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June 2011

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.  

 

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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


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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. 

 


Stay tuned for a Midsummer Night's Dream. A Frolicksome Perfume Event in several acts beginning tomorrow!


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I came home from New York CIty to find my gardens humming with the sweet sound and smell of some unusually lovely fey folk. They were really up to all kinds of mischief...hiding the dog's bones and filling his bowl with ripe raspberries.....Making my roses smell like the lilies and then making the lilies smell like lavender! Now, they've tied garlands of mint and nasturtiums around my little dogs head and he's lolling around on his back in the grass like one of the cats.....They obviously were trying to get me to notice them and this I did....12 bright and beautiful fairies all smelling bewitchingly of flora and fauna, beckoning me with secrets...tempting me with promises of delight. Queen Titania is here as well as her entire court and now they're festooning me with bright garlands of poppies, yarrow and thyme. I'm feeling woozy...I have no defenses against them. Would I want to? I'm having way too much fun to say no......

 

                              


A Sweet and Sexy Potion for Seduction!

Fresh herbs

My gardens contain many herbs....and I love to use them all as medicines, tonics, wonderful accents for my food and definitely in a spell or two. Most often I'm asked about potions for seduction, which in my opinion are very fun to make. All you need is an appropriate intention...and an object of APPROPRIATE desire. By this I mean the obvious. Don't try to steal someones significant other...if you do it will backfire in some way and generally cause a great deal of havoc in your life for a good long while. 

Remember....Harm None! 

But...if the stress of the daily grinds has got you tethered and you're wanting a bit more playfulness in your life this is the potion that you should stir up for your intended! It's never failed me or anyone that I've made it for...it's got quite a lively punch. Trust me...it will heat things up very quickly...be prepared!

All you need is:

1.5 bottle of Pinot Grigio

1 bottle of naturally flavored sangria 

About 4 cups of assorted diced fruits: I use strawberries, peaches and raspberries

1 diced ancho chili (With the seeds!)

3 cinnamon sticks

1 tablespoon of fresh ginger root

1/2 a cup of agave nectar

Now for the fun....walk into your (hopefully pesticide free!) garden and start clipping. You'll need about 4 cups of fresh herbs and roses...and the best time to collect these for this particular recipe is after a thunderstorm when they're wet. Today I used fresh basil (3 types!)  , marjoram, lemon verbena (all for passion!) , dianthus (sensuality) and loads of fresh roses (love) with  sprigs of peppery nasturtium for added fire! While you're doing this have some fun and visualize your intended result!

Peaches and herbs

Bring in your herbs and flowers and layer everything into a beautiful bottle. Give it a shake or two and leave it alone for a few days in a cool, dark place, if you've got room in the refrigerator that's fine! You'll just know when it's ready, the scent will be sublime. When you're ready to serve , decant and pour into lovely large clear wine glasses! Serve this chilled! I know you won't want to but don't serve the fruit because by then it will be a mess! Add several freshly sliced peaches, or some berries...what ever you'd like to be feeding to each other. Then go back into the garden with your glasses and a plate of runny oozy fresh brie and a baguette (or a vegan cheese and a baguette if you're so inclined!), sit back, relax and enjoy....

My only disclaimer.....I am not responsible for any unintended blossoming fits of passion or love children that may occur as the result of an evening spent in the company of this cocktail and a very sexy someone. I will however claim total Auntie privileges to any and all aforementioned love children!  This means that I get to feed them, spoil them and send them home as often as I want......I am also not responsible if you serve this to the wrong someone and you spend the next 6 months in heart-wrenching, gut twisting agony....Love magic is very potent stuff so please remember that you have been warned. It's always your choice.... so choose wisely!

 


Fruited Salsa with Cinnamon Chips!

Fruited salsa

I love Sundays. I usually get up and go for a trail ride first thing in the morning and then lazily wind my way home happily contemplating an afternoon of gardening , cooking and writing.  Usually in the warmer months dinner’s a simple feast of fresh vegetables and maybe a lovely piece of fish and a sausage or two cooked out on the grill. There’s always wine or a lovely icy cocktail and because my herbs are so abundant they’re always sneaking their way into several of the day’s delightful dishes.

I was contemplating this morning what dinner might be and as I checked my email I saw an interesting sounding dish from one of the recipe sites that I subscribe to. Fruited salsa with cinnamon chips…hmmm, now that sounds good! Sadly when I opened up the recipe I was disappointed. White sugar, brown sugar, no seasonal fruit and far too much oil for my liking.  That didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for   the  idea of it though so I set about to make my own version. The result was amazing! My husband who turned his nose up at the sound of it has now eaten half of the bowl!

 As I began to cook I was immediately taken back to one of my first vacations to Mexico when I was about 8 years old. We’d traveled all over Mexico City and found ourselves out one day in a very old little city  named Cuernavaca. I remember being hungry so we stopped for dinner at a lovely little hotel  called Las Mananita’s  that had  the  most elegant walled garden that I had ever seen, complete with regal strolling peacocks and Spanish wrought iron wonderful enough to take your breath away.  We ate our meal that evening within the walls of that gorgeous garden and it was  there that  I tasted my first avocado and  I also enjoyed enchiladas made with a mole of pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) tomato and cinnamon.  The smell of that mole still stays with me to this day as it was green , spicy and sweet all at once with a touch of something musky.  It was still one of the loveliest days of my young life, the sky was a cloudless sea blue and the lilting and sensual tones of a beautiful flamenco guitar permeated the air on occasion, just relaxing everyone close enough to enjoy them.  There was hardly any English spoken, but we didn’t care and I truly would have been happy to never leave. It was that special…absolutely paradise.
 
This fruited salsa is  based on my memories of that amazing meal and it is truly a dessert, so don’t let the addition of avocado throw you off. Avocado is after all a fruit and will lend all of the oil and creaminess that this dish could ever need.  This  dish is easy to make and I’ve lightened it up a bit using ambery agave nectar instead of sugar. You could make a sweet creamy dip for it if you wanted by whisking a bit  of sour cream with some crème fraiche and adding just a touch more of the agave. If I’d had some I would have topped the whole thing with freshly shredded toasted coconut. That would make it perfect!

The original recipe called for homemade pita chips with cinnamon ,but there was still too much oil in the recipe  for my liking. There’s a perfectly delicious store bought cinnamon sugar chip made by Stacy’s and you can get them at  your local Whole Foods,  so why waste the time making them when these are even better!

I’ll probably reinvent this dish again in the Autumn when fresh apples, grapes  , squashes and pears are abundant and one more thing! Salsa’s were originally created to use as  a  condiment for cooked meats.  To transform this lovely dish from sweet to savory, simply add some freshly chopped red onion, minced garlic , lemon or lime juice and a bit of sea salt to this recipe.  You will be delighted when you see just how quickly this fabulous salsa turns into an absolutely appropriate condiment to serve alongside your favorite grilled meats or seafood!

For a generous bowlful of fruited salsa you will need:
1 cup of diced ripe papaya
1 cup of diced ripe mango

4 sliced fresh peaches or nectarines…so ripe that the juice runs down your chin when you are eating them.

1 cup of diced watermelon
1 cup of diced pineapple
1 cup of diced strawberries
1 cup of diced avocado
Juice of one lime
1 cup of sliced kiwi fruit
1 tablespoon of Chinese Five Spice powder
½ cup of agave nectar
1 and a half cups full of  fresh herbs (chiffonaded), such as mint,  Thai basil and  pineapple sage, pineapple mint
½ cup of pepitas (salted and roasted green pumpkin seeds)
 
For this salsa if you’ve got a ceramic knife, it will be your best friend. The ceramic blade keeps the fruit from turning color and because it’s SO sharp, lends itself to a perfect hand cut dice! The rest of the recipe is very simple. Stir all of the ingredients together gently , place into a fabulous bowl and serve with the  cinnamon chips. That’s all you’ll need…Well all you’ll need  besides a lovely glass of sangria or two!

So, I’d love to know. What are your favorite cooling summer recipes? It’s warming up quickly here in the northeast…how about where you are?


 

This was originally posted at my favorite perfume blog Perfume Smellin Things when you're done here, why don't you run over and read the very latest reviews on all of your favorite scents!