Let's Get This Party Started - The Yule Blog
Topic: Book Buzz
Yes folks it's that time of year once again. The ever fun non-stop party starting Thanksgiving and rolling right along through New Years (as the good old USPS seems to think it’s just fine to keep delivering packages and cards during this time). So in celebration of this wonderful time of year we have the cheeky little concept of the "Yule Blog" to add a bit of spirited fun to http://www.anakee.com/ .
Coming up you're going to find a number of postings on great gift ideas, entertaining, book reviews and powder (as in snow) requests. Then it's off to, "that's all folks" land until next year.
First I'd like to serve up some reviews and ideas on a popular topic this time of year... perfume. Not only do they make lovely gifts (if chosen with the utmost of care) but they also can create valuable new sensations. Some scientists have suggested scents, both good and bad, can create new pathways in the brain causing people to potentially become more alert and even smarter with aided memory ability. The key is to try and smell something new everyday.
Other studies have suggested smelling fresh flowers helps lower blood pressure and creates a sense of calm. Essential oils can also do the trick especially when fresh flowers might not be easy to come by.
So what about those bottled up scents? We all know how pricey they can be so how about making one or two yourself? Is that even possible without some crazy science lab like setup? Of course it is. The main problem can be obtaining the alcohol needed which, going through the USPS, can be potentially explosive. Many places now require you to have some sort of permit. Due to this there has been a rise in polymer based carriers such as those commonly used in those "dry oil" skin care products. The Dimethylamine related sorts which I tend to try and stay away from. If it isn’t good on hair why should it be on skin? I much rather use pure and natural carrier oils. So how about a nice solid perfume instead? Yes, that's the ticket. These hard perfumes in pretty cases are making a real return to the market and for good reason. Who really wants to chance their cell phone to the possibility of a leaking purse atomizer? Not good. So this makes a book I reviewed a good while ago even more pertinent today... one of my all time favorite books, it's title just happens to be a play on one of my favorite novels: "Scents & Sensibilities: Creating Solid Perfumes for Well - Being" by Mandy Aftel / Gibbs Smith.
Walking around a used books store, I couldn't help but notice all of the gift books for sale. The tiny books with colorful covers that always seem to be pristine. It made me wonder how many of these books are ever really read or appreciated? I've come across a book that might finally break the mold. The title, "Scents & Sensibilities: Creating Solid Perfumes for Well Being" by Mandy Aftel (Gibbs Smith Publisher: $12.95), really says it all.
Like many other gift books it is small (about 5 x 6), has a thick hardcover and is filled with glossy pages. It also has lavish full color photographs that actually add to the book instead of distract or provide useless filler. The cover is bright with stylistic flowers and there are hints of metallic gold. For its size it feels heavy and just a bit decadent. All good things!
Where many gift books fall short is in the "meat" department. Meat meaning good content. Often times the content, especially if Aromatherapy related, is stale, dry and nothing special in gift books. When you go to actually read one it becomes apparent why no one keeps them. In this book however Mandy Aftel has taken the time to write a book really worth giving.
Anyone who is interested in perfume blending or Aromatherapy will treasure and greatly enjoy using this little tome. Mandy starts out by giving a nice, illustrated history of solid perfume making and use. She then goes on to run through a list of ingredients (including essential oils) and materials needed to make your own. While brief, you will get the idea and the illustrations convey Ms. Aftel's precision in blending perfumes, one drop at a time. Top, middle and base note structures are mentioned along with a list of aromatics, some of which include Frankincense, Lavender, Nutmeg and Oakmoss. The photos also give great inspiration. In one, old watch cases are shown to hold your latest aromatic creation.
There are only but a few recipes included in the book but they are fantastic when made. It is refreshing how , "Scents & Sensibilities" encourages the reader to create their own scents and trust me once you create one. You'll find yourself wishing to create many more. This may very well be one gift book you should also give yourself.
Yes the Aftel of Aftelier so instead of the above you can always spring over to her place and pick up one of those dainty bottles of amber luxury and swoon. But what if you can't spring for Afterlier, i Profumi, kai, you know the good stuff I just can't seem to get enough of. Well the so called good stuff doesn’t always have to be so called high end. There are actually some real gems out there with cult followings and cheap price tags. Most, on closer inspection are made in France and some by very old houses. They, the French, just seem to know how to make it best with quality ingredients and time tested distillation / blending practices. Drum roll please:
- Crazylibellule & The Poppies - Les Divines Alcove Collection (my favorite being "Amoureuse" which blends rose and pepper). These cute little solid perfumes come in delicate paper lip balm like tubes. Perfect as a pick-me-up and at $18.00 a real steal. Snatch them up on Amazon.
- Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy Line in "Sensuality" Black Currant & Vanilla. B&BW claims they use real essential oils in this line and I have to admit they smell different compared to their other house products--they actually smell real and decadent. This one in particular is gorgeous and has a real cult following I hear. And with good reason as it contains some real aphrodisiacal scents hidden beneath the layers. For some reason they never made a perfume spray out of this one (curse you B&BW!) but they did create a very suitable cream. Slather it on and be merry (or married, watch out with this one! It has attractive as well as addictive side effects).
- L'Aromarine Paris, Vanille is divine or try the Florale scent, both unassumingly pleasing and again with a secret cult following, yes for good reason. You can find it for around $18.00 on Amazon.
Amazon.com actually has a number of obscure products and it can be worth the gamble to find something almost, "all yours" if it turns out to be delicious. You never know unless you try.
Next up we'll have some tasty reviews (Aftel makes a return visit) that combine scent with incredible flavor for a new take on the holiday spread and entertaining that gives a real push to the envelope.
Book review published at Suite101.com 2005.