and a wicked bag of uncrushed costus roots, it is flowing into something so much larger than its pieces and parts. This one already has a name, and it is dedicated to someone so its evolution is very specific. I'm making this one into cones or sticks. I haven't decided yet. His name, this incense, is The Ram. I will leave it at that.

I still have more to say, I'm just rushed for time right now, and someone is peering over my shoulder like an expectant owl.

Talk to you later.

Bountiful Boswellia & Honey

The Labor Day weekend was fairly productive. I initially went back to the valley to be 'there' for a family member during a rough spell but had the foresight to bring the distillation unit in case the  co-owner of the still wanted to check it out.  I ended up distilling the two kilos of boswellia sacra I brought along, y'know, just in case. Out of those two kilos we received just over an ounce of frankincense oil per pound of resin, which wasn't the goal -- we were going for the hydrosol -- but we'll take it! Nothing goes to waste here with a frankincense distillation. Once the distilling part is over there are two potentially useful products to 'harvest' which some folks just toss -- first is the leftover resin, which by now is actually just resin as the gum has been distilled out. The resin is where all that beautifully healing boswellic acid resides. This by-product (ha!) can now be easily crushed and melted into oil for skin balms, or for the more adventurous, crushed and encapsulated for internal use. It is incredibly healing and should never, ever be thrown out. Second is the soupy cloud-water left in the still. This too can be incorporated into skincare, like soap, or as the water portion of a lotion, or straight as it is -- a sterile face wash. Almost nothing from this distillation went to waste except for the soupy water. I had already (foolishly) thrust my hand into the cooled pot to retrieve the resin before I remembered I wanted to save that water! Ah! Next time. 
This distillation unit has an internal heating element, a coil like thingey that is inserted into the bottom side of the pot -- you can just see it there in the photo above with the electric cord sticking out -- and the problem with that is it takes a while to heat up the entire pot of water, more so than, say, a propane flame. It takes at least an hour for the pot to go from less than 100F to 212F (boiling point). Once the hydro/oil start flowing, I have to shut the heat off for a period of time, then turn it back on (no thermostat controller as yet) so that it isn't running at a constant high heat. That's good for oil production, not so great for hydrosol. With each batch (so far just two) I'm learning something new about this unit, and what I can do to help it produce some premium product. I hope to be distilling throughout the fall and winter at least once, maybe twice a week, depending upon the availability of raw materials. I'm considering getting in touch with an arborist or tree cutting service here locally for when they're employed to cut down conifers and see if they will allow me a few bags of wood and needles. Also, in the valley, there are a number of organic growers who might allow us to use some of their branches and leaves of citrus when they trim the groves. It's a matter of contacting them and setting things up.

I also received a half a frame of beeswax and honey that I brought home and processed last night. I was hoping to get more beeswax than I did, perhaps an ounce (I haven't weighed it yet), but I did end up with a ton of luscious white sage and wildflower honey. The wax will be used for balms, the cappings for incense, and the honey -- well, the honey's going in my belly!

I'm a grateful woman for this bounty. Truly.


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