Vetiver Hydrosol, A Cinnamon Infusion, & Literary Perfumes

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Well, library work in Archives and in Special Collections is highly enjoyable and, I confess, there are several literary perfumes (and one very big, ever-growing reading list) swirling around in my mind as I write this! So stay tuned for summer. I’m also excited to say I have been accepted to Library School, where I will begin studying for my MLIS, Masters in Library Science, in the fall.

Pictured above is a glimpse of my very favorite shelf in the Tsakoupolos Hellenic Special Collection at CSUS. When I walk by I always pause, admiring the rows and rows of 1001 Nights & The Arabian Nights. They are so beautiful and rich, displayed together in English, French, Italian, German, and Arabic languages and in all of their illustrated volumes, ages, and editions. I’d absolutely feel inspired to make a perfume from this collection except — I’ve already designed a scent inspired by Scheherazade and her storytelling powers, (and the sheer power of storytelling!) almost two years ago. You can find a sample here!

In other news, my good friend and mentor Suzanne Catty has opened her own Etsy shop so I wanted to share the link. She sells the finest in hand-crafted botanical infusions, and for you sun-worshipers, Californians, or especially, those of you who are both, her Golden Brown (food for sun-kissed skin) is a particular delight. Also included in her shop is her cookbook centered around tea. So – do take a look!

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In other news, my Spring 2017 Rose Geranium hydrosol is already sold out (Scent Subscribers had first dibs!) but my Spring/Summer 2017 Madagascar Vetiver hydrosol, which Suzanne taught me how to make several years ago, is now available.

Please note that it comes in a spray-top bottle unless otherwise specified upon checkout.
Hydrosol is distilled in the Alambiccus Gaggia upon receipt of order.
Shipping turnaround is 7-14 days.

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Lastly, Alexandria is back!
I haven’t been happy with the quality of cinnamon oils I’d been finding so I stopped making Alexandria for awhile. Fans of my Alexandria botanical perfume may find it slightly different as I’ve swapped essential oil for a botanical infusion made by me, from the spice itself! Hopefully, you’ll find it to be better than ever. Samples and the perfume are now available in the Etsy shop. Each perfume is handmade to order; shipping window is 7-14 days.

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Arabesque’s Solid Scents

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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

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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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Between the floral and the exotic… Arabesque Aroma’s Spring 2015 “The Temple of Flora”

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My newest scent was inspired by the title of Robert Thornton’s The Temple of Flora, a book from 1807 which first caught my attention last year via the Public Domain Review. (I am an enthusiastic subscriber of their newsletters!)

Their current newsletter makes for a very interesting Spring read, exploring the late 18th to early 19th century Romantic era attitudes concerning sex, gender, and science within the world of botany. (The illustrations in The Temple of Flora, created by a variety of Thornton’s contemporaries, and as seen above, are lush sensuous, otherworldly treasures — not to be missed!)

My botanical perfume, The Temple of Flora, is also lush, sensuous and otherworldly. It reflects the 19th century Romantic penchant for earlier times and exotic places and is made with Neroli, Jasmine, and Bergamot essential oils blended into a heavenly base of Agarwood, Peru Balsam, and Sandalwood. I hope that you will love it!

Patrons of my 2015-2016 Scent Subscription will automatically receive samples of The Temple of Flora in their mailbox next week.

1 ml samples and 1/3 oz size bottles of The Temple of Flora are also available for purchase in my Etsy shop.

Finally, introducing my new sampler, The Ancient Worlds. Includes my 5 Arabesque Aromas botanical scents that were inspired by ancient worlds… makes a beautiful gift and is best enjoyed listening to the album Towards the Within by Dead Can Dance! ha ha!

Happy Spring.

(Illustrated Plate: Egyptian Water Lily from The Temple of Flora, 1807, Robert Thornton.)

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