Quick update

The new cap press is working now so I made a few more bottles (left). I have one method for doing the labels now. It’s labor intensive, so I’m working with the printer on an alternate method that’d look the same.

Didn’t get to work on formulas yet today but am going to go do that for an hour now… Working on BB and on a new amber that I’d started months ago and set down.

More rain here this week. Supposed to be nice for the long weekend though, and my brother will probably be up to visit, which will be fun.

Frangipani testing, and VdV review

I’ve been testing two new frangipani absolutes and the differences between them are interesting. One is plumaria rubra that is likely the type called Celadine, and another is plumaria alba that is made mostly from the type called Singapore. Both are strong and heady, but the rubra is sweeter and more floral. The alba has more green notes and is less sweet. I’ve never smelled a frangipani absolute quite like the rubra before, but it is very pretty with aspects of orange blossom/neroli, gardenia/jasmine, and tuberose. Plumaria flowers are often used in leis in Hawaii and their fragrance is wonderful. The absolutes don’t smell exactly like the flower, of course, but the absolutes are beautiful too. I’m trying some of the frangipani in BB to see what it might be like in it.

A review of Voile de Violette was just brought to my attention on the blog called hortus conclusus. This is a great time of year to try VdV if you like violet notes. I enjoy it in spring. Thanks for the very nice review, Sarah!

May Flowers in Sonoma (part of May Flowers blog project) 

Today is my post for the May Flowers group blog project organized by natural perfumer and artist Roxana Villa of Illuminated Perfume. You can visit her Illuminated Perfume blog to find links to the fun and creative May Flower posts that have been made every day in May by other participants in the project. Thanks very much, Roxana, for including me!

My topic is “May Flowers In Sonoma,” and I’ll share flowers from my own garden as well as ideas for places to visit in Sonoma to see spring flowers (some still coming for this year and others to plan for in spring of next year). I’ll start with a quick rundown of spring flower visits you can make in my area.

May Flowers To See In The Sonoma Area:

Wildflower Walks: This spring from March 27 through May 22 free wildflower walks were offered in the local parks with experts who taught how to identify our wildflowers. If you want to partake next spring you can find more info at http://www.sonoma-county.org/parks/. We have beautiful fields of blue lupine in some areas each spring, along with wild iris and many other wildflowers.

Perfume Rose Fields: Each May the perfume roses bloom at Russian River Roses, and they have open days when you can come to see them.

Garden Tours: Each spring and summer various organizations hold open gardens at some of the large estates in the area, and some of the large wineries have gardens open for viewing as well. One way to check for these events is in the local newspaper called the Press Democrat.

Lavender Fields: In summer you can walk the 2 acres of beautiful lavender fields at Matanzas Creek Winery (6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa; 707-528-6464, http://matanzascreek.com/). It starts to bloom in late May but peaks in mid to late June and is quite spectacular. There is still plenty of time this year before the bloom peaks (it is too early yet to go) so if you are going to be in the area in June it might be a fun stop. They have a nice garden video tour.

May Flower Photos In My Garden:

Here are some May photos I’ve taken of flowers in my garden. The first is clematis viticella with rose Madame Alfred Carriere on my arbor:

The next is the climbing rose Awakening (a baby of New Dawn):

And this is how Awakening grows on the front porch post. I need to train it better — it’s gotten big! This photo is a bit washed out from the bright sun so the pink color looks lighter than it is (the close-up shows the flower better but this shows the climber aspect):

This is my long back planter box with ferns at one end and blooms of geranium Biokovo and heuchera tumbling out of the planter:

Here are some California poppies in a soft rosy color rather than the native bright orange. They are in a pot on the deck but I want to try to get them to naturalize in the garden:

Here is the shade area by the Japanese maples under the oaks where geranium and heuchera bloom in May:

Here is the single-petaled shrub rose called Ballerina. It blooms many times throughout the summer starting in May, and although it has no fragrance the shrub is nice enough to make up for that.

Here is a very similar shrub rose to Ballerina but with red flowers instead of pink. It’s called Marjorie Fair. This one is still young and not very big yet.

Here is a close-up of a little geranium in the shade:

Here are a couple small iris pallida plants in bloom with geranium behind them. This is the type of iris that is used in perfume, but it is the root rather than the flower that is used. The roots are high in ionones, which are a main component in violet scent. Iris absolute, or orris, smells quite woodsy and earthy but also with floral ionone tones. The plant has foliage with white or creamy yellow stripes and is attractive even when not blooming, providing a bright spot in the garden. My plants shown here are young and not very big yet, but my larger ones are not blooming this week so I photographed these newer little ones instead.

Here is the little crop of sweet peas just picked this morning. Wish I could send their scent out from this photo! Yummy.

I posted this photo last year; it’s not of flowers but is looking off the back deck with the ferns in the foreground and an oak just off the deck. I love the oaks. 🙂

That’s it for photos for today! Happy May Flowers!

Study on Bug-Fighting Properties of Essential Oils

Dr Weil’s newsletter today reports on a study by Greek researchers that tested the antimicrobial activity of eight essential oils and found thyme to be most effective. Weil’s letter says it “almost completely eliminated the bacteria it was pitted against within an hour” and it was even effective against the so called superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This study should help lead to development of more products using essential oils instead of ingredients like bleach and triclosan. Good news! Some products with these natural-based antimicrobials already exist, such as the CleanWell antibacterial liquid soaps that use thyme oil for fighting germs and are scented with natural fragrance combinations designed by Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes.

Quick Update: I’m almost caught up with sending out packages and am working on a number of projects. I’m receiving some ingredient samples in the mail both today and tomorrow that should be interesting, and I expect my gold foil today for the new labels. The new press does work better than the first one I tried, so I’m making progress on putting the new bottles into production. I’m back to work on Bouquet Blanc, and I decided which tuberose absolute I like best in it. It needs more oomph after the latest changes though so I’ll work on that this afternoon. I also have some new scents for lotion in the works. And I need to get to the Opal reformulation. Lots to do! I also need to finish writing my post for Saturday’s May Flowers group blog project…

The next day…

I resisted cutting that rose yesterday since I had plenty others to cut for the house, and today I took another snapshot after it had unfurled for another day. This time the light was softer and better for pictures (in the early evening instead of noon). Morning is my favorite time for flower photos but evening works too. The focus isn’t quite as sharp but it shows how nicely Elle unfolds. It’s a really beautiful rose and the fragrance is amazing too.

Spring Weekend Update

I snapped a few photos in the garden today and posted one above of the very fragrant hybrid tea rose called Elle. I’ll post the other pics next Saturday as part of my May Flowers group post — photos of clematis, roses, poppies, and heuchera.

My new cap press arrived and I will try it tonight or tomorrow. My order for gold foil came, but it was silver rather than gold so I had to reorder and won’t get the correct foil until next Thursday. I’ll take the foil to the printer next Friday to finally try the first labels for the new bottles.

I’m testing samples of frangipani absolute from several sources and they are all pretty, but it is interesting to see the differences. One is especially beautiful and smells more like distinct floral notes with jasmine, orange blossom, and gardenia. Another sample is floral too but the notes are more mixed and less distinct, and it has more green nuances. I’ve tried growing frangipani here a few times in pots but they just don’t thrive here.

I did some quick sniff testing of a few perfumes over the last couple weeks and loved the Grossmith samples. You might enjoy sampling these if you are a fan of vintage scents. The ingredients are high quality and they do smell very much like scents of the past, which will either appeal to you or not. They are expensive if you want a full bottle but are fun to sample. Here were some reviews on 1000 Fragrances and Perfume Shrine. I also tried the new Parfumerie Generale Gardenia Grand Soir, but it did not do well on me. I was curious to sniff it since I’m working on a related theme of white florals on a sandalwood base. The orange blossom note in Gardenia Grand Soir had grapey and soapy aspects that came out on me, unfortunately. I’m really looking forward to trying the new L’Artisan tuberose scent!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Just wanted to say Happy Mother’s Day! A favorite topic on this day is what perfume your Mom wore and how that influenced your fragrance preferences and memories. My Mom didn’t wear fragrance when I was growing up so I really had no influence from her in that area, but my grandmother (my Mom’s mother) loved fragrance. I can remember sitting next to her in the car on our way out to dinner on special occasions, and she’d always smell so sophisticated to me wth her perfume. She often wore aldehydic florals but I was too young to know which ones. She mostly just wore perfume to go out and my Mom almost never wore any, so I grew up thinking of perfume as more of a special occasion indulgence, though friends in high school changed that perception later. Someone gave me a bottle of L’Air du Temps when I was in grade school and I loved to sniff it but felt it seemed to old for me at the time.

My Mom did wear perfume when she was in college, mostly Chanel No 5, but I don’t associate that with her since she didn’t wear it much after my brother and I came along. My Mom is more into gardening and cooking than fragrance, but she enjoys sniffing things I create — Velvet Rose and Champagne de Bois are her favorites to wear so far. I’m lucky to have grown up with great parents and to still have them with us. Happy Mother’s Day!

Preview of New Bottles

I wanted to post a couple quick pictures of the new bottles even though they won’t be ready for a while yet. This label is a mock-up that I cut by hand so it’s not perfect but gives the idea. I need to be sure that the printer can do the gold foil in this size (that’s a gold foil border on the label).

The bottles are a classic shape that is a bit more vertical than my older bottles, and they have pretty beveled edges. The glass is more substantial with an overall more elegant look. They are still the one ounce size, which is hard to find because most are 1.7 oz (50 ml). These have crimped-on pumps rather than screw-on, so you can’t remove them. I think that’s fine though since I offer smaller sizes too.

My photos are not the best, but this will help illustrate what I’ve been talking about. I’d like to hire someone to help with my product photos once I finish the labels.

Incense Pure Review on Katie’s Blog

Katie Puckrik reviewed Incense Pure on her blog today; it’s a fun read as her reviews always are, weaving in her stories as she goes. Most of you have already seen her excellent YouTube fragrance reviews, but if you haven’t checked those out yet you should!

She liked Incense Pure and enjoyed the oudoorsy aspect, wearing it on a trip to Vasquez Rocks. She mentions the intense frankincense blast at the start, and that’s probably a good heads up for people. Feedback from testers on that issue ranged from “I love the bite of the frankincense at the opening” to “I love the drydown but don’t even bother to sniff the first 3 minutes.” I tried to soften that start in a number of ways but ended up living with it because the payoff was good enough to me, and the frankincense fans told me not to worry about it. Anyway, if the start is a bit much for you, give it a few minutes to settle down and you will probably like it much more. Thanks for the great review Katie! I’m really happy that people have been enjoying Incense Pure and that it’s doing so well.

I have a little update on the white floral progress. I have a floral top and sandalwood drydown that are working together nicely now. I had to remove the OB note to make the drydown into something I like. I’d prefer to pull up the floral aspect a little more because this is a woodsy floral with sandalwood and a bit of oakmoss and orris, but I like what I have here. It has lots of jasmine, some gardenia and tuberose, and a little bit of iris and ylang. The base is sandal, orris, cedar, amber, tonka, vanilla, beeswax, and oakmoss. It’s more of a classic woodsy floral scent rather than a breezy summery scent, so unless I change that I’m not sure the BB name is a perfect fit. I will finish this before deciding on the name. I’m happy that the top and base are finally flowing together the way I’d wanted. I have a few more things to try with it and need to keep wearing it.

My new cap press won’t arrive until Monday, but meantime I’m working on labels. I’ll try to get a photo tonight that I can post.

Rose Events in Healdsburg

Kazanlik perfume roses


I’ll be doing a May Flowers post for the group blogging project, but my assigned day isn’t until May 22 so I wanted to give a heads up for this May flowers event in Healdsburg: an open house on Mother’s Day at the nearby Russian River Roses nursery. I’ve mentioned this before on the blog. They have a large field of perfume roses that bloom in May and into early June. You can visit to help harvest flowers and see the distillation process if you sign up for a tour, or you can wander the property on your own during an open house day. Mother’s Day there is busy but fun. If you’re in the area you might enjoy stopping by, and you can also buy roses from the nursery. If you’re in the area another fun rose nursery is Garden Valley Ranch in Petaluma, and one of the best all-round nurseries anywhere is Cottage Gardens in Petaluma.