Thursday, December 30, 2010

Eleven for Eleven

This evenings post is inspired by Jan at Poppytalk. Taking her lead and words's my personal New Year's focus (resolution) list! What are your plans for 2011?

No. 1: Remember the artist within

No. 2: Nurture the Muse

No. 3: Bee Here Now

No. 4: More LOVE all around

Paper Doll Valentine Ornament by Old World Primitives

No 5: Yoga

Ballet top by TreeHouse28

No. 6: Breath Deep

No. 7: Hawaii or another tropical isle

No. 8: Create beauty inside and out

No. 9: As Joni Mitchell says...Get myself back to the Garden

N0. 10: Pick up the phone

Photo by F2images

No. 11: Align with flow

Photo by Mingtaphotography

Best of 2010

Round and round we go, spinning through the Universe on planet blue while breathing in deep. The end of the year is upon us and I am here to share some of the highlights of the year scented, unscented and within other realms of beauty and art. This entry is one segment of a collective blogging circle organized by Trish of Scent Hive, please see the links at the end of this post to travel onward to the other participants.

Before embarking on our journey much gratitude goes out to all those who supported my work. I am deeply touched and humbled by the fabulous write ups, sweet notes and inspiring messages. Merci beaucoup!

"There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. If one could but recall his vision by some sort of sign. It was in this hope that the arts were invented. Sign-posts on the way to what may be. Sign-posts toward greater knowledge." ~ Robert Henri

The most significant sign post marking the pilgrimage through 2010 for me was the arrival of the honey bees in May. What a fascinating adventure they have taken me on and continue to do so. These little winged alchemists grace me with an even deeper understanding of the circle of life.

"Even the smallest being can change the course of the future."
Modified from a Galadriel quote

My favorite gadget this year is the Nikon digital camera belonging to Eve. One day soon I'll have my own, for now she has been very generous in sharing.

The best plant and aroma in my native garden also happens be my favorite essential oil this year. Sage. I started using sage essential oil early in the year when a rather intense respiratory challenge entered the scene. For some reason I reached for the sage instead of eucalyptus and I haven't looked back. Meanwhile in the garden all the different native varieties are doing really well with little water, no fertilizer and planted in clay soil amongst abundant gopher activity. The fragrance is pure heaven and the honey bees adore the flowers. Now if I could just get the neighbors to stop using stinky dryer sheets that pollute the natural aromas of the native landscape, sheesh!

The best perfume adventure was a visit with Julie Elliot at her In Fiore shop in San Francisco. Julie was an early mentor as I began placing all the pieces together to launch my line. She has impeccable taste, is the most grounded and ethical person in the natural perfume community, and offers a skin care line that I lust for.

Intending 2011 is filled with the sweet aroma of love, beauty, joy and prosperity for each of you. I'll post shortly what I intend to manifest in this upcoming New Year.

Other blogs
participating in the "Best of 2010" organized by Trish of Scent Hive, Screibman's Live, Portland Fragrance Examiner, All I Am a Redhead, CaFleureBon, The Non-Blonde, Smelly Blog, I Smell Therefore I Am, EauMG, DSH Notebook, A Rose Beyond the Thames, Persolaise and Sorcery of Scent.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Faux Cuir

I'm in the process of making more of my leather accord, which is extremely complex and is present in a few perfumes including Rosa. This accord was created in May 2008 as part of a group blending project where several natural perfumers came together and created a leather. Mine is completely natural with the only non plant ingredients being Beeswax, Africa Stone, Seashells and Seaweed. No castoreum, no isolates, and no synthetics not now or in the future.

My journey started with extensive research first in my library of perfume books and then by sniffing all my ingredients. To my surprise quite a number of essential oils contain a leather note and my list was quite long.

When finally constructing the accord I used an ancient formula as the basis for my own. I wasn't striving to replicate the aroma of a cured hide but rather express the essence of the old leather perfumes like a Peau d'Espagne or Cuir de Russie.

The final formula contains twenty single essences, mostly essential oils but a few C02 extracts and absolutes as well. The original contained four other accords, three of which are also extremely complex, thus resulting in an incredibly complex and rich fragrance final leather accord. The latest formula now contains five accords. This fifth accord resulted rather spontaneously as I was out of an ingredient and decided to make an accord of it instead. The final number of actual essences in the formula is staggering.

I am completely infatuated with this leather accord and often wear it as a perfume. I'm working on a perfume where it will be highlighted as the star, in the meantime I'll leave you with this list of ingredients:

Musk ambrette
Balsam, Poplar
Balsam, Peru
Mitti Attar
Orris Rt
Africa Stone
Clary Sage

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

California Christmas 2010

As is our norm we drove down to Hermosa Beach Christmas morning for a celebration at Marilyn and Johns. The festivities began with the traditional exchange of gifts followed by a delicious meal.

Eve's dad, Ben, with his newly acquired black with white spotted hat.

Christmas brunch included fruit salad, sour cream and scallion crepes, bacon, sausages and a variety of homemade breads including the famous monkey bread. All perfectly arranged and presented.

The meal ended with slices of oranges which was a tradition with Marilyn since she was a girl.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Jingle Bee


'Twas the night before Christmas, when all though the hive
Not a creature was stirring, are they even alive?
Empty honeycomb makes the cluster despair,
They hope that Jingle Bee soon will be there;

The larva and pupa all snug in their cells,
Dreams of royal jelly and bee bread's sweet smell.
Queen in her castle and nurse bees attending,
These are cold nights that seem never ending.

When up on the roof, there arose such a clatter,
Smoke at the door, can you see what's the matter?
Bright light and cold breeze in our house does appear,
A white-suited monster is looking in here.

He is chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh when I see him, in spite of myself.
He speaks not a word; but goes straight to his labor,
Looking and checking, with his blasted smoke maker.

His actions are swift to avoid chilling trouble,
Sugar and pollen to the hive he does shuttle.
Honey in frames to the cluster he brings,
Fresh food for the bees to last until Spring

The roof is now back and the darkness restored,
But the hive knows Jingle Bee visits once more.

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

Adapted from original poem by Clement Clarke Moore.
Thanks to a member of the Backwards Beekeepers who posted this on our list via Dr. Burkart.

Image ©Roxana Villa & Greg Spalenka

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Standing Still Sun

Once again we herald in the Sun on this beloved Winter's Solstice in our northern hemisphere. This year the Solstice takes on new meaning for me. I've been mindfully observing the decline of our Squirrel Box Bees #2 as they await the return of the flowers to once again begin building their stores and colony. These little winged alchemists are like the ancients of old who anticipated the turning point of the darkest part of the year. Today we witnessed a little honey bee emerge from the hive, clean herself off, zip straight up into the distant sky, disappear over the top of the roof, then quickly zoomed back down and into the hive. Obviously not a good day to forage with so much rain.

Wishing each of you a blessed holy day as we celebrate the return of the light!

Image: Bee Prosperity by ©Greg Spalenka

Friday, December 17, 2010

Natural Perfume Lockets

The natural perfume lockets in both designs are returning. I've created a listing at the E-shop so those that were not able to get them before can do a pre-order. Be aware that these tend to sell out really fast. Last time they lasted about a week before they were sold out!

Now is the perfect time to order this for a friend as they can choose which design they prefer, the length of chain and the solid perfume contained within.

The two designs are the original tapestry floral and the Victorian diamond pattern. The perfume locket hangs on a pretty brass rolo chain and features a lobster clasp closure. These lockets are made in the USA from vintage molds that go back to the 1940's. Each one has been plated with a brass ox to create an antique quality. No lead or nickel have been utilized. The brass is lightweight thus making the necklace comfortable to wear. Below is a photo of me from last Spring with the tapestry floral locket containing my signature scent, Cimbalom natural perfume.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Let it Bee

The day began very fortuitous when I found Russian sage plants on sale for $10 at my local nursery Boething Treeland. I was there foraging for a Live Christmas tree when I not only found lots of native California trees to choose from and the Russian sage, Perovskia.

While the fellow wrote me up I told him how much my honey bees like the Russian sage and I'd be back with my truck for more. To my surprise he was very knowledgeable about honey bees and taught me quite a bit in just the small time it took him to write up my order.

Perhaps someone slipped a little Felix Felicis in my English breakfast tea this morning or did I put some Sierra Solid Gold on today?

When I arrived back at the studio there was an e-mail from my locket supplier informing me that the perfume lockets are on their way. Hooray! Although they won't be here in time for Christmas I'm thrilled that they are coming. 'bout them perfume compacts Santa?

Fortune number three, I've just heard that Bee keeping is now legal in Santa Monica! What fabulous news, now perhaps the City of LA will follow suit. If not then perhaps it's time to move to Santa Monica.

Back to making solid perfume.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Changing the World!

A New York Times article about the continuing rise of urban beekeeping and the struggle to gain legalization in many cities features two members from my local club. Daniel Salisbury and Max Wong of Backwards Beekeeping group are prominently featured in the article with information on their quest to legalize beekeeping in Santa Monica and Los Angeles.

Photo above Max Wong with her honey bees.

Our fearless leader, Kirk, affirms that urban beekeeping will change the world. Gotta love that, from one idealistic to another, come on let's make the world a better place!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Melodic Notes

The weekend brought a surprise gift of tickets to a sacred music concert at the St. Basil church on Wilshire Blvd. Local friends contacted us Thursday evening with the invitation to the concert and a Ḥănukkāh dinner prior. Despite the chaos here in the house due to the constant flood of orders we decided to accept the invite.

Six of us piled into a truck and headed into Hollywood for the event. All I knew was what I typed above and that the compositions of Hildegard von Bingen were included in the performance. I became conscious of Hildegard's abundant visionary work through Greg. In fact the story of Vespertina is has elements of Hildegard woven through out.

The vocal ensemble that performed the music is called Tapestry from Boston. Weaving medieval and traditional repertory with contemporary compositions the music is enchanting and elevates to angelic realms.

Last night as we watched a 1981 concert by the rock band Queen I couldn't help but ponder the difference in the music from Saturday evenings performance and rock and roll. Studies indicate that our brain waves are significantly affected, like water, from music. Here is a snippet quoted from the website Cerebromente

The key component of music that makes it beneficial is order. The order of the music from the baroque and classical periods causes the brain to respond in special ways. This order includes repetition and changes, certain patterns of rhythm, and pitch and mood contrasts. One key ingredient to the order of music from the baroque and classical periods is math. This is realized by the body and the human mind performs better when listening to this ordered music

At the concert I sat next to a woman named Susie which turned out to have been trained as a Waldorf teacher. During the intermission we dialogued of the profound elevating sensation from the music and different philosophies regarding human evolution.

Rudolf Steiner and other scientists and philosophers believed that as man evolved away from nature that we would lose many of our inherent intuitive attributes and connection with subtle energetic fields. At the core of my personal volition in my art, whether visual or aromatic, has been to connect individuals more intimately with nature, including their own essential nature.

Since the bowed lyra was one of the instruments of medieval music it would have made sense to have worn the botanical perfume by the same name. I'll remember that next time, upon further contemplation the perfume devoted to peace would have fit in nicely as well. In either case, my scent of the evening was Page47, which I liberally applied as I had just finished making it here at home before we departed.

The Music of the Faun by Ferdinand Keller
Hildegard von Bingen: Liber Divinorum Operum. Copy of the 13th century. Biblioteca statale, Lucca (Italia)

Music by Thomas Ralph Spence

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Popular Demand

For the last month or so it's been a whirlwind here in the woodland apothecary. Orders have been flooding in from all over the world. Last year I hit my goal of selling to all fifty states, next goal is to have sold in every country of the world.

Some of the items that many of you have been requesting are in the shop while others are temporarily unavailable.

New in stock is a solid natural perfume eco luxe sampler which includes every solid mini perfume in the E-shop. I've also got more honey bee lockets in both vivid green and royal purple.

Temporarily out of stock are the perfume compacts and the perfume lockets. Both are on order and might just be back in stock by the morrow. The lockets will be available in the Floral tapestry and the newer Victorian diamond design.

My scent of the day began with some Rosa from late night perfume making. Now I am off to make Chaparral, Lyra, Page 47, Aurora among others. I've also had sudden inspiration on something new, more details on that latter. Happy Jupiter day!