Rose Absolute

The new rose scent is almost ready for testing. One ingredient is Bulgarian rose absolute from the variety of Rosa damascena called Kazanlak; the city of Kazanlak is located in the famous Rose Valley of Bulgaria where these fragrant deep pink roses are grown and harvested. A nursery near us, Russian River Roses, grows a big field of special perfume roses, including rows of Kazanlak. In spring it’s fun to walk through the field at the height of bloom. You don’t even have to bend over to sniff individual blossoms, though you can’t resist, because the whole field smells so good. The nursery makes a very limited amount of perfume each year from these roses and you can see the small distillation process there. Be forewarned that you’ll come home with a trunk full of rose bushes. 🙂 Kazanlak smells wonderful but only blooms once per year, so unless you’re making perfume you may prefer repeat blooming roses instead.

Rose absolutes have many places of origin including Bulgaria, Morocco, India, France, Turkey, Egypt, and Russia. I like both the Bulgarian and Moroccan Rosa damascena absolutes, but I find the Bulgarian to be deeper with a hint of spiciness and the Moroccan to be sweeter.  The Centifolia rose,  sometimes called Rose de Mai, is also used in perfume; it’s not as deep as the Damask, but some people prefer the slightly lighter, higher note it has.  I’ve smelled some Centifolia absolute that was nice and some that was oddly smoky, so you have to be  sure to get a good source for any of these and sniff samples first.  The deep, rich, slightly spicy Kazanlak is one of my favorites.

Spring Fever

dafffysIt was 80 degrees here yesterday and 78 the day before. Beautiful! The daffodils are opening up.  The weather will turn cold again soon, but we always have a spring teaser like this in February.

Worked on the rose yesterday. Gave it some extra sparkle. Really love the first couple hours but want to improve the last few hours of the drydown.

Did some experiments with alpha, beta, and delta damascones; they are all lovely with dry, fruity blackcurrent notes, rose notes, and woodsy nuances.  They are related to the ionones and their scents reflect that connection. Their suggested usage level is only 0.02% in the finished product for leave-on skin applications, so that limits their use. And you must consider their total content in all your ingredients,  which is more complex when you use natural rose absolutes in combination with the synthetics.

this ‘n that

I’m about halfway through the website re-format.  Still working on the rose and sandalwood scents.


Just finally took a few minutes to plant sweet pea seeds.  We usually do it in fall but I’m hoping they’ll still be ok doing it now in spring.  They need to be up in time to bloom before our hot weather starts.  Nothing like the smell of freshly cut sweet peas!  I love the old-fashioned heirloom varieties.

 Waiting for some samples of jasmine absolute to arrive.  So far Eden Botanical’s jasmine has been my favorite.  They have very nice natural products for those interested in blending with essential oils and absolutes. 

Also waiting for my Chanel samples to arrive.  Like everyone else this week, I’m excited to try the six new scents. 

Winter Garden

Most of the garden looks soggy and bedraggled this time of year, but we still have a few flowers: winter iris, cyclamen, violas, and lots of lovely camellias.  The stalks of dried grasses were nice too, but we just cut them down so spring growth can begin.

In this climate zone of California it’s tough to convince roses to go dormant.  We usually strip their leaves and prune in January to force dormancy.  When you don’t strip and prune, you get roses in winter, which can be fun even though it’s probably not as good for the bush.  We didn’t prune all the roses this year so we have some blooming now.  Just a few blooms on the warmer days, but they’re a special treat in winter.

The tulips and daffodil bulbs are coming up.  Spring is around the corner.  🙂

Rose, Sandalwood, and Programming

Just a quick update.  Working on the rose scent a bit more today, especially the balance in the rose accord between the deep rich notes and the brighter notes.  Want this to be feminine but not overly powdery. 

Also working on a sandalwood.  It’s woodsy but smoothed by some musk, balsam, and a touch of amber, not animalic but not sweet.  It’s also warmed by some some spice and softened by floral hints.

And also working on the website reformat.  Making progress but it’s a big job.

Label Woes

Had to install a new version of a shipping label program from USPS that required updated versions of MS .NET Framework and Windows Installer. Now my PrintShop 21 software won’t run because it wants the old version of NET Framework. I use two label programs for various things. Not sure if there’s a fix for this. The newer version of PrintShop, called number 22, uses the old Framework as a system requirement too. For now I’m redrawing label templates into the other program I use, but that takes hours. Spent the last few days on it and am back in shape for the basics, but that kind of thing is frustrating. If anyone out there runs PrintShop successfully with MS .NET Framework 2.0, I’d love to hear from you!  (Seems unlikely but you never know.)

Upcoming Website Changes

Since last summer I’ve been phasing out the sweetest gourmand scents, and it’s time to do a more site-wide change. I want to concentrate on fewer scents and make them be my very favorites. I think when you work on scents every day you prefer working with your favorite notes, and I’m finding I want to work less with the sweet gourmand scents.  I’ll still have scents with touches of sweeter notes like vanilla, amber, tolu, and spices, but I’m leaning toward the scents that have a bit drier overall balance.   A few of the scents I’ll drop have been popular so I’ll continue to make full size bottles available for a while, but I won’t be sending out new samples of those. I’m still making decisions about some scents and that’s why I’ve taken the cart down to do this site work. I know it’s inconvenient to have another break now, but we’ve been open every day since October (time flies!) and I’m hoping most people will understand. I’m trying to follow the course that feels right for me.

I’ll also be adding some new scents.  I’ve continued to collect and source some exciting ingredients and have a number of new scents in the works. One is an incense rose with notes of frankincense, musk, rose, jasmine, violet, carnation, cinnamon, amber, and touch of floral aldehydes. It’s very feminine. I’ve been working on it for a couple of months and still have a few weeks to go. I like one version very much, but I’m still trying some variations on it.

The site structure will change to price each scent individually instead of by groups.  The new organization will provide the flexibility to use any ingredients regardless of cost and set the price accordingly.  For example, I have always loved floral notes and want to be able to incorporate more of the beautiful natural floral absolutes into future scents.  I’m making some tough decisions but this is something I’ve wanted to finish since last summer and the changes will be good in the long run. 

Morning Testing

I like to test scents I’m working on first thing in the morning when my nose is fresh and I have yet to start any work for the day. My alarm wakes me up at 6 a.m. and I put on a dab of a new blend and head out to the kitchen to make oatmeal (I’ve loved the smell of plain oats since I was a kid, lol). The sun comes up as I do my morning tasks, and often there’s a gorgeous pink glow in the sky, illuminating clouds that float over the hills. Sometimes I catch a glance of the big wild turkeys making their morning commute all in a line, or occasionally I’ll see a rabbit trying to reach through the fence to nibble at my garden. I sniff my wrist and observe how much sillage I get as I do the morning chores. I usually notice things I hadn’t noticed the day before while working on the scent. I’ll make a note in my mind of the tweaks I want to try next, and then I head to the computer to check the morning email before getting packages ready to beat the mail pickup at noon. Another day begins…