Saturday, October 25, 2008

Recycling is an art - Part II

The family of creatures made from 100% trash and hot glue has grown considerably in the past week. I had several pipettes with a few residual drops of aromatic oils in them and scented the garden scrap portions of these miniature sculptures, so they are wonderful smelling too! All are going to new homes for Samhain!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Aloe Vera - Flora From Eden

Last night I was reminded of two things;
one - hot glue is called hot for a good reason &
two - Aloe Vera is indispensable to have in every home. Obviously they were related thoughts!

I burnt my thumb with hot glue. After cooling it under cold water I broke off a piece of my Aloe Vera plant, sliced it legthwise, wrapped it around the already forming blister and lightly secured the leaf to my finger. I changed the dressing before bed, making a poultice of fresh Aloe Vera Gel, German Chamomile essential oil and High Altitude Lavender Essential oil. Today I do still have a blister, but it doesn't hurt one little bit even.

Ancient Lore says that the Aloe Vera plant grew in the Garden of Eden. I don't doubt it one bit!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Of petrified feces and ancient jellied urine

I'm sure that for more than a few of you my title conjures some interesting sensations, visually and olfactorily. What I am referring to there is a natural aromatic material known as Africa Stone or Hyraceum.

It is, quite frankly, crystallized and petrified fecal and urine pellets (and it smells like it) from the Hyrax, or Dassie - a very interesting small mammal that resides in Africa and apparently happens to be the closest living relative to elephants, even though they are only the size of overgrown guinea pigs.

It takes centuries for a colony of Hyrax using the same "community outhouse" per se to produce a large mound of hyraceum. It is recorded that some hyraceum dates back well over 10,000 yrs, but that it can also be produced in a shorter time (centuries rather than millennium) due to the very dry climate of that region.

This petrified and even fossilized material is used in perfumery as a substitute for other musky animal notes such as civet or deer musk, which are obtained in manners that are ethically questionable and/or unacceptable to many modern perfumers and consumers.

"Why would anyone want to use this kind of material in perfumery?" one may ask. First off let me say that this is the type of aromatic that is used highly diluted to begin with and then only in small amounts in the total blend.

Secondly, as with cooking, there are times that an ingredient may not be something you want to eat concentrated, in quantity, or stand alone (i.e. anchovies) but in a small amount adds wonderful flavor and depth to the dish (i.e. Ceasar salad dressing, which contains anchovies).

Then we can sum it up in more "primal" terms - including words like pheromones and instinctual biological olfactory affinities hardwired into our brains from the beginning of time to promote sexual attraction and species reproduction.

A little dab'll do ya (but not straight up .. then you'll just smell like a NYC subway restroom ;)

My Happy Little Global Blog! :)

Wow! I am humbled looking at my October blog stats and seeing that just in this month alone I have readers throughout the US and in over 30 countries including:

Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chez Republic, China, Columbia, Croatia, Cyprus, Dominica, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jamaica, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Senegal, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom, etc ...

Thanks for reading, everyone! :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ginger and Rebellious Stomach Qi

The other day I awoke feeling nauseated (and before anyone asks, no, I am not currently with child ;).

My many years of exposure to, and training with, herbs has taught me that fresh ginger (生姜 sheng jiang) is absolutely one of the best remedies for such matters.

Sniffing fresh ginger essential oil, sipping warm fresh ginger tea and getting some extra rest greatly improved how I was feeling.

Let's hear it for ginger and its ability to, in the stomach, sink what Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to as rebellious Qi (he wei jiang ni) a.k.a. vomiting!


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Nocturnal Olfactory Stimulation Influences Dreams

Carl Gustav Jung said "The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach."

Dreams fascinate me. I have found that burning certain incense can influence the intensity and general theme of my dreams, so I was quite interested to read about the research below.

German researchers have used specific volatile odorants with a negative or a positive smell ("rotten eggs" versus "roses") to stimulate subjects during sleep ... this is the first valid study that documents the impact of olfactory function on dreams ...

The outcome, not too surprisingly, was that people tend to have more pleasant dreams when smelling the more pleasant odor.

Read the full story here: Science Daily

I look forward to diffusing a variety of oils in my sleeping quarters and see what I dream up! I personally, at times, experience very vivid dreams with all my senses involved, including scent. It'll be neat to observe whether or not the scents I diffuse will affect the scents I perceive in my dreams.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Recycling is an art

The creatures in the pictures are sculptures that I recently created. They remind my roommate of Skeksis from the Dark Crystal. I concur, finding them to be a more of a sparrow like relative of the Skeksis. I've made these two so far. They were each made from recycled materials including mussel shells (kitchen scraps), dried canna flower parts (garden scraps), copper trimmings and pieces of silk (scraps from other art projects).

With a little imagination, recycling can be not only good for the environment, but it can also be fun and artistic, which is good for the psyche and soul! These are great little trinkets to make and give to my friends for Halloween!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sniffing the Rosemary

I've been suffering a "hay fever" attack since Saturday afternoon, which I spent outdoors at a kid's birthday party in the burbs. It was a breezy day, tree and grass pollen is particularly high right now and mold is doing its happy thing as well .. all of which is making me unhappy.

I'm currently sniffing Morroccan high cineol rosemary essential oil and its a wonderful thing. A little sniff helps clear and soothe my aching, stuffed sinuses and it restores my olfactory perception too. It is torture for me not having the ability to smell properly!

Another reason to love rosemary!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Vanilla Amber Base

While looking for something in my art studio, I stumbled upon a perfumery experiment that I began back in May of 2006! 2 bottles of Vanilla Amber Base, one with a base of jojoba and the other a base of grain alcohol.

It has mellowed so nicely over time! While I've not searched out the recipe in my notebook, I know the blend contains macerated vanilla beans, benzoin, styrax and a host of other delicious aromatics.

I look forward to playing with this now that it is back on my aromatic paint pallet :)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Scent and Studying

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I've recently taken up a new challenge and that is learning Mandarin Chinese. I have been using scent to help me study and recall what I have been studying.

It has been long known that our olfactory sense has powerful ties to memory. For example, I have a bottle of Guerlain's Samsara perfume that I purchased while on one of my trips to Turkey. Whenever I smell it I am immediately transported, very vividly, to a moment in time where I'm eating kesari and mezes while overlooking the Bosphorus. I can even recall what I was wearing and feel the warmth of the sunshine on my face.

I have found this works for studying as well with Rosemary being a particularly good scent, as it stimulates circulation, which brings oxygen to the brain, hence improving its function. But this isn't limited to Rosemary. The big part of the trick is less the scent chosen (Samsara is a far cry from Rosemary ;) , and more sniffing the scent not only when studying, but also when recalling!

'What if you can't carry it in a bottle to your tests?' you ask. Scent your pen or pencil, wear a dab on your shirt sleeve, scent your hair, wear it well diluted as a perfume, etc ...

The nose knows and can help us remember what we know!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Choosing a Chinese name

I'm writing this blog while burning a candle scented with lovely 木薑子 Litsea cubeba (May Chang). Not only am I setting atmosphere, but I'm cleaning the air, literally!

I have been taking Mandarin Chinese classes for several weeks now and I have decided to choose a Chinese name. That isn't as easy as it sounds. While there are relatively few surnames in Chinese compared to English, given names are usually quite unique and carefully chosen in Chinese culture.

For the most part, names are chosen to correspond with things like astrology as well as characteristics a parent hopes for their child to have (such as beauty in a girl or strength in a boy). But (and this is a big but) it is rather important to ask a Chinese speaking person if the name you are choosing works properly in Chinese! For example, you may not want to name your daughter a fox as fox spirits in Chinese are synonymous with beautiful women who suck men dry of life energy and money! LOL

There is a pretty good squiddo article on choosing a Chinese name:

At first I was considering some names that would apply to characteristics I have, but after chatting with an old friend about this, I decided to take a name with personal characteristics I am working on developing and bringing into my life.

Hence, I have chosen the name 水静心 Shuǐ Jìng Xīn

再见 Zàijiàn