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Milady's Pantry & Stillroom ~ Lilac Sugar

I'm a Midwestern witch through and through and there is nothing that captures those memories of an Ohio spring like the extraordinary scent of a glorious French lilac in bloom! Alas, it's also one of the hardest of scents to capture because unless you are working with a natural perfumer, most of the lilac perfume that you will encounter is synthetic.

I've discovered though that one of the best carriers for this elusive scent is good old fashioned cane sugar, so when the lilacs are blooming I beg , borrow and steal enough of the fragrant blooms from all of my friends and neighbors to create a sweetly perfumed lilac treat. The end result is a beautifully tinted and infused lilac sugar that I can use to make jellies, syrups, love spells and tea sugars. 

Kitchen Apothecary~ Lilac Sugar

The process is simple. Take as many lilacs as you can find and pick the blossoms off of the stems. Put them into a bowl and add a bag of white sugar. Toss and cover and allow the blooms to infuse the sugar. The next morning take the cover off of the bowl . The sugar will smell amazing, but it will be damp. Place all of the sugar and lilacs evenly on dehydrator trays (or cookie sheets if you are using a low oven) and allow it to dry for about 2 hours and then put all of it back again into a covered bowl. Pick another large bunch of lilac blossoms and put them into the dehydrator for about 3 hours (no sugar this time). When they have begun to really dry but not yet lost their scent, take them out and stir them into the already infused sugar. 

Kitchen Apothecary~ Lilac Sugar

Let it  air dry (or you can use a very low oven~ careful, you don't want caramel!) for about 6 more hours and put it all up in an air tight jar. The scent is astonishing and the sugar is delightful when you use it in tea or sprinkled on cookies or other confections. It makes a gorgeous gift packaged in a pretty cut or porcelain glass sugar bowl. I wouldn't use metal because you don't want any sort of bitter chemical reaction , a common chemistry problem between metal and flowers. 

One warning...really make sure that you dry it properly..keep checking the flowers. It takes lilacs a while to dry properly. You want the color and scent to still be there but not too much of the moisture otherwise your sugar will end up with a brownish tint!

I use this sugar to make several bottles of a luscious love philtre every year. I only make three bottles and they go very quickly!  It is quite an effective heart opener & aphrodisiac when used appropriately.  I won't be making them until early May , but please email me at beth.gehring@stirringthesenses.com if you are interested in purchasing one of them. 


Claires Herbs ~ Rose Geranium Punch

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“ I should have felt much too guilty at this exploitation to enjoy my bath, but I didn’t. I wallowed luxuriously, scrubbing the salt and grime from my skin with a loofah sponge and lathering my hair with a shampoo made from chamomile, geranium oil, fat-soap shavings, and the yolk of an egg, graciously supplied by Mrs. MacIver.
Smelling sweet, shiny-haired, and languid with warmth, I collapsed gratefully into the bed I was given. I had time only to think how delightful it was to stretch out at full length, before I fell asleep.
When I woke, the shadows of dusk were gathering on the veranda outside the open French doors of my bedroom, and Jamie lay naked beside me, hands folded on his belly, breathing deep and slow.
He felt me stir, and opened his eyes. He smiled sleepily and reaching up a hand, pulled me down to his mouth. He had had a bath, too; he smelled of soap and cedar needles. I kissed him at length, slowly and thoroughly, running my tongue across the wide curve of his lip, finding his tongue with mine in a soft, dark joust of greeting and invitation.”

Excerpt From: Diana Gabaldon. “Voyager.”  

 

The lovely Rose Geranium  or Pelargonium Graveolens is just one of my favorite plants in the whole world. It's easy to grow, lovely to look at and smells absolutely wonderful. I've used rose geranium essential oil mixed with spearmint in my diffuser for years to calm my hot flashes and I love using it in my bath as it's a wonderful toning oil to use on the skin. Rose geranium oil mixed with an egg yolk beaten with a bit of olive oil and combed through warm, wet hair is a wonderful deep conditioning and follicle treatment. ( just make sure to rinse it off with shampoo and warm, not hot water so the eggs don't scramble!) It is said to have anti- inflammatory properties, so be sure to keep some around during the winter months when the cold begins to make your joints ache. 

1 teaspoonful almond oil and a vitamin E capsule with a few drops of Rose Geranium essential oil AND Rose absolute is one of the best massage oils that I know of. Emotionally, rose geranium essential oil is a wonderful oil for promoting balance, tranquility, conviviality and relaxation. This could be why the following punch recipe from The Western Reserve Herb Society cookbook  is just so very delightful!

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2 Cups Rose Geranium leaves, washed
4 Cups cold water
In a saucepan place leaves and water. Bring just to a boil, but do not allow to boil. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain into a large glass jar/bowl. Discard leaves.


Add: 1 cup sugar
8 Cups cranapple juice
4 Cups orange juice
1 2-Liter bottle of any lemon-lime soda
Serve over/with ice.

 

If  I didn't have a rose geranium plant handy, I would use a few drops (start with 4 and add more to taste )  of Mandy Aftel's Geranium Chefs Essence  in  4 cups of cold water. Be careful and start with fewer drops than you think. It's very concentrated. 

 

The following picture is of the ice ring that I made to go into this punch . Instead of going through the normal process of freezing a little bit of water and adding a layer of fruit, and freezing some more and ading more fruit, I tried something new. I got pre-frozen fruit , a mixture of peaches, cherries , grapes and berries. I added many cups of these into the ring mold and poured cranapple juice over the top. The ice ring was frozen solid within 4 hours...almost unheard of! I unmolded it by putting the ring into hot water for a minute and then turned it upside down into the punch bowl.

All the fruit went to the top and the ring had a beautiful Della Robbia look that made it incredibly festive. The only thing that I'll do differently next time is to layer some pretty edible leaves in first! this is a wonderful mocktail to serve for anytime of the year but it's definitely very pretty to serve on a Yule or Solstice table accompanied by a sugar cookie or two!

Elegant Entertaining~ Rose Geranium Punch

 

 

 

All pictures are mine with the exception of the Rose Geranium which is from wikipedia!

 


Milady's Pantry and Stillroom: Incense and Peppermint

 

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“I unlaced the front of my robe and rubbed my body quickly with handfuls of the lavender and valerian. It was a pleasant, spicy smell, distinctive and richly evocative. A smell that, to me, conjured the shade of the man who wore its perfume, and the shade of the man behind him; shades that evoked confusing images of present terror and lost love. A smell that, to Jamie, must recall the hours of pain and rage spent wrapped in its waves. I rubbed the last of it vigorously between my palms and dropped the fragrant shreds on the floor.

With a deep breath for courage, I picked up the vial of ammoniacal spirits. I stood by the bed a moment holding it, looking down at the gaunt, stubbled face. At most he might last a day; at the least, only a few more hours.

“All right, you bloody Scottish bastard,” I said softly. “Let’s see how stubborn you really are.” I lifted the injured hand, dripping, from the water and set the soaking dish aside."

Excerpt From: Diana Gabaldon. “Outlander.”  

Incense and Peppermint

Please enjoy this lovely chart! Click on it, blow it up and print it out! I don't know who to attribute it to but I'm very grateful that it showed up on my personal facebook page.  It's one of the best tools that for creating incense that  I've seen in a long time! I love incense and I make my own and burn it often for healing, conjuring or simply when I just want my home to smell simply wonderful.  There are all kinds of glorious combinations that you can use when you want to provoke different emotions, for example, an incense of cinnamon, rose petals, cloves, dried apple, basil, lavender buds, vanilla bean , cardomom and sandalwood sprinkled with a couple of drops of essential oil of rose is one of the sexiest love potions that I know...... 

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Abolone shell with white sage smudge stick/ origins of photograph unknown

 It's truly easy to create your own.  Take a flameproof bowl and fill it 1/2 way with sand. I use a beautiful abalone shell that I bought years ago because it does have a wonderfully feminine vibe! Then get a pack of incense charcoal disks and lay one on top of the sand. Light it and let it burn until you're sure that it's ready (It will be ashy and glowing, not flaming!) and scatter any combination of herbs and spices around and on top of it. Please be sure to only use leaves , petals , spices and woods  that you know have not been treated with pesticides and have fun....the magic's even more personal if you've gathered them yourself. Just be sure to gather conciously. Never take an endangered species . Don't take to much of any one plant and be sure to ALWAYS leave a little love token for the fey folk !

You don't want to upset them you know:)

image from home-school-coach.com

 My husband laughs because he does the laundry (love that man!) and he's always emptying my pockets which are filled with offerings of seeds, pennies and pretty stones. You can even add a couple of drops of any essential oil that you love, provided that it's organic. Please don't use perfumed oils. Perfumed oils are generally derived from petroleum products and other nasty things. They will produce a horrid black smoke when you light them and the magical correspondences are not  present in chemically produced scents. My favorite? A combination of White sage, Lavender , Bourbon Rose,  Bay and Pine.  Please write me at My Outlander Love Affair/Milady's Pantry and Stillroom  and let me know yours!

Now for fun:)

 


Kitchen Apothecary ~ Lilac Sugar

I'm a Midwestern witch through and through and there is nothing that captures those memories of an Ohio spring like the extraordinary scent of a French lilac and alas, it's one of the hardest of scents to capture. Unless you are working with a natural perfumer, most of the lilac perfume that you will encounter is synthetic. I've discovered though that one of the best carriers for this elusive scent is good old fashioned sugar, so when the lilacs are blooming I beg , borrow and steal enough of the fragrant blooms from all of my friends and neighbors to create a sweetly perfumed lilac treat. The end result is a beautifully tinted and infused lilac sugar that I can use to make jellies, syrups, love spells and tea sugars. 

Kitchen Apothecary~ Lilac Sugar

The process is simple. Take as many lilacs as you can find and take the blossoms off of the stems. Put them into a bowl and add a couple of pounds of white sugar. Toss and cover and allow the blooms to infuse the sugar. The next morning take the cover off of the bowl . The sugar will smell amazing, but it will be damp. Place all of the sugar and lilacs on dehydrator trays and allow it to dry for about a half an hour and then put it back into a covered bowl. Pick another good bunch of lilac blossoms and put them into the dehydrator for about a half an hour (no sugar this time). When they have begun to dry but not yet lost their scent, take them out and stir them into the already infused sugar. 

Kitchen Apothecary~ Lilac Sugar

Let it dry for about 6 more hours and put it up into an air tight cannister. The scent is astonishing. I use this sugar to make several bottles of a gorgeous love philtre every year. I only make three bottles and they go very quickly as it is quite an effective heart opener & aphrodisiac when used correctly. Please email me at beth.gehring@stirringthesenses.com if you are interested in purchasing one of them. 


Sláinte...In honor of St. Paddy's Day here's my favorite hunting flask recipe!

 

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Most know that when I was a wee little girl I fell madly in love with horses. This is a love affair that has trancended many men and many years...and thankfully I found the one man to marry who not only could tolerate playing second fiddle to the 4 legged men in my life but could also cherish them almost as much as I do. When my horse Shimmeree, a delightful gray arabian with a very happy nature snuggled up to him 30 plus years ago I knew that he was the one. That horse was always a fabulous judge of character. 

One of my first trainers when I was a little girl was an Irish woman name Noreen Bailey, who like most Irishmen and women that I've known had a way with horses that was absolutely magical and at times downright infuriating. I spent well over a decade with her and became known for my ability to speak with a bit of a brogue.  I loved and hated her at the same time...I'd be having an issue with one of my ponies and she'd hop on and whisper to him in a bit of gaelic and he'd be eating out of her hands..doing whatever she wanted him to do which was usually exactly what he'd refused to do for me seconds before. Mrs. Bailey taught me many things and was perhaps my first introduction  to natural horsekeeping. She made all of her own linaments and boiled down flaxseed on the stove to make a jelly that is still far superior as a gut and coat remedy to anything that you can buy. She'd toss pine boughs out into the pasture to keep down the worms and at least 3 times a week would fix a bran mash for the horses that you or I would eat happily. Lameness, diabetes, laminitis...all of these things were rare in her barns because she knew how to keep her horses in as natural a state as possible. They were outside morning ,noon and most evenings when it wasn't too buggy. They lived a life unlike most horses that you know today because for the most part they were free.

I used to love to spend the night there before a horse show...her apartments were right on top of the barns so I could fall asleep listening to snorting, snuffling and the occasional wall kick. The warm hay smell would follow me up the steps and I'd settle happily on her couch with a bowl of soup. Sadly her culinary skills did not transfer to humans but I loved her cooking just the same! However she did  make a mean hot toddy which really could cure whatever ailed you. Several times I'd have a cold the night before an important horse show and she'd mix me up this drink. It would go down the hatch easily, I'd fall asleep and in the morning I'd be ready to go! I didn't question her wisdom of giving it to an 8 year old and of course my mother never knew, but to this day I'm grateful and it's what I drink when I'm under the weather. It's also what I put into my flask when I go to hunter trials or foxhunting as it's a perfect sip for a cold fall morning when the leaves are falling, the horses are fresh and the air is sweet and brisk. It's really quite simple....Bushmills, Honey , lemon, cinnamon, butter and raisins  in whatever proportions you like! If you need a toddy, add some hot tea (she used Constant Comment ,a blend which this author still admits to enjoying!) and if you want it for your flask, put it all into a bottle and let it steep overnight , shaking the bottle every now and then. If you don't like lemon and butter you can use Baileys...It's pretty good either way!

Although she's been gone for many years now, I've never forgotten her.Although she could be quite mean, I could never have been the rider that I am today without her. She gave me my seat and she ignited a passion that's lasted a lifetime.  Here's to you Mrs. Bailey wherever you are...Happy St. Patricks Day...I'm hoping that all of your horses are fresh and your men are young and that you know just how much I loved you!

Sláinte!

   


HUZZAH! The Perfume Magazine has arrived!

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Calling all Perfumistas!

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Hello Girls (and perfume loving gents! The utterly fabulous Raphaella Barkley is back with The Perfume Magazine (Formerly Sniffapalooza Magazine) and I am here to promise you that it is FABULOUS! We've got something for everyone and all of your friends are here, the classics, vintage perfumes, exciting Indie perfumers, dazzling niche scents and effervescent naturals that make our scented world so special! We've got reviews, contests, giveaways and interviews with some of the worlds finest noses and because you requested it, we've got an exciting Perfume Magazine Forum and we're all there to chat about perfume and answer your questions!  

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So brew a lovely pot of tea and curl up with your laptop and your favorite pussycat in a cozy chair by the fire.  You may also want a large yummy pitcher of mimosas because you'll probably be there for quite awhile! 

So wiggle your nose and click on the "Calling all Perfumistas" link above to whisk you there!

 

 

 


Midsummer Night's Eve Perfume Event: Dancing my way through Midsummer!

  Waternymphs

It’s the end of July and summer is going strong here in the Midwest…There’s almost no place to run away from the brutal heat except for the garden which is ablaze with flowers and Monarch butterflies .

The fairies seem to have taken pity on me, they fan me with their wings and take delight in turning on the hoses in the most inappropriate moments. Last week when I was on my way to a fashion show that I was chairing for The Cleveland Orchestra, several of them decided that it would be hilarious fun to turn my hat into a watering can for the tomatoes and my Herme’s handbag into a planter for the ferns. Today they decided that it would be fun to push me into my young neighbors wading pool. Oh well….I love it that they're trying to take such good care of me!

So today I have 6 stunning natural perfumes to share with you that are truly fairy touched and fabulous. I love them and you will too, so without further adieu I bring you the last installment of A Midsummer Night’s Dream Perfume event! My thanks to all of the wonderful perfumers and bloggers who participated. It was indeed a treat to get to know all of you just a little bit better!

 

Amanda Feeley/ Esscentual Alchemy: Pixie Dust and Bottoms Dream

To say that I love Pixie Dust  by Amanda Feeley would be an tragic understatement. First of all there’s the description….”Pixie Dust Botanical Perfume is a scented description of   an ancient British forest..the kind that you would have found in the 16th century”.  This scent is all of that and more. I am reminded of a silvery scented pomander worn over a brocade and velvet gown. I am reminded of my favorite image of all, one of the healing wise woman who lives in that very forest. I am reminded of a story that I once read of a young titled woman of the 16th century who wanted more from her life and escaped into the forest everyday to sit at the feet of that same wise woman in search of a life filled with magic and healing. Pixie dust is beautiful and I’m overwhelmed by the emotions that it provokes in me. Filled with antique oakmoss and violet, lilac, vanilla and honey the scent of it reminds me of my very roots which lie in the fertile soils of herbalism,  energy work and wicca.  There is rose and bergamot and the lovely heliotrope  comes out to play.  I want this scent in all of its forms, but mostly I desire it in a medieval wet potpourri that I can place in an antique silver biscuit barrel in my bedroom.   Pixie dust takes me back to another lifetime in another time and place and whether that is indeed fantasy or fact it is still a comforting and very healing emotion for me.

Bottoms dream is altogether a completely different perfume than  Pixie Dust…Bottoms Dream reminds me of  a fabulous peachy cocktail  garnished with raspberry puree and champagne and served in a beautiful glass.  It’s playful nature makes me want to put on a lovely dress and go dancing with my dashing husband .  Amanda may not have meant to provoke all of my Southern Belle fantasies but she did and Bottoms dream is definitely that because her rose and jasmine accords are the olfactory equivalent of a wink and a curtsy.  I want to bath in this (How about a bubble bath Amanda?) because it makes me giggle. Like a perfect coral lipstick and just the right toenail polish, Bottoms Dream has the distinct feeling of a wonderful night of heavy petting (Isn’t that what our mothers used to call it!)  with definitely the wrong sort of boy nestled behind curtains of Spanish moss, half naked and sprawled indelicately  on the sexy soft grass.  

 

Jane Cate: Dreams and Visions

I had a beautiful aunt that was dead before I was ever even thought of. Her name was Sadie and the pictures that I’ve seen of her show an exquisitely delicate woman with red hair that was always twisted up elegantly with tendrils escaping down the sides of her very soft face. I have always longed to meet her. As soon as I sniffed Jane Cates lovely Dreams and Visions, I was instantly swept back to a dream that I’d had over 20 years ago.  I was in Denver at the turn of the century and I was watching a lovely woman standing by a beautiful automobile on a turnstile. She was dressed in a beautifully diaphanous sage green dress with a long flowing scarf and her red hair was blowing across her pretty face. There was a scent of rose, not of the dusky sort but very sweet and it lingered even when I woke. I asked her who she was  and she laughed and told me that her name was Sadie. When I described her and asked my mother she identified the scene for me completely. Dreams and Vision is that sort of fragrance, like a beautiful celadon green pashmina shawl that you’d wrap around your shoulders like a caress. With notes of patchouli, cassia and sandalwood you’d expect it to be muskier than it is but the mimosa and the rose absolute weave a spell that absolutely   timeless and more than a little bit playful.

 

Artemisia Natural Perfume: Orchard

When I smell the completely lovely Orchard eau de parfum  by Lisa Fong ,  my mind conjures up the enchanted smell of my gardens at midnight, which is my favorite time to go outside and lie in my hammock. Somehow the nasty bugs are all gone, but the fireflies are out and about, dancing among the flowers and lighting up the evening ,  cheerful  and sweet.  My senses of smell is heightened at that time of night and I can smell the pollen and the ripe fruit and the roses take on an effervescent quality that is narcotic to my senses. Orchard is a delightful blend of wild chamomile and clary sage which may account for the subtle relaxation that this parfum provokes. It’s a very beautiful and sparkling fragrance that turned into  honeyed sweetmeats on my skin. Vetiver, Oakmoss, and Mimosa round out the blend and turn Orchard into a veritable Renaissance Faire for the senses.  I love its candid playfulness and the way that I smile when catch a glimpse of it hours later. Sexy and sweet, Orchard has delightful longevity .  Several hours after I put it on I thought that I caught a hint of jasmine scented white chocolate and when I shared it with my husband he proceeded to bend his lips to my neck and take a deep nibble and out to the hammock we went…..

 

April Aromatics: Nectar of Love

Nectar of Love by Tanja Bochnig is stunning. That’s really the only way to describe it. In an instant I was taken back to a story by DH Lawrence that I read many years ago.  At that time I was deeply into Women’s Studies and fascinated by the concept of the Sacred Prostitute.  The book was called “The man who died” and it was based on the premise that Jesus having survived the crucifixion travelled into the country and  found himself at the sacred temple of a  devotee of Isis.  Here is the scene in the story where he finds himself watching her as she prepares to receive him …

“The priestess did not look at him. She took off her saffron mantle and laid it on a low couch. In the dim light she was bare-armed, in her girdled white tunic. But she was still hiding herself away from him. He stood back in shadow and watched her softly fan the brazier and fling on incense. Faint clouds of sweet aroma arose on the air. She turned to the statue in the ritual of approach, softly swaying forward with a slight lurch, like a moored boat, tipping towards the goddess.

He watched the strange rapt woman, and he said to himself: "I must leave her alone in her rapture, her female mysteries." So she tipped in her strange forward-swaying rhythm before the goddess. Then she broke into a murmur of Greek, which he could not understand. And, as she murmured, her swaying softly subsided, like a boat on a sea that grows still. And as he watched her, he saw her soul in its aloneness, and its female difference. He said to himself: "How different she is from me, how strangely different! She is afraid of me, and my male difference. She is getting herself naked and clear of her fear. How sensitive and softly alive she is, with a life so different from mine! How beautiful with a soft, strange courage, of life, so different from my courage of death! What a beautiful thing, like the heart of a rose, like the core of a flame. She is making herself completely penetrable. Ah! how terrible to fail her, or to trespass on her!"

Nectar of love is the scent of that Temple….filled with precious Tuberose, jasmine and rose it’s an incense that burns in the heart as well as the loins. I wanted to pour my sample into a little vial of gold and anoint myself with it. It is a perfume for the breasts, for the sweet spot between your thighs   and the hollows of your throat. I wouldn’t wear this everyday, but I would wear it when I wanted to seduce either in body or spirit.  Nectar of love is sexy and sensual but it’s more than that….it’s transformative and I fell in love with it’s beauty immediately and I promise that you will too.

 

Blossoming Tree Bodycare:  Fare thee well nymph!

Fare the Well Nymph by Lisa Abdul Quddus   is a delightful fragrance that reminds of a bit of  my favorite midsummer cocktail which (witch) is  a Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. Redolent with spicy rum and Velvet Falernum, this citrusy classic has a bit of magic in every sip, especially on a hot summers day. The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is a strange sort of brew, alternately sweet and bitter and it’s one of the most seductive potions that I’ve ever tasted and so is Fare thee well nymph…..This perfume is filled with  an almost tropical sexiness but not a distinct sweetness…juicy Clementine and mandarin petitgrain  cool you with their fragrant breath almost instantly but just as quickly the passionate Night Queen and vetiver will sweep you off your feet. The resin Omumgorwa lends a seductive trancelike magic  to the perfume and while the Patchouli and Labdanum ground the senses.   All that’s missing is a sarong, black sands and a beautiful musky young raven haired man to take your breath away.

 

 

 

For more impressions of all the incredible perfumes in this project, please visit these participating blogs:

 

 

 

 Waterhouse Painting by Waterhouse!

 


The Midsummer NIghts Dream Perfume Event: Another Flight of Fabulous Fairies!

Butterfly

Many thanks to all for your patience....It's taken me a bit after my father (Who at 92 is still a bit of a sprite himself!) to get my magic back after he landed in the hospital for more then an extended stay last week! But perfume is my favorite  potion of choice and with these incredible fragrances I'm coming back to life rather quickly after such an extended faint.....One of the things that's so interesting to me about natural and botanical fragrances is that upon first sniff they  all seem so similar. I realized within seconds that what I was missing was the piercing shrieks of the synthetics, the aldehydes etc... the crazy library of faux fragrances that we've come to look upon as normal. What becomes quickly apparent are the nuances, the subtleties of energy that are provoked when you begin to enter the very original world of the naturals.I've never met one that wasn't absolutely and sensationally beautiful.

 

I've fallen quite in love with Robin Goodfellow, or as I've come to know him because we are on rather intimate terms "Puck"! Robin is the extraordinarily lovely creation of perfumer Anne Walsh . To comment that Robin is bewitching would be an understatement  and I'm immediately whisked away to a place I've never been with a most devastatingly handsome companion. Masculine it is upon first sniff, but in the most androgynous of ways. Many wonderful accords and tinctures bust most notably Kaffir lime and bergamot give this instantly the feeling of a very sexy eau de cologne but suddenly the jasmine and night queen arrive, creating a sensual juicy almost fleshy feeling. Suddenly I can't help imagining that I'm bathing under the blissful canape of a warm waterfall , surrounded by steamy clouds of fragrant jasmine flowers. My husband sniffed this on on my neck and murmured "Hmmm...sweet.." By the time the Pitanga and Vetiver arrived I was blissfully satisfied, but not satiated. Robin is a beautiful perfume, sultry and sweet and I imagine that he'll be able to weave his magic spell with me for quite a long while......

 

 

I begin to tingle happily whenever I see anything arrive in my mailbox from Joanne Bassett who lives blissfully near the ocean in my beloved Southern California. Her fragrance for this Midsummers event "Night Queen" was no exception. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil immediately sprang to mind....I love the south and all of it's wonderful contradictions, but most especially I adore the fragrance that hangs in the air anywhere near Savannah. "Night Queen" is wonderful....a sort of sticky (in the nicest way) sweet yet very fresh fragrance that makes me want to wander languidly  through a beautiful old southern cemetery with my husband contemplating the fleeting nature of the the flesh...."Reine de Nuit" is a perfume for that moment when dusk moves into night...a time when anything is possible. There are 17 wonderful oils used here, far to many to name but all simply wonderful. Beginning with the fragrant night queen, damask rose, tuberose and moving through vintage jasmine, clove and violet this is a spellbinding fragrance that is impossible to resist. This isn't a sweet little daytime perfume so let yourself be swept away and enchanted...but beware ...once you've been carried away by the charms of the Night Queen, absolutely no other will do.

 

Unicorn

"I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite over canopied with luscious woodbine,

With sweet musk roses and with englantine....."

Shelley Waddington's absolutely exquisite Titania is my favorite sort of perfume , a luscious, fruity herb and spice filled fougere that just makes my heart song every time I smell it. Shelley described her delicious Titania as peacefully playful and I agree....this lovely fragrance is simply happiness in a bottle. All of my favorite friends are there , Fresh basil, mint and Hidcote lavender.....mosses, ferns, wild rose  and heliotope ,all these and so many more. There is a base of honey, exotic woods and nuts that grounds this intoxicating brew. I'm left remembering one of my most treasured moments; a walk through the Cloisters in New York City with my beloved husband. As we wandered hand and hand through the beautifully scented Medieval gardens there was no other place in the world that I could have wanted to be. When we got to the room with the incredible French Unicorn tapestries I was in absolute heaven.  Shelley's Titania provoked that memory for me as soon as I smelled it....Love at first site just like it was with my husband so many centuries ago......

 

I can't resist a perfume that claims...."If you don't want to get laid, don't wear it". Pan by Ambrosia is a  perfume that I think could definitely live up to that challenge. It's very masculine, like the horned God himself and the muskiness mixed into the delicious blend of rosemary, thyme, marjoram and Indian Patchouli is delightful and exquisitely sexy in a sort of "roll around naked and sweaty in the tall grass sort of way" and it smells incredible on my husband, better than it does on me and I think that this one takes a man to unleash it's potency. Pan is quite herbaceous but there's also something in it that reminds me of my horse Henry when we've been galloping around in the dense woods for a bit and he's fairly sweaty and so am I. It's that fine line between animal passion and human playfulness that I think that she's captured here and she's done it very well. At first sniff Pan seems simple and then suddenly you're enslaved by his lovely flutes. Follow him anywhere but at your own risk.....unplanned risky delightful sex in a bottle this one is:)

 

Peaseblossom - The Scented Djinn

Immediately upon sniffing Peaseblossom I began to blush. Justine at The Scented Djinn has created a wonderful perfume that took me back immediately to long summer afternoons at the barn, warm straw and sweet oats, ponies and sweet corn and of course..boys. Peaseblossom is a quiet perfume that warms up as soon as it touches your skin, melting into something very sweet , familiar and relaxing. The tinctured wheatgrass is fascinating and delightfully green and I love perfumes with vanilla, oakmoss and tonka and honey; Peaseblossom has plenty of that softly resinous quality to make me happy. This is a bottle full of sweet meadow grasses and windfall apples on a warm autumn day and there's also a bit of something delightful and leathery although I'm not sure what that is. There's something a a sweetly stolen kiss here...fleeting yet delicate, a touch wicked but innocent and definitely the stuff that more than a few young girls fantasies are made of.

 

 

More sweetly scented stories to come...... 

 

 

For more impressions of all the incredible perfumes in this project, please visit these participating blogs:
All photos by me....please don't use without my written consent!

Midsummer Nights Dream Scent Event! A better day awaits!

Well, you'll all remember that last week I started writing about all of the wonderful perfumey fairies that were fluttering happily in my gardens with promises of more to come. Shortly after that my 92 year old father was rushed to the ER and all thoughts of writing came to an abrupt halt. I can happily say that tonight he's back home and resting comfortably after a full week in the hospital thankfully none the worse for wear. And the good news is that I've finally been able to think about writing once again and happily the sweetly scented, gaily fluttering, mischievous  little darlings have begun to reappear .....

 On a walk this evening with my darling husband I noticed the most amazing fragrance wafting from a tree in front of me and the sound of about a thousand honeybees buzzing through the branches.  It was a Linden in totally abundant and honeyed bloom. It was one of the most gorgeous things that I've ever smelled and I immediately made a mental note to come back tomorrow with scissors and a harvesting basket. If you've never tried it, a tisane made from the lovely linden is possibly the most relaxing tea in the world...a favorite of Proust, Colette and yours truly especially when sipped with Madeleines or freshly baked shortbread. My favorite perfumes are Linden perfumes so to stand under her gorgeous branches for even a moment was completely mesmerizing and Jim had to hold on to me for dear life... Take a look for yourself! Truly only a tree full of fairies could be this intoxicating..... 

Linden

           The WIndesphere Witch will be back on Monday with more wonderful fragrance reviews of scents from the fabulous natural perfumers who are participating in this extraordinary Midsummers fragrance event! I thank you so much for your patience!

 


A Midsummer Nights Dream Perfume Event: Whisked away by some very sweetly scented fairies.......

 

Mid-summer-nights-dream

I am wondering if I'll ever get my garden back for it's by invaded by the brightest cast of characters that I've ever seen. There are fairies everywhere and  even if I hadn't seen them twinkling brightly out of the corners of my eyes I would have known that they were there by the madly intoxicating aromas that are wafting from every corner, every branch every bough....Midsummers Magic is definitely alive and afoot and I have the feeling that my life which is never quite ordinary is about to become very interesting in unimaginable ways for we all know that when the fairy folk are around that one never knows when the next prank will arise...

When I started writing about fine fragrances it was mostly out of my love for the beautiful perfumes that I had worn all of my life. Gorgeous grand things like Shalimar and Joy and my beloved Magie Noire which has always made me so happy. But then I began to notice something. My fragrances didn't smell the same anymore.  Reformulations and crass regulations subjected my beauties to the whims of something unnatural and to my mind almost evil. The list of aromas that are not allowed to be used in fine perfumery is mindboggling, but we can of course continuously douse ourselves with chemicals that make us sick and are not even remotely recognizable.

Enter the outlaws to the rescue!....

It's been my pleasure then to discover that there was a group of mavericks....men and women who have devoted themselves to the passionate crafting of outrageous natural and botanical perfumes. I love getting samples from them because they're always beautifully packaged, carefully and lovingly wrapped with a soul that's simply not found in mass marketed merchandised. Best of all, the perfumes are gorgeous.  

 

Midsummerperfumedevent (1)

For the next few days I'm devoting myself to reviewing 14 luscious natural perfumes that have been created to honor the Summer Solstice and crafted in the fun and frolicsome spirit of Shakespeare's Midsummer Nights Dream. This is going to take a bit because this is the most distracting and disarming group of perfumes that I've come across in awhile and the fairies keep overwhelming me by blowing sweet kisses on the nape of my neck  and this morning I woke up next to the brambles to find myself fairly naked and covered in jam....trust me and definitely try them all!

 

"Out of this wood do not desire to go.
Thou shalt remain here whether thou wilt or no.
I am a spirit of no common rate.
The summer still doth tend upon my state.
And I do love thee. Therefore go with me.
I’ll give thee fairies to attend on thee.
And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep,
And sing while thou on pressèd flowers dost sleep.
And I will purge thy mortal grossness so
That thou shalt like an airy spirit go.—
Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed!"
A Midsummer Nights Dream, by William Shakespeare


Paton_re


Titania- by Bellatrix Perfumes

Enter Titania, Queen of the fairies by Bellatrix perfumes. I immediately loved this ode to Titania the fairie queen, because of its delightful spiciness which to my awareness had everything to do with the initial blast of pink peppercorn and neroli. I adore PInk Peppercorn; it reminds of my other life in Southern California so anytime I smell it I'm instantly filled with happiness! The lovely Ankica Milic  has created a beautiful perfume that speaks to my sense of whimsy but is ultimately a very passionate caress of a fragrance.  

She calls herself a newcomer to the field of perfumery but I think that she has an incredibly fine future. She's combined rose and mint and tuberose in a way that's truly exciting to my senses and she's used labdanum so skillfully that instead of being cloying is refreshing and bright. It lasted for a long time and the drydown was wonderful, leaving the soft fragrance of angelica, orris, oakmoss and patchouli which brushed my senses like a butterfly who just alighted on my hand for a moment but left her gossamer touch forever.....


I simply adore Charna's perfumes.I first made her acquaintance during the "Outlaw Project" put on by the Natural Perfumers Guild when she sent me "Gypsy" which was one of the loveliest fougere's that I'd ever met. She's captivated me again with "Eva Luna" which she has created for this project and describes as "Verdant carrot kisses, spring green flowers, joyful lovers and a moonlit dance.." I love Charna's style because it's sophisticated and just a little bit wicked like me..not in the witch of the west sense but a very sexy naughty ephemeralness that seems to run through her creations.

I adore Eva Luna and it's burlesque sensibilities. From the very beginning I'm captivated by the Russian Carrot which surprises  and confuses me and then the mimosa and fresh mint that disarms me even more, but soon I'm bewitched by an emerging heart of tuberose, frangipani and jasmine. By the time we get to the lusty drydown of Orris , frankincense and ambrette  it's all over.... I can imagine applying Eva Luna all over my naked body; Anais Nin wrapped in fur and giving myself over to an almost stranger at midnight somewhere deep in the heart of Paris...

Smiling Country - Ayala Moriel

 I love a cryptic game, a treasure hunt of any kind so receiving this note from the gorgeous Ayala was a total treat..."The note's chosen are unusual and I prefer not to disclose them until after you've formed your own impression". I was intrigued and I must say that even after I'd sniffed this many times and during many different phases I still couldn't tell you what's in it. I'm actually not that kind of reviewer and I prefer to let my imagination wander around what I'm experiencing in the scent and wander it did. Smiling Country is just that; a vast wide open breath of fresh air with a bit of sun warmed hay, almost overripe fruit and freshly turned earth. I could instantly smell the mountains and I was immediately taken back to a trip that I made to the Tetons in Wyoming.

I was given the opportunity to ride an amazing horse bareback through the government lands that bordered on the foothills of those grand mountains. As my horse and I  wound our way along the roaring Snake river I remember thinking that I could die there happily. The white sage that grew wild along with the flint and rose quartz smell of the mountains were all that I could ever have needed. Later that night my husband and I watched as a beautiful pair of golden Eagles mated in the skies above the porch where we were resting. I will never forget that trip.  I don't need to know what's in Smiling Country although I am curious. Ayala's perfume is a powerful talisman and a touchstone of a moment in time that was for me completely and utterly perfect.


I was not familiar with the beautiful perfumes of Yuko Fukami, but one sniff of her lovely "Dreams" and I was smitten. Dreams is a very pretty perfume  and has a very spicy, solid green quality that I love in a perfume probably because of the coriander and violet leaf  that become immediately apparent upon first sniff. Dreams is a light fragrance, green and very sheer yet it is strangely narcotic and reminded me instantly of a solid perfume that I loved as a child called "Newly mown hay". I really want to smell Dreams as an eau de cologne. I have the distinct feeling that it would be very refreshing that way, something that I'd thoroughly enjoy on a warm summers day. It reminded me a bit of my current favorite Herme's lovely Un Jardin Sur le toit without the fruity apple and pear but with a flourish of yummy tuberose and a delightfully musky little bit of ambrette.

 I was taken back immediately to a time decades ago, on a very warm and breezy day at our local hunt club. I was wearing a lovely  white linen dress as I presented a fluttering championship ribbon to a gallant gentlemen dressed in full fox hunting  attire. A hint of something flashed between us as I stroked his horses beautiful flaxen mane and I smiled. He was gallant, gorgeous and his horse was exquisite. Whether the moment we shared was the result of the heat of the day or the icy gin and tonic with freshly squeezed lime I'll never know.....but there were most definitely passionate and exquisite Dreams.
 
Fairy_ring_bach

More sweetly scented stories to come...... 

 

 

For more impressions of all the incredible perfumes in this project, please visit these participating blogs:

I have no idea of the origins of these paintings but I love them. I obviously didn't paint them and make no claims that they are mine . The lovely Midsummer Nights Perfume Event drawing is the property of Amanda Feeley.