Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rose Volupte by Sonoma Scent Studio

I’m a recent convert to the cult of perfume. I’ve always really enjoyed perfume, though because of my mom’s allergies, we didn’t really have it in the house. I had drugstore ‘fumes that I wore as a teenager—Anais Anais, Sand and Sable, Vanderbilt, Vanilla Fields-- and I got a little more sophisticated in college, falling in love with Calvin Klein’s Escape and Giorgio Beverly Hills’ Ocean Dream.

But last February, just into my 39th year, I started a quest to find a grown up every day scent and ended up tumbling head over heels in love with perfume. It’s amazing stuff, really. It always fits. It smells slightly different on each person. Scent is closely tied to memory, so a whiff of Obsession drags me right back to the ‘80s and I just know that someone in my life when I was a child wore Arpege.

I’ve developed a real love of sampling and thanks to a thriving online perfume community, have discovered some really great small perfumers. One of my favorites is Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studio in Healdsberg—so local! Laurie was nice enough to send me a sample of her most recent release, Rose Volupte, even though it hadn’t even been filtered yet! So I wanted to post my impressions of this beautiful scent for internet to see. Rose Volupte will be available for purchase on the SSS website very soon, hopefully this weekend.

The website lists the notes as rose, plum, amber, labdanum absolute, sandalwood, cedar, vetiver, heliotrope, clove, cinnamon, oakmoss, subtle aldehydes. The parfum is well blended, enough so that my fairly uneducated nose can’t really pick out too many individual notes. The first 20 minutes or so are a big, fruity rose. Then the spice kicks in a bit—still really, really rosy, but with warmth infusing it. There’s a touch of dryness that I’ve come to associate with cedar, not really a smell so much as a texture. I’m about four hours in and it has dried down to a beeswaxy, ambery rose that’s stays really close to my skin.

I have really dry skin that pretty much sucks in perfume like a milkshake. I have yet to find even a parfum strength scent (which all of Laurie’s are) that has much sillage on me after about two hours, if I’m dabbing it on. Spraying usually lasts a bit longer and has more oomph. Rose Volupte is no exception to that. But I wear perfume for me and sometimes, for the people who I’m intimate enough with to hug, so that doesn’t really bother me, especially when the scent is as gorgeous as this one.

Rose Volupte is appropriately named. Everything about it what J and I call ‘bosom-y” when we’re talking about wine—round, soft, smooth, and full. It is intensely feminine and a little vintage feeling. It is the perfect perfume to go with a wine red velvet cocktail dress and Bordeaux colored lipstick. It’s classy and sexy and a little formal in a way that appeals to me like all the flirty “young” fragrances available right now don’t. It is black stockings with seams, heels, and set hair.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Turkish Trousers!

I'm putting together a sooper sekrit steampunk outfit for the Dickens Fair. Why is sooper sekrit? Because I'm vaguely embarrassed to be succumbing to the steampunk bandwagon. But I spend so much time and energy trying to improve the historicalness of the costuming at the renaissance faire where I'm the Costume Mistress that I'm just tired. Pretty much everything I do is historical. I don't really do fantasy. I just don't. But I don't work at the Dickens Faire, and while it can be fun to out-historical their costuming, I really just wanted to do something silly.

So steampunk it is. But really only kind of. Because I refuse to move away from my belief that costuming for these theatrical events should be character driven, even if I'm not working and even if the character is completely absurd. So this character comes out of colonialism, the burgeoning field of archeology, and the Victorian fascination with spiritualism. She's a medium and a treasure hunter--thoroughly English, very very silly, but remarkably matter of fact, obsessed with the latest technology. She'll have the nods to steampunk convention--leather corset, tiny top hat, etc. but she doesn't really fit into the normal steampunk character categories. Oh, and she wears Turkish trousers. Because they are awesome.

More to come.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Christmas Eve Mac and Cheese

I’m doing a blogging challenge—one post a week until Christmas. Maybe it’ll help me get in the posting habit so I don’t go 18 months between posts! Ha!

So I’m starting off easy with a food post. This is Christmas Eve Mac and Cheese, so called because it is a creamy baked mac and cheese based on traditional Welsh rarebit, perfect for Christmas Eve dinner with cider and ghost stories.


4 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus 2 Tbsp

1/2 medium yellow onion, minced (NOT sweet)

1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 cups milk heated (I used 1%, microwaved for 3 minutes)

3/4 cups dark English style beer (I used Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale; porter or stout would work well too)

2 tsp mustard powder (prepared yellow mustard will work too, but I like Colman’s mustard powder because it’s traditional in Welsh rarebit)

3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

8 oz. pasta (I like the curly kinds!)

3 slices of bread, crusts removed, cubed (I used cracked wheat sourdough. For a more traditional rarebit, a nice hearty rye would be awesome!)

Let’s Cook!

1. Preheat oven to 375 and put water on to boil for pasta

2. Melt 4 Tbsp of butter over medium heat in a large saucepan until foamy

3. Add minced onions to melted butter and cook over medium heat until translucent

4. Stir in flour with a whisk, stirring to keep it from getting lumpy. Cook roux for a few minutes, but don’t let it get brown

5. Add hot milk a little at a time, whisking continuously to make a smooth bechamel sauce

6. Add beer to the bechamel, whisking. It will look gross, like it’s curdling, but it’s not—just keep whisking! Then whisk in your mustard powder.

7. Cook sauce, whisking continuously, until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat.

8. Cook pasta according to package when your water is boiling. I undercook mine just a little to keep it firm after baking in the sauce

9. Melt 2 Tbsp of butter and toss it with your bread cubes

10. After letting your bechamel cool a few minutes to prevent graininess, add your cheese a little at a time, whisking until it’s melted each time. The sauce will get really thick.

11. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. This recipe fit perfectly in my 1.8 L casserole dish

12. Pour cooked pasta into casserole dish and pour bechamel over it. Fold together a couple of times to make sure all the pasta is covered in sauce.

13. Spread buttery bread cubes over the top, and bake for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbly.

14. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting. It will be hard!

This makes 6 good sized servings. Serve it with a green salad with vinaigrette!

Happy Christmas!