Sunday, April 24, 2011

puddling in perfumery

I really like things that smell nice, oh so much, but I just can't bring myself to part with the ludicrous amount of money that perfumes go for. And I am also fussy, and don't like many of the cheap and cheerful perfumes on the market, they are usually too sweet and sickly for my liking.

So I was delighted when I found in a herbal book a recipe for 'Carmelite water' which involved infusing delicious ingredients like lemon balm, coriander seed, cloves nutmeg and cinnamon in vodka.

Hmm. she thinks. I could try that:

So - 500 ml vodka (£5)
cloves (from the kitchen cupboard)
cinnamon sticks (as above)
20 drops of benzoin resin essential oil (already in my stash)
5 drops of myrrh essential oil (in stash)
star anise (from the cupboard)
15 grams (approx) of moroccan solid 'amber' perfume, chopped.(about £3-4 pounds)

So it is good to get a blend of top middle and bottom 'notes' in perfume.
I always like warm, spicy rich smells but also sweet and floral smells - ylang ylang would be just about my favourite scent on earth, possibly only matched by Labdanum, and then followed closely by benzoin resin. Labdanum is an interesting one - it is a sticky brown resin obtained from the Cistus ladanifer (a kind of rock rose) Traditionally it was collected by combing the beards of goats, who got it stuck to them as they wandered about grazing.

We bought a block of solid 'amber' perfume in Morocco, which is also pretty lovely. Apparently it is a combination of woods, resins, incense notes, patchouli and vanilla. It can be light and fresh (heavy on the frankinscence), or dark, thick and sweet (lots of patchouli and vanilla). My one was definitely on the thick and sweet side.

I think my top notes will be the gently anniseedy star anise, and the slightly rose-like benzoin resin. These are the first impressions of the scent, and linger the most briefly.

The middle notes, the body of the perfume which make up the fullness of the scent will be the sweet thick amber and the spicy, aromatic cloves, and the base notes, which linger longest and give 'depth' to the perfume, will be cinnamon and myrrh- woody, resinous and warm smells.

I am very excited- now all I need to do is shake the bottle every day for a couple of weeks, and eventually, add a bit of vegetable glycerine for longevity (on your skin) and strain out all the bits and bobs (cloves etc). My very own perfume.

It would be fun to make a slightly lighter version using vanilla beans and ylang ylang, with some orange and cinnamon and geranium thrown in there. scrumptious.

The wisterias, in full bloom at the moment also smell amazing...

On a completely unrelated note, the bluebells are out, and they are magical...
These are at the Harcourt arboretum, the tree part of the Oxford botanical gardens.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

sneaky disguise bag

So - being somewhat afraid of drawing undue attention to the brand new camera that has recently become Malcolm's pride and joy (thanks to a generous return from mr taxman on finding out he'd been on the wrong tax code - yay)..

The night before we set off to morocco, Malcolm decided he needed a bag. I thought I'd have a bash, and decided to do it 'properly' which, when you are tired, slightly stressed and still packing is maybe not entirely wise. Much unpicking, some swearing and a few hours later...we had a sneaky disguise bag, with slits in the straps so you could feed the camera bag handle up and through it. Here it is, manly yet unassuming, I hope - it seemed to do the trick nicely:

And in other news, it is spring. relief. bliss. blossoms everywhere new leaves popping out, and sunshine.

I cant put into words how good it is, so here's some photos- the neighbours huge apple tree behind our tiny cabin is looking amazing!

Monday, April 4, 2011

marrakesh colour

I love colour. Our recent trip to Morocco was a feast to the eyes for colour. Marrakesh makes everyone paint things the same colour by law, so the result is a dusty pink city with some glorious details of faded chipped paint and scuffy walls.

Then the majorelle gardens, final resting place of Yves St Laurent, are an oasis of green and blue amidst the faded pinks of the rest of the city. Look at these luscious bougainvilleas- and of course, the famous 'majorelle blue' trademarked by french artist Jaques majorelle. I do love that colour.

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