Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Diva Cup

Hey Ladies!
By Tonie Silver

I briefly toyed with the idea of calling this review “Cup O’ Blood”, or “Let It Bleed”, but perhaps a more apt title would be “Revolution”, because ladies, the Diva Cup is nothing short of revolutionary.  I wish someone would have told me about this product years ago.  Apparently America is in the hind fore when it comes to womanly hygiene prods.  Menstrual cups have been all the rage in Europe and elsewhere for years~ who knew?  I guess the corporate bloodsuckers (sorry!) want to keep us girls in the dark and chuckin’ out seven bucks a month when we bleed.  That’s big bucks, ladies.

I did some research, and tampons especially are really super unhealthy.  I’d always wondered about the fact that they’re bleached white, right?  And as far as pads, fahgeddaboudit, you can swim, exercise, and even smash the granny out of it with the Diva!

Here’s the lowdown:

1)      Green and economical.
2)      NO mess.  None.  Not.   One.  Drop.  Enough said.
3)      Comfort~ can we talk about comfort?  I got the best night’s sleep in memory, no late night changing trips.
4)      Totally hygienic.

5)     So easy to use~ no unwrapping and fumbling and carrying around all kinds of jazz.

The Diva Cup comes in two sizes: one for having given birth, and one for not.  I even got two other cups to review from another company and haven’t tried them yet because I’m so geeked over the Diva!  Every chick out there owes it to herself to use this fine product.  Out of the plethora of products I’ve reviewed over the years, this one is the most impactful, the most life changing, and possibly the most important.  I’m going to keep shouting about this until they’re sold at Target, until there’s a pink Hello Kitty version, and a black glittery one at Hot Topic called Drac’s Shot Glass!

The fine folks at Diva Cup are giving away one of their fab Diva Cups.  To enter for a chance to win, just email LPR.

The Diva Cup will have you looking forward to your Moontime, for sure!

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Midsummer Night's Dream Perfume Event ~ Reviews by Scott Ellis

Athens, The palace of Theseus

Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Philostrate and Attendants.

Theseus  Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour draws on apace; four happy days . . .

. . . and thus begins this ever magical, mystical and fair perfume event . . .

Scott Ellis writes:

Providence Perfumes, Charna Ethier parfumeur ~ Eva Luna. This perfume starts out floral and musky. There's an earthy quality about it, like walking on on little flowers growing out of wet black dirt. This perfume is really well made. It feels like one thing, one kind of flower that smells like musk, jasmine, violets and dirt all rolled into one petal. This is definitely a floral perfume. I really, really like this perfume. I don't know what else to say about it. This one goes on my dresser so I can spray it on whenever I want. The notes in this perfume are Russian carrot, mimosa, fresh mint, rosewood, tuberose, frangipani, jasmine grandiflorum, French violet leaf, orris, Oman frankincense, and ambrette. Perfect.

Artemesia Perfumes, Lisa Fong parfumeur ~ Orchard eau de parfum. Right off the bat I smell the jasmine and chamomile. It smells like this tea cocktail I had on my 21st birthday that was made with Hangar One Mandarin Blossom vodka, jasmine green tea and honey. Just like that. Sweet and innocent with a kick. This perfume gets heavier and darker the longer it's on my skin. It goes more mossy and grassy. There isn't any citrus listed on the ingredients card but I swear I can smell something citrusy in it. The notes in this perfume are wild chamomile, vetiver, oak moss, clary sage, jasmine sambac and mimosa. Surprising.

Parfum Phyto, Yuko Fukami parfumeur ~ Dreams. Oh! I know this one! Violet leaf. The first thing I smell is violet leaf and then the perfume starts to change. I get other green things, some woods, some creamy flowers, and then the perfume starts to smell like one thing. Like a dream or a memory that disappears the minute you know you are dreaming. This is another perfume that smells really good on my skin. More of the floral parts of it come out on me than on my girl. On her it smells more green and musky. On me it smells like creamy flowers. The ingredients in this perfume are coriander, Virginia cedar wood, tuberose, violet leaf, cassie, hay, flouve, ambrette seed and ambergris. Languid.

Envoyage Perfumes, Shelley Waddington parfumeur ~Titania. This one is minty and green out of the bottle, like my favorite mint soap. For just a second I thought it was going to smell like gum but it changed too fast for that impression to stick. This perfume smells like a mountain meadow. Early spring. Cold water. I can almost hear the bees buzzing and the water in the creek trickling. It makes me want to take a nap! I feel really relaxed and happy when I smell this perfume. Ms. Waddington describes this perfume as peacefully playful and it is exactly like that. The notes in this perfume are fir needles, spice, citrus, basil, mint, geranium, lavender hidcoat, ylang-ylang,wild rose, heliotropin, juniper, ho wood, aromatic woods and nuts, moss, fern, savory leaves, iris and honey. Peacefully playful and relaxing.

JoAnne Bassett Perfumes, JoAnne Bassett parfumeur ~ Reine de Nuit eau de parfum. This smells like an expensive perfume that you could find on the shelf at Lucky Scent in LA. If I didn't know it was all natural I wouldn't know it was all natural, understand? Night queen is listed as one of the ingredients of this perfume and isn't something I am very familiar with. In fact, I don't think I have ever heard of night queen before. This perfume, according to Ms. Bassett, is based on the night and not on a certain character from the play A Midsummer Night's Dream. This definitely isn't a fairy's perfume. Not even a little bit. This is a big, loud, sexy perfume. It might belong to Titania if she wasn't such a fairy herself. The best way to describe this perfume is to say that if Marilyn Monroe, Bette Midler, Madonna and Lady Gaga all got together to make a perfume, then this is what they would come up with. The other ingredients in this perfume include rhododendron, peru balsam, rosewood, damask rose oil, neroli, tuberose, vintage jasmine sambac, frankincense, yuzu, clove bud, tulsi, frankincense noir, champa, vetiver, violet leaf and ylang-ylang. Smells really great on me, my girl and our roommates. Scary sexy.

Perfumes by Nature, Ambrosia Jones parfumeur ~ Pan. This perfume is definitely a man's perfume. It is dark and smoky with a lot of green in it. It smells like a forest with pine trees and moss. There's something like pine resin or some kind of pitchy resin in it. Maybe it's frankincense or cedar wood. I don't know what the ingredients are in this one either but I like it. It actually smells better on my girl than on me. My skin eats it up but my girl smells like a little forest beast when she wears it. The ingredients in this perfume are undisclosed. Primal.

Artesa Perfumista, Ane Walsh parfumeur ~ First thing, I have to say that the packaging of this perfume is beautiful. It came in a real perfume bottle, like a half an ounce, with a glass cork and a really pretty hand written label and string wrapping around the neck of the cork to the neck of the bottle and then held down with that pretty label. It was a luxurious presentation for an equally luxurious perfume. Robin is this perfume's name and it is based on the fairy Puck (Robin Goodfellow) who is mischievous and doesn't take things seriously. Robin, the perfume, is pretty serious though. It opens brightly with lemony notes and then turns into a big floral (jasmine) with nice soft woody notes holding it all together. I would say this is a fat floral perfume and not even a little bit whimsical. My girl loved when I wore this perfume. For some reason the perfumes that are made for women wear better on me than the ones made for men, so I don't even bother with buying perfumes that are classified by sex. I wear what smells good, and Robin by Ane Walsh smells better than good. It is seriously sexy. 

Blossoming Tree, Lisa Abdul-Quddus parfumeur ~ Fair Thee Well, Nymph. This is a spicy sweet orangey floral perfume that smells like it has some kind of really strong resin in it, so I had to look it up and see if it did, and sure enough Ms. Abdul-Quddus used omumgorwa. That's a resin. This is another perfume that starts out quiet and gets louder the longer it's on the skin. It begins like a bowl of oranges and ends like a bowl of melted caramel vanilla ice cream with a big bunch of jasmine on top. This one smells more like food to me than any of the other perfumes I got. It lasts for a long time too. There is some of that night queen in this one too and I'm going to guess that the blend of night queen and the omumgorwa are what makes this perfume so heavy and deep. I like it. It jumps back and forth from the vanilla caramel smell to a smell that's almost like cola. It's cool.

Ayala Moriel Perfumes, Ayala Sender parfumeur ~ Smiling Country. This perfume starts out fresh and crisp. It smells really clean, like morning air in the country. I guess naming it Smiling Country works.  Ms. Sender didn't list the ingredients because I guess we are supposed to guess what they are. I don't know if I can do that but I will try. It smells kind of peppery. I smell something like tobacco, and there's something in it that smells a little bit like dill. I get the feeling of swimming when I smell this perfume, like swimming in a cold, cold lake early in the morning or late at night when the water is really still and the water that is just around your mouth is warm but everywhere else on your body the water is like ice. The ingredients in this perfume are anybody's guess. Mysterious.

Esscentual Alchemy, Amanda Feeley parfumeur ~ Amanda Feeley sent me two perfumes to review. Pixie Dust and Bottom's Dream. I don't read what is in these perfumes before I start smelling them because it wouldn't make a difference in what I think about them if I did. I don't know what half these ingredients are supposed to smell like but I do know what I like and what I don't so I figure that is good enough. Pixie Dust is sweet and spicy. I definitely think of little fairies flying around when I smell this perfume. It is charming and whimsical and pretty strong, too. I like it. *It has some little fairy huevos. The ingredients in this perfume are antique oakmoss, angelica root, fire tree, vanilla, poplar buds, lilac tincture, violet leaves, honey/beeswax tincture, rosa damascus, karo karounde, rosewood, lavender reserve, bergamot, davana, balsam fir, heliotropin natural isolate, strawberry furanone natural isolate. Fiesty. The second perfume that I got is Bottom's Dream, and it's completely different from Pixie Dust. It's a heavy, thick smelling perfume, like mums and dark green leaves. The longer it is on my skin, the bigger it gets, and the bigger the flowers in it grow. This is a surprising perfume. It's one of those perfumes that when you first put it on you don't think it's going anywhere, like it's not very complicated, but then the longer you wear it the more stuff seems to come out and maybe if you didn't think it was all that great to begin with, you end up really liking it. It smells like a drive through the orange orchards on the way to the river on a really hot day, only the orange blossoms grow and grow and mix with the smells of the slow moving murky green water of the river. The ingredients in this perfume are handmade peach accord, palmarosa, phenyl ethyl acetate natural isolate, jasmine grandiflorum, rose maroc, tagetes, araucaria. This perfume is a trickster.

A Wing and A Prayer, Jane Cate parfumeur ~ Dreams and Visions. The first note I got straight out of the bottle was cinnamon. Not a heavy cinnamon though. There was something in this perfume that made it go soft and powdery. Jane Cate lists mimosa as one of the ingredients in this perfume so I'm going to assume that is what is giving it that sweet softness. There is also sandalwood in this perfume and I love sandalwood; it makes perfume turn warm and sensual. Even though there isn't anything like lemon or orange in this perfume, the blend still smells a little bit like it has a citrus in it somewhere. It is very whimsical and charming, just like a little fairy. I think it would be a good perfume for a young woman to wear, something that might be comparable to  L'Air du Temps or Anais Anais.

April Aromatics, Tanja Bochnig parfumeur ~ This perfume is sweeeeet! Vanilla and chocolate sweet. Cotton candy sweet. I really, really like it! I guess I like the perfumes that smell like flowers and desserts more than any other kinds of perfumes. There is also something soft in this perfume, like the wings of the fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream. It starts off really sweet and almost overpowering but changes into something more complex and less sweet, it's hard to describe. For some reason it reminds me of changing the bedding from summer to fall when you pull off all the thin blankets and throw on the big thick fluffy comforters. That's it. This perfume is comforting. This also smells great on my skin and my girl was double dipping on my wrist when I was testing it so she agrees it smells great on my skin too.

*Editor's note: When I first read this, I thought it said, "little hairy huevos".

Friday, May 13, 2011

Le Parfumeur Scheduled to Review Perfumes for Perfume Scent Event ~

A Midsummer Night's Dream!

Scott Ellis, LPR's newest perfume reviewer will be reviewing the perfumes of several new and established fabulous Natural Botanical Perfumers.

Reviews begin in June.

Event artwork by Bella Ayers

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Peep! It’s Bon Ami

By Tonie Silver

Like to clean?  Like to do it with non tox prod?  Tired of trying to be green, but getting crummy results (sorry!) from all natural cleaners?  Geez, I know, we try to do stuff al Laura Ingalls, and clean with vinegar and salt and baking soda, but it just doesn’t cut it.

Remember Bon Ami?  The cleanser with the little chickie that your mom and gran used to use?  Well they’ve revamped their range to include a liquid cleanser, dish soap, and spray cleaner, and they rock and roll!
Bon Ami now lightly scents their products with essential oils of tangerine, thyme, orange, and clove, which is a lovely addition to cleaning.  Cool retro-ish packaging that’s fun to look at.

The Dish Soap is so great that I’m switching from Ecover, which I’ve used faithfully for years.  Cleans grease, and rinses sparkly clean.  Leaves silverware sparkly with a mirror-like finish.  Kind to hands, and comes in a keen squeezy top bottle that looks great on my sink.  Highly recommended.

The Powdered Cleanser, which is based on the minerals feldspar and limestone, left my stainless steel kitchen sink shimmery and shiny like I’ve never seen it before.  Again, I highly recommend this product.
The Liquid Cleanser is good for showers, sinks, you name it.  Left my bathroom fixtures blindingly bright and shiny, and again, mirror-like.

The All-Purpose Cleaner works nicely on stovetops, counters, and anything else you need to spritz.  Eradicates grease, dust, dirt, fingerprints, etc., with a cheery smell to boot!

I am so impressed with Bon Ami’s revamped range, I’m telling all my friends.  I cannot overstate the quality and effectiveness of this range.  It’s really important to use all natural non toxic cleaners in your home, people, and Bon Ami makes cleaning rituals just that much more pleasant and enjoyable.  Run.

Friday, April 22, 2011


By Tonie Silver

Grown Organic Apothecary sent me their lip balm and facial oil, and I must say~ they both rock.  Us girls, we’re always on the lookout for the perfect lip balm, right?  Grown’s Lip Balm is right there, I’ll tell ya.  Like a cashmere sweater for your kisser, so soft and comforting.  And the texture, oy, the texture~ like a buttercream pashmina!  Contains watermelon seed oil, so it has a watermelon-y vanilla-y smell going on.  How did two dudes do this?  Aussie brothers Keston and Jeremy Muijs have their formulations down ladies, so look out!  And did I mention packaging?  You know how important packaging is to Tonie~ me like it to look pretty in my bathroom.  These are old school apothecary style, with the lip balm in little metal tubes that you pierce open with the cap, and etched glass dropper bottles for the oil.  Brill!  The Facial Serum is a luxe mix of borage, rosehip, and sea-buckthorn berry oils, scented with green, stemmy lavender.  Really envelopes skin in a veil of lasting moisture.  These products are so cool, try ‘em and see!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Again With The Lush

By Tonie Silver
In perusing Lush’s catalog, I found them to have a small cadre of natural offerings, so I decided to give ‘em a whirl.

Lush makes some really fun facial cleansers, presented in a doughy kind of a format.  Dark Angels is a conundrum; leaves a wicked black ring around the tub and is hard as h-e-double hockey sticks to get off, but methinks it’s worth it.  Use this at the basin instead of in the bath, and remove it with a washcloth, and you’ll be good to go.  This feels and smells so good.  Polishes skin with charcoal, glides around with avocado oil, and scented  with delicious rosewood essential oil.

Aqua Marina is pink with calamine and green with seaweed.  Actually really soothed my skin!  My face looked really calm and smooth, and it has a lurvely squidgy texture.  The Aqua Marina~ not my face!!!:)
Angels On Bare Skin is a good old good one.  Just as nice as it ever was when I tried it more than a decade ago, this paste of almonds and white clay, scented with rose and lavender lets you scrub to your heart’s content without irritating, ever.

Lush’s solid facial moisturizer, Full Of Grace Serum, is a lot lighter and user friendly than I expected.  Packed with butters and oils.  Nice chamomile scent.  Nicely soothing to the skin.

T Tree Toner Tab is effervescent fun and smells really nice, which surprised me for a tea tree product.  You pop the tablet into a pot of boiled water, and then steam your face over it.  Very beneficial for the skin.

Wiccy Magic Muscles is so much fun!  A solid massage bar with knobbly little adzuki beans that massage out tension and massage in the soporific essential oils of cinnamon and peppermint.  Yay!  Oddly warming and cooling at once~ methinks this would be great in the heat of Summer.

I’ll be on the lookout for more all natch stuff from Lush~ as far as fun in the tub goes, they’re tops!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dragon’s Rub

By Tonie Silver

Indigo Wild’s Dragon’s Blood Zum Rub is a really enjoyable product.  Comes in a big fattie generous tin, smells gorge with patchouli and lavender essential oils, and is a really light, easy to use formula.  Dragon’s Blood infused organic sunflower oil and grapeseed oil give it the light base, while unrefined beeswax and organic shea butter add moisturizing punch.

Go ‘head~ rub a dragon, it’s good for you!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Midsummer Night's Dream ~ Perfume Event

A Midsummer Night's Dream ~ Perfume Event is an event of scent with:


13 perfumers

11 blogs

oodles of fun


Hosted by Amanda Feeley, new NBP extraordinaire, proprietress of Absinthe Dragonfly.

Participating Perfumers Include:

Charna Ethier ~ Providence Perfumes
Lisa Fong ~ Artemisia Perfumes
Yuko Fukami ~ Parfum Phyto
Shelley Waddington ~ Envoyage Perfumes
JoAnne Bassett ~ JoAnne Bassett Perfumes
Ambrosia Jones of Perfumes by Nature
Libby Patterson of Libby Patterson Organics
Ane Walsh ~ Artesã Perfumista
Justine Crane ~ The Scented Djinn
Lisa Abdul-Quddus ~ Blossoming Tree
Ayala Sender ~ Ayala Moriel Parfums
Ankica Milic ~ Be-Bellatrix
Amanda Feeley ~ Esscentual Alchemy

Participating Blogs Include:

Bloody Frida
Perfume Smellin’ Things
Feminine Things
All I am – a Redhead
Perfume Pharmer
Le Parfumeur Rebelle
Scent Hive
The Windesphere Witch

Perfumes will be released into the wild :P on and around June 21, midsummer. Magik and Fairies will abound…
And remember, it's all about the perfume!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sweet Salvation

by Tonie Silver

MJ’s Organic Salves are a joy.  Silky smooth texture, so they’re super easy to apply, and chocka bloc with lovely organic ingredients.  Made with healing intent by the lovely MJ, they are nicely vibrational and energetic.  Very happy and calming.

I tried the Lavender E, Arnica, and Calendula.  The Calendula Salve smells warm and honey sweet, and is very healing.  The Arnica Salve contains just the merest hint of clove essential oil, for warmth perhaps.  Good for aches and pains.  The Lavender E Salve smells nice and fresh, and is a great all purpose salve.  These salves are great multi taskers, so you only need one product for tons of uses~ hands, feet, face, lips, ouchies, hair styling, even just to smell good!

Very cool glass jars with adorable labels~ all important when you want to gaze on beauty.
These salves are so smooth and easy to use, that I’m well on my way to the seeing the bottom of the jars!
I interviewed MJ for LPR:

TS:  Hi MJ, & welcome to LPR!
 MJ: Thanks Tonie, I'm so happy you found me :)

TS:  You worked for over two decades to perfect the texture of your balms~ they're in an olive oil base, yet they're light and not greasy!  Talk to us a bit about that.
 MJ: Two things: First, I made many, many versions of the balms and would carry them around in numbered jars, rubbing them on anyone who would participate, and ask them for their opinion and notice how the products were absorbed into many skin types and age groups. I had a clipboard and would record my findings about each formulation.
The second point is that very high quality ingredients absorb much better into the skin. I have noticed that time and time again over the years. 

TS:  You use real vitamin e oil in your salves.  Educate our readers; what is the majority of vitamin e being used?  Synthetic?
MJ: I like to give full disclosure about my ingredients, and when a label doesn't specify I know it raises a red flag for me. Also, real vitamin E is more costly and if a company is using it, they are going to let you know that they are scrupulous about their ingredients.
 Dl-alpha tocopherol acetate is synthetic, D-alpha tocopherol is natural. 

Dl-alpha tocopherol is a byproduct of a petrochemical dependent manufacturing process and it may have an endocrine-disrupting effect, despite its molecular/chemical similarity to the natural isomer, D-alpha tocopherol.

Look on the label and see if its "D" or "Dl", if the label does not state which type is used, ask the company.

If a company is dedicated to natural ingredients they are probably using the more costly natural "D- alpha".  Conversely, if a product is not natural, and is using other chemical synthetic ingredients, they are most likely using the less costly "Dl".

TS:  Your logo is beautious~ did you design it yourself? 
 MJ: We have a fantastic graphic designer who really brought my ideas to life, and he captured how I feel about what I do. The hands symbolize "hand made", and it resembles a city skyline as I am an urban herbalist and the third generation of my family from Brooklyn, and also the giving and receiving aspect of what I do. It is vitally important to me to give and contribute to the world in an ethical, caring way and also to receive in return a good living that allows me to care for myself, my family, and support employees. Often when someone is a giver, especially women, we forget to take care of ourselves. I would love to dispel the idea of a virtuous woman as one who neglects herself! :) (lol).
The plant above the hands is not a particular plant but more of an iconic plant symbolizing healing plants of all kinds.

TS:  Any new products on the horizon?
MJ: Yes Tonie!  I have some lip balms, tinted and untinted, in the works that have been extremely popular with my test subjects and some new balms coming soon! 

TS:  In parting MJ, are there any thoughts you'd like to share with our readers? 
MJ: I'd like to thank people for their interest in my products!  MJ's Herbals exists because people have stood up and demanded more safe, natural, and environmentally 
healthy options in their lives and for our planet. You could say my company thrives and grows through the consciousness and awareness of the people. :)

TS:  Thanx MJ!  Keep on rockin'!  
MJ: Thank YOU for reaching out and for doing what you do Tonie!

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Little Dab

A Little Dab
by Tonie Silver

Readers, I'm here with one of my favorite artisans, suppliers, &a people,Dabney Rose. Dabney makes some of the, if not the, best hydrosols on the planet. Let's sit down for a chat, shall we?

TS: Hi Dab! What's new?

DR: ;Hi Tonie! You are always such a fun visit. New? This past summer I got quite out of the box  got away from the plant world completely,  into the animal / mineral neighborhoods with honey & red clay. I also started distilling with crystals & stones in combination with flowers, which turned out to be an extraordinary experience! These particular hybrids are very vibrationally exceptional & I've gotten some wonderful feedback on them.

TS: Dab, everyone in the know knows your hydro's rock~ what's your secret? Care to spill?

DR: I think the main 'stance' that helps me be successful is to be open to that inner voice; this is after all a creative process &a very much alive process; it would be careless (arrogant?) to assume you knew the complete outcome, even if you had done this a 100 times before. But to also act on what that voice is whispering to you; it's an act of faith & not at all 'scientific'. This is not mere distillation we're doing here; it's Alchemy.

TS: I notice a tangible energy in your hydrosols~ are you whispering to your little plants & flowers, or what?:)

DR: Well, I do feel more on the same energy continuum with the green people than with any other species, including my own. My husband grumbles that I give the houseplants the best spots in the house. Before I am a distiller I am a gardener. Distilling is my excuse to garden. Perhaps somewhere along the way I ended up with more chlorophyll than hemoglobin?

As far as playing with them; I start by going up to their vibrational level, merging energies, so to speak & bringing them back down into the physical process. You know Tonie, I don't think I have ever actually thought that out before; that was an excellent question! Thank you!

TS: Where did you learn your craft?

DR: In the space of an afternoon, my dad set me up &showed me the scientific process of distillation (him being a chemist and all). Since then & for the last 23 years I have turned it around to an intuitive act & learned from the 'inside'. Living in the East as opposed to the West Coast, I felt isolated from the growing 'hydrosol movement' so I guess I developed my own 'truths'. I feel in the end, I've been just fine on my own path.

TS: Dabney, so many chicks have been so generous to me over the years, and I'm especially touched by your generosity & spirit~ you inspire me in my business~ your heart shines through. You like to pay it forward, huh?

DR: I am quite touched by this Tonie, but what it comes down to is pure selfishness! I get such a rush when I gift. I have had people do incredible gifting in my direction & as it seems to be the best feeling going; it seems that this is what we all should be doing!

TS: Favorite hydrosol?

DR: Raspberry. This is the first one 'the voice' gave me to do & it is so phenomenally awesome!

TS: Any advice for distillers?

DR: Don't hold back because you think you don't know what you are doing!! Get in the arena "in the moment" and the knowing will come. "Just Do It".

TS: Proudest moment as a distiller?

DR: A shop keeper from France, the fragrance capital of the world!- repeat ordering many liters of my stuff!

TS: Dabney, is this what you do for a living? If so, how did you do it? Just do it?

DR: It took a loooooong time for me to have the faith to commit. A big portion of that was feeling OK about what I'd have to charge; I'm not a wholesaler who harvests gallons, I'm an artist who harvests pints. My batches are intimate &saturated, & luckily there are people out there who want that. But, yes, this is my 9 to 5. (More like 24/7.)

TS: Dab, your hydrosols are a must have staple in my house; what are some natural beauty products you have to have at all times?

DR: Tonie, that is SO sweet! I have noticed that mass producing can ruin an otherwise nice list of ingredients so I make what I use one bottle at a time; what works best comes out of my kitchen cabinet! Red Palm Oil, Aloe Vera, &Rice Bran.With a LOT of hydrosols. And, yes, I am lucky &spoiled &I know it!

TS: Readers, wee little Dabney is a biker babe! Discuss Dab!

DR: Heh Heh. My energy likes to be in motion & when things bog down my husband will almost push me out the door for a ride & most of the time, when I get back, things will have shifted! It's also a most excellent way to get my head beyond thinking. I do a lot of "creative being" on two wheels. (I'm also heavy into pink, flowers & ribbons; no skulls)

TS: Please explain the benefits of hydrosols on the skin, & the different benefits that different hydro's offer.

DR: This could use up a lot of ink so I will try to keep it short. Short story is that all hydrosols improve the texture of the skin. I have found that, basically, most of the flowers soften while the fruits (including Lichen) are more action oriented by increasing cellular activity/circulation; they firm &tighten. Blends are the best of both worlds.

TS: Dabney, you are always such a sweet treat, and so pleasant to deal with business-wise. Any parting words?

DR: What make this path fun for me Tonie is sharing what I come up with with other fragrance connoisseurs. And you are Always enormous fun!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Buddha Nose

Buddha Nose
By Tonie Silver

My esteemed Editor told me to consider this when reviewing products: Would I buy it? The answer to the Buddha Nose range is a resounding "Yes!" Everything about this range, from start to finish, is so pleasing. Starting with the packaging~ Tiffany robin's egg blue tins that sport a beautiful tree~ but that's not all! The tins have a clever screw-top~ no hassling with tin lids~ yay!

Founder Amy Galper's inspiration was to get her clients to breathe~ genius! Buddha Nose balms are in a base of organic jojoba and beeswax, and have a wonderfully soft, almost springy texture. The Girl Balm is a star! Essential oils of clary sage, rose geranium, ginger root, and black pepper alleviate any and all pms. I was all set to enjoy the benefits of this gorgeously fragrant balm, when~ lo and behold~ no pms! I had been sniffing and applying the Girl Balm prior to the big event, and thus, was asymptomatic! Magic! Buy this.

The I Booster Salve is another stroke of genius. E/O's of ravensara, clove bud, patchouli, lemon, tea tree, and cinnamon join forces to produce a wonderfully spicy, peppery blend that blasts any nasties right outta Dodge! Delicious! Apply this to your neck, soles of your feet, and under your nosie whenever you feel a touch of the 'tiz coming on~ nips it right in the bud. Another must have item.

Bodhi Balm is a woody, resiny blend of cedarwood, ho wood, juniper berry, and frankincense. Very opening, grounding, and calming. I used the Bodhi Balm before my yoga, and it totally enhanced my enjoyment of the experience. Makes for deep breathing. I'll be using this daily~ so should you. Again~ highly recommended.

Amy doesn't advocate the use of her balms for skincare~ but I do! I've used these on my hands and face~ light enough for the face and absorbs totally~ and these are my new wig potion~ I put a dab in before the blowout, and the Jewfro is totally straight, shiny, and smells gorgeous.

All of the Buddha Nose products I used are lovely and come with a hearty endorsement from yours truly.I chatted with Amy a couple times on the phone~ she sounds like an oasis of calm in the middle of the city~ she's doing something right!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Persephenie ~ Formerly Blunda Aromatics

by Tonie Silver

At the behest of my esteemed, whip cracking Editor in Chief, I schlepped my happy butt an hour's drive away to Persephenie's. Justine said "you have to go- you'll really dig it." Does Justine know Tonie, or does Justine know Tonie? I got there just as they were opening, and was greeted warmly by owner Persephenie's assistant Maribel. I had to catch my breath and focus, because I immediately went into truffle rooting pig mode: I was supposed to be there to profile the place for LPR, not to shop for myself. Yeah right!

This place is straight up Hogwarts, I'll tell ya. I felt like I was in Snape's Potions class. Jars containing botanicals such as oakmoss, labdanum, frankincense, and ambergris line the walls. There are glass cases filled with incense and perfumes, and I was shown a really cool silver necklace that Persephenie made.

Maribel kindly showed me the back room atelier, whereby she announced to me "You smell amazing! What are you wearing?" (FYI: seven plus years old patchouli topped with petigrain) I was like a kid in a dime store having to keep my hands in my pockets; rows upon rows of shelves crammed chockablock with oils and absolutes A to Z. I wanted to smell each and every one, but of course out of respect, and due to the big ol' PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE OILS sign, I refrained. They even had tobacco flower~ dang! A worktable evidenced works in progress, and there was even a lit tank full of little fishies back there. The real piece de resistance was five or six big glass potion bottles under a glass case, each hand painted by Persephenie and containing her own perfumes. Dang! Couldn't I get just a teensy, tiny sniff? Nope!

A perfumer very near and dear to LPR occupied featured space at Persephenie's- Laurie Stern's Velvet & Sweetpea's. There are several other natural botanical ranges as well, but you know me, always on to the next smelly thing! Lemme at those essential oils!

There were bottles of five or six different eucalypti to sniff- oh joy!I snagged me some rockin' essentials: Persephenie's own Kore range, and the exceedingly lovely Floracopeia. I came home with a rose eucalyptus, a vetiver, a white ginger lily (!) blend, and some of the hard to find Japanese charcoal that I adore. Oh yay!

Another plus is that this shop is located just a stone's throw from Farmer's Market, so a good nosh is just a couple of blocks' walk away.

I'm reviewing Persephenie's range, so look for that- she even does an incense! I know, I know~ someone's gotta do it!:)

Persephenie, formerly Blunda Aromatics
304 South Edinburgh Ave.
Los Angeles, Calif.  90048

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mandrake Apothecary ~ The Seventh Sign

Interview by Justine Crane for LPR
Justine: Hi Sara.  It's so good to finally have a chance to talk with you about your art. We’ve (LPR) been putting it off for so long, it seemed like it might never happen, but here we are ~

First, tell the LPR readers a little about yourself; your background, and what brought you to perfumery ~

Sara: I have an eclectic background in terms of interests and courses of study, and regardless of the tangential road I wander along, or the rabbit hole I trip into as I go, it always returns to the plant world and to aromatics in some fashion.  It wasn't until I got very seriously into blending aromatics and dabbling in alchemy as a means of transformation that things literally clicked into place.  It was a matter of many roads leading back to the same place: my workbench and culturing tubes full of aging blends, leading up to that.

I don't have a fantastically complicated lineage in that 'Sara studied with ___ who studied with ___ who was apprenticed to ___' sort of way, which strikes me as kind of contrived.  And it is not that I'm some nose-governed genius either, so much as I tend to be a Jill of many trades and mistress of a few of them.  On a good day.

However, I was always nose-governed.  A couple of my earliest scent memories are of the star jasmines my uncle grew in Palo Alto, where I'd visit with cousins every summer, and of the lack of overt smell but fleshy green plantness of my great grandmother's fuschias in her backyard in Berkeley.  I just smell either of those and am there.  We always grew aromatic plants and flowers when I was a kid, even though we lived in an apartment.  I remember the sweetly spicy, and dirty odor of baby carrots, from the summer my mom handed me a terracotta pot of soil and a packet of seeds, telling me to press a bunch into the soil.  I also remember the distinctive smell of tomato leaves and stems sinking into my hands, from being sent out to the side yard to harvest tomatoes from the planter boxes.

I studied anthropology, which was not about perfume (if only I'd found and read Lise Manniche back then), but proved to be inspirational in nudging me to study herbalism more closely, and to spend more time outside in wild places.

Justine: So, what is the strangest perfumery ingredient you've ever used? ~

Sara: Skunk essence.  Antique, no less.  I was producing what wound up being a revenge blend of sorts.  I wasn't even heading in the direction of anger and unsublimated irritation, but skunk helped me exorcise some demons.

It doesn't smell bad, btw.  Reminds me of acrid leathery coffee, mixed with cigar smoke, almost.  But I like earthy smells.  If you age skunk oil, it picks up a very smooth patina, where all the angular cracks and jagged edges of the source material have been smoothed over and burnished to a shine, in some spots.

Justine: What scent, or combination of scents, slams you in the solar plexis? Y'know, the smells that really touch you. ~

Sara: I must admit to being a temple prostitute for the aromatic wonder that is Patchouli, with a capital 'P'.  Patchouli is so many things in so many different applications.  It is darkness, the forest floor and damp soil.  It is a universal blender and base ingredient.  It can be grassy, golden and syrupy, fruity, musky.  Patchouli is one of those essences I like to buy in lots and age.

Wanna hear something funny peculiar?  I don't put patchouli in every thing I possibly can.  Sometimes less is more.

Justine: You're an urban gardener , do you think working with plants and soil has helped you with your perfuming skills? ~

Sara: Definitely.  Being an urban farmer has really brought plants back to their most basic elements, to my nose and blending instincts.  In the past year I've tinctured oxalis blooms, rose petals, five different lavender species, rosemary flowers, pomegranate blossoms, and common weed flowers.

It's also given me an excuse to germinate and grow exotics you don't see in many gardens, such as Abelmoschus moschatus.  My prized seedlings are a trio of mandrakes I grew from seed, go figure.  I've been fascinated with Mandragora for years and it was time to get my hands dirty and learn from growing them; though they've nothing to do with perfumery.

I've also learned a new appreciation for more mundane aromas such as wheat straw, petrichor, finished compost, and even coop litter from the chickens.  You get to know a lot about your animals based on smell, and chickens have their own distinctive and not at all objectionable odor when you treat them well and keep their living quarters clean.  It almost reminds me of the warm furry smell of the top of my youngest cat's head when he burrows into my neck.

Justine: Are there any fragrances or perfumes out there that you wish you'd created? ~

Sara: Back in 'the day' (circa 1986), I had a thing for Lauren, by Ralph Lauren.  Tea roses and Sicilian lemons, and ambrette.  It had a start, a middle, and a powdery finish, like a well-crafted perfume that evolves.

I also have a soft spot for Byblos eau de parfum, which is no longer manufactured, but was based around fruity marigold heart notes, black pepper, and I seem to remember boronia, too.

Justine: I know your perfumery is on hiatus at the moment. Any indication as to when you'll be dusting off the shelves and opening the shutters for customers? ~

Sara: I was really really hoping to be back after my birthday in June.  It may have to be July, though.  This may sound a bit woowoo, and those who read my blog will recognize that, but things have been happening in 7s for me, and I might have to keep up that theme just to see if there's value in that exercise.  Seventh month?  (Cue up the theme music from the Twilight Zone.)

Watch for the reopening of Mandrake Apothecary ( coming the 7th month.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Angel Face Botanicals

by Tonie Silver

Angel Face Botanicals is a real find. Plenty of good stuff to satisfy any bathoholic. This range is aptly named~ owner Jessica Ress makes her products with bunches of love, and it really shines through. The Lavender Shower Steamer is an innovative idea~ think of it as a really long lasting, strong bath bomb. Pop it into the shower with you and let it release its essential oils while you scrub.

Angel Face excels at powdered facial cleansers. Jessica makes three different Organic Facial Cleansing Grains: Ambrosia, Ayurvedic, and Adzuki & Green Tea, and they’re all just perfect. They all start with basically the same base of kaolin clay, oats, and rice, and then Jessica adds different bits and bobs. Ambrosia boasts the addition of whole milk, banana, and apple. Ayurvedic has rhassoul, sandalwood, frankincense, and myrrh. Just the right amount of scrubbiness. I couldn’t decide which of these I liked best~ they’re all so good! The biggest difference that I can detect between the three is that the Ayurvedic leaves the skin a tad bit whiter. All three come highly recommended.

Jessica’s scrubs are scrubby, yet really mild. It feels like she uses a really fine grained, polished salt in them. In spite of the blend of essential oils (grapefruit, rose geranium, juniper, lavender, fennel etc.), the Rock Star Detox Scrub smells kind of purple-y to me, sort of a grape Kool-Ade kind of smell. This fragrance really chills you out. Like lavender? You’ll love Angel Face’s Double Love Scrub, a blend of four different lavender oils, berries, and calendula. Delightfully angel pink.You’re in a Secret Garden, dripping with roses, ylang ylang, rose geranium, oranges, patchouli, and jasmine. Inhale the hypnotic scent. Now open your eyes. Surprise! You’ve been soaking in Angel Face’s Blush Aphrodisiac Bathing Salts. I’m digging this scent muchly.

Satisfy your craving for a Renaissance bath with Angel Face’s Rose Milk Herbal Wash~ a little wash bag chock full of herbs, oats, and flowers. Smells delish with rose geranium essential oil. Soak, squeeze, and scrub with this~ I enjoyed peering at all the colored bits during my bath. No mess either~ clever.

The name says it all: Lovely Lavender & Vanilla Fizzing Milk Bath. All the moisturizing benefits of a milk bath, plus some fizz action! Smells just like its name: lovely. Very soothing, comforting, and relaxing.

Butter, butter, who’s got the butter? Angel Face, that’s who! Jessica mixes up a dizzying array of body butters, some of which she mixes sparkly mica into~ yay! Multi purpose moisture here. Rose Garden is so light, delicate, and angel pink. Sweet Lavender is Provence in a jar. Opalescent mica makes it all the more special. Ya want tropical? Angel Face has got’cha covered with Flora Exotica~ a heady, creamy mix with ylang & Monoi~ scrummy!:)

Lose yourself at Angel Face’s site for a while~ it’s treat after treat, after yummy treat.