Happy Halloween!!!

Jack-0-LanternOf all the holidays in the year, Halloween has always been my favorite. When I was a kid, it was frowned upon and almost died out in my part of the country. I remember that it was getting difficult to find decorations for it one year. However, I am happy to say that there is a whole huge section of people now who are as in love with Halloween as I am. So, for all of you: Happy Halloween—Fabienne Christenson

P.S. Halloween is wonderful and tomorrow Possets is going to ADD their Thanksgiving perfume to the lineup! The kitties from years past who have not been adopted are back, the pies, and three new fragrances: All Sinners’ Day, The Girls Love Pumpkin, and Pumpkin Pepys!!! Wow, will you be smelling great.

Just An Aside…

I just wish I could open a gym where all of the energy expended on the machines could be stored and used. We spend so much time and effort and put out of ton of energy which is just wasted. Too bad. Maybe I should start a gym with giant mouse wheels where you run around and around and it is attached to a giant battery where all that energy is stored. 🙂

Vanilla-What is it?

This is the first of a short series about everyone’s favorite flavor, vanilla.

Vanilla originally came from Mexico. It was discovered Native Peoples and then the Spaniards (who started trading it to the Old World and generated a huge market for it along with chocolate, another Mexican New World good).

The name, vanilla, comes from the female body part and it is named that because of its resemblance. Vanilla is made in the seed pod of the vanilla orchid. The pod is picked and often stored in a closed box until the characteristic flavor and smell develop. You get vanilla flavoring from splitting open the cured seed pods, and scraping out the tiny seeds and pulp from the inside. The sticky paste and seeds are often blended with alcohol to make vanilla extract. It is a time consuming process, as is the pollinating of the flowers which is normally done by hand as well. In the wild a certain species of bees performs the job of pollination but vanilla is grown in areas without those sorts of bees so growers have had to resort to the hand pollinating method.

Vanilla is grown in Mexico (considered the best quality), Tahiti, and Madagascar most famously. It is considered the most popular flavoring agent in the world and is highly prized in perfumery.

A Common but Beautiful Fall Flower

Seen in the gardens of Ault Park


The Psychiatry of Pens

When I was a kid I had to use a certain pen in school. I went to a high school where they valued penmanship and they made you use an Osmeroid pen which is an italic instrument. The nib was horribly scratchy and so the experience was anti-sensuous to say the least. Scritch, scratch, scratch we went as we copied long Latin passages into workbooks which would be presented to the Mother Superior and graded. No splots or blemishes were allowed so this was a gigantic exercise in Rules and Punishment.

Just writing with the Osmeroid was punishment enough. There was nothing buffering the tip of the pen as it bucked and heaved its way across the cheap absorbent paper. We could only use a character-free blue ink, too. I really hated that whole thing. Took a great passtime and turned it into something to dread.

Recently I have gotten into pens and inks in a big way and for some odd reason bought a Lamy Joy calligraphy pen. What a difference. I loaded it up with a very peculiar dark and desaturated purple ink called Vanilla by de Altramentis and I can only say WOW. The difference between eating canned Chef Boyardee ravioli and eating something freshly made and lovingly presented.

In some small way this represented all of the discomfort I have felt I had to endure for the sake of someone else and now I have thrown off one more shackle with that pen. I still have that Osmeroid from high school, and you know what? I am going to sell it as a curiosity. Hanging on to pain, just because it was once there, is not a wise idea.

An Orchid In Ohio?

Believe it or not, I found this growing by the side of the road today in. Cincinnati!20111024-160904.jpg

Possets Lavender Cake Recipe

Just the thing for the holiday season. Unusual and very very good. It’s a refined and delicious treat using a surprising main ingredient–lavender!

For The Cake:
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups of flour (cake flour is best)
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 tablespoon of lavender flowers
3/4 cup of softened butter (I melt it and then use it as liquid)
3 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (this is the time to use your best)
2 tablespoons of milk

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour an 8 inch round cake pan (I am sure that any shape would do though just be sure it’s not too big or your cake will be too short). Line the bottom with parchment paper (or wax paper) to be sure that the cake will emerge cleanly. Mix and sift flour and baking powder. In a separate bowl cream the sugar and butter , add the eggs slowly and make sure they are uniformly incorporated. Add the flour, lavender flowers, vanilla and milk. Put into cake pan and bake for 1 hour until a toothpick comes out cleanly when inserted. Let sit for 5 minutes and turn out on a wire rack to cool thoroughly before icing.

For the Icing:
1 cup butter
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of lavender flowers

Put the milk in a saucepan and heat it with the lavender on the stove top on low heat until it comes to a low boil. Let it all boil together for 30 seconds stirring constantly. Take it off the heat, stir and let cool. Strain through a fine sieve and discard the lavender blossoms.

Cream butter and gradually add sugar (I melt the butter in the microwave and let it cool a bit or at least get it softened up well that way). Gradually add sugar and beat well with mixer on medium speed. It will be dry and now add the milk. You are wanting a light and fluffy mix. Use it immediately to ice the cake.

I like to decorate this sort of cake with little silver pastilles or gold ones. The gentlemen are usually quite surprised at how well they like this. Be sure to use fresh and top quality lavender blossoms for it!

(The original recipe was gotten from The Gypsy Chef and put up last year by seika. It is one of those internet gems and I am passing it on to you and hope that you get great pleasure out of it).

Yoga Class

A candle from the breast cancer restorative class. You got a candle to commemorate a friend or family member who has had to fight it. I was remembering one friend’s successful struggle.

It was a very long and deep stretch class. Really did restore you afterwards.


The Grande Finale of Dark Matter

Isabella from Dark MatterThe last chapter of Dark Matter is ready for you. What will it be, Bliss or Sorrow? That is going to depend on you, dear reader. Whatever it is that you secretly want for Isabella and Stewart will be their fate. Also, there are two exquisite perfumes which sum up their experiences along the odyssey of love. Bliss is a meltingly beautiful blend replete with some of the most appealing Bulgarian polyantha rose which I have been saving for just such a momentous occasion. A super sexy treat. The other fragrance is called Sorrow and calls to mind the solemn character of an upper class funeral replete with sideways glances and everyone dressed in beautiful sable finery. I made the chypre which is in it myself, and that mingles with a galbanum that adds a green richness to the blend. Of course there are other secret ingredients in here, like an illusive black musk. Just the sort of thing for this season of the year.

So take a look at the final chapter of Dark Matter. I loved writing this and I hope that you are just as charmed and surprised by it as I was.

An Interview With Dora, A Cat!

As you may know, Dora is the name of one of Possets’ latest Halloween perfumes and it is named in honor of one of the residents of Ohio Alley Cat Resource (OAR) no-kill shelter which I contribute to. Liz Johnson, the head of OAR, sat down with Dora and conducted a very revealing interview. Here it is:

An Interview with Dora, Resident Diva of OAR

Dora the Cat.The lovely Dora, one of our senior (she prefers to be called “mature”) kitties in need of a home, graciously agreed to be interviewed for this issue of the newsletter. A Balinese mix, Dora has gorgeous markings, amazing blue eyes and opinions on just about everything!

Q: How did you end up at the rescue, Dora?
A: My story is quite dramatic, actually. I came here when my people were having a baby and decided my sister (already adopted) and I could no longer stay. Silly humans. I could have taught that child so much.

Q: Like what, Dora?
A: About the beauty that we find within and the need to be curious about everything. Also that everything is mine.

Q: So, does that mean you like children?
A: I find them to be fascinating little creatures and don’t mind being around them. I do wish they were older and better able to worship me, though.

Q: How do feel about being at OAR?
A: It’s acceptable, for the most part. People here understand that I need to have my space and I enjoy the opportunity to engage in conversation with the volunteers. But, a home of my own would be nicer — a place where I could have couches and beds and other soft places to lounge anytime I wanted to.

Q: What do you like to converse about with people?
A: Besides ordering them to hurry up with the food and reminding them that everything is mine? I also like to tell them that all of us cats deserve respect and love, me more than most, and that given a chance, I’d be their best friend.

Q: What do you think of the other cats at the rescue?
A: The other cats? Hmmm. Most of them are not my equal, however one must make allowances. They certainly don’t have the fine breeding that I do.

Q: Rumor has it that you’re somewhat of a diva? What’s your response to that?
A: Somewhat? My dear, I am a diva. I know I deserve the best. In addition, I can give you the best — the best love, the best companionship, the best purr.

Q: You been able to slim down quite a bit during your stay at OAR. Can you say more about that?
A: Certainly. Once I was able explore the rescue at my leisure, I was able to drop a few pounds. While no one would call me svelte now, I like to think that I’ve set a fine example for other solidly built felines who merely need a little incentive to firm up their figures.

Q: What would you say to people who might hesitate to adopt a more mature cat such as yourself?
A: Thank you for saying mature. Mature cats know what we enjoy and what we don’t. We don’t waste our time running around like crazy kittens. Our priorities are offering affection and companionship. Some people might say 12 is old, but really it’s only middle age for a cat with a good constitution like me. Besides, I will give you the benefit of my years of experience. As you gaze into my slightly crossed eyes, you will see the wisdom residing within.

Q: What would you say are your best qualities?
A: Well, I am beautiful, but beauty is only skin deep. I think my best features are my curiosity and my willingness to talk and talk about anything and everything. Also, I’ll allow you to rub my tummy which,, as you know, many cats won’t. It’s quite a privilege.

Q: What do you want most in a forever home?
A: A lap is a must. I’d prefer to be the only feline so all attention would be focused on me, but would accept another cat if necessary. I’m mostly just looking for someone who will give me space when I need it and love all the time.

Want to help Dora? It’s easy and fun. Try out her perfume at Possets, it’s called “Dora” and is one of the prettiest florals I have ever made with the unusual base of clethora (also known as ‘summersweet’, myrtle and a lemon zest base…it is extraordinary). You will smell divine and a major portion of the proceeds goes to OAR to help them continue their good works. Also, if you would rather donate directly to OAR (and they are one of the most straight shooting and honest groups I have ever had the pleasure to work with) click here to donate directly to Ohio Alley Cat Resource.