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October 2013

Broomsticks on the Bayou ~ Beignets and Broomsticks!

 Beignets and Broomsticks was born of my participation in Broomsticks on the Bayou!

Bayou collage

 It's Samhain. My favorite time of year when and if I had my way I would be in New Orleans completely naked , drinking chicory laced Cafe au Lait out of a antique silver pot and eating beignets dressed with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar all the while ensconced  in a enormous bed. That bed would be canopied of course and the sheets would be silky Egyptian cotton and the duvet would be silky and as airy as marshmallows. The pillows would be embroidered and lavish and the curtains would be a deep bottle green velvet.  There would be pralines, those amazing pecan and brown sugar filled candies and there would be gardenias in bunches everywhere.  There would be a bewitchingly beautiful man with an equally devastating mask waiting for me to finish breakfast so that he could draw my bath, liberally laced with  Carnal Flower.   I know that none of these thoughts will come as any sort of surprise to those who know me well, especially the lusty man that I was smart enough to marry. I cherish food, perfume, magic and passion equally with a fervor that some women reserve solely for diamonds, shoes and pearls. Not this witch! Gift me with truffles, tarot or tuberose on any given day and I will be properly enslaved ! 

 My New Orleans is  completely sensual, captivatingly sexual and literally dripping with the sweet fleshy smell of the morning after a marvelous night with the naughtiest men.   The carnal and sardonic smell of the deep south spells trouble for me with a capital T. You'll never ignore her haunting sirens call although you might hate yourself in the morning for heeding it..remember that I said  "might". Those beignets and gardenias blended with a soupçon of bloodlust can produce some very powerful magic. New Orleans produced the incomparably beautiful and tortured Louis Ponte du Lac, Anne Rices first beloved vampire. New Orleans is also the home of some of the finest burlesque in the world. Where else can you take a walk late at night with a Sazerac cocktail in your hands and discover  just as many beautiful antique stores , strip clubs and tarot readers open all on the same block?


 I can never forget the all of the flowers, jasmine vines and dripping wet gardenias in the courtyard outside of Brennans Restaurant, where their pungent aroma mixed with the chicory and cinnamon coffee was about as heady a scent as a woman like me could ever ask for. I still revel in the memory of a sweet and sticky Banana’s Foster dripping with hot caramel and the flowering Jasmine climbing the wrought iron fences. I remember the candlelight and the hauntingly flirtatious laughter that was heard but never seen. The sticky Tuberose that grew everywhere was as stunning as a full moon and as narcotic as an opium den. Then there were all of the women, gorgeous hot house flowers with slickly coral lips , caramel skin and curvaceous bodies that were a promise of something that took me years to understand.

Southern women just astonish me with their ability to entice and enchant. I’ve never met a man who didn’t just love them even if they love them in secret , but I’ve met lots of women who absolutely hated them although I’ve never understood why. Not me…..I’ve always wanted to be one because they literally smell of orange blossoms, sex and white chocolate. They really know how to wear stockings, gloves and hats and they know how to take them off just as well. Their powers of seduction are legendary and who wouldn’t want some of that? Their magic is alive all year round....They love to have a cup of afternoon tea and I've never met one who couldn't read the tea leaves.  But truly? I think that the magic lies in the Beignets and Cafe au Lait! 



 Here's the best Beignet recipe that I've found yet from none other than Emeril Lagasse!

Beignets and Cafe au Lait

1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups warm milk (110 degrees)
1 egg, beaten
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Oil for frying
Powdered sugar for dusting
5 cups of Chicory Coffee, hot
5 cups whole milk, hot
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a dough hook, add the yeast, sugar, shortening, and milk, mix for 2 minutes. Add the egg. Mix well. Add 4 cups of the flour and salt. Beat at low speed until all of the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Then beat at medium speed until the mixture forms a ball, leaves the sides of the bowl, and climbs up the dough hook. Remove the dough from the bowl. Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball. Lightly oil a bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Preheat the vegetable oil a deep fat fryer to 360 degrees F.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Lightly dust the surface of the dough. Roll out the rectangle to 12 1/2 inches long by 10 inches wide and about 1/4-inch thick. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into twenty 2 1/2-inch square beignets. Fry the beignets, a couple at a time until golden brown and crispy on all sides, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towels. Sprinkle the beignets with powdered sugar and serve. Fill each cup with 1/2 cup of coffee and 1/2 cup of the hot milk. Stir well.

Serve the coffee with the beignets.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/beignets-and-cafe-au-lait-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

Bewitching Muses : Where art imitates life ~ The Incredible, Fabulous and Fantastical World of Laurie Stern


Several weeks ago I was in California for an extended period of time celebrating my nephews wedding. We were to be there for two weeks and for the last weekend we decided to take a trip up to San Francisco, literally one of my favorite cities on the planet. We made plans to meet Jims brothers and my fabulous sister in laws in Napa and I couldn't wait for what I knew was going to be a wonderful time, but first we need to go back to San Francisco.  Many of you who have read my perfumed musings know that regular trips to San Francisco were part of my wonderfully mispent youth and one of the first times that I realized that a city could indeed have a scent template as well as a palpable heat and energy.

San Francisco to me is one of the  sexiest cities on the planet. Where else can you experience a 5 star hotel such as I did on one visit where I was served wine and cheese every afternoon in a wonderful parlor accompanied by a mysterious psychic whose skill at reading Tarot is as of yet unsurpassed. Where else after the wine and the Tarot can you get a fabulous Sazerac cocktail , long before Absinthe was once again legal in this country. New Orleans maybe?  Although I do love that dripping, wicked part of the south, I am more drawn to San Francisco as Anne Rices immortal vampires were. San Francisco at night comes alive with provocative hum. It's a dark and sensual city; I love to prowl its streets simply observing it's passionate undercurrent. I love to wander through its alleys just looking for a glimpse of The Vampire Lestat. San Francisco is where my hedonistic heart feels free to roam....

Regular trips to the Haight in the 70's provided me with more opium dreams, sandalwood and patchouli oil than my indulgent teenage senses could handle. Mix those aromas together with some of the most incredible Indian food that I've ever eaten to this day, the loveliest red wines and some of the most wonderful marijuana that I was ever to smoke and you begin to understand how I became completely enamored with sensual aromas and decadent tastes. 

Flying into San Francisco from San Diego always provides a thrill as you land on the runway with inches to spare...a hairsbreath from slipping into the Bay. This time it was no different and I felt my heart quicken as I realized that I was back, this time not for business but strictly to play for the weekend with my darling husband. By this time starving, we drove to the Ferry Market building for lunch and to buy some supplies for the evening. I was truly excited as I chose freshly baked bread, wine and the most wonderfully aromatic truffle infused cheese for the evening. The truffles seemed fitting as I was going to finally get to spend some time with one of my favorite natural perfumers of all time - the utterly inimitable Laurie Stern of Velvet and Sweet Peas Purrfumery.  

Oct 26, 2013

I have known Laurie for several years now, but until that weekend we had never met in person. When I told her that I was coming , she  generously asked us to come across the Bay to Berkeley to stay with her and her husband Gary. To say that I jumped at the chance is an understatement. Who wouldn't jump at the chance to stay with someone whose laugh is as enormous as their personality. I had been dying to see her purrfumery and gardens for years , but I must admit that I wasn't prepared for the generosity of it. The minute we arrived Jim and I were assaulted by the most amazing scents and visions. From the largesse of the blooming Jasmine as you pull into the driveway to the Russian sage and roses that are at least twice the size of what we see back home it is indeed the most fabulously perfumed garden that I've ever been privileged to wander. Even the pictures that I've posted here cannot possibly do it justice. Lauries garden is the foundation of Velvet and Sweet Peas Purrfumery. Quite frankly her garden is heaven on earth. 

It is lovingly tended to by Lauries husband Gary who is a landscape designer and simply amazing plantsman. The man literally oozes juicy green energy from his fingertips. My husband wandered around just shaking his head ...when we were alone that evening in their cottage he said to me that he'd never experienced anything so magical. It is a place filled with all of the best things in life...gorgeous plants , magical cats, cooing birds, lots of velvet and most importantly, more love than I'd expereinced anywhere outside of my family in a long time. If I could have stayed forever I would have. 

That evening we laughed and enjoyed wine and the cheese slathered on the fresh yeasty bread with fragrant honey that came from Laurie and Gary's own honeybees.  After dinner we said goodnight and I went back to the cottage to feast on some of her homemade Jasmine scented bittersweet chocolate truffles.  The next morning we were greeted by the sun rising and a breathtaking view of the San Francisco Bay. I made a pot of fragrant French press coffee sweetened with the same honey and  we reluctantly got into our  car  to drive to Napa for the day.  

Oct 26, 2013

The next morning we said goodbye to the beautiful Calistoga Valley and quickly drove back to Berkeley because I had been invited to experience the Purrfumery first hand! I have loved Lauries perfumes from the moment that I first sniffed her amazing Honey fragrance, but nothing could prepare me for what I was about to experience. Laurie Sterns Purrfumery is filled with such intimacy and a beauty that is timeless, whimsical and distinct. Hers is the lair of the consumate artist and filled with everything needed to create her delicious perfumes from start to finish.The space itself is absolutely intoxicating, filled with lace , vintage bottles, embroidery and plenty of color ,velvet and inspiration, but it was the scent of it stopped me in my tracks. I have always said that I could know everything about you by the fragrances that you surround yourself with. Walking into Lauries studio sent me to exotic places that only my imagination has ever been. One sniff and I was literally wandering the Spice Roads or the gardens of Versailles. 

Oct 26, 2013

 For the next hour I was treated to an adventure of discovery with some of the most amazing natural, botanical scents that I have ever experienced, a vast collection of ancient and beautifully aged oils as well as some things new and delightful. Laurie's knowledge of her oils, distillations and accords is masterful and she knows how to blend them...she is an alchemist of the highest degree. She is a natural and botanical perfumer whose fragrances and beauty products are layered ,complex and infused with not only the scent but the energy of the wonderful aromatics that she uses.  She is passionate about animal rights and has written an entire manifesto about the use of musk and civet in perfumery,  products used for centuries but not obtained without total cruelty and torture.   She notices everything about her customer and how they respond to each scent that she entices them with.  I have no doubt that when I am able I will commission her to create the bespoke perfume that I've always wanted to call my own, a fragrance that is part abandoned Scottish castle, vast flowery mead,tapestry, kilted male and  spirited sorrel stallion.

After a wonderful feast at a local tapas restaurant in Berkeley,  we said goodbye to Laurie and Gary and  settled back into their cottage to have one last relaxing last evening in paradise. I opened up all of the windows , looked towards the Bay and ate the last of the jasmine scented truffles. I took a deep sniff and I thanked the muses for the generous gift of my dear friend. Hers is a world where art imitates her life..it is definitely not the other way around. Everything about Laurie Stern is authentic and that is why her perfumes make so much sense , because she's created a home for herself and her craft that inspires her everyday. If you want to give yourself a magnificent treat, gift yourself with one of her Purrfumery adventures. Regardless of what you know about scent, you will never again look at fragrance in the same way that you did before you stumbled into her magical, sensual world. 

Wise Woman Traditions: Numan: The Nature of Plants

This is  an absolutely beautiful documentary about herbs and other healing plants and the amazing gifts that they give to us. You can watch it in it's entirety for free until the 30th!



"NUMEN TRAILER 2013 - Free online screening of complete film Oct 20-30!

from  PLUS 3 weeks ago ALL AUDIENCES

We are thrilled to announce the free online screening of the new edition of the documentary, Numen: The Nature of Plants, for ten days, from October 20–30th. To watch the film go to:


10% discount, free domestic shipping, and bonuses on all screening licenses purchased before Oct. 30th. $0.99 shipping on all personal use DVDs as well!

Numen is the first feature-length documentary to celebrate the healing power of plants. The film features stunning footage of medicinal plants and thought-provoking interviews with Drs. Tieraona Low Dog and Larry Dossey, the late Bill Mitchell, ND, author Kenny Ausubel, herbalists Rosemary Gladstar, Phyllis Light and many others and calls for a re-awakening of traditional knowledge about plants and their uses.

Our hope is that Numen will spark new conversations and debates about health and wellness and inspire real, tangible actions to build a grassroots, ecologically sustainable healthcare movement. To help sow the seeds of this movement, we are making the film available for free online for a limited time.

We owe it to our children and grandchildren to do everything we can to make the world more sustainable, including making better choices about the medicines we consume. Numen encourages viewers to think deeply about the sources of their medicine and how those choices affect themselves and the larger web of life. It inspires us to deepen our relationship with the natural world and reminds us of the healing made possible by re-embracing our place in the wider web of life. And it shows that all of these changes can begin with the simple act of growing thyme in a pot in your window or harvesting nettles from a field behind your home.

To watch the film go to: numenfilm.leadpages.net/8min/"


Bubbling in the Cauldron: Slainte' ~ It's a Scottish Witches Brew!

Turn It Up Loud!


Every year I try to come up with a different Witches Brew for the neighborhood Halloween Party that I throw. This year, I got a head start as we were invited to a Chagrin valley Trails and Riding Club clambake and of course wanted to bring a wonderful beverage for everyone to share.

I wasn't at all sure what to do so I went into to Pat O' briens Fine Wines in Pepper Pike to ask my good friend Bret Schwartzman if he had something new and fun for me to play with. With a huge grin and a gleam in his eyes that was definitely mischievous he plucked bottle of a wicked looking alcohol off of the shelf and said "How about some Junior Johnsons Apple Pie Moonshine?"

By the time I'd gotten home I still hadn't quite figured out what kind of drink that I wanted to make, so I took the lid off of the mason jar with the wicked looking brown liquid in it. Unbelieveable...it smelled and tasted just like a fresh cinnamon spiked apple pie. For some reason it also made me crave a mug of Atholl Brose, that wonderful Scottish drink of oatmeal brose, honey ,whisky and cream.  I grabbed my copper kettle and filled it with 3/4 of a gallon of apple cider, 3 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice and 1 stick of butter. I let that simmer for a bit, whisking frequently and next added about 1 1/2 cups of blackstrap molasses and a sachet of one cup of oatmeal tied in the foot of a brand new pair of stockings that I'd cut the foot off of. (I keep cheap pairs around for that purpose) After that simmered for about 45 minutes there was still plenty of liquid but it was syrupy and wonderful and the molasss and oatmeal gave it a very  earthy flavor.  Then I added one and a half jars of the moonshine, 1/1/2 cups of Buttershot schnapps, 1 cup of Drambuie, 3/4 of a cup of vanilla brandy and two teaspoons of vanilla extract. I brought it to temperature, filled a camping thermos with boiling water , dumped it out and then added the hot Witches Brew. I took it to the clambake and my friends really enjoyed it ~ I was thrilled! The next day  I took the remaining Witches Brew out to the barn where we enjoyed it with piping hot coffee and brown sugar whipped cream! 

Trust me, this is alot easier than it sounds and well worth the trouble. Just be careful though...this drink is very strong and it's so delicious that it's next to impossible to stop drinking! I served it in little plastic shot glasses and if I'd had the whipped cream that evening a little dollop would have been  just the right bewitching finish.

Have fun, be safe and Be~Witching! 

Bubbling in the Cauldron ~ Witches Brew

Bubbling in the Cauldron ~ Witches Brew

Bubbling in the Cauldron ~ Witches Brew

31 Days of Halloween ~ Enchanting Objects~ Aroma Diffusers



We have a wonderful herb store in Chagrin Falls called the Village Herb Shop!

VHS is one of my favorite places to go for a steaming cup of tea and a bit of a wander through all of the amazing rooms filled with teas, candles, soaps and home decor. Yesterday was no exception. My son moved out recently , leaving me with a third floor that I promply turned into a guest suite. I went to the Village Herb Shop yesterday in search of amenities such as candles, soaps and lotion. I walked out with two Greenleaf Aroma diffusers. Well the long and short of it is that I can't believe that I resisted these for so long! They are very pretty with a style for every decor and they are also wonderfully functional. 

This is the time of year that I want my home to be smelling like apples, cinnamon and fragrant pine boughs. I love to make my own incense and I still will, but these aroma diffusers serve an unbelievable purpose. Utilizing catalytic converter technologies they clean AND scent your air all at the same time. There are so many different styles and aromas to choose from. All that you do is fill them, let the wick soak up the oils and then light the diffuser for 2 minutes and then blow out the flame. The stone on top of the wick gets hot and forms a simple combustion process, pulling the air in and sending the scent out.

It's easy, decadent and very safe. Once the flame's blown out there's really no worry of fire which makes it quite cat safe(In my home always a worry!) Once the flame is blown out it takes each diffuser about 30 minutes to scent a room and right now my house smells like autumn. I'm obsessed and I'm about to go buy another one for my third floor. I've never experienced anything so simple and perfect for whole house scenting. The oils are not natural, but they are  clean-burning and there's not a bit of residue. Right now I'm  diffusing apple /cinnamon and ginger /cinnamon and the house smells yummy. Trust me and go buy yourself a present for this holiday season...these are wonderful!





Source of the photograph unknown