Sunday, February 26, 2017

Farm Works and Enfleurage

This past week was busy! We planted and transplanted, made soap and started a hyacinth enfleurage, bought some real violets to start a shade garden, got some stuff yesterday to plant next week (fruiting mulberry, boysenberry, pink flowering magnolia, Hidcote lavender), dragged stuff from one place to another, scavenged from the bone yard dozens of useful things for the garden, got some grapes and blueberries into the ground, and a new apple tree to plant. It's been a mad, crazy, satisfying week. Resting up for the next one ~ ha! There are going to be so many wonderful things to see and buy at the Apothecary Farm.

Friday, February 24, 2017

On the Farm

Got some wee bars of soap done for the Etsy Apothecary, and a huge batch of soap done for a client in Hawai'i. The apothecary soaps are patchouli/neroli, and later today we're making blood orange/basil. When I say 'wee', I do mean wee. These are roughly three to three-and-a-half ounces each, but they pack an olfactory punch. Why so small, you ask? Because we had to use what was at hand as far as molds go. My molds are put up somewhere that I can't find them. We're using old wooden wine boxes as molds and they make either enormous bars of soap or wee bitty bars of soap. To remedy the wee bittiness of those apothecary bars, we dumped a ton of stank in 'em. I think you'll like them.

The Apothecary Farm looks nothing like it did when we began. There are trees where there was once bare ground, blueberry bushes where clods of bare dirt once sat, and grape vines and cedar and elderberry and honeysuckle and geraniums and . . . did I mention we're also growing plants for a nursery at the farm as well? In addition to growing medicinal herbs, food, sweet grass, white sage, lavender, and really beautiful garden plants, we've added a nursery component so when you come for a visit, you can take something living and breathing home with you, something we more likely than not propagated ourselves.

Opening date for the Seasons of Spirit store is March 12, 2017. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Soap Day!

We're looking at a few days of dry-ish weather, so before it begins to rain again, I and the other apothecary farm lady are going to whip up some fresh soap for the farm shop, and I'm going to make a batch of patchouli-neroli soap for my Etsy apothecary. I still have not located my brand new, never before used soap mold that I bought before moving, so I'm reduced to using this weird long loaf pan I found at a discount store just before Christmas -- that is if I can find that now. Things get moved around here in the temporary housing situation on a constant basis, so you could literally set down a piece of paper at 9 am and by 10 am it's found its way to a closet or a trash can without you ever having touched it again. The building of the Plum Palace seems to drag on into infinity when these situations arise.

The Apothecary Farm is shaping up. The hyacinth is blooming and the work of enfleurage is calling. A fire pit was placed in the four points garden, and now the work of getting the shop together begins for the March 12th grand opening. It's all work, work, work from here on out, both at the farm and in The Scented Djinn Etsy shop.

See you on the other side.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fennel & Orange Blossom Shea Butter Soap

I just listed these soaps, even though I made them back in December. They took their sweet time getting solid enough to sell and ship, and I used a fair number of them as gifts for friends and family. The listing is for three of these big, clunky bars, roughly 7 to 8 (maybe even 9) ounces each, made up of half shea butter to one-quarter olive and one-quarter coconut oil, scented with a couple ounces of orange blossom floral wax, fennel essential oil, some clean steel distilled patchouli oil, a bit of cloves, and some other stuff -- cedarwood and a dank patchouli. Because I put so much essential oil formulation and shea butter into the mix, they took a long time to harden up, and even now they're a bit spongey. If you buy one, please give it time to air dry between uses or it will melt like ice cream in a damp shower.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Apothecary Farm Becoming

The past few weeks have been filled with . . . dirt. And ants. And pruning and planting and scratches and scrapes. It's also been filled with the wonder of nature as our newly planted calendula begin to bloom, and the daffodils shake out their yellow bonnets, and the hyacinth point to the sky with their tightly closed grape cluster blossoms. The scent of the white sage, grown big and round and fragrant from all of the rain fills the air as we weave between them. The giant musk sage perfumes the farm, and the pit fruit trees half abloom buzz with the sound of a million winged workers. It's gaining its magic, the old apothecary farm, finally awake and ready for its purpose. Just a few days ago we set up the four points garden with incense cedar trees at the east and west points, and lodge pole pines at the north and south. Between the points, at the quarter points, are elderberry bushes and a cute little pink flower throwing manzanita. Last night the fire pit was placed in the center of it and an initiation fire was lit. We're on a break now as the rains have returned. As lovely as it is to work in the rain, it's also a fat muddy mess, and much too hard to pull one's boots out of the muck and mire of a freshly plowed field. These rainy days are for contemplation and inspiration for what to do next on the farm. More planting, of course. More planning. Getting the wee shop ready to open, and waiting for everything to come alive with a vengeance.

The incense I created went off. The cones molded in the damp, even inside with the fan and heat on them, and the sticks are having a difficult time burning. Many factors are at play here. One, I lost my scale so I was measuring by the spoonsful, so I'm pretty sure my paste was myrrh-heavy. Two, the rain. The blessed and cursed rain. And three, the mojo where I'm staying is OFF. I'm off. It's all off. I need to get to the new space to work these bits of magic out. Here I feel like I'm working with both hands tied behind my back. So, in the meantime, I will write it all down. All the ideas, the fleshed out work, the incense that wants to be born, and when I'm in a place where I have room, both inside and outside of my head, I will work on it. On the up side, the farm shop is receiving soap orders, so that is the next big project. Just waiting on the scenting material, and then we'll get to it.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Cold Virus & Finishing Off Self-Combusting Incense

I caught a cold a few days ago from one of the wee gremlins I live with. It was a bad time for me to have that cold (work, work, and more work is calling), so I killed it off with mega doses of Vitamin C and zinc. Took two days to go from a stuffy head, watery eyes, brief bouts of feverishness, sore throat, cough, and general malaise to getting back to work. I can smell again! And sleep with my mouth closed! And wake up not feeling like I've swallowed glass shards! And did I say I can smell again?

It's raining buckets at the moment, I have a few minutes before I have to wake the wee one for school, and then it's out to the Farm to do a bit of bookwork and planning for the future. We've got fairs and gatherings to set up. More planting, though not today, and building up the farm to do.

The latest incense is slowly drying in the closet. I burned -- or tried to burn -- the test cone a few times and it wasn't good. I have to chalk that up to the fact that my nose was out of sorts with that virus, so I didn't get a good burn out of it. There's still a bit of it left and I'll try it again in a few days when all the congestion is cleared. And when I can find a lighter. All of mine have disappeared -- poof! -- and nobody seems to have the slightest notion where they may have gone. 

I recently opened a Kyphi course with the Natural Perfume Academy and we've already gotten people signed up and others waiting to begin. It's really exciting for me because as we go along, I plan to add videos of the process, class clips from real-world workshops, videos of burning incense, and maybe some video of sorting through resins, like frankincense and myrrh. Yeah, this is going to be a lot of fun.

Hi-ho, it's off to work I go!

Tuesday, February 07, 2017


Abarakku is the latest natural and botanical incense I've created. It's name means 'steward of the temple' in ancient Sumerian (Abyssinian?) -- anyway, some really old, dead language. This incense began as an homage to myrrh and rose petals, then morphed into something a bit louder with the addition of sandalwood and jasmine grandiflorum. Since I don't have a proper studio anymore, and it's been raining off and on for a few weeks, the incense needed a nice, warm place to dry, so I settled for a well-ventilated closet -- in my bedroom. I fall asleep to the scent of mystery. In a week or so, both the cones and the sticks created with the incense paste will be ready for sale.

Kyphi Making Course ~ Walking the Kyphi Path

The new Kyphi making course, Walking the Kyphi Path, is set up and will be ready for students in a few days at The Natural Perfume Academy. The price for the course is $59.88 USD (€56) and includes some history, step-by-step guided instructions, and solid information regarding the ingredients used in Kyphi making. Students can sign up any time they want and begin their journey. There's no end date, so it is entirely feasible a student may take anywhere from a month to a year to complete the journey. Because of this, anyone signing up for the course will remain in the course indefinitely. We hope to create an avid Kyphi-loving community as well so discussion of issues such as environmental impacts of over-harvesting, bans, and sanctions against the countries of our suppliers, and general discussion pertaining to the evolution of Kyphi will be encouraged. 

This course is highly recommended to students of natural perfumery and aromatherapy, as well as suppliers of the raw materials used in Kyphi making, and lovers and makers of incense.

Contact Ruth (administrator) at The Natural Perfume Academy ( to join us!


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