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I have moved – follow me!

Hello loyal followers and readers of my blog, I have now moved my blog to the my new website at the following address:


For some reason, my followers list has not moved over, so if you would like to remain in touch and receive my posts and news on workshops etc, please click on my new link to re-subscribe.

Sorry for any inconvenience, normal service shall be resumed shortly!

Fragrant thanks,

The Perfume Mistress


Posted in Fragrance themes

A week of scented hedonism

Its a packed olfactory and gustatory schedule in the coming week, I am gleefully excited at having tickets for the following:

Sat 17th: TODAY I am at the Vintage Sessions at Les Senteurs, with purveyor of olfactory adventures, Ms Odette Toilette.  It’s back to the decade of BIG!  Hair, shoulders, perfume, colour – yes, the loud and proud 1980’s.

Go Team Joan!
Dynasty typifies 80’s excess – joyfully and without apology

Will their be wafts of Giorgio, Poison and other membrane irritants .. who knows.  I know there will be Fizz and darn fine cakes, bring it on.  Now where IS my batwing jumper.

Carl Warner’s Food Landscapes – edible art for the senses!
credit: blog.toptable.com

I had a ticket for the Experimental Food Society’s exhibition at Canary Wharf for today (Saturday 17th), which has unfortunately been cancelled. Soo disappointing, wanted to see (eat + smell!) glasses of spun sugar, transmogrified food, outlandish liqueurs  and jelly sculptures!

Puts my fruit carving to shame!
Experimental Food Society displaying their skills

If you cannot wait until next year, when hopefully the exhibition will return and you want to get a visual fix of charcuterie hills and dales, cheese boulevards and candy cottages, Carl Warner  (see image above) has a book out called “Food Landscapes” published by Abrams.   It’s like Alice in Wonderland, meets Willy Wonka in Heston Blumenthal’s kitchen!!  Bring a napkin, drooling guaranteed!

Which segues nicely into and placates my palate a little with:

Weds 21st : Port and Chocolate Tasting at Charbonnel et Walker.  Yum, yum.  I was here a year ago for a Chocolate + perfume event with Ormonde Jayne, great fun, divine confections and witty repartee from the staff.

Thurs 22nd: A night of idling away with ‘Iris’ at Perfume Lover’s London.  Cannot wait, have been smelling my orris root extract in anticipation and writing up ideas for an IRIS post, watch this space.

The Iris – regal, haunting, seductive
(credit: Wikipedia)

In between these hedonic times, I am writing up workshop notes and blends for my Botanical Oils workshop at Fulham Palace (24th) and a private course on creating bases and creams (Dec 1st).  Work waits for no man.

Phew, I need a lie down … where are my smelling salts and pass the port truffles!

Posted in Cake, Candy, Culinary, London events, Perfume Lover's London, Scratch and Sniff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Books Galore!

It has been such a hectic month so far and does anyone need reminding that it’s 5 weeks to Gift and Turkey frenzy (shriek + faint).  I feel like Alice in Wonderland‘s proverbial White Rabbit, running off into tangent tunnels of work, chores, lists and gibbering over a watch – the hands of time whizzing by!

chasing time!
White Rabbit – Alice in Wonderland (wikipedia)

Well, enough of to-do reminders, chores + work, on Tuesday I had a rare morning to shop and ‘inadvertently’ found myself in a local discount book shop.   Check out my book booty, I got some amazing bargains on these, two that I have wanted for a while, especially the first one:

Richard Stamelman’sPerfume: Joy, Obsession, Scandal and Sin – A cultural history of fragrance from 1750 to the Present

My scandalous bargain!

Its a weighty tome, a mini-coffee table in itself!  I have only flicked through some pages, but it’s a gem of beautiful images and archive pictures with some fascinating chapters.  One for Christmas delving!

Next up: The Fruit Hunters, by Adam Leith Golner.  Do you know all there is to know about the plants that exist in this world?   I am fascinated by the pioneering plant-hunter adventurers  who went off into the wilds of the unknown to explore and discover the hidden and the rare.  This version of monomania explores the sweet prizes that the fruit world has to offer, from the exotic and medicinal to the commercial.

I am salivating just reading some testimonials,

“..Oh how we would love to suck on a miracle berry of Africa and savor a tiger-stiped fig!”                                   (Jane + Michael Stern, Roadfood)

“The Fruit Hunters”
Oranges are not the only fruit; discover the origins of the luscious, succulent, exotic and dangerous

From chasing down and tasting strange fruits, I then spotted this lone copy of ‘Nature’s Alchemist” by Anna Parkinson,  journeying back to 17c to discover John Parkinson, his life-long passion for plants, his legacy and his role as King Charles’ 1st herbalist.

Read all about King Charles’ 1st herbalist

The Language of Flowers – A Miscellany“, Mandy Kirkby

Finally, I love flower language and symbolism and there is many a book on the “language of flowers’; I remember as a pre-teen being given the ‘Victorian Language of Flowers’ book, with faux illegible ink writing and pretty paintings.  This version, was written to accompany a novel (of the same name) and although the illustrations are somewhat naive and uninspiring, the content is more interesting with details of myth, legend and history accompanying each of the 50 flowers.

Listen closely … ‘the language of flowers’
by Mandy Kirkby

My bounty came to £35 – I love a find in second-hand and discount bookshops.  However, my room Feng Shui is seriously suffering as I have run out of shelf space and now the floor looks like an inviting space for architectural towers of books.  Note to self .. must tame book addiction .. (well, after a delivery of Christmas books!).

Posted in Culinary, Flowers, fruit, history, Language | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

All Hallows Day

All dolled up for ‘Day of the Dead”
(decorations for Dia de los Muertos)

I hope everyone enjoyed their Hallowe’en; I was at the Barbican to see a play version of Nosferatu; slightly bizarre as it was subtitled and sometimes the subtitles lagged behind,  giving that Clint Eastwood ‘Spagetti Western’ effect, when the dubbing is awry.

November – how quickly it has come round, I always think of this as a FIRE month with bonfire night just around the corner, the temperature dropping and the dark encroaching – bring on the candles and the heating, I say.   Also, from a smell perspective I associate this month with fragrant, hot spices, smoky grasses and resins – warming, fiery, piquant and comforting, before the slow inaugural build up to (..whisper it) Christmas and its seductive pull of coniferous, mulled wine + cinnamon scents.

Today, in some parts of the world All Saints Day is celebrated with All Soul’s Day on the 2nd.  In Mexico and parts of Latin America ‘Dia de los Muertos‘ – The Day of the Dead is celebrated on 1st November, when families and communities come together to honour their departed.   It actually seems a celebratory gesture and gives an opportunity to remember those who are no longer with us.

Mexico – Dia de los Muertos
Decorative skulls in all forms are a celebratory decoration for the Day of the Dead

Calendula flowers are widely used to honour altars and homes during the celebrations; this flower seems to have a symbolic link to sacred rituals, as it is used also in India to decorate temples and an Attar is made from the flowers called Genda or Zafri.

A temple, beautifully decorated with Genda curtains

If you can’t get to join in the macabre joyfulness in Mexico, then why not take a quiet moment at home and diffuse some essential oils or burn incense over these two days. It is a subtle, gentle way for you to remember in your own way those who have passed.  If you cannot get hold of Attar Zafri/Genda, then Frankincense, Myrrh, Cypress are all beautiful oils to use; if you can get a good quality Sandalwood, then even better!

Meditate on the joyous, vibrant Calendula flower
(credit: mostbeautifulflower.com)

I am burning some Vetiver at the moment, enhancing my mood to create a gunpowder and bonfire blend for the Midnight Apothecary event this Saturday.  I’ve also placed a few drops of Frankincense on a tissue and put into my pillowslip, getting ready for a zen sleep.

Sleep well all!

Posted in London events, Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Superscent Me

Smell – can it possess  supernatural powers? 

A potent brew
The Magic Circle by JW Waterhouse

A bit of Halloween fun!

The witching hour is nigh, All Hallows’ Eve is almost upon us and I’m in a ruminative mood.  We are all aware of the power of scent to trigger a memory, a feeling  – scent has a hotline to our emotional brain + imagination, evoking our soul secrets, the stories and experiences within us, but… what if a scent possessed a super(natural) power!?

In keeping with the eerie and phantasmagorical, why not take a leap into the realms of magic + fantasy and imagine if a scent could bestow you with a power, magical or otherwise, what would it be?  What form would it take and to your febrile imagination what would it smell like?

For inspiration you could look to your favourite superheroes, or back into myth, legend, storytelling and fairytales.  Consider the many forms and uses that ‘scent’ can take, especially in ancient traditions when aromatic potions were burnt (incense, candles etc), drank, bathed in, anointed, eaten etc… a large dose of creative license is allowed!

Check out this excellently hammy clip of Bela Lugosi in the 1940’s ‘The Devil Bat’, whereby the monster bat is induced to kill by a pavlovian response to a smell …

My twopenny worth, I’ve brainstormed a greedy list of powers, from the commonplace to the outlandish, but here are just a few of my initial offerings:

  • Transmogrification: I would like a perfume that when sprayed on an inanimate object, would bring it to life
  • Shape-shifting – this would be in the form of a light body veil spray
  • A scent to command the elements (earth, wind, fire + water)
  • A magical scent that would allow me to step into the pages of a book– I’m thinking perhaps of an invisible scented ink that you would use on your chosen book.

    I just need to work on the scent bit…but, now it’s your turn – unleash your mind and feel free to send me your ‘Scent Superpower’ ideas.

    I will post my Superscent recipes next week.   In the meantime, Happy Halloween!


Per-fume trickery: Incense, smoke + mirrors
Picture: Jay Payne/newsteam.co.uk

Posted in Enchanted plants, Fairytales, fantasy, Scent inspirations, smell and the senses | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween fun at Midnight Apothecary

Invasion of the Jack o’ Lanterns
(picture: bumblingacrossletterboxes.blogspot.com)

A fun-filled evening at Brunel Museum on Saturday 27th October, the rain, wind and cold did not deter us!

Lottie Muir, master gardener and drinks purveyor behind Midnight Apothecary, plied the cocktails: Hot Buttered Rum, Out of this Gourd + Eyeball-tini – all went down a treat.  I had the Hot Buttered Rum – it’s all of your autumn memories, distilled into a glass; comforting with a kick!   To shake things up I also tried the ‘Eyeball-tini’, it would have been rude not to on Bond’s 50th Anniversay!

Scrumptious bites supplied by Julie Friend, I managed to smuggle behind my table some sausage rolls and a super-root soup, there were some delectable sweet treats too, which I was unable to fit into my overflowing hands, next time ….!

The rain came and the bar moved inside, so as thirsty queues passed my table, I plied Bertie Bott jelly beans and marshmallow pumpkins to kids + adults alike, a captive audience for my aromatic treats.

Big thumbs up for my softening salt soaks,  particularly ‘In a Bath Darkly’ which was a spooky concoction of black  clay, black salt, red clay, raspberry powder, Vanilla, Rose + Geranium and topped with fragrant dried Rose Petals, heady, alluring stuff.

My ‘Scary Spiced Pumpkin bath melts’ sold out, a kid friendly blend of Ginger, Orange + Benzoin, in a Beeswax, Aloe butter, Cocoa butter and jojoba oil blend.  They were almost palm size, so a big, hot bath needed for a maximum melting experience!

Spritzes galore on my bat-shaped smell strips  (painstakingly cut out by yours truly over the week!) from the 3 perfumes I created for the evening:

Autumn Spice – a refreshing, zingy blend of ginger, nutmeg, orange, lemon, grapefruit, cedrat, with a hint of cacao, benzoin + vetiver in the base.

Vampage – my Vampire inspired blend, using Immortelle (its a pun too good to miss), Tuberose, Jasmine, Wild Rose, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Oakmoss, and a few other secrets – a hypnotic blend to lure you in!

Violet Vapours – proved a popular alternative, based around Orris root and Violet leaf, with Patchouli + Tonka bean in the base, a dash of floral with Orange flower+ geranium, with some greenery supplied by Galbanum + Mint absolute to lift and brighten; had quite a green, ethereal, powdery note.

Thankfully the evening dried out, the magically lit garden was back in action with a firebowl and the remains of my dry ice was used to foggy effect to create a momentary cloud of midnight eerieness.

the smokin’ pumpkins

We are all back again, this Saturday for a Bonfire event, so fingers crossed for a dry and a smokin’ evening.   I am back to the table, preparing some fiery potions in honour of Bonfire Night.

Posted in Autumn, Gardens, London events, Scenting the scene | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spooky Saturday’s Midnight Apothecary

‘Late for a date with the Manicurist’
Image of ‘Nosferatu’ – a classic chiller

Ok, am all packed for a spooktacular evening at the Brunel Museum, including a tub of dry ice!  Pumpkin kick off is 5pm, with supernatural cocktails by Lottie Muir from Midnight Apothecary, Master chef winner Julie Friend will be supplying the spicy, gourmet autumnal bites.

I shall be providing some suitably themed smelly vapours and goodies to tickle your nostrils, such as ‘Drakul’s Grave Gravel’, a salt and clay soak, guaranteed to give you everlastingly alabaster skin; ‘In a Bath Darkly’ a sultry soak to transport you to other realms, fragranced with heady notes of Jasmine + Nutmeg.

Kids might like the ghoulish ‘Ectoplasm’ and Spiced Pumpkin bath melts!

I shall also be wafting around offering some Scent Sorcery with a few spritzes of some specially prepared evening ‘fumes,  a fit of the  ‘Violet Vapours’ anyone?

Come and join the devilish fun, find out more here: http://www.brunel-museum.org.uk/events/midnight-apothecary-on-saturdays/

Posted in Fragrance themes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment