Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Little Love From Marie Claire

My perfume organ where I do bespoke perfume consultations.
My custom perfume consultations were listed in the Beauty Secrets of the Supercool in Marie Claire this month!  So proud, check it out!

Consultations are $125 per hour and include a quarter ounce vial of perfume.  A session generally lasts about an hour and a half.  By appointment only:  info@herbalalchemy.net, (718)788-6480.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Lovely Review of Sol de la Foret in Cafleurebon

So pleased to offer up this stunning review by John Reasinger of Cafleurebon.  John is a Senior Editor and the Natural Perfume Editor for the venerable blog.  I don't think I or anything I've ever created has ever been written about quite so rhapsodically.

"Without being dated or trying to be "fresh" this fougere radiates gentle green, but also timeless strength, in a unique almost brooding manner.  Its power is evident from the first sniff.  It is, however, in its restraint and poise that Sol de la Foret truly impresses me.  Old world charm and sophistication in a modern all natural perfume that still keeps its classic grandeur is indeed wonderful."

Sol de la Foret
available on Etsy



Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hawthorn Berry for Heart Health

This past fall I started to feel unwell.  It began on a walk home from a friend's in September, I noticed a heaviness in my chest and a burning pain.  Thinking it was an aberration I went out again the next night for my evening walk up and down the historical streets of my Brooklyn neighborhood but it happened again.  It continued until I finally made an appointment to see my pulmonologist.  She sent me for a slew of tests and had me make an appointment with a cardiologist who sent me for an MRI of my heart.  They found an area of ischemia which I learned was a restriction of blood supply to tissues.  While we were deliberating what to do about it my symptoms worsened and one afternoon while in my doctor's office he declared that he wasn't going to let me leave the hospital without an angiogram.  Frightened and anxious I underwent the procedure and was informed that I had one blocked artery, 99% blocked.  I had been reading about stents and seriously didn't want one but in this case it saved my life.  I spent the night in the hospital while staff regularly stopped in to congratulate me for walking into the hospital before actually having a heart attack.

It's been a wake up call, to say the least.  I have a pretty good diet, usually eat pretty low saturated fats, almost always choose whole grains, careful with sweets and even grow my own organic vegetables. Clearly there is room for improvement.  Living in the city I do a fair amount of walking but I realize I need quite a bit more exercise and plan on joining my local Y.

Aside from those changes I've also added some heart healthy herbs.  I'd heard about Hawthorn Berry (Crateaugus oxycanthus) many years ago on one of the many weed walks I've attended in Prospect Park.  I've known of its action of regulating blood pressure so took another look at it.  It's used to promote the health of the circulatory system and treats angina, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia.  It's known to strengthen the heart and is used widely in Europe as a safe and effective treatment for the early stages of heart disease.  It's ability to strengthen blood vessels makes it particularly enticing to me as I'm now on meds to thin my blood (to ensure that the stent works its wonders).  Bruising and small cuts are going to be an issue so strengthening my capillaries is especially important.

There are other herbs including bilberry, horse chestnut and ginkgo that are known for improved heart health but considering the meds I'm taking I decided to keep it simple.  Every winter I drink oatstraw daily so I've combined the two together with a little horsetail.  Oatstraw is great for your nerves, it lowers cholesterol and helps strengthen bones.  I simmer the herbs in a quart of water for ten minutes and drink three cups throughout the day.

Last fall I collected wild hawthorn berries and tinctured them so I'm happy to have tincture handy in case I can't be fussing with the tea.  It's available at my Etsy store here.

I should mention that you should check with your doctor before starting any herb regimen, especially if your health has already been compromised and you're taking medication.  Better safe than sorry!


Friday, December 6, 2013

Gift Certificates for Custom Perfume Consultations

Give the gift of a private perfume consultation!  You'll be giving a unique and very personal experience.  Your gifted one will learn how to blend a selection of scents into their own personal perfume. In a step by step process they'll be able to choose from over one hundred essential oils, absolutes and concretes, some rare and exotic, to create a fragrance that is uniquely theirs. This fun, sometimes surprising and sometimes revealing journey into scent memories and preferences will result in a perfume that is theirs alone, one that works with their individual body chemistry and reflects their personality and interests. 

I've teamed with clients to create fragrances for different moods and occasions, fragrances that evoke memories or the unforgettable qualities of a particular location or experience. A perfect idea for the bride to be.  This is a one-on-one consultation in Julianne’s studio. 

$175.00 for an hour and a half consultation, includes 1/4 ounce vial of perfume.  Call (718)788-6480 or email at info@herbalalchemy.net to make arrangements.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Teeny Tiny Mention in Marie Claire Magazine

It's so tiny you could almost miss it.  In fact I did miss it!  A client was on their way over for a consultation and was reading Marie Claire on the train and noticed it.  I don't even know who to thank!  Whoever you are, Madame Editor, thank you for the sweet inclusion!

Consultations are $125 per hour and include a quarter ounce vial of perfume.  To find out more click here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Creating a Carnation Perfume

The sun hits the work in progress on Flora
Every once in a while I get a really enticing teaser.  "This is National Geographic, we'd like to interview you for a new show on scent" or "this is Time Out, we'd like to feature you".  Often these offers don't pan out and I've chosen to be flattered by the interest but not get too attached to the outcome.  The latest offer to dangle before me and never materialize is from the giant mass produced floral arrangement company, Teleflora.  They were sussing out some ideas for having a fragrance bar and new fragrance to celebrate their Mother's Day line of arrangements.

Once upon a time I used to be a floral designer.  I started in Boston and worked in two very sweet shops catering to a sophisticated clientele.  After I moved to New York I worked at a big shop on the Upper West Side before I ventured out into freelancing and working for party and event planners.  While in the shops I frequently would get Teleflora and FTD orders for arrangements that were not quite to my taste, and that of our patrons.  We designers would always do our best to fulfill the orders while raising the mark slightly.

Dianthus caryophyllus
When the call came I thought first that I couldn't associate myself with the floral industry giant but the more I thought about it the more inspired I became to create the most beautiful carnation perfume that I could.  Carnation is an underrated flower with an irresistible scent of vanilla and cloves that got a bad name from their association with just this kind of company.  I've decided to pair mitti, the Indian attar of distilled baked earth in sandalwood, with the carnation.  Agarwood co2, dark patchouli, vanilla and clove bud absolute have rounded things out and although the top notes have not been determined there is a very good chance for ho wood and wild lavender.  I've decided to call it Flora for the often overlooked and unfairly maligned carnation.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Home Studio Classes

It's official.  I've begun teaching small groups in my cozy and intimate home studio.  I've been wanting to teach here for many years and the surprise closing of 3rd Ward last month deemed it time to begin.  I taught a beginner's class a few weeks ago but this past Saturday I taught my Fougere Workshop, the one I've been talking about for months now.

It's no secret that I've been fascinated by fougere's and the delightful and enticing molecule, coumarin, for some time now.  I'm a natural born researcher so when I set out to make my first creation (which turned out to be Sol de la Foret) I had to do my homework first and read up on it.  I began to send for samples of some of the original fougere's, notably Fougere Royale by Houbigant and Jicky by Guerlain, and also from some of the natural perfume world's best perfumers who've made a perfume in this classification.  As I compiled information, both factually and sensorily, I realized that I had the makings of a great workshop devoted specifically to this genre.

After taking in the samples and getting an idea of the generalities of a fougere and the wide breadth of different varieties we explored the materials in a little more depth.  Tonka bean, hay absolute, sweet clover absolute, oak moss, cedar moss, ho wood and cassia as well as a selection of lavender essential oils, absolutes and concretes were introduced.  At this point the students set out to make their own quintessential fougere.  After a little gentle critiquing of their creations we went further and discussed the different classifications more in depth (amber, floral, fresh, leather, oriental and precious wood fougere's).  A few new materials were introduced such as davana, buddahwood, ambrette, choya nak, aglaia and magnolia and then the students set out to create their second perfume.

Tester strips of some of the perfumes we sampled

The class was such a success and the students so enthusiastic that I broached the subject of a salon series meeting semi-regularly to break down the fragrance classifications.  The group was so enamored of the choya nak (a destructive distillation of roasted seashells) that the conversation kept turning to leather notes.   They were excited about the notion of an exploration in leather perfumes so I can see I have my work cut out for me with my next research project.  My head is already spinning with images of 16th Century Parisian glove makers using gorgeous florals to cover up the smell of animal skin.  Smokey cade, birch, myrtle, styrax...  Expect a leather perfume to follow!


If you're interested in being part of the Salon please email me at info@herbalalchemy.net. Space is limited.