Saturday, December 31, 2011

California Christmas 2011

On Christmas morning, once again we drove south for our yearly celebration and gathering at the Neuharts in Hermosa Beach. This year was slightly different and a little sad since John was not with us in physical form.

The day was glorious, sunny and warm with a cerulean blue sky.

Marilyns tree is usually decorated with lights and little bird ornaments

Santas are everyone, these are assembled on one of the tables with poinsettias.

More santas, these were on the front table in the living room.

Last year I took photos using Eve's Nikon. This year I forgot my camera and thought I'd borrow Eves. However, Santa brought Ben the Canon EOs 7D, thus I had the opportunity to use that one while Ben read the manual and played with the other toys he received. (Lucky me!)

Eve shooting me while I shot her, with Andrew peeking over her shoulder.

The tradition is to take our yearly group photo and open presents. While we play with our new toys the meal is prepared and then consumed and followed by conversation and more gift appreciation.

This years table setting featured red orange lillies with orange napkins.

Our meal also follows a tradition of eggs, sausage, bacon, numerous breads (like the one pictured above) pastries, and a salad. This years salad had a dollop of mango sorbet!

Handmade bowls by Veralee Bassler with apples from her tree.

Greg admiring oe of the many books gifted that morning.
At that Neuhart homestead there are always copious amounts of fantastic books ready to be admired.

Roberto, also known as Bob and Bobo is one of two resident cats in the household.

California Christmas 2010

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy, Happy!!

Hope you are all enjoying the holidays. I'll be posting some photos of our California Christmas shortly. One of our main computers died last month and it appears that our other one is about to go as well. All our work is backed up but it is still an extremely distressing situation to be without our work horses and potentially have to share this laptop. (Gulp!)

In the meantime, happy, happy holidays to all of you from sunny California.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Architect and the Painter

The film Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter is available to watch online at PBS. It is a great snapshot into the lives of the two most influential designers of our era. Plus you get to hear from some of the designers that worked with them, like John and Marilyn.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Return of the Light!

The Winter Solstice has arrived to the Northern hemisphere, marking the return of the SUN. The days will slowly start getting longer, inching toward more and more light and warmth.

Here in the woodland Spring normally begins in January with the blooming of the rosemary, oaks and ceanothus. (Although this year the rosemary began earlier than usual.) Having lived in these woods for over ten years I've noticed December is our coldest month. I'm so happy to soon be done with the cold. As much as I adore our little 1950's cottage, no insulation and lots of glass is a bit challenging during the colder months.

Joey of the blog Beauty, Bacon, Bunnies wrote a lovely little paragraph about Q solid in reference to woody scents. I'm including it here since Q smells very Winter Solstice to me:

"Roxana Illuminated Perfume’s Q: Nobody does dreamy quite like Roxana: her fragrances are a call to an idealized, fairytale version of nature that is not unlike that of my childhood fantasies. Woodland creatures, fairy sprites, and the souls of the ancients live and dance together in the scented scenes that her perfumes create. To try her perfumes (I adore her solids, with their beautiful color-coded seals) is to find one’s ‘happy place’, to reacquaint oneself with the simplicity of the surrounding world. Her gift is to make art out of that which one usually does pay attention to: Q is a perfect example of this - who knew that the oak tree could serve as muse for such a beautiful fragrance? Q is a deep and twirling sort of woody scent, and while smelling it, it is easy to imagine oneself standing amongst the sturdy, tall trees. You pick up a fallen leaf and hold it to your face, feel the trace amount of dew which it has collected, and smell the sunshine and greenness. There is a beautiful hint of citrusy snap to Q that marries well to the fresh green powderiness of the wood accords; I wear it and I feel a deeper sensuality. There is an unmistakeable spice to the fragrance, and as it wears, Q reveals an animalic ambered base, an accord which smells to me of benzoin and labdanum. Bark, leaf, twig, sun: the oak is encapsulated, revered, and made magic. It shares the magic with me, and I revel in it."

Friday, December 16, 2011

An Odoriferous Potion

The last week or so I've been craving a "stinky" note in perfume, not only to wear but also to include in formulations. This must be why I love Chaparral so much, it has it. What is the stinky note, called "rank" by perfumistas? Well, for moi it has an element of oud. It's earthy, musky, wild, indole-ish, sour, and grounding. GreenWitch has a bit of a ranky note, reminds me of kimchi, but that's note the one I'm after.

Vetiver, patchouli, labdanum, myrrh, spikenard are some of the botanicals with the right characteristics but not quite. As I mentioned oud is closer to it and will be included. Thus, to satisfy my olfactory fervor I'm going to make a "stinky" chord which will be included in various natural botanical perfumes but will also be made into a solid for me.

Now, off to package more orders and begin sniffing of all my aromatics to find the notes for this foul, odoriferous potion.

Image: Botanical illustration of Myrrh on parchment

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost. ~Pina

At a holiday party this weekend we hung with a variety of folks...including many from the creative sector. Steven mentioned this film, which then Ben tracked down the trailer and says "Worth watching over and over again." Indeed!

More at the website here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

From Wood to Hive with Oud

"All my garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia." ~ Psalms 45:8

It's that uber busy time of year when the entire house is transformed into a fragrant palace and my own private studio. Almost every inch of our little cottage is being utilized for my natural perfume business. Each year the flood of orders gets a little easier to handle as I am slightly more prepared from having learned lessons from the year prior. However, there is only so much that two hands can do.

Yesterday morning I made more synergy for Chaparral solid then in the afternoon made new batches of the liquid and solid synergy for To Bee. It was like taking a ride through the forest and then ending the journey within a bee hive. The note that continued along with me on the olfactory travels through the dry desert woodland into the slightly sweet musky home of the girls was oud.

I only have a drop or so left of this particular precious gem from Cambodia. Time to order more, although it probably wont be the exact same one. The first time I learned about this essence was in an article written by Jan Kusmirek which appeared in the Aromatherapy Quarterly back in the mid 1990's.

Oud, also known as Agarwood, Ud and Aloeswood have become really "trendy" in western perfumery as of late. For many westerners it is an odor that may take some time to acclimate to. Since I refuse to use historic animal ingredients in my formulations oud is a great alternative for those in botanical perfume arena. The note provides longevity and a special muskiness without killing or torturing animals. I've personally loved oud from the first moment I inhaled its deep, dark note. I use it quite a bit in my work although it is most obvious in Rosa liquid.

It's been chilly here in the woodland, making our little, non-insulated house feel like a freezer more than a home. Thus I've been wearing many layers of woolens while I make perfume late into the night. The wool fibers of these vestiges have trapped many delicious odor molecules. Today my woolens are fragrant from yesterdays work, the deep muskiness of that intersection of wood and hive and oud. Meanwhile the kitchen smells of paperwhites, the living room of douglas fir and the garden of sage, rosemary and beehives.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Egg

The oval comes from the word ovum, meaning egg in Latin. The shape is derived from the intersection of two circles. When I had my color palette done I was also give a set of shapes and styles that were specific to me. One of them is the oval.

I'm happy to share that I have finally obtained oval compacts to add to the current selection of round ones. These new treasures have the removable tins like the rounds, but hold a bit more solid perfume and are easier to remove and replace.

So far I've only uploaded two generic listings in the E-shop one for the lower priced natural beauties and one for the higher end luminosities.

Gift Guide: The EARTH Girl

Rusty Earthy Cup by TierraSky in New Jersey

A new Gift Guide featuring all things earthy.

Bison Buffalo Art Print by Lucy Snowe in Oregon
Flower Earrings with Earthy Brown Blooms by Didem in the USA
Milkweed Pod Archival Print by Amber Alexander in Vermont
Felted Gloves with Silk flowers by AureliaLT in Lithuania

For her I've selected Terrestre, For the Earth, solid natural perfume in a round compact. This perfume was begun during Earth hour and then released on Earth Day. I used essences that embody the rich aroma of the earth and are considered grounding in aromatherapy.

The image that illuminates Terrestre is by my husband Greg. It was originally created for the Vespertina music CD and featured in the limited edition booklet.

Keywords for Terrestre: Grounded, Here and Now, Strength. Elemental: EARTH.