Arabesque’s Solid Scents

solid perfume

Now your favorite Arabesque scents are available in solid perfume form.

The solid perfumes, blended into a 1/2 oz. base of beeswax and organic jojoba, are available in the following unisex scents: “The Holly, Moss and Ivy” “Drann” (inspired by ancient Ireland and the Celtic love of trees), “The Man of the Woods” (my DH Lawrence-inspired scent) and the first perfume I ever made, an earthy fougere called “The Green Mantle.”

Select your choice at checkout.

*Note: For those of you in California and other regions with extreme heat, don’t leave solid perfumes in your car or any place where they may melt. Keep them cool and protected at all times. And use your USPS tracking information when ordering to prevent perfumes from sitting in a hot mailbox upon arrival.*

 

Natural Botanical Perfumes by Arabesque Aromas

Scent, smooth, and condition your facial hair with Arabesque’s Aromatic Beard Oil. A diluted version of my botanical scents, the beard oil is available in 1/3 oz. minaret bottles in the following unisex scents: “The Man of the Woods” “Kyphi” “Merlin the Bard” “The Green Mantle” “The 1001 Nights” and also by custom request.

Select your choice at checkout.
And/or sample these unisex scents via my Masculine Scents Sampler.

 

turkish coffee

Just back (mostly) from a dreamy summer trip where I visited an old, dear friend in Olympia, Washington. We had tea, we had sipping chocolate, we had more tea, we had Turkish coffee with baklava and Turkish delight, we collected seashells and sand dollars on the beach of the Puget Sound, we took a train trip to Portland (where we met with another dear friend) and had yet more tea…

I hope everyone has as much delicious fun, this summer, as I’ve already had!
Midsummer 2016 Scent and Scent Subscriber updates and parcels are coming soon.
Cheers!

~Kirsten

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The Dark Lady’s Mask~ A Book Launch & A Botanical Perfume

DLM

 

Hello everyone!

I’m excited to share the news of my friend Mary Sharratt’s new book with you. Her research on Hildegard of Bingen brought us together online in 2011, when she was kind enough to give me travel and research tips just as I was preparing for my own trip to Germany to see my longtime bestie and traveling companion, Brandi! (I’ve long desired to be a Hildegard-of-Bingen-Pilgrim!)

My longtime blog followers might also recall that Mary also made a guest appearance on my blog when her book Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard of Bingen was published.

And now she has written a compelling new book on Aemilia Lanier, an author who fascinated me last year in my “Women in Literature” class at Sierra College!

In honor of Mary’s new book, The Dark Lady’s Mask: A Novel of Shakespeare’s Muse, which has come out today, I have designed a custom scent called “The Dark Lady.” The ingredients have been taken directly from a Shakespearean-era aromatic recipe for a sweetbag (sachet) that has been magically transformed into a botanical perfume by yours truly. It will be the prize in a forthcoming contest Mary will have on Amazon, in keeping with her new book…

Follow her on social media, below, to stay tuned on the contest details!
And now — over to Mary!

Unmasking the Dark Lady
by Mary Sharratt 

April 23, 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with worldwide celebrations to mark his legacy. But what about the women?

My motto as a novelist is “writing women back into history.” I’ve long been frustrated by the fact that the average intelligent, literate person can’t name a woman writer before Jane Austen. The Dark Lady’s Mask is my love letter to literary pioneer Aemilia Bassano Lanier, England’s first professional woman writer. I want to draw her out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

I first discovered her when researching the lives of Renaissance women. The daughter of an Italian court musician who may have been a Marrano, or a secret Jew living under the guise of a Christian convert, Lanier was one of the most highly educated women of her era. She certainly had the talent and expertise to write plays or secular poetry. However in England at that time, the only genre considered acceptable for women was religious verse. Lanier’s female literary predecessors like Mary Sidney wrote poetic meditations on the Psalms.

But Lanier turned the tradition of women’s devotional writing on its head. Her epic poem, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (Hail God, King of the Jews), published in 1611, is nothing less than a vindication of the rights of women couched in religious verse. Dedicated and addressed exclusively to women, Salve Deus lays claim to women’s God-given call to rise up against male arrogance, just as the strong women in the Old Testament rose up against their oppressors.
The possibility that Lanier may also have been the mysterious Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s Sonnets only adds to her mystique.

My intention was to write a novel that married the playful comedy of Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard’s Shakespeare in Love to the unflinching feminism of Virginia Woolf’s meditations on Shakespeare’s sister in A Room of One’s Own. How many more obstacles would an educated and gifted Renaissance woman poet face compared with her ambitious male counterpart?
In The Dark Lady’s Mask, I explore what happens when a struggling young Shakespeare meets a struggling young woman poet of equal genius and passion.

If Lanier and Shakespeare were, in fact, lovers, would this explain how Shakespeare made the leap from his history plays to his Italian comedies and romances—the turning point of his career? Lanier, after all, was an Anglo-Italian trapped in a miserable arranged marriage. The names Aemilia, Emilia, Emelia, and Bassanio all appear in Shakespeare’s plays. His Italian comedies are set in Veneto, Lanier’s ancestral homeland. What if Shakespeare’s early comedies were the fruit of an active collaboration between him and Lanier?

These two poets had such radically different character arcs. We all know about Shakespeare’s rise to the glory that would enshrine him as a cultural icon. But there was no meteoric rise for Lanier. Though she eventually triumphed to become a published poet, she died in obscurity and has only recently been rediscovered by scholars.

I find it fascinating how the strong, outspoken women of Shakespeare’s early Italian comedies, such as the crossdressing Rosalind in As You Like It and the spirited Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, gave way to much weaker heroines and misogynistic portraits of women in Shakespeare’s great tragedies, such as frail, mad Ophelia in Hamlet. This change in tack leads me to wonder if the historical Shakespeare actually did have a bittersweet affair with a mysterious, unknown woman that cast a shadow over his later life and work.

I hope that The Dark Lady’s Mask can redress the balance and give Aemilia Bassano Lanier the accolades she deserves. Whether or not she was Shakespeare’s Dark Lady, she was certainly his literary peer.

Mary Sharratt’s novel, The Dark Lady’s Mask: A Novel of Shakespeare’s Muse, is released April 19 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. For a chance to win a free copy, “like” Mary Sharratt’s author page on Facebook and leave a comment on any post there before June 21. Five winners will be announced on Midsummer’s Eve, 2016.

Mary Sharratt, author of
THE DARK LADY’S MASK: A Novel of Shakespeare’s Muse
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 2016

“An exquisite portrait of a Renaissance woman pursuing her artistic destiny in England and Italy.”
-Margaret George, internationally bestselling author of Elizabeth I

www.marysharratt.com

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Tristan & Iseult

Tristan and Isolde 15th c

Introducing Arabesque Aroma’s
Spring 2016 Scent~

Tristan & Iseult

Apart the lovers could neither live nor die, for it was life and death together.
-Joseph Bedier, The Romance of Tristan & Iseult

A soft, dreamy, calming, velvety unisex scent made primarily of Sandalwood, Roman Chamomile, Moroccan Rose, and a precious, smooth vintage Lavender, “Tristan & Iseult” is available to sample, purchase in 3 ml, or my 10 ml minaret-capped bottles.

A story of courtly love, the romance of Tristan & Iseult gained popularity within Arthurian literature and is a subject that many writers, artists, and musicians from the medieval era onward have explored, depicted, and interpreted. There are many versions of the story, and its evolution over time can be read about here.

I’ve also included a link to a PDF of the full story via Project Gutenberg’s version by M. Joseph Bedier as quoted above; The Romance of Tristan & Iseult is available, here.

In particular, and for obvious reasons, Tristan and Iseult was a greatly-favored topic among the troubadours. Here is a link to one of my personal favorite songs from this era, circa 13th century, The Lament of Tristan, from the cd “Trouveres & Troubadours” by Jehan de Cheney. (I’ve shared this before but it is so good I think it bears repeating!)

Arabesque’s “Tristan & Iseult” botanical perfumes will ship within 1-2 weeks of purchase.
And my esteemed and greatly valued Arabesque Subscribers will automatically receive their samples, along with Vetiver hydrosols, in the first shipment by the end of March.

Have a wonderful, romantic, and magical Spring, everyone!
~Kirsten

***
Featured Image: Tristan and Iseult Drink the Love Potion, “Tristan de Leonois” c.1470. Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

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Arabesque’s 2016 Botanical Scent Subscription

Queen of Hungary water clear pic

Arabesque’s 2016 Botanical Scent Subscription:
Featuring 6 seasonal parcels to delight your senses!

Natural Botanical Perfumes by Arabesque Aromas

Happy New Year!

With all 2015 Arabesque orders shipped, and all 2015 homework long since submitted, I have been musing over the New Year with a cat on my lap as life slows to a softer, sweeter pace. I have been enjoying the parcels of treats and goodies that have been arriving in my post office box, too! These festive trips to and from the post office make me think, invariably, of my business, and what my clients might like to find in their mailboxes from Arabesque Aromas in the coming year.

So, for 2016, I have designed what I hope you will think is a sumptuous subscription, indeed!

Here is the 2016 Botanical Subscriber’s Shipping Schedule:

 

Late Spring:
(1) 2-oz fresh-distilled Vetiver Root hydrosol

MidSummer:
(1) parcel of sacred, handmade Rose Petal botanical incense

Early Autumn:
(1) 2-oz organic handmade Moroccan-inspired spice blend for cooking
(1) 2-oz organic handmade herbal salt blend for cooking

Early Winter:
(1) 2-oz botanical, seasonal, handmade Rosehip and orange peel potpourri

PLUS three perfumed ingredients:
Two samples of my new, yet-to-be-born botanical perfumes of 2016
and (1) 3-ml bottle of an Arabesque botanical perfume of your choosing whenever you request it during 2016.

Arabesque’s Botanical Scent Subscription includes Priority postage, insured, within the US. $125.00/year

 

Become a Subscriber here.

calendula petals

above: organic, edible Calendula petals, harvested from my garden, 2015.

And top photo, 2004, from a maceration of the wonderous 14th century Queen of Hungary Water, made with fresh, personally-harvested, fragrant botanical ingredients. I used Rosemary Gladstar’s variation.

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Midwinter Tidings!

trier

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ARABESQUE! 

December News:

~Two bars of Rebecca’s delicious, handmade soap in The Holly, Moss, and Ivy scent remain. And fresh, complimentary batches of The Holly, Moss, and Ivy, The Awakening, and The Thousand and One Nights botanical perfume await you.

~My themed Scent Samplers make pretty nifty gifties, and can be sent directly to the recipient. I hand-write gift cards upon request and am always delighted to play the role of Secret Santa whenever required!

~Several hardbound copies of my cookbook remain.

~I am feeling excited to make my end-of-year donation to my non-profit of choice for 2015, Bird Note. Here is a link to their Bird-themed Christmas Carol, from last year. (My cats are huge fans of this song. Usually they prefer that I play it with the windows open, at least five times in a row, while they gaze outside, and drool, and dream… )

~In the above photo, from May 2011, I am lighting a candle at the 12th century St. Peter’s Dom in Trier, Germany with my dear pal Brandi. School is finished for 2015, and now I am just intent in keeping my own metaphorical candles lit in my small corner of the world. Despite the news outlets and social media, I am keeping an eye on what is dear, and sacred in my life…. and am wishing the same for you!

ks trier

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The Holly, Moss, and Ivy…

hollymossandivy6

The Holly, Moss, and Ivy botanical perfume

Always excited by the evergreen symbolism that accompanies Winter, I have decided to mix up a seasonal batch of my botanical perfume “The Holly, Moss, and Ivy” this year.

I first created “The Holly, Moss, and Ivy” in 2012 when I moved from Los Angeles to Northern California. The kitties and I took a cozy 19th century log cabin in the woods two miles outside of downtown Grass Valley. A very large, wonderful old Holly tree, cut into a traditional topiary-style, stood at the entrance-way of my front yard, which was bordered by an equally large and wonderful Ivy hedge. (This hedge was full of buzzing honeybees that summer, and I loved to stand nearby and just listen to them.)

Winnifred Kitten, in our new back yard.

My new surroundings were constantly inspiring to my perfumer’s nose – and eyes – each of the three seasons I lived there. And this scent was born from that enthusiasm.

“The Holly, Moss, and Ivy” botanical perfume is a sweet, earthy, warm, resinous, yet slightly powdery scent, composed mainly of Peru Balsam, Patchouli, and Lavender with a touch of Clary Sage and Vanilla. The scent is also available to sample and via Rebecca’s beautiful handmade botanical soaps which are available in the “Holly, Moss, and Ivy” scent throughout the season. They are harmoniously-blended to perfectly match and strengthen this green, unisex botanical scent in the fougère style. (This soap also has similar notes to The Awakening, and The Man of the Woods, and can be layered with all three botanical perfumes.) Arabesque soap-and-perfume gift sets will also be seasonally available.

(Note: Orders containing the Holly, Moss, and Ivy soap will ship the first week in December. To ensure availability, pre-orders are not only welcome but encouraged.)

hawthornesoap1

 

My first Winter in Grass Valley was also the first Winter in a long, long while, that I could go outside and gather all of the Christmas greens I wanted from my own front yard! Quite a luxury for me!

I look forward to doing the same this year in Nevada County, and can already see and smell the fresh Cedar boughs, tied together with a red ribbon, adorning my front door!

 

kings n queens

I will leave you with a traditional English song on plant folklore and how beautifully it is intertwined with the seasons, taken from a book that I always keep on hand this time of year: John Matthew’s The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas. 

O, the holly bears a berry as white as pure silk,
And the Lady bore the Green Man
When the ewes give their milk.
And the Lady bore the Green Man
Our first hope for to be,
And the first Prince of the springtime
It was the birch tree,
Birch tree, birch tree,
And the first prince of the springtime
It was the birch tree.

O, the birch he bears a leaf-o
As green as the moss,
And the Lady bore the Green Man
To dance in the grass,
And the Lady bore the Green Man
That merry we might be.

And the Princess of the Maytime
Is the young hawthorn tree.
Hawthorn tree, Hawthorn tree,
Hawthorn tree, hawthorn tree.
And the Princess of the Maytime
Is the young Hawthorn tree.

O, the Hawthorn bears a prickle
As keen as the sun,
And the Lady bore the Green Man
To die in the corn,
And the Lady bore the Green Man
Our harvest for to be,
And the first Queen of the autumn
Is the old apple tree.
Apple-tree, apple-tree.
And the first Queen of the autumn
Is the old apple tree.

O, the apple bears a fruit-o, as blood as it is red.
And the Lady bore the Green Man
Our last hope for to be,
And the first King of the winter
He was the holly,
Holly holly,
And the first King of the winter,
He was the Holly. 

robin at chalice well gardens

May your winter months be merry and bright!

~Kirsten

Photographs:
-During a visit to the Chalice Well Gardens in Somerset, UK, the day after Christmas, this little Robin seemed to follow me everywhere. England, 2008.
-Departed Kings and Queens taken from a Winter trip to the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England. 2008.
-Hawthorn berries harvested from a tree just outside my home at the base of the Ivy tree, with Rebecca’s soap, Grass Valley, CA. 2012.
-Miss Winnifred Iselda Kitten, bird-watching in the backyard of our Grass Valley home. CA. 2012.
-The Holly, Moss, and Ivy botanical perfume nestled in the crevices of my Italian Plum tree, Grass Valley, CA. 2012.

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A Succulent September

Natural Botanical Perfumes by Arabesque Aromas

 

chopin

 

The Awakening botanical perfume

“She reminded him of some beautiful, sleek animal waking up in the sun.”

― Kate Chopin, The Awakening

Now ready to ship! My favorite Arabesque Aromas perfume ever returns as my Fall 2015 scent.
“The Awakening” is a fresh, complex, green, blooming scent inspired by the also-blooming main character, Edna Pontellier of Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening published in 1899. A tragic yet beautiful story very much ahead of its time.

The main perfume ingredient in “The Awakening” botanical perfume is the deliciously complex and deliciously green Tasmanian flower, Boronia. Though initially created as a Summer perfume in 2012, I discovered that “The Awakening” is spicy and deep enough to carry it’s wearer into Autumn and Winter quite nicely. It is also a unisex scent.

The blend contains the essential oils of Peru Balsam, Patchouli, Black Pepper, and Boronia. Each bottle contains a small piece of seaweed, harvested myself in Malibu, CA. Seaweed seemed an appropriate symbol for Edna’s oceanic, feminine, inner life…

The perfume is available in 1 ml sample sizes, 3 ml bottles, or 1/3 oz. in my signature minaret-style bottle.

A wonderful website devoted to the work of Kate Chopin can be found here.

 

k and s and a

 

Sasha of Astral Boutique came for a visit. She brought me a fragrant armful of peaches from her tree, snapped some cute photos of us, and we cooked a fantastic dinner together. Pictured on my lap is the ranch darling, overall star of the show (AND Winnifred Kitten’s best friend) Amelia.

Where would we be without our friends?!

soap!

Available while supplies last… 

And speaking of friends… This handmade soap, made by my friend Rebecca, was specifically formulated for use in concert with Arabesque’s “Alexandria” botanical perfume. A customer favorite, “Alexandria” is a fiery, sensuous botanical scent featuring pure Rose and Cinnamon essential oil; two precious perfume ingredients that were highly regarded by the ancient Egyptians. The combination will strengthen, layer and extend the lasting power of the “Alexandria” scent on your skin. This soap can also be used in concert with my Fall 2014 scent, “Virelai.” Soap designed and created exclusively for Arabesque Aromas by the exquisite Ballerina Farmer Artisan Aromatherapy.

figgylicious

My Black Jack Fig Tree — fig season is one of many reasons that September is my most favorite time of year! 

D ackerman post and medieval pic.

And introducing

The Circle of Melissae:
A Virtual Circle and Online Community for
Kitchen Witches, Cat Ladies, and Other Like-minded Souls, we are…

 

 Inspired by the magical turnings, cycles, and rhythms of the year.
In love with honeybees and their ancient symbolism of divinity and divine messages.
Intrigued by bats, birds, and the animal kingdom.
Smitten equally with the celestial, and the terrestrial.
With plants, flowers, minerals.
With the elements. The seasons.
With trees and their folklore…
Concerned with the artisanal. The creative. The handmade life.
And always aspiring to purity, beauty, love, kinship, community,
and the heartfelt path.

***
Annual Membership Subscription is $60.00
Inquire further at arabesquebotanicals@gmail.com.

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Introducing Arabesque’s Summer 2015 Scent~ The Thousand and One Nights!

1001 nights

When I was researching One Thousand and One Nights I learned that the earliest version was written in Persia in the 10th century — I had had no idea it was that old! Many versions and translations now exist today, some emphasizing the fantastical and adventure aspects of the stories, other emphasizing the more erotic and romantic aspects. Here are two audio clips from the latter camp. Both verses come from Book Three and this specific translation is by E. Powys Mathers, published privately in London, 1923. The first is Musk Kisses, though I quite liked There is Myrrh too. (I suspect that there are many exotic perfume ‘recipes’ hidden within the pages of this vast story!)

I chose to avoid using the more predictable ‘Eastern’ perfumery ingredients such as Jasmine, Neroli, Oud, and Sandalwood when creating this perfume. Instead, “The Thousand and One Nights” botanical perfume smells like inhaling the fragrance of a wonderful, dark, beautifully-carved wooden spice chest — it is a sultry, spicy, unisex botanical perfume made with Patchouli, Clove, Cinnamon, Sweet Orange, Madagascar Ginger and Ambrette Seed essential oils in an Organic Jojoba oil base.

And speaking of musk kisses, the scent of Ambrette Seed, which comes from India, is often described as ‘musky’ and personally, I can’t get enough of it these days! I distilled some Ambrette Seed this summer and the hydrosol, when used as a body spray, makes a very nice compliment to the botanical perfume. Note that the Summer 2015 Ambrette Seed hydrosol is quite a limited edition batch, available only while supplies last!

1 ml samples, 3 ml bottles, and 1/2 oz. minaret bottles of “The Thousand and One Nights” botanical perfume are available in my Etsy shop.

And in honor of the clever storyteller Sheherazade from One Thousand and Nights, I’ll close with a wonderful Brainpickings link to a talk that author Neil Gaiman did on the organic, living and evolving nature of stories called “How Stories Last.” It is just wonderful.
I think Sheherazade would agree.

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Arabesque’s 2015 Fragrant Distillations

alambiccus

Every Summer I distill aromatics with my small copper tabletop still, The Alambiccus Gaggia. The result – fragrant, steam-distilled hydrosols – are aromatic, medicinal, cosmetic, and culinary treasures!

On offer this year are the fresh-distilled hydrosols of Witch Hazel, made from organic Witch Hazel Bark, Vetiver Root Hydrosol from Vetiver I imported from Madagascar, Spearmint harvested fresh from my garden, and wildcrafted Melissa or Lemon Balm.

They are available in my Etsy shop June-September and also by special request. An excellent resource for learning how to integrate the use of hydrosols into your daily life is Suzanne Catty’s Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy available on Amazon in a hard copy or via Kindle.

My first distillation of 2015 happened on May Day Eve, as pictured in sequential steps below, courtesy of my botanist friend, Ty Wheeler. The result was a fresh and — we thought, quite surprisingly floral –Spearmint hydrosol.

Pictured left to right, below, are my beautiful plant materials, gathered in preparation for several distillations: Fresh Spearmint from my garden, soaking in the round bowl is Organic Witch Hazel bark, and soaking on the right in the rectangular bowl is Vetiver root from Madagascar.

distillation day 1

For a single distillation, fresh, clean water must first be added to the copper still. In my case, I used fresh, Northern California well water!

IMG_6514

Then the fragrant plant material is added. It rests in a metal and mesh basket on top of the fresh water inside the copper container. When it reaches the proper temperature the hot water then passes upwards and through the plant material, producing a fragrant steam which results in our end product – a hydrosol.

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Here I am preparing the still for the distillation…  it is important all screws are tightened and seals are properly closed to enable the hot water and steam to travel through their required channels.

IMG_6517

Time to hit that glowing red button and begin the distillation, which typically takes about an hour and a half. (And, yes, enjoy a beer or, in my case a Dark and Stormy, while we wait… )

IMG_6531

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Pure, Steam-distilled Essential Oils from ‘the Milkmaid of Fragrance’

ess oils

Now offering two exotic, high-quality, steam-distilled essential oils

I was fortunate to manage a wholesale essential oil company called Natural Extracts for seven years in the Hollywood Hills. Not only did I learn a lot, and get to smell and collect many exotic ingredients, but now I also have a lot of interesting inventory as a result!

I used to love pumping the kilo and gallon-sized orders, as pictured below, December 2011. While filling the containers with the giant and uber-powerful pumps, I always felt like the ‘milkmaid of fragrance!’

milkmaid of fragrance

To see more photos from my days at the essential oil company, Natural Extracts, visit my business Facebook Page.

I am offering Ylang Ylang Complete from Madagascar and Australian Sandalwood (extra-strength) while supplies last. 1 ml samples of the steam-distilled extra-strength Australian Sandalwood essential oil and the Ylang Ylang Complete, Madagascar, are available for purchase at my Etsy shop.

Buying steam-distilled essential oils, when possible, is important to me as it indicates a purity, and an absence of chemical solvents. In my humble opinion, steam-distilled essential oils are well worth the few pennies extra in terms of quality. And Australian Sandalwood is a sustainable alternative to Indian Sandalwood essential oil, the supplies of which have been over-harvested and all but exhausted.

pumping ess oils

Essential Oil samples ship via First Class Mail.
Essential Oils ship Priority Mail, insured, within the US and First Class Mail, without.

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