Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ask the Expert - Creating Natural Perfume

Amanda Feeley of Esscentual Alchemy
Please welcome Amanda Feeley of Escentual Alchemy as our Day 3 Expert.  Amanda has been into natural scents her whole life, having grown up on an Iowa farm.  She left the farm, to attend college, at Simpson College, in Indianola, majoring in music.  After that, she used her musical training to have some fun as a stay at home mom, to four wonderful children.  In December of 2010, she discovered natural perfumery.  The rest, as they say, is scented history.

A Brief Tutorial on the Art of Creating a Natural Perfume

 I hope you find this short tutorial interesting and informative!  Natural Perfume is a fascinating and amazing subject.  One of the best parts about natural perfume as a hobby, is that you always smell divine!  Without further ado, let's begin.

The word perfume, comes from the Latin 'per fumum' meaning ‘through smoke.’ Ancient civilizations utilized aromatic substances in religious ceremonies.  The art of making perfumes, began in ancient Mesopotamia, and Egypt.   It was expanded upon by the Greeks and Romans.  The French further refined the art form.  Perfumes have been in use as far back as 7000BC.

Perfume is composed much like music, and is often described in terms of musical adjectives.  Each one is composed of chords, which are made up of notes.  There are three types of notes: Head, Heart, and Base. 

Head notes are perceived a few seconds after initial application of perfume.  Head notes are also called top notes.  Head notes create the scents that forms a person’s initial impression.
Heart notes are the essential character of the composition.  Heart notes, or Middle notes, form the main  scent theme, and act as a transition from the top notes.
Base notes bring depth and solidness. Base notes are the foundation, and give structure.  These fixatives are used to support the top and heart notes.

Previous to the mid 19th-century, natural essential oils, absolutes/concretes, enfleurage, and tinctures were the only implements of the perfumer’s art. Today the perfume industry relies mainly on synthetic/petro-chemicals; natural essential oils and absolutes are used only in minute quantities.

For example:  Roses have over 200-300 scent molecules that make up what you smell when you sniff the flower.  Large perfume companies, take a few molecules and synthesize them in the lab, and declare it is “ROSE!”  This makes for an extremely narrow, horizontal smell.  Natural essential oils or absolutes provide a vertical and broad olfactory experience. 

Natural Perfumes also have an aromatheraputic quality to them, because of the high concentration of essential oils. In addition to being chemical/synthetic free, they also work on an emotional level when you apply them.


·         5ml amber bottle
·         essential oils
·         carrier oil
·         disposable pipettes
·         fragrance tester strips
·         paper towels
·         notebook to write down your formula, and notes about your chords

Each perfume composition, is built upon three chords.  This is also called a formula.  The formula is the math of the composition.  Each chord in a formula contains a dominant note, and supporting notes.  The dominant note will make up around half of the chord, and the supporting notes make up the rest of the chord.  Each formula has two components:  the perfume concentrate, and the carrier oil.  For this tutorial, I have created a ratio as follows:  1 part head chord, 1 part heart chord, 2 parts base chord, and 1 part carrier oil.

It's extremely important to keep track of which pipette you use for each oil, because you cannot use them for more than one oil.  Using pipettes across more than one oil, will result in contamination of both the oil, and your perfume.  Some pipettes are marked for volume, and some aren't.  When starting out, it's easiest to transfer oils by drops.   In this tutorial, one part is equal to 40 drops.  To transfer oils, suction the oil from each vial by squeezing the bulb.  Measure by drops into your perfume bottle, and return the remainder, if need be, to your main vial.  Set aside on a paper towel.  It's sometimes helpful to write on the paper towel which pipette you used where.

An example composition, might look like this:

Head Chord                                                                1 PART
Lavender                                                                     10 drops
Rosewood                                                                   10 drops
Blood Orange                                                             20 drops
                                                                        Total:  40 drops

Heart Chord                                                               1 PART
*Rooibus                                                                     10 drops
Jasmine                                                                        20 drops
Rose                                                                            10 drops
                                                                        Total:  40 drops

Base Chord                                                                 2 PART
Benzoin                                                                       20 drops
**Hyrax                                                                      40 drops
Frankincense                                                               20 drops
                                                                        Total:  80 drops

Carrier                                                                        1 PART
Jojoba Oil                                                                    40 drops

*Rooibus is an absolute that comes from an African bush.  It is a sweet and berry/fruity note.
**Hyrax is a substance used to obtain a musk scent, without harming any animals.

To create a perfume formula, you should test the chords before mixing your oils together.  Open the vials you have chosen for each chord: head, heart, and base.  Drop a single drop onto a tester strip.  Paper tester strips are helpful for figuring out the dominant note for each chord.  Once you have figured out the dominant note for the chords, then you can finish your chord.

Begin blending your composition, by transferring the base chord into the perfume container.  Repeat this process for the heart chord, and head chord.  Your composition will change as you blend the chords together.  This is one of my favorite parts of the process!  Write down your notes, and amount of each oil, for each chord.  Don't depend on your memory, as this can cause sadness when you realize you forgot something!

After you have finished blending your chords, and final composition, add the jojoba oil carrier to your perfume, just like you did for the chords.  Transfer with a pipette to your perfume bottle.  This is called is dilution.  Essential oils must never be worn undiluted, as they can cause skin sensitivity.  It's time to seal up your bottle, and put your perfume in a cool, dark place.  The next step is to age your perfume.  This is the hard part!  Your perfume should age for 1 week, at the bare minimum.  One MONTH is recommended.  Depending on how complex a natural perfume is, it can take many months for the aging process to finish.  Do what you can to forget the magic happening in your bottle!  It takes time to create beautiful wines, and creating a beautiful perfume is much the same process!   

After your month is up, apply your perfume anywhere you would like to be kissed, as Coco Chanel once said...

I wish you many beautiful and scented journeys!

Please take a moment and visit Amanda's shop, Facebook Page and Follow her on Twitter

Thanks so much Amanda for providing this fantastic tutorial on perfume making.  If anyone is interested in trying this and needs more information, please comment below.  Amanda has a comprehensive list of suppliers for high quality essential oils, bottles, pipettes and vials. And I know she would love to answer any questions you may have!



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Twenty Best 20 - Toddler Backpack

20 Best Twenty
Christine & Company is happy to announce that the 
has been featured on 20 Best Twenty!

   "20 Best Twenty reveals the best designs, premier pieces, and unique products from independent makers across the globe. Our goal is simple – to feature the undiscovered items that are often lost in an age of chain retailers and commercial advertising. We celebrate inspired design, 
and unite original ideas with discerning consumers."

Toddler Backpack in Amy Butler's Morning Glory

I am so proud to have been chosen among the submissions that were received for a feature in the "Lil Ones" section of 20 Best Twenty.  There are some amazing designers there...check out some of this great stuff!

Scarlet Scarf - DBK Design Arts
Orange Blossom Soap - Starlet Glam

Smooch Card - Crafted by Lindy

Heart Bangle - The 7th Crow

There's just not enough room here to show you everything I love over at 20 Best Twenty, so go check it out for  yourself!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ask the Expert - Party Planning with Sweet Stella's

Please welcome Shannon Moyer-Szemenyei, Owner and Designer of Sweet Stella's for Day 2 of the Ask the Expert Series.    She is going to give us some great ideas for a party for a small child.

Dumptruck Themed Party

When Christine and I started chatting about her new Ask an Expert, I got really excited because it meant that I got to talk about my favourite thing…party planning!
Even before I became a mom, you could find me helping my friends plan their children’s parties and dreaming about my future childs’ momentous first birthday party. When it came time to throw it, I was able to set months and months of planning into action.

First and foremost, get a theme, and by that I mean an inspiration for the party. It can be…a colour, favourite toy, game, shape, cartoon character, or even just a feeling.  Once you’ve nailed it down to what you want your party to be inspired by, the rest should come pretty easily. For our purposes here, let’s take a dump truck and build a party around that.

Every party needs a food table, and what better use of a dump truck than to use them on your food table? Go to your local hardware or lumber store and get a 2x4 cut into a variety of sizes. Use these as risers on your table, and place two dump trucks on the planks. Fill the dump trucks with…salad…buns…burgers…really anything can go into a dump truck! Thank goodness for a party without rules!

Once you have the main course figured out, think toward dessert. If you want to forgo the fancy cake, consider baking one yourself, and making a wee bit of a mess with it. Fill up the dump truck with the cake, and drizzle over the icing, then sprinkle with cookie crumbs! Guests can take a scoop, and enjoy something a little less traditional, but something that fits so completely with the theme.
Another dessert option would be to take mini dump trucks that you can find at tour local party supply store in the favour section, and fill them with chocolate pudding. Place them out with toppings like cookie crumbs, sprinkles, chocolate candies and nuts (if there are no allergy concerns, of course!). For the spoons, get mini shovels! 

Incorporating elements of your inspiration into every party aspect is important, but it’s also important to not overdo it. You don’t need to have an actual dump truck on everything, but having cute little elements like the mini dump truck pudding desserts, using plastic shovels to serve the food, table linens in colours that match with the dump trucks that you choose…it all goes a very long way and you will notice a difference in the overall feeling of the party.

As a special treat to you party planning parents out there, I’m offering 20% off all custom party orders (as well as instock items in my Etsy shop) to Christine’s readers. Just use coupon code PARTY20 at checkout!

Please take a moment and visit Shannon here:


Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Touch of the Master's Hand

This has been a week I'll always remember. On Monday, I turned 37. On Monday, my grandfather passed away. He was 93. This is the poem I read at his funeral. It was his favorite...

The Touch of the Master's Hand

'Twas battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it
hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.

"What am I bid, good people", he cried,
"Who starts the bidding for me?"
"One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?"
"Two dollars, who makes it three?"
"Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,"

But, No,
From the room far back a gray bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.

The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said "What now am I bid for this old violin?"
As he held it aloft with its' bow.

"One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?"
"Two thousand, Who makes it three?"
"Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone", said he.

The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
"We just don't understand."
"What changed its' worth?"
Swift came the reply.
"The Touch of the Masters Hand."

And many a man with life out of tune
All battered with bourbon and gin
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin

A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.

But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Masters' Hand.

Myra Brooks Welch

Saturday, February 4, 2012

It's the small things...

I love small things. I mean little things...tiny things. There's just something about an itty bitty that makes me smile.

Here are a couple of my favorite little things.

Here are are a few more....

Check out this Wee Chunky Book from Wee Bindery on Etsy. 
It is smaller than a deck of cards and is too cute.

Handmade Leather Journal

On a scale of 0-10 on the adorable scale, these little guys rank 20! 
They are hand crocheted in Vietnam...makes my fingers hurt just to think about it! 
Not going to Vietnam any time soon? Visit Su Ami on Etsy instead!

Tiniest Sock Money

Micro Snail

Ok...now I'm not really into little dogs, but come on. 
Tell me this is not the cutest thing you've ever seen.

Time for a shameless plug!  How about these adorable Toddler Purses by 
I've been working on them to add to a new boutique.  They are small - yet the perfect size for a little girl to carry all the important stuff.  What do you think?

Zebra Print - Hot Pink Polka Dots

Heather Bailey - Nicey Jane Lindy Leaf Pink

Amy Butler - Morning Glory

And last, but not least, these fun jewelry pieces by 
Tiny Hands Jewelry are modeled after my favorite yummy treats. 
And...are you ready? They are scented!

Scented Birthday Cupcake Necklace

Scented Maple Syrup and Butter on Waffle Earrings

So, just remember, it's all about the small things.... 


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ask the Expert - Bath Salts Tutorial

Today is Day 1 of our Ask the Expert Series.  Please welcome Stephanie Sharer of Alchemy Lifestyle and Wellness.  Stephanie will be providing a bath salts tutorial for us today.  I know Stephanie would welcome any questions you may have, please ask away in the comments section below.

Simple Bath Salts Tutorial

Difficulty:  EASY | Time:  20-30 minutes | Yield:  16 oz.

Nothing says 'relaxation' quite like a soothing soak in a warm tub.  Adding a therapeutic bath salt mixture just puts the icing on the cake.  Bath salts are a great way to help detoxify the body, drain the lymphatic system and improve circulation and overall well being.  They are also a great way to reduce stress and experience the benefits of aromatherapy.

For this recipe, you will need:

1 cup Epsom Salt
1 cup Dead Sea Salt
1/2 cup Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Jojoba Oil
Colorant of choice (optional, can be purchased from soap making section of craft store)
1 tsp essential oil or fragrance oil of choice**

Most of the ingredients can be found in your local grocery store or health food store.  Food coloring makes a great colorant substitution for those who don't have micas, iron oxides or lab colors on hand.

**For a true aramotherapy experience, be sure to use ONLY essential oils.  "Fragrance" oils may smell nice, but they are synthetically made.  Only true essential oils have therapeutic benefits.


Pour Epsom, Dead Sea salts and Baking Soda into a large mixing bowl.  
Mix together to break up any clumps.


Drizzle 1/2 tsp jojoba oil and 1 tsp Essential Oil blend over salt mixture and blend thoroughly.


Add desired amount of  color and blend well.  (You can have some fun here by 
splitting your mixture first and coloring half of it to create a neat layered effect!)


Package and label your salts.  They are ready to use!

 Recommended usage:  Simply scoop about 4 TBS into warm bath water.  Soak for 15-20 minutes and pat dry.  The addition of the Jojoba oil will keep your skin from drying out.

Now you know how to make an awesome luxurious bath treat that is great for personal use or for gift giving!
Below are a few of my favorite essential oil blends for the bath.

Calming Blend

3 drops Lavender
2 drops Jasmine
2 drops Palmarosa
1 drop Geranium

Detoxifying Blend

3 drops Grapefruit
2 drops Lavender
2 drops Sweet Fennel
2 drops Rosemary
2 drops Cypress
2 drops Geranium
1 drop Lemon
1 drop Juniper Berry

Earthly Delight Blend

2 drops Bergamot
2 drops Lavender
2 drops Geranium
1 drop Rose
1 drop Patchouli
1 drop Vetiver

Feel free to adjust the number of drops to suit your recipe and preference.  I have listed them all in "single" dose proportions.  For the above recipes, you would need the equivalent of 100 drops to scent your batch.

CAUTION:  Essential Oils contain therapeutic constituents that may not be appropriate for all users.  Please do your research before making your choices of which oils to use.

There are so many great resources available both in print and on the internet for how to make natural bath products and aromatherapy blends in the comfort of your kitchen.  Check out a few of my favorites.

Aromaweb - www.aromaweb.com  (fantastic info about all aspects of aromatherapy including essential oil safety and blend ideas.)

NAHA - www.naha.org (for general aromatherapy resources, courses, aromatherapist directory)

Amazon.com - www.amazon.com (for books on aromatherapy and product making)

Stephanie Sharer is the owner of Alchemy Lifestyle & Wellness - a holistic personal care business.  She is a mom of one, a wife, a daughter and a holistic practitioner with professional accreditation with the NAHA (National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy) and the AIA (Alliance of International Aromatherapists as well as being a member of The Artisan Group.  She has studied and practiced clinical aromatherapy and natural skin care for more than 13 years and has put her passion for both to use on her Etsy shop site:  www.alchemylifestyle.etsy.com

Thanks so much Stephanie for this fantastic tutorial.  I can't wait to try it myself.  Stay tuned for our next Expert - Party themes with Shannon of Sweet Stella's.