Monday, May 29, 2017

The Official Word

Despite my depression over the length of time it's taking to get our house done and done, I decided that now that the building schedule for our house is complete, I'd find out from the builder exactly when we're moving in. The official word is July. The final install, the carpet, is scheduled for the last week in June, after that it's going through and making repairs and touch ups to things that got scraped and bashed while putting it all together, and then having the cleaning crew come in and do the wipe-down. That can be scheduled out to mid-July. So this project has gone from a done date of April/May to June now to July. I am reluctantly optimistic. The living conditions at the daughter's place are becoming unbearably cramped with the addition of two new full-time occupants, and two part-time occupants. It's complicated.

The only thing keeping my head on straight is the farm. And soap, since it's really the only thing from my repertoire of goods that I can make at the moment. My friend, Ana, posted something on FB about Woodspirits Soap and their creator, Barbara Bobo. That post brought back a lot of memories for me. Another friend, M., made an almost perfect copy of Woodspirits 'Sun and Sky' soap that was loaded with tagetes and ginger and bergamot. It was a two-sided soap with half being blue and half being bright as the sun yellow. And the scent was divine. It reminded me of how I want to make soap again. I kind of got back on that gig last fall when I made the seaweed soap and the sky soap with white sage hydrosol. The bars were really small, though. I'm back in the big bar game again. I just ordered a bunch of soap from Ana and the soaps, as usual, blew me away. There aren't many soapmakers -- in fact, there are none other than hers -- that I will go out of my way to purchase anymore. Variety is the spice of life, right? I used to buy from lots of other soapmakers, but in the past five years or so, I've been sorely disappointed by them. It seems like no one makes soap with the magic in the mix anymore. Sometimes even I miss the mark. But Ana never does.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Qayiz Natural Botanical Super Fragrant Chunky Hunky Cocoa & Shea Butter Soap!

As some of you may have gathered already, I like patchouli. So it shouldn't surprise you that I have a LOT of patchouli on hand at any given time. Though the bulk of my oils are still packed, I have been buying a bottle of patchouli with every order since November 2016, and now I have a nice little 'collection' of patchouli oils that I use quite sparingly, except in soap. I had a 4 oz bottle of Sri Lankan patchouli oil, which wasn't cheap, by the way, until I used over half of it in this last batch of soap, Qayiz. If you are one of those patchouli haters, I can almost guarantee with 100% certainty that you will at least like the patchouli oils coming out of Sri Lanka. They're velvety and sweet, like dark chocolate with hints of vanilla and deep indolic florals. There is very little of that dusty, musty, dry, brittle leafy pitch that a lot of patchouli oils have (though I do love those as well). I have had perfume clients creating custom scent who proclaimed to heaven that they absolutely abhorred patchouli who wound up choosing the sample perfume that had Sri Lankan patchouli in it as their 'signature scent'.

Newest Soap ~
 Qayiz, loaded with patchouli, labdanum, blood orange, a touch of basil, and an entire wee bottle of Australian sandalwood. This soap is made with virgin olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter. The lather is creamy and copious and intensely fragrant. The bars are 8 ounces each (or more) with every gram smelling of heaven. It's a very sensual scent, sexy, and smells delectable on anyone. The wee sliver in my shower is decreasing in size very quickly as everyone is using it up, even the folks in the house who say 'it smells like everything else you make' like it's an insult. Am I insulted? Not in the least. Not when they ask, 'hey, can you hook me up?' in reference to getting some of this soap. I haven't made a soap this stinky since the Orange Blossom & Fennel soap I made just before Christmas last year. That soap was made with a lot of orange blossom floral wax, neroli, and then patchouli (of course), fennel, labdanum, and a bunch of other stuff I can't remember. What was so special about that one, besides being super fragrant, was that it was loaded to the hilt with shea butter. It took two months to become solid enough to sell. And then I got the side-eye (figuratively speaking) from everyone (customers) who thought orange blossom and fennel was a no-go. Boy, did they find out they were wrong. Sold out quick and was asked for more. I'm kind of hoping the same goes with this new one, Qayiz. I'd give it away if it didn't cost so much to make. In fact, my price on the bars, $11 each, seems a bit high, but I can assure you, I'm barely making anything on them. Just enough to get back into the soap space to make some more. If you want to give this new soap a spin in your bath, go to my Etsy site, TheScentedDjinn, and get you some.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Day In May

I realized I didn't update you on the A Day In May Celebration craft show thingamabobby that we did at the farm last Saturday. That's mostly because I wanted to put it out of my mind. It was awful and great at the same time. Awful because there was major road construction on the main road leading to the road to the farm which effectively blocked off 80%, if not more, of our potential customers, and included our one and only food vendor. I won't get into it, but that guy didn't show up because of the road construction despite a perfectly sound alternative being offered. Next, it got hot fast and a few of our vendors started out in the shade and by noon were sitting out exposed in the sweltering heat. So they packed up and sat with us in the shade for a bit before leaving early. We had customers, new faces, people who went out of their way and braved the twisty, convoluted route to the farm, who truly enjoyed their visit. The scheduled soap making demo never happened because there just weren't enough people at any one time to do one. I did toy with the idea of just making a batch of soap to have soap on hand, but I think I was too bummed out to do it then. Despite the poor turn out, everyone who did manage to make it out had a lovely time, they bought from the vendors and from the wee witchy shop at the farm, and promised, once the roadways were clear again, to return to another of our events. And we did have music. My son and his band mate, Brendan Kelley, showed up for an unplugged acoustic set which went off without a hitch, until Brendan's final song when he made me and a couple of other people cry. They took as their cue to bow out. My son, Daryl, said, "It's probably a good idea to leave once you make your audience cry." We probably won't have another 'fair' like this until the fall, but we are planning classes, demos, teas, moon events, and drum circles throughout the summer months.

I have not been idle these past few days. I did return to the farm and make that big batch of soap. And the same day, I took home a pail of peaches that were in peril of going bad, along with a big handful of freshly cut lavender flowers, and made lavender peach jelly out of them. The jelly turned out beautifully. I'm very pleased with it. A few jars may go on the Etsy site in a few days -- or not. I'm already brainstorming holiday gifts for family and friends.

I've much more to say, but right now my mind is scrambled. I've not been sleeping well and I'm on grandchild duty and have been for the past week. It's exhausting. I'm exhausted. And ticking off the days until I get into my new house and get my life back in some sort of order.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Creamy Delicious Dark Soap!

So I finally made some soap. Forgot to take pictures to share, but rest assured, they're big hunkin' slabs of shea, coconut, olive, and cocoa buttery deliciousness! They don't smell too bad either. I used a LOT of dark Sri Lankan patchouli, the stuff that isn't dusty and musty smelling, the stuff that's sweet and almost floral, then I splashed just a teeny bit of basil in, then a big dose of blood orange, and then topped it all off with more Sri Lankan patchouli, a whole wee bottle of sandalwood, and a healthy dose of sultry labdanum absolute. The whole mess smells of something ambery and lush. I'm thinking of calling it Qayiz, which is the Arabic word for 'sultry'. It's pronounced 'ka-eez(m)' or at least it sounds that way when I listen. The only thing missing from this soap is tobacco absolute, and maybe a dash of oakmoss. Do you realize it's been months since I last made soap? Six since I made a big, old stinky batch like this. These bars are big, too, probably 7 ounces at least, enough to cut off pieces to use one at a time rather than taking the whole bar into the bath, though I do love to hold those big chunky bars and breathe deeply as they get all bubbly. I'm not sure what the next batch will be, but I'm hoping to get some lavender going, and some rosemary. I love ginger soap too . . . so, it's a toss up.

The soap will be up on the Etsy shop website in a week or so.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Day In May Celebration

The Farm's first official introduction to the masses (mini-masses?) commences on the 20th of May at our long-awaited 'A Day In May Celebration' craft show. We're nearly done setting the adorable shop which is housed in a 1952 travel trailer. Oh, the stuff we've managed to cram in there . . . and there's more. The plants on the farm are thriving, though I noted to my partner in crime, Shannon, just yesterday that I'm frustrated the plants aren't on the same page and growing faster to keep up with demand. It's going to be a scorcher that day in May -- predicted to be around 92 degrees F. All week it's been a lovely, liveable 75 to 78, but the day of the event the powers that be decided to turn up the heat.

What a wild and often harrowing last few months it's been getting this farm and shop in order. What we imagined in the beginning as a month or so at most putting things to rights has turned into five months of toil and tears and a niggling feeling that we're still not quite there. But alas, we must forge on with what we've got or else we won't be making any money to get those loose ends tied up.



There is road construction on the main road from Fresno to the farm so alternate routes will have to be mapped so that you arrive on Belmont (the main road) from the east, and bypass all the "Road Closed" signs to reach Nelson Avenue. Parking is provided in front of the redwood trees on the road in front of the farm. Hopefully, we will be able to get the signs done indicating where to park and where not to park.


Saturday, May 06, 2017

Bad News and Other Normal Stuff

This past week has been flush with bad news. First, I discovered that I had single-handedly RUINED an entire early season's harvest of Cecile Brunner tea roses by incorrectly packaging them. Into the incense box they go and not into tea or potpourri as intended. Cecile Brunner's are nice tea roses because they bloom intermittently throughout the summer, so all is not lost. All but that first flush of lovely sweet pink blooms.

Then we were called to pick the granite for the new house -- the actual slabs -- and while talking with the builder we foolishly inquired about the timeline for completion, thinking it would be sooner and not later. Well, it's later. Much later than we had ever anticipated. In fact, the news put me in a funk that I'm having a very difficult time pulling out of. I know this kind of thing takes time and that the timeline changes, but I never thought this would happen. In November we were assured move-in was going to be in April, at the latest May, then the rain came and that was pushed to late May, early June. Now they're saying late July to early August. Up until they told us that, I was driving past the house every evening on my way home from the farm. Since they told us that, I haven't been back. I just don't care to see how close the house is to completion only to be told it will be another eight to ten weeks. And most of these feelings are borne out of where I'm staying now. I can't get in any studio time. I can't locate all of the perfumery. I have nowhere to store things that I might buy to begin perfuming again. I'm in a rut.

And, of course, there's more. I foolishly read yet another poor review of Working the Bench (the first one, the one that ain't that great), and the reviewer was fair and brutal and stated something that was confusing. They said there was no index in the book and there is an index. I don't know where this person bought their copy, but they must have received an older, unrevised edition. Anyway, I don't know if I'm cut out for this anymore.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Harvesting the Blossoms

So far on the farm what we've managed to do most is harvest flowers. Lots of calendula, and lots and lots of delicately pink, sweet Cecile Brunner tea roses. Yesterday I managed to get a few of the seedlings we started back in March into larger pots -- some nasturtium, tomatoes, a couple of Thai basil babies. Today I imagine it will be more of the same. All of the witching herbs I started from seed were eaten by birds as soon as they popped their wee heads out of the soil. Those that didn't get gnawed on were beaten to death by the drying wind we've had in the past few weeks. It's been brutal. We're to be subject to another storm this coming weekend but are trying to see it as an opportunity to not have to water rather than as a setback.  I replanted the witching herbs yesterday and will be much more diligent to their needs than before. There have been many successes too. We've got tomatoes, squashes, and beans coming out of our ears. The boysenberry and blueberry bushes are throwing fruit (duck!) and most of the orchard pit fruit have nice, fat, unripened fruit hanging from the branches. We did get one distillation done, but there are much more that we can do. There's just so much to do that it's reached a point of becoming overwhelming, and that's not where we want to go with it.

Yesterday I purchased a truckload of raw materials for soap making mostly because I'm too disgusted to dig through the boxes in the garage to find what I know is in there (more raw materials). Every time I locate shop items, they become lost again when the folks around here decide to do a bit of housekeeping -- in the garage. I'm still looking for the stuff I had out during the holidays that I used to make soap. That was all sorted back into the wall of confusion. Anyway, enough of that. The point is -- soap's on! I got mango butter and cocoa butter to add to the usual shea/coconut/olive blend I use.  On a different note, I'll be forced to pack all of this up after the next soap making foray as our house is nearly complete. We're due to move in sometime in June. Not sure the exact date yet. Initially, we were told April or May, but thanks to the much-needed deluge of rain we've had this year, those plans were delayed. Yesterday the house was given color and all the doors are on and locked, which is a good sign the interior is getting close to being finished. Just a few houses down from ours, people have begun moving in. The first four houses on either side of the street are now occupied, and most of the homes are near completion. There are a few here and there that are still just frames, but the neighborhood is filling up quick. I think the last time I looked at the little street map in the builder's office, there were only three or four in the entire development that hadn't been sold yet, including the big monstrous one right next to our house. The only part of this that I am not enjoying is the moving -- again. That makes five times in five years. I am so over it.


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