E-tailers I love – Moonalisa

Posted in etailers, holidays, perfume with tags , , on March 9, 2009 by penemuel

Moonalisa, a Supernatural Clean. This etailer is a wonderful woman who makes all of her own stuff and puts an amazing amount of love and care into everything she makes. She doesn’t stay open constantly — instead, she opens for short periods with a limited stock, then closes up and makes all of the orders and sends them out. After that, periodically throughout the year, she opens again.

Part of the reason that making everything and sending it out is a lengthy process is that she makes everything a completely beautiful artistic endeavour. Not only are the products amazingly high quality and the fragrances beautiful and complex, the packaging and presentation is first rate. Here are some pictures of my winter order placed on 1/1/09 and received on 3/4/09:

Lots of pictures below

More Nails of the Day

Posted in nail care with tags , , , , on September 27, 2008 by penemuel

I still desperately need to buy a new camera. This one has a terrible zoom (it was good when I bought it, but that was something like ten years ago!), and the battery tray catch has broken, so it is held together by a rubber band…

I also have no decent natural light, because I just don’t get out during the day. I am so nocturnal it’s not funny, and work from 9am to 6:30pm, so I spend most of my life in indoor lighting…

However, I’m still stupidly taking pictures of my nails, so, here are some of the recent ones:

First, Zoya Colbie. It’s a beautiful rich red shimmer, a much better colour than this picture shows. I don’t wear bright reds — this really is not a good example of the true colour:

Colbie

Next, Misa Fatal Affair. SO many other people have posted better pictures than I have, but I still figured I should post this. I put this colour on, and it refused to shimmer except under flash lighting. In all other lighting it was nearly a creme finish. So eventually I put a Nfu-oh opal colour over it, but I haven’t edited those pictures yet. Here’s the ONE picture I got that even remotely showed the beautiful colour of this polish’s shimmer:

Fatal Affair

Here’s Misa Forbidden Lust, one of the most gorgeous shimmery purples of the fall collections:

Forbidden Lust 1

Forbidden Lust 2

And last but not least, China Glaze Passion in the Pacific. I know Scrangie mentioned a while back that she was having trouble with her ChG polishes not drying — this was one that I had the same problem with. I put this on, and a full 24 hours later, it was STILL soft enough to dent. I ended up taking it off and putting on the Forbidden Lust mani above. BUT, it’s such a pretty colour…

Passion

That’s all for now — we have huge storms, and I still have to edit a bunch of other pictures before I can post them. If anyone out there is actually reading, *hugs!*

A little upset with Zoya shipping practices

Posted in griping, nail care with tags , on September 7, 2008 by penemuel

So. I got an e-mail from ArtOfBeauty.com (Zoya distributor) saying that there was a code for a free Zoya polish ($6 credit). I had wanted a few more colours and needed more Qtica cuticle balm, so I ordered the cuticle balm, Zoya Akyra, and Zoya Casey.

First, ArtOfBeauty.com only ships via UPS, so there’s a ridiculous cost there to begin with (plus I can’t have it shipped to my PO box which is the safe place for me to receive mail; instead I have to have it shipped to work because our hours keep us from being home to get UPS or FedEx packages). $6.95 shipping for the package, even if I’d only bought one polish.

However, the real problem comes from the fact that you can’t tell when you’re ordering if an item is out of stock, and unlike Amazon.com there’s no option to ask to have the shipment held until everything is available. Casey happened to be out of stock at the time, so my box with the cuticle balm and Akyra shipped by itself. $6.95 shipping, boom.

And then Casey, my free polish, shipped. For another $6.95.

I actually ended up spending $.95 more on the order than I would have if I’d got one shipment and paid for both polishes.

It’s not terrible, but it’s still a little aggravating — I’d rather know up front if something is out of stock (I’d pick something different, then), or would rather have the shipment held until the out of stock item is available, than pay overly expensive shipping, twice.

On the plus side, Akyra and Casey are beautiful colours, and Qtica cuticle balm is the best in the world.

Various Nails of the Day

Posted in nail care with tags , , , on August 25, 2008 by penemuel

So, I don’t have a good camera for close-ups (and have to use flash because of poor lighting), and because I’m a leftie and my camera’s button is on the right (most of these are flipped 180 degrees), I have trouble getting decent pictures, but here are some recent nails of the day (and my incredibly sloppy manicures — I’m working on it, but I still can’t keep from getting polish all over my fingers):

First (and possibly neatest), China Glaze Sexagon, from the Kaleidoscope collection. It’s so pretty, all holographic silver glittery goodness. It dries quickly and smoothly — no glittery lumps.

Sexagon

Second, Zoya Yasmeen (gorgeous purple with a shimmer that’s a little on the gold/peach side), and Zoya Rihana (lovely burgundy shimmer — it looks a little more magenta here. And that really is a terrible photo…):

Yasmeen

Rihana

And most recently, Misa A Sin Worth Committing — gorgeous dark blue with a shimmer that just explodes in bright light. It’s so pretty! This picture almost doesn’t suck…

ASWC

The Halloweenies are up!

Posted in BPAL, Halloween, holidays, perfume with tags , , , on August 15, 2008 by penemuel

Wow — BPAL did NOT disappoint — I don’t have time to write a huge post, but here are the scent descriptions for the new Halloween releases, available until November 15th:

++ HALLOWEENIE 2008

A BLADE OF GRASS
Said a blade of grass to an autumn leaf, “You make such a noise falling! You scatter all my winter dreams.”

Said the leaf indignant, “Low-born and low-dwelling! Songless, peevish thing! You live not in the upper air and you cannot tell the sound of singing.”

Then the autumn leaf lay down upon the earth and slept. And when spring came she waked again — and she was a blade of grass.

And when it was autumn and her winter sleep was upon her, and above her through all the air the leaves were falling, she muttered to herself, “O these autumn leaves! They make such a noise! They scatter all my winter dreams.”

Autumn leaves scattered among blades of grass.

AUTUMN COOLNESS
Heat lingers
As days are still long;
Early mornings are cool
While autumn is still young.
Dew on the lotus
Scatters pure perfume;
Wind on the bamboos
Gives off a gentle tinkling.
I am idle and lonely,
Lying down all day,
Sick and decayed;
No one asks for me;
Thin dusk before my gates,
Cassia blossoms inch deep.

The scent of wisteria, Cymbidium, lotus blossom, and cassia buds drifting on a breeze through gently swaying bamboo reeds.

JOHN BARLEYCORN
There was three men come out o’ the west their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn must die,
They plowed, they sowed, they harrowed him in, throwed clods upon his head,
And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn was dead.

Barley, beer, blood, and whiskey.

CHANT D’AUTOMNE
I
Bientôt nous plongerons dans les froides ténèbres;
Adieu, vive clarté de nos étés trop courts!
J’entends déjà tomber avec des chocs funèbres
Le bois retentissant sur le pavé des cours.

Tout l’hiver va rentrer dans mon être: colère,
Haine, frissons, horreur, labeur dur et forcé,
Et, comme le soleil dans son enfer polaire,
Mon coeur ne sera plus qu’un bloc rouge et glacé.

J’écoute en frémissant chaque bûche qui tombe
L’échafaud qu’on bâtit n’a pas d’écho plus sourd.
Mon esprit est pareil à la tour qui succombe
Sous les coups du bélier infatigable et lourd.

Il me semble, bercé par ce choc monotone,
Qu’on cloue en grande hâte un cercueil quelque part.
Pour qui? — C’était hier l’été; voici l’automne!
Ce bruit mystérieux sonne comme un départ.

II
J’aime de vos longs yeux la lumière verdâtre,
Douce beauté, mais tout aujourd’hui m’est amer,
Et rien, ni votre amour, ni le boudoir, ni l’âtre,
Ne me vaut le soleil rayonnant sur la mer.

Et pourtant aimez-moi, tendre coeur! soyez mère,
Même pour un ingrat, même pour un méchant;
Amante ou soeur, soyez la douceur éphémère
D’un glorieux automne ou d’un soleil couchant.

Courte tâche! La tombe attend; elle est avide!
Ah! laissez-moi, mon front posé sur vos genoux,
Goûter, en regrettant l’été blanc et torride,
De l’arrière-saison le rayon jaune et doux!

– – –

I
Soon we will sink in the frigid darkness
Good-bye, brightness of our too short summers!
I already hear the fall in distress
Of the wood falling in the paved courtyard.

Winter will invade my being: anger,
Hatred, chills, horror, hard and forced labor,
And, like the sun in its iced inferno,
My heart is but a red and frozen floe.

I hear with shudders each weak limb that falls.
The scaffold will have no louder echo.
My spirit is like a tower that yields
Under the tireless and heavy ram blow.

It seems, lulled by this monotonous sound,
Somewhere a coffin is hastily nailed,
For whom? Summer yesterday, autumn now!
This mysterious noise sounds like a farewell.

II
I love the greenish light of your long eyes,
Sweet beauty, but all is bitter today.
Nothing, not love, the boudoir or the hearth
Is dearer than the sunshine on the sea.

Still love me, tender heart! Be a mother
Even to the ingrate, to the wicked,
Lover, sister, ephemeral sweetness
Of fall’s glory or of the setting sun.

Short-lived task! The tomb awaits, merciless.
Ah! Let me, my head resting on your knees,
Savor, regretting the white hot summer,
The autumn’s last rays yellow and tender.

The scent of the year’s fall and the setting sun, ominous and foreboding: dried leaves, charred wood, blood musk, amber, khus, and Nicotiana tabacum.

DAY OF THE SKULLS
In Bolivia, many people hold to the tradition of keeping the skulls of their ancestors with them in their homes, caring for their remains. It is believed that each person has seven souls, and one of those souls stays with the skull after death, enabling a spirit to grant protection and prophetic dreams to their descendants, and to bless their families with good health and prosperity.

The Bolivian Fiesta de las Ñatitas, or Dia de los Ñatitas, is a day of honor for these ancestors. Their skulls are dressed with fragrant blossoms, and offerings of cocoa leaves, alcohol, and cigarettes are made.

White sandalwood, beeswax, and frankincense crowned by hydrangea, rose, and kantuta blossoms, dressed with tobacco, cocoa leaves and flowers from the sacred Cactus of the Four Winds.

GRAVEYARD DIRT 2008
A tribute to a somewhat nefarious and truly notorious ingredient in New Orleans spellcrafting. It is employed in hoodoo rootwork for various reasons, primarily in spells of protection, “tricking” your enemies, binding, and even love magick. The graves are chosen based on the type of working, and are determined by the type of spirit that lies there and the manner of their demise. Payment is always required in the form of offerings to the deceased. This is the scent of pure graveyard dust, spattered with grave loam and dusted lightly with tombstone moss.

HUESOS DE SANTO
On All Saints Day, Spanish families visit their loved ones in the cemeteries, keeping vigil throughout the evening, saying prayers for the dead. Family burial plots are cleaned and tended, and graves are adorned with gladiolas, chrysanthemums, and roses. Bone-shaped pastries called Saint’s Bones, or the Bones of the Holy, are baked and shared in honor of the souls in Purgatory, and to remind us of those who no longer share our repast, but with whom we one day hope to be reunited with again.

Orange-glazed cake, dotted with anise seed, and filled with custard, set beside a bouquet of celebratory funeral flowers.

MEDITATION IN AUTUMN
Withered vines, gnarled trees, twilight crows,
river flowing beneath the little bridge,
past someone’s home.
The wind blows from the west
where the sun sets, it blows
across the ancient road,
across the bony horse
across the despairing man
who stands at heaven’s edge.

A desolate scent, dusty, bleak, and withered: old wood, burnt brown sandalwood, and twisted vines.

MICTECACIHUATL
Known as the Mistress of Bones and the Lady of the Dead, she is the Queen of Mictlan, the Aztec Underworld, who still presides over today’s Day of the Dead rituals. Sometimes known now as La Huesuda, she brings peace and joy to the spirits of the deceased, and blesses the living who do honor to those who have passed before them.

Copal, precious woods, South American spices, agave nectar, cigar tobacco, and roses.

SAMHAIN 2008
Truly the scent of autumn itself — damp woods, fir needle, and black patchouli with the gentlest touches of warm pumpkin, clove, nutmeg, allspice, sweet red apple and mullein.

STICKY PILLOWCASE
Terminal sugar rush. A little goblin’s candy bag, upended.

Smushed candy corn, rock candy dust, marshmallow gunk, strawberry goo, spun blue sugar, globs of salt water taffy, and lint.

SUGAR SKULL 2008
Vibrant with the joy and sweetness of life in death! A blend of five sugars, lightly dusted with candied fruits.

TO AUTUMN
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, –
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breat whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Mist and mellow fruitfulness: mist-swirled, moss-covered bark and dry red leaves, apple pulp and knotty galangal, with poppy juice and nutmeat.

++ PUMPKIN PATCH

The ‘Patch is back, with five new pumpkin blends to choose from. Pick individual pumpkins from the field, or snatch up the whole bushel!

PUMPKIN I
Pumpkin with mango, persimmon, coconut, and myrrh.

PUMPKIN II
Pumpkin with black musk, leather accord, tonka, teak, orange wood, and opoponax.

PUMPKIN III
Pumpkin with pink grapefruit, lemon verbena, yuzu, lime, parsley, and mint.

PUMPKIN IV
Pumpkin with white sage, cherry tobacco, honey, smoky vanilla, cedar, and pine.

PUMPKIN V
Pumpkin with cranberry, strawberry, red musk, red rose, rosehip, frankincense, fig, jasmine, and carnation.

PUMPKIN PLUNDER
If you purchase Pumpkin Plunder, you will receive an imp of Needle in a Haystack: a scent created to compliment and complete the collection.

Needle in a Haystack
Hay absolute, sun-baked pumpkin rind, twisting vines, and the tiniest sparkle of gleaming metal.

Label artwork for the Halloweenies, Pumpkin Patch, and Hellhound [a limited edition that isn’t one of the Halloween scents and is only available until Aug. 18th] by our beloved Jennifer Williamson!

But wait! – there’s more!

This autumn, we are paying a visit to the quiet eastern shore of the Hudson River with a Limited Edition subseries inspired by the Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving:

++ SLEEPY HOLLOW
BROM BONES
Among these the most formidable was a burly, roaring, roystering blade, of the name of Abraham, or, according to the Dutch abbreviation, Brom Van Brunt, the hero of the country round, which rang with his feats of strength and hardihood. He was broad-shouldered and double-jointed, with short curly black hair, and a bluff, but not unpleasant countenance, having a mingled air of fun and arrogance. From his Herculean frame and great powers of limb, he had received the nickname of BROM BONES, by which he was universally known. He was famed for great knowledge and skill in horsemanship, being as dexterous on horseback as a Tartar.

He was foremost at all races and cock-fights; and, with the ascendancy which bodily strength acquires in rustic life, was the umpire in all disputes, setting his hat on one side, and giving his decisions with an air and tone admitting of no gainsay or appeal. He was always ready for either a fight or a frolic; but had more mischief than ill-will in his composition; and, with all his overbearing roughness, there was a strong dash of waggish good humor at bottom. He had three or four boon companions, who regarded him as their model, and at the head of whom he scoured the country, attending every scene of feud or merriment for miles round. In cold weather he was distinguished by a fur cap, surmounted with a flaunting fox’s tail; and when the folks at a country gathering descried this well-known crest at a distance, whisking about among a squad of hard riders, they always stood by for a squall. Sometimes his crew would be heard dashing along past the farmhouses at midnight, with whoop and halloo, like a troop of Don Cossacks; and the old dames, startled out of their sleep, would listen for a moment till the hurry-scurry had clattered by, and then exclaim, “Ay, there goes Brom Bones and his gang!” The neighbors looked upon him with a mixture of awe, admiration, and good will; and when any madcap prank, or rustic brawl, occurred in the vicinity, always shook their heads, and warranted Brom Bones was at the bottom of it.

The butchest, manliest of musks covered in well-worn leather.

THE CHURCHYARD
The sequestered situation of this church seems always to have made it a favorite haunt of troubled spirits. It stands on a knoll, surrounded by locust-trees and lofty elms, from among which its decent whitewashed walls shine modestly forth, like Christian purity beaming through the shades of retirement. A gentle slope descends from it to a silver sheet of water, bordered by high trees, between which, peeps may be caught at the blue hills of the Hudson. To look upon its grass-grown yard, where the sunbeams seem to sleep so quietly, one would think that there at least the dead might rest in peace. On one side of the church extends a wide woody dell, along which raves a large brook among broken rocks and trunks of fallen trees. Over a deep black part of the stream, not far from the church, was formerly thrown a wooden bridge; the road that led to it, and the bridge itself, were thickly shaded by overhanging trees, which cast a gloom about it, even in the daytime; but occasioned a fearful darkness at night. This was one of the favorite haunts of the headless horseman; and the place where he was most frequently encountered.

Overgrown dark green bullrush, midnight roses, dwarf St. John’s Wort, frankincense, blackberry leaf, and moss-covered, half-buried tree bark.

ICHABOD CRANE
The cognomen of Crane was not inapplicable to his person. He was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together. His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weather-cock, perched upon his spindle neck, to tell which way the wind blew. To see him striding along the profile of a hill on a windy day, with his clothes bagging and fluttering about him one might have mistaken him for the genius of famine descending upon the earth, or some scarecrow eloped from a cornfield.

. . .

From his half itinerant life, also, he was a kind of travelling gazette, carrying the whole budget of local gossip from house to house; so that his appearance was always greeted with satisfaction. He was, moreover, esteemed by the women as a man of great erudition, for he had read several books quite through, and was a perfect master of Cotton Mather’s history of New England Witchcraft, in which, by the way, he most firmly and potently believed.

He was, in fact, an odd mixture of small shrewdness and simple credulity. His appetite for the marvellous, and his powers of digesting it, were equally extraordinary; and both had been increased by his residence in this spellbound region. No tale was too gross or monstrous for his capacious swallow. It was often his delight, after his school was dismissed in the afternoon, to stretch himself on the rich bed of clover, bordering the little brook that whimpered by his school-house, and there con over old Mather’s direful tales, until the gathering dusk of the evening made the printed page a mere mist before his eyes. Then, as he wended his way, by swamp and stream and awful woodland, to the farmhouse where he happened to be quartered, every sound of nature, at that witching hour, fluttered his excited imagination: the moan of the whip-poor-will from the hill-side; the boding cry of the tree-toad, that harbinger of storm; the dreary hooting of the screech-owl, or the sudden rustling in the thicket of birds frightened from their roost. The fire-flies, too, which sparkled most vividly in the darkest places, now and then startled him, as one of uncommon brightness would stream across his path; and if, by chance, a huge blockhead of a beetle came winging his blundering flight against him, the poor varlet was ready to give up the ghost, with the idea that he was struck with a witch’s token. His only resource on such occasions, either to drown thought, or drive away evil spirits, was to sing psalm tunes;-and the good people of Sleepy Hollow, as they sat by their doors of an evening, were often filled with awe, at hearing his nasal melody, “in linked sweetness long drawn out,” floating from the distant hill, or along the dusky road.

Dusty black wool, tea with cream, black pepper, muguet, and beeswax candle drippings.

FEARFUL PLEASURE
Another of his sources of fearful pleasure was, to pass long winter evenings with the old Dutch wives, as they sat spinning by the fire, with a row of apples roasting and spluttering along the hearth, and listen to their marvellous tales of ghosts and goblins, and haunted fields, and haunted brooks, and haunted bridges, and haunted houses, and particularly of the headless horseman, or galloping Hessian of the Hollow, as they sometimes called him. He would delight them equally by his anecdotes of witchcraft, and of the direful omens and portentous sights and sounds in the air, which prevailed in the earlier times of Connecticut; and would frighten them woefully with speculations upon comets and shooting stars; and with the alarming fact that the world did absolutely turn round, and that they were half the time topsy-turvy!

Dried orange peels floating in simmering cider, roasted apples, smoldering firewood, chimney smoke, sassafras beer, warm hawthorn wood, and oakmoss.

THE GOBLIN RIDER
In the dark shadow of the grove, on the margin of the brook, he beheld something huge, misshapen, black and towering. It stirred not, but seemed gathered up in the gloom, like some gigantic monster ready to spring upon the traveller.

The hair of the affrighted pedagogue rose upon his head with terror. What was to be done? To turn and fly was now too late; and besides, what chance was there of escaping ghost or goblin, if such it was, which could ride upon the wings of the wind? Summoning up, therefore, a show of courage, he demanded in stammering accents-“Who are you?” He received no reply. He repeated his demand in a still more agitated voice. Still there was no answer. Once more he cudgelled the sides of the inflexible Gunpowder, and, shutting his eyes, broke forth with involuntary fervor into a psalm tune. Just then the shadowy object of alarm put itself in motion, and, with a scramble and a bound, stood at once in the middle of the road. Though the night was dark and dismal, yet the form of the unknown might now in some degree be ascertained. He appeared to be a horseman of large dimensions, and mounted on a black horse of powerful frame. He made no offer of molestation or sociability, but kept aloof on one side of the road, jogging along on the blind side of old Gunpowder, who had now got over his fright and waywardness.

Ichabod, who had no relish for this strange midnight companion, and bethought himself of the adventure of Brom Bones with the Galloping Hessian, now quickened his steed, in hopes of leaving him behind. The stranger, however, quickened his horse to an equal pace. Ichabod pulled up, and fell into a walk, thinking to lag behind-the other did the same. His heart began to sink within him; he endeavored to resume his psalm tune, but his parched tongue clove to the roof of his mouth, and he could not utter a stave. There was something in the moody and dogged silence of this pertinacious companion, that was mysterious and appalling. It was soon fearfully accounted for. On mounting a rising ground, which brought the figure of his fellow-traveller in relief against the sky, gigantic in height, and muffled in a cloak, Ichabod was horror-struck, on perceiving that he was headless!-but his horror was still more increased, on observing that the head, which should have rested on his shoulders, was carried before him on the pommel of the saddle; his terror rose to desperation; he rained a shower of kicks and blows upon Gunpowder; hoping, by a sudden movement, to give his companion the slip-but the spectre started full jump with him. Away then they dashed, through thick and thin; stones flying, and sparks flashing at every bound. Ichabod’s flimsy garments fluttered in the air, as he stretched his long lanky body away over his horse’s head, in the eagerness of his flight.

The scent of fear, and terrifying pursuit: wind-whipped, chilly night air, oppressive black pine, globs of dark opopponax, and bleak cedar, and distant, unreachable church incense.

GUNPOWDER
That he might make his appearance before his mistress in the true style of a cavalier, he borrowed a horse from the farmer with whom he was domiciliated, a choleric old Dutchman, of the name of Hans Van Ripper, and, thus gallantly mounted, issued forth, like a knight-errant in quest of adventures. But it is meet I should, in the true spirit of romantic story, give some account of the looks and equipments of my hero and his steed. The animal he bestrode was a broken-down plough-horse, that had outlived almost every thing but his viciousness. He was gaunt and shagged, with a ewe neck and a head like a hammer; his rusty mane and tail were tangled and knotted with burrs; one eye had lost its pupil, and was glaring and spectral; but the other had the gleam of a genuine devil in it. Still he must have had fire and mettle in his day, if we may judge from the name he bore of Gunpowder. He had, in fact, been a favorite steed of his master’s, the choleric Van Ripper, who was a furious rider, and had infused, very probably, some of his own spirit into the animal; for, old and broken-down as he looked, there was more of the lurking devil in him than in any young filly in the country.

Carrot peelings, hay, chaff, molasses, maple oats, red apples, stable wood, and musk.

THE HESSIAN OF THE HOLLOW
The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the revolutionary war; and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind. His haunts are not confined to the valley, but extend at times to the adjacent roads, and especially to the vicinity of a church at no great distance. Indeed, certain of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this spectre, allege that the body of the trooper, having been buried in the church-yard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head; and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being belated, and in a hurry to get back to the church-yard before daybreak.

Such is the general purport of this legendary superstition, which has furnished materials for many a wild story in that region of shadows; and the spectre is known, at all the country firesides, by the name of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

Grave moss and bone-white sandalwood, with vetiver, gunpowder, artillery shrapnel, and blood.

THE SCHOOL-HOUSE
His school-house was a low building of one large room, rudely constructed of logs; the windows partly glazed, and partly patched with leaves of old copy-books. It was most ingeniously secured at vacant hours, by a withe twisted in the handle of the door, and stakes set against the window shutters; so that, though a thief might get in with perfect ease, he would find some embarrassment in getting out; an idea most probably borrowed by the architect, Yost Van Houton, from the mystery of an eel-pot. The school-house stood in a rather lonely but pleasant situation just at the foot of a woody hill, with a brook running close by, and a formidable birch tree growing at one end of it. From hence the low murmur of his pupils’ voices, conning over their lessons, might be heard in a drowsy summer’s day, like the hum of a bee-hive; interrupted now and then by the authoritative voice of the master, in the tone of menace or command; or, peradventure, by the appalling sound of the birch, as he urged some tardy loiterer along the flowery path of knowledge.

Dandelion, white clover, balsam fir logs, and birchwood switches.

THE SHATTERED PUMPKIN
The next morning the old horse was found without his saddle, and with the bridle under his feet, soberly cropping the grass at his master’s gate. Ichabod did not make his appearance at breakfast-dinner-hour came, but no Ichabod. The boys assembled at the schoolhouse, and strolled idly about the banks of the brook; but no school-master. Hans Van Ripper now began to feel some uneasiness about the fate of poor Ichabod, and his saddle. An inquiry was set on foot, and after diligent investigation they came upon his traces. In one part of the road leading to the church was found the saddle trampled in the dirt; the tracks of horses’ hoofs deeply dented in the road, and evidently at furious speed, were traced to the bridge, beyond which, on the bank of a broad part of the brook, where the water ran deep and black, was found the hat of the unfortunate Ichabod, and close beside it a shattered pumpkin.

Soil-covered crushed pumpkin, water-weeds, saddle-leather, and pine pitch.

KATRINA VAN TASSEL
… and though he had seen many spectres in his time, and been more than once beset by Satan in divers shapes, in his lonely perambulations, yet daylight put an end to all these evils; and he would have passed a pleasant life of it, in despite of the devil and all his works, if his path had not been crossed by a being that causes more perplexity to mortal man than ghosts, goblins, and the whole race of witches put together, and that was-a woman.

Among the musical disciples who assembled, one evening in each week, to receive his instructions in psalmody, was Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter and only child of a substantial Dutch farmer. She was a blooming lass of fresh eighteen; plump as a partridge; ripe and melting and rosy cheeked as one of her father’s peaches, and universally famed, not merely for her beauty, but her vast expectations. She was withal a little of a coquette, as might be perceived even in her dress, which was a mixture of ancient and modern fashions, as most suited to set off her charms. She wore the ornaments of pure yellow gold, which her great-great-grandmother had brought over from Saardam, the tempting stomacher of the olden time; and withal a provokingly short petticoat, to display the prettiest foot and ankle in the country round.

White rose and honeyed cream.

WILEY’S SWAMP
A few rough logs, laid side by side, served for a bridge over this stream. On that side of the road where the brook entered the wood, a group of oaks and chestnuts, matted thick with wild grapevines, threw a cavernous gloom over it. To pass this bridge was the severest trial. It was at this identical spot that the unfortunate André was captured, and under the covert of those chestnuts and vines were the sturdy yeomen concealed who surprised him. This has ever since been considered a haunted stream, and fearful are the feelings of the schoolboy who has to pass it alone after dark.

Water-logged and rotting wood, fallen chestnuts, oak leaf, bog laurel, and Virginia creeper.

THE WITCHING TIME OF NIGHT
It was the very witching time of night that Ichabod, heavy-hearted and crest-fallen, pursued his travel homewards, along the sides of the lofty hills which rise above Tarry Town, and which he had traversed so cheerily in the afternoon. The hour was dismal as himself. Far below him, the Tappan Zee spread its dusky and indistinct waste of waters, with here and there the tall mast of a sloop, riding quietly at anchor under the land. In the dead hush of midnight, he could even hear the barking of the watch dog from the opposite shore of the Hudson; but it was so vague and faint as only to give an idea of his distance from this faithful companion of man. Now and then, too, the long-drawn crowing of a cock, accidentally awakened, would sound far, far off from some farmhouse away among the hills-but it was like a dreaming sound in his ear. No signs of life occurred near him, but occasionally the melancholy chirp of a cricket, or perhaps the guttural twang of a bull-frog, from a neighboring marsh, as if sleeping uncomfortably, and turning suddenly in his bed.

Moonflower, night-blooming cereus, white hellebore, English ivy, monkshood, angel’s trumpet, oleander, and eastern hemlock.

Artwork for the Sleepy Hollow series created by the newest member of the Black Phoenix family, Jennifer Rodgers!

The Sleepy Hollow, Pumpkin Patch, and Halloweenies are $17.50 each, and Pumpkin Plunder is available for $85. Sleepy Hollow, the Pumpkin Patch, and the Halloweenies will be available until November 15, 2008.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Posted in BPAL, Halloween, holidays, perfume with tags , , , on August 9, 2008 by penemuel

E-tailers are starting to put out their Halloween collections, and my favourite e-tailer of all, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, is going to put their Halloween scents up this month (quite possibly on the 16th when they do their monthly ‘Lunacy’ update to coincide with the full moon).

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (BPAL) is a perfumerie that produces an eclectic assortment of perfume oils (and their sister site, Black Phoenix Trading Post or BPTP, makes a number of other products (clothes, bath products, jewelery, etc.) to complement them) based on myths, legends, gods, goddesses, demons, poisonous and/or magical plants, artwork, works by authors such as Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, etc. etc. etc.

Their site may be a little overwhelming for the newbie, but you can search for notes you know you like (i.e. musk, violet, myrrh, etc.) and it will bring up a list of the blends that contain that note. You can also subscribe to the BPAL.org forum and read reviews of each oil (and in the sales area might even be able to find sample vials (“Imps”) at a reduced price).

The Lab is VERY generous and has fantastic customer service — they send out free sample Imps with every order, so many BPAL customers have a large number of imps to trade or sell for lower prices. (Free imps are referred to as “Frimps” and “frimping” is giving out frimps with a sale or trade.)

They do a number of Limited Editions — every month there is the “Lunacy” which is an oil blended to go with one of the names for the full moon of the next month (they are available the month before so that people will usually have the oil by the time of that full moon). One year (before I got into BPAL) there was a year full of Asian themed Lunacies, so there were things such as Chrysanthemum Moon, Dragon Moon (an Eastern dragon) and Hungry Ghost Moon. This year we’ve had things like Mead Moon, Hay Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Dragon Moon (a Western dragon), etc. The Trading Post always has a matching T-shirt to go with the Lunacy, and both oil and shirt are available for a short window of time (usually about 4 – 5 days) around the date of the full moon. (For example, Sturgeon Moon was released July 16th and went down on July 20th. The next Lunacy should be available towards the end of next week — we don’t know what it is yet, but some possibilities are Harvest Moon, Nut Moon, Mulberry Moon, Moon When the Calves Grow Hair, Singing Moon (although we had one last year, so that’s less likely), Barley Moon (also less likely since we just had Mead Moon), or Fruit Moon!)

They also do a number of long-term Limited Editions — the biggest one of these right now is the Carnaval Diabolique, which is a wonderful themed collection of scents based on a demonic carnival and side shows. It’s supposed to be 7 acts in total — we just got Act IV and Act V on May 18th. Act IV is The Interlude, and also contains the Ladies of the Grindhouse (demonic whores!). Act V is the Wunderkammer and contains all kinds of strange curios and artifacts. The Carnaval was originally supposed to be discontinued in September, but due to a number of reasons it has been delayed for a bit. We suspect it will be available at least to some time in October, and we’re hoping longer than that.

The other long-term Limited Editions are the big holidays: Lupercalia (Valentine’s Day time-frame), Halloween, and Yule (Christmas time-frame). These are usually available for a couple of months, giving people time to set up decant circles, sample all of the scents, and decide what bottles they want to buy (Limited Editions are not sold as Imps by the Lab, so the only way to get a sample of a LE scent is either buy the bottle unsniffed, or join a decant circle. There are many of these on the forum, and you can also find some on LiveJournal. Every time a new limited edition scent or group of scents goes up, they pop up like mushrooms 🙂

So. Back to our subject — Halloween is coming! Last year, the “‘weenies” went up on August 26th and were available through November 15th (wow — didn’t realize it was that long!). They have some scents that come back each year (usually with small tweaks to the formulas to keep them from being exactly alike), and some scents that are one-time-only ones. The Pumpkin Patch was available in 2006 and 2007, but the scents in it were different. The Haunted House set was new with 2007. This year, we don’t know what might be coming — it’s all very exciting!

Here are the descriptions of the scents from last year — there’s a good variety of types of scents to make just about everyone happy:

++ HALLOWEEN BLENDS

ALL SOULS 2007
A day of remembrance and intercession. Without the prayers and sacrifices of their families and loved ones, the faithful departed may not be cleansed of their venal sins, and thereby cannot attain beatific vision. On November 2nd, prayers are sung and offerings are made to aid lost souls in transcending purgatory. An incense blend that invokes the higher qualities of mercy and compassion, mingled with the soft, sugared currant scent of offertory soul cakes.

BONFIRE NIGHT
Guy Fawkes, Guy;
Stick him up on high!
Hang him on a lamp post
And there let him die!
Guy, Guy, Guy!
Poke Him in the eye!
Put him on the fire,
And there let him die!
Burn his body from his head:
Then you’ll say
Guy Fawkes is dead!
Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Beer, woodsmoke, tar, and treacle.

THE DEATH OF AUTUMN
When reeds are dead and a straw to thatch the marshes,
And feathered pampas-grass rides into the wind
Like aged warriors westward, tragic, thinned
Of half their tribe, and over the flattened rushes,
Stripped of its secret, open, stark and bleak,
Blackens afar the half-forgotten creek, —
Then leans on me the weight of the year, and crushes
My heart. I know that Beauty must ail and die,
And will be born again, — but ah, to see
Beauty stiffened, staring up at the sky!
Oh, Autumn! Autumn! — What is the Spring to me?

Dark amber, dead leaves, khus, saffron, bitter clove, chrysanthemum, camellia, galangal, and a drop of oud.

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS 2007
A joyous celebration of La Catarina, La Flaca, La Muerte… Glorious, Beautiful Death. In Mexico, death is not something to be feared or hated; She is embraced, loved, and adored. La Muerte is fêted, as the celebrant “…chases after it, mocks it, courts it, hugs it, sleeps with it; it is his favorite plaything and his most lasting love.” This is a Mexican paean to La Huesuda: dry, crackling leaves, the incense smoke of altars honoring Death and the Dead, funeral bouquets, the candies, chocolates, foods and tobacco of the ofrenda, amaranth, sweet cactus blossom and desert cereus.

OCTOBER
AY, thou art welcome, heaven’s delicious breath!
When woods begin to wear the crimson leaf,
And suns grow meek, and the meek suns grow brief
And the year smiles as it draws near its death.
Wind of the sunny south! oh, still delay
In the gay woods and in the golden air,
Like to a good old age released from care,
Journeying, in long serenity, away.
In such a bright, late quiet, would that I
Might wear out life like thee, ‘mid bowers and brooks
And dearer yet, the sunshine of kind looks,
And music of kind voices ever nigh;
And when my last sand twinkled in the glass,
Pass silently from men, as thou dost pass.

Dry, cold autumn wind. A rustle of red leaves, a touch of smoke and sap in the air.

SAMHAIN 2007
Truly the scent of autumn itself — damp woods, fir needle, and black patchouli with the gentlest touches of warm pumpkin, clove, nutmeg, allspice, sweet red apple and mullein.

SAMHAINOPHOBIA 2007
The fear of Halloween. Menacing Haitian vetiver, patchouli, and clove with a shock of bourbon geranium, grim oakmoss, and dread-inspiring balsams pierce the innocuous scent of autumn leaves.

++ HALLOWEEN: the HAUNTED HOUSE
We’re going back to our campy, spooky roots with the Haunted House Collection! Seven Guignolesque, chilling atmospheric blends are being offered for your pleasure and amusement.

THE ATROCIOUS ATTIC
A shadowy shrine filled with forgotten toys, broken dolls. The altar: a collapsing trunk distended by a rotted wedding gown. The air of the room is dusty, laced with the scent of a child’s perfume and the remnants of a dried, crumbling bridal bouquet: tea rose, violet, white sandalwood, French lavender, and Calla lily.

THE CHILLING CELLAR
Wine just turning to vinegar, crumbling mortar, red clay, and the coppery tang of old blood.

THE FORBIDDING FOYER
Thick shadows hang heavy across fungus-smeared, dilapidated wainscoting, cobwebs hang like fine lace across sagging mouldings, rats scuttle past gaping doorways. The faint scent of brimstone, ghostly breath laced with cognac, neglected mahogany panels, and rot.

THE GHASTLY GARDEN
Overgrown oleander, marshy water hemlock, the sugared nectar of carnivorous blooms, putrefying wet greenery, oozing sap, crushed rosary peas, withered climbing roses, and nightshade berries.

THE LURID LIBRARY
The incense-tinged scent of forbidden tomes and the musk-laden remnants of infernal servants.

THE PERILOUS PARLOR
A memory of pleasure passed. A ghostly rendezvous, delight beyond death. Faint echoes of laughter and the distorted music of a harp drift by, along with the scent of soft white pear and sweet vanilla.

THE TWISTED OAK TREE
Blackened, rotted oak wood blanketed in moss and choked by a cloak of grasping ivy.

++ HALLOWEEN: the PUMPKIN PATCH
The ‘Patch is back, with five new pumpkin blends to choose from. Pick individual pumpkins from the field, or snatch up the whole bushel!

PUMPKIN I
Pumpkin with pear, white wine grapes, and jasmine-laced tea.

PUMPKIN II
Pumpkin with tobacco, champaca flower, carnation, and tonka.

PUMPKIN III
Pumpkin with white chocolate, caramel, pomegranate, and cream.

PUMPKIN IV
Pumpkin with cactus blossom, sage, and sweetgrass.

PUMPKIN V
Pumpkin with benzoin, bourbon vanilla, lemon peel, neroli, blood orange, and red ginger.

PUMPKIN PLUNDER
If you purchase Pumpkin Plunder, you will receive an imp of a Murder of Crows: a scent created to compliment and complete the collection. What is a pumpkin field without crows?

A Murder of Crows
Sleek iris and verbena, grey amber, benzoin, davana, and glossy herbs.

As you can see, very varied, very eclectic, and very creative!

I love Halloween!

Rehabilitating Bad Cuticles

Posted in nail care with tags on August 5, 2008 by penemuel

So. I’m a very lazy person when it comes to beauty — I don’t wear makeup (first, my skin is too picky for it, and second, it’s just too much trouble), and only recently got back into wearing nail polish. My cuticles are terrible. They have been neglected and abused and have been trying to swallow my poor nails whole. They tend to be hard and crunchy and just all around NASTY. (No infections, though, just bad skin!)

After paying good money for China Glaze and OPI nail polish, though, they’d look pretty stupid on my nails with the terrible cuticles, so it was time to dig in and DO something about them.

I couldn’t have done any of it without the assistance of some of the great nail polish blogs out there — some of them have the most amazing helpful hints!

Here are some of the steps I’ve been taking, and I’m already seeing improvements after two weeks:

1. Sally Hansen Cuticle Remover — this stuff is brilliant! Use it once a week to remove the dead cuticle, hangnails, and those stupid raggedy bits we all end up with after all the things we put our hands through. It says to leave it on for only 15 seconds, but you will probably need a bit more time unless your skin is sensitive. It does actually dissolve a layer or two of skin, and will also dissolve a layer or two of your nails, so following masa_inn’s advice, I’m now only using it when I’m actually wearing polish. It’s also great for calluses — I have a terrible one on my left middle finger from writing, and this has been getting rid of some of the worst of it.

Other than leaving it on for a little longer than the advertised time, follow the directions on the bottle. I like the wooden cuticle pushers — can’t stand the feel of metal on that part of my fingers — but your mileage may vary. And be sure to wash it off when you’re done!

2. Cuticle oil, balm, cream, etc. etc. — there are a lot of different ones, but whatever one you use, put it on whenever you’re able to. I’ve followed a lot of peoples’ advice and have some at work, some at home near my chair, some in the bathroom, and I’d put some in the kitchen except that as soon as I leave the kitchen I’m in the living room near my chair, so I just put some on then. There is no such thing as too much cuticle oil/balm/cream/whatever.

Some of the ones I’m using right now:

LUSH Lemony Flutter — it’s a bit pricey, but a little goes a long way. It’s a delicious lemon scent, and also works on dry heels and elbows. It’s also cruelty-free and the company has some really good environmental ethics. (Most of their products are also vegan, but Lemony Flutter is not because it has Lanolin and Beeswax in it.)

Qtica Intense Cuticle Repair Balm — also a bit pricey, and a tiny jar, but you use so little on each application it will last a long time. It’s a bit sticky — a very heavy cream — but put a tiny bit on each cuticle and then massage in, and it makes them feel AMAZING. It actually sinks in pretty well (use a tiny, TINY bit!), and if you end up with too much left over, just rub it into dry areas on your hands — you’ll be glad you did.

Creative Solar Oil — this is a very light mixture of oils that can be brushed directly on the nail/cuticle and then massaged in. It sinks in like magic, with no stickiness at all. It also comes in lots of different sizes and isn’t expensive at all. I got three of the tiny bottles for ‘stashing everywhere I go’ use.

Creative Solar Balm — a paste/balm/cream version of the Solar Oil — great for travel (it’s a solid, so you don’t have to worry about leaks), but definitely use only a tiny amount. It’s a little bit greasier than the liquid oil — I got too much this morning in the car and ended up having to rub it all over my hands and elbows too.

OPI Avoplex Cuticle Treatment — I use the ‘Cuticle Oil To Go’ right now. It’s somewhere between an oil and a cream — kind of a gel — with a brush to apply it directly to your cuticles. I also brush a little bit under my nails to hopefully soften the skin that gets so hard there. It smells really good to me, too.

I want to try the Avoplex Exfoliating Cuticle Treatment, too, but for now I’m in the middle of the heavy-duty rehabilitating process instead of just maintenance. I’ll probably try that once I get things a little more under control. One of the things that does the best though, is persistence. I have to keep at it instead of getting lazy again.