Swoon Giver

Author: Kirsten K., Author: Kirsti Kay, Holidays

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♪ ♫ Swoon giver, why do you beguile?
To make our readers smile some way.
You sigh maker, you breath taker,
Wherever you show up this Valentine’s Day.

Two bloggers, off to write a post
To plug the site we host jointly.
We’re after the same worthy end:
To start a lovely trend
With stuff we recommend
For follower and friend,
Swoon giver and we. ♩ ♬
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 Happy Valentine’s Day, Swoonhearts! 

 

 

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More Powder to You

Author: Kirsten K., Beauty, Wellness

Readers of this blog know that I like to use an unorthodox hair wash in place of shampoo. As someone who’s also used henna to dye my hair and clay masks to deep-cleanse my scalp, I’m comfortable playing with paste and mud when it comes to my hair care regimen, which is why I pounced on this trio of plant powders from Khadi Natural.

Amla, reetha, and skikakai have a long history of use in traditional Indian medicine. When the fruits of these plants are dried, ground into powder, and mixed with water to make a paste, they provide numerous benefits for the hair and scalp.

Amla, which comes from the Indian gooseberry fruit, is high in vitamin C, a key nutrient in slowing the effects of aging. It is believed that using amla paste and oil on the hair and scalp can prevent hair loss and premature graying. When used in conjunction with henna, amla can improve dye uptake and intensify hair color.

The soapnut tree, known as reetha in Hindi, produces a fruit that contains saponins: natural surfactants that gently remove dirt and oil. (Soapnuts make a surprisingly effective organic laundry detergent that is quite capable at cleaning without harsh chemicals.)

The pod-like fruit of shikakai can also cleanse the hair, but is primarily touted for its conditioning and detangling effects. It is said to strengthen hair from the roots and promote hair growth.

I have been experimenting with this trio and found that each plant works well for different purposes. Unlike my sweet-smelling hair wash, these powders are “earthy,” to say the least. The upside is that there is no lingering odor once they’ve been washed out. I applied each of them in the same way by mixing equal parts powder and aloe vera gel in a small bowl before working the paste into wet hair. (I discovered that using aloe gel in place of water gives the paste some slip, which makes it easier to massage into the hair and scalp.) For my medium-thick, long hair, 1-2 tablespoons of powder with an equal amount of aloe gel was sufficient for each application.

Reetha worked best as a cleanser. It actually foamed up a bit, like soap, and removed all traces of oil and dirt. This is something I might use once a week or every two weeks to remove buildup and clarify the scalp.

The amla paste did not work for me as a shampoo, leaving some oil behind (and necessitating a follow-up wash), but I’ve found that it makes a great dry shampoo. With its neutral tan color, it blends well with my brownish-blonde hair,* and just ½ teaspoon of the dry powder massaged through the scalp absorbs oil and livens locks on days when there’s no time to wash.

Another way to receive the benefits of amla is to mix 2 teaspoons of powder with 8 oz. of hot water, steep until the liquid cools, strain through a coffee filter or cheesecloth, and pour into a dropper bottle. Apply the liquid to the scalp a couple of times a week, massage in, and let dry. (There’s no need to wash it out—simply brush hair when dry.)

The real star of this lineup, in my opinion, is shikakai. It worked as both an effective hair wash and a stellar conditioner, leaving my hair feeling softer and more manageable than I’ve EVER felt it. I noticed the difference from the moment I rinsed it out in the shower and continued to feel it when my hair was dry. I have no idea what chemical constituents in the fruit are responsible for this effect, but it’s remarkable. Follow the directions for steeping above (replacing amla with shikakai) and strain into a spray bottle for spritzing on dry hair between washes to boost shine and manageability.

As with my Terressentials hair wash, combing out wet hair after washing with these powders is quick, easy, and painless—no conditioner required.

For taming all types of tresses, these plants are a natural, so if you’re searching for hair care solutions that have stood the test of time, more powder to you!


Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Amla, Reetha, and Shikakai Hair Powders

 

As of this writing, the Khadi Hair Care Combo is no longer available from Amazon, but the company sells individual tins of amla, reetha, and shikakai hair powders on their website. Alternatively, a Google or Amazon search (e.g. “organic amla hair powder”) will turn up numerous retailers and purchasing options.

 

*For darker hair colors, add unsweetened cocoa powder until the desired shade is achieved.

 

Castile Yourself

Author: Kirsten K., Drinks, Food & Drink, Hot Drinks, Recipes

Here in Southern California, fall pretty much passed us by this year, and it was starting to look like winter might also be a no-show. I’ve been wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt on my nightly walk for the past couple of months, and the closest I’ve come to snow was getting caught in the fabricated flurries at Disneyland. While those being bomb-ed with frigid temps and icy conditions in the east might be envious of this mild weather, I look forward to our brief cold season each year with excited anticipation and have been impatiently waiting for months to sit wrapped in a fleecy blanket while sipping (and reading) something steamy.

Well, steel yourself, because winter has finally arrived! This week brought cooler temperatures to SoCal and the first big rainstorm of the season. To celebrate, I made a beeline for a book, a blanket, and a batch of my favorite cold weather treat: Castillian* hot chocolate.

Several years ago, Kirsti and I went to Barcelona, where we enjoyed a traditional Spanish breakfast of chocolate caliente con churros as we sat at an outdoor cafe on La Rambla. ¡Delicioso! This ain’t your mama’s hot cocoa, unless your mamá can trace her ancestors back to the historic Castile region of central Spain. The secret is the addition of cornstarch, which thickens the mixture to an almost pudding-like consistency, giving it a decadent richness and a smooth, glossy sheen.

I have been making Castillian hot chocolate for years and it is foolproof. I don’t remember where I found the simple recipe, but it seems to have come from The Vegetarian Epicure (Book Two), so I must give credit where credit is due. Pop a handful of frozen churros in the oven when you get started and they’ll be ready for dunking by the time your hot chocolate has simmered to perfection.

It appears that this cold snap will be gone in a flash, so before Mother Nature takes the starch out of winter, put some starch in the water and you’ll be on your way to a cup of hot chocolate that is sure to steal—and warm—your heart.


Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

CASTILLIAN HOT CHOCOLATE

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. cornstarch
½ cup water
1 quart (4 cups) milk
1 tsp. cinnamon, vanilla, or espresso powder (optional)

Sift the cocoa and sugar together into a medium-sized saucepan. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water, and stir into the cocoa and sugar until it is a smooth paste. Begin heating the mixture, stirring it with a whisk, and gradually pour in the milk. Add cinnamon, vanilla, or espresso powder, if using. Continue stirring with the whisk as you bring the liquid to a simmer. Allow the chocolate to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until it is thick, glossy, and completely smooth. Pour steaming hot into coffee mugs. Serves six.

 

*The alternate spelling of Castilian is also common.

You can veganize this recipe by using non-dairy milk, such as soy, almond, or coconut (if using canned coconut milk, dilute first with double the amount of water—i.e. 1⅓ cups of canned coconut milk + 2⅔ cups water = 4 cups of milk).

 

Will You Be Swooning New Year’s Eve?

Author: Kirsten K., Author: Kirsti Kay, Holidays

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♪ ♫ Maybe it’s much too early in the day,
Oh, but we thought we’d ask you anyway:
Will you be swooning New Year’s,
New Year’s Eve?

Wonder who’ll stand beneath a winter moon,
Champagne in hand, and fall into a swoon,
As we ring in the New Year,
New Year’s Eve.
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Maybe our readers, so engrossed,
As they peruse our latest post,
Of all their thoughts and their sensations
Will take leave.

Oh, but in case your evening’s hum and drum,
We hope your senses will be overcome.
Will you be swooning New Year’s,
New Year’s Eve?
Oh, will you be swooning New Year’s Eve? ♩ ♬

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🍾 🥂 Happy Swoon Year! 🕛 🎉

 

 

Picture of Ella Fitzgerald in 1947 by William P. Gottlieb with vintage Times Square ball,
party hat, pink champagne coupe, and pink S streamers with confetti added.

 

What Blog Is This?

Author: Kirsten K., Author: Kirsti Kay, Holidays

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♪ ♫ What blog is this, which notices
When stuff is worthy of swooning?
The one that’s here to bring good cheer
With a carol that’s had some re-tuning.

This, this, our Christmas wish,
Is for a day that’s filled with bliss.
Haste, haste, no time to waste; 

The day has arrived to be merry.♩ ♬
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Merry Christmas! Season’s Swoonings! 

 

 

My Lady Greensleeves by Dante Gabriel Rossetti is wearing an Anne Boleyn-style S necklace.

 

Pluff Piece

Author: Kirsten K., Coffee, Food & Drink, History, Hot Drinks, Tea

This date is steeped in history. Two hundred and forty-four years ago today, trouble was brewing in Boston Harbor as colonists, angry about the British Parliament’s recent tax on tea, boarded ships of the East India Company and tossed chests of imported tea into the water. To commemorate this act of defiance against taxation without representation, you can now host your own Boston Tea Party with American heritage teas from Oliver Pluff & Co.

A purveyor of historic beverages, Oliver Pluff offers Colonial teas and remedies, pressed tea bricks, coffee, toddy mixes, and other early American potables. I wrote about their cacao shell tea last year, which now comes in a mint mixture that is perfect for seasonal sipping. Also apt for the holidays are their wassail mulling blends for making spiced wine and cider.

Among a variety of themed collections is a Teas of the Boston Tea Party gift box, featuring five teas that were popular in 18th-century America. A favorite of colonists was Bohea, a blend of pekoe and souchong teas with a strong, smoky flavor that will have you yelling, “Boo-hee!”

Taxes are once again on everyone’s mind, so after you stand up to make your voice heard on the issue, sit down to enjoy a cup of Colonial coffee or tea and celebrate the freedom to participate in representative government. There’s still time to treat yourself or someone on your list to a taste of history this holiday season with a gift from Oliver Pluff.

Leaf and bean come to you, and to you your wassail too, and we bless you and send you a Happy New Year. Cheers! ☕


Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Oliver Pluff & Co.

 

If Wishes Were Courses

Author: Kirsten K., Author: Kirsti Kay, Holidays

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If wishes were courses,
Then dreamers would dine
On plentiful sources
Of fine food and wine.

While those who were grateful
Could ask for the moon,
And feast on a plateful
That would make them swoon.

..

The Swoon Society wishes you a
🍽️ Happy Thanksgiving!
 🍽️

 

 

Image created using Freepik.

 

The Swoon Society Holiday Gift L.I.S.T.

Author: Kirsten K., Author: Kirsti Kay, Holidays

For fabulous holiday finds, check out our
Lovely Item Shopping Tips
and check off all the names on your list.

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We looked for swoon-worthy gift ideas all year long, then made a list (and checked it twice) to help our Swooners “pass out” the perfect presents for any occasion this holiday season. For more shopping tips, see our 2015 Holiday G.I.F.T. Guide and 2016 Holiday W.I.S.H. List.
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KIRSTI’S PICKS

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ERNESTO CANDLE FROM TRUDON $95
A friend has this candle, and I kept making excuses to come over just so I could smell the intoxicating scent waft through his house while we drank martinis and sat by his outdoor fireplace (OK, there are also other awesome reasons to visit). I have my own candle now and friends are “dropping by” a bit more often, it seems. It smells like a sexy church with a hint of what I imagine Jon Snow smells like. It also comes in a large format size ($495). Winter is coming, after all.

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MONSERAT DE LUCCA JEWELRY $20-155 and up
Why is everything in miniature so cute? A necklace holding a tiny set of chef’s knives? Yes! A brass fly? Definitely! A screw? Maybe, if you get me one of these necklaces.

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GOLD CIRCLE CHOKER $21
This delicate choker will surely stoke her. (See what I did there?)

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HEMP HOLEY VINTAGE WHITE BOXY TEE $43
Made of 60% hemp, this t-shirt is truly dope. Hemp is 4x more durable than cotton and gets softer with each wash. The oversized boxy fit looks great on everyone.

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JO LOVES FRAGRANCE PAINTBRUSH $55
Jo Malone has concocted a delightful new way of applying scent—just “paint” on your skin. The gel formula dries almost instantly and holds onto the fragrance, so it lasts longer. With scents such as Pomelo, Green Orange & Coriander, Red Truffle 21, and White Rose & Lemon Leaves, it’s hard to decide on only one.

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TWELVE NIGHTS OF WINE BY VINEBOX $129
Vinebox has curated single glasses of wine packaged in 12 adorable “test tubes.” An Advent calendar countdown has never been so fun!

If you feel like splurging on your favorite oenophile, you can get one year of wine flights for $300.

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DAZZLING LIGHTS NAIL POLISH FROM YVES SAINT LAURENT $28 each
A sparkling stocking stuffer that will look very fancy paired with Christmas morning jammies or peeking out of those strappy NYE sandals. Available in Red Lights or Gold Fire.

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NIKE CLASSIC CORTEZ SNEAKERS $70
White sneakers are all the rage. Get the ones that started it all.

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VINTAGE BOOK ORNAMENTS $3-8 each
What do you get the bookworm who has everything? Why, an ornament that has hand-cut and curled vintage pages from their favorite book, of course! It’s like a ship in a bottle for the literary set. There are tons of books to choose from and they even do custom orders.

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LE LABO SANTAL 33 SIGNATURE DETERGENT BY THE LAUNDRESS $45
Last year I wrote about this perfume for our Holiday W.I.S.H. List. This year it’s all about the laundry detergent. Trust me on this one. It’s life-changing (and super concentrated, so a little goes a long way), and something she won’t buy for herself.

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MILK MAKEUP A TEAM MINIS $39
I can’t get enough of these Milk Makeup sticks. I use the Holographic stick every day on my cheekbones and the glitter stick when I go out on the town. To have all these little babies would be truly swoon-worthy!

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SEEDLIP NON-ALCOHOLIC SPIRITS $45
If you are concerned about what to get your teetotaling friend or boss for the holidays, your search is over! As blogged about at The Swoon Society, this distilled elixir is fancy and very tasty. It contains no alcohol, but delightfully mimics the feeling of having a cocktail. Pour into a vintage coup with a splash of tonic water and you might just be the one to start the conga line at the company party.

 

KIRSTEN’S PICKS

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BELLE GLOS PINOT NOIR $55
These California wines receive high marks from reviewers, but I’ll have to take their word for it, since I can’t bring myself to defile the gorgeous wax seal. Combined with Spencerian-style script on the label, these bottles bring to mind the correspondence of another age, but in this day and age they communicate goodwill toward men (and women) as holiday and host/ess gifts. The dramatic presentation makes a seasonal statement that will have recipients waxing rhapsodic about these heady redheads, so ditch the gift bags, because when it comes to holiday giving, this wine is a wrap.
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CRANBERRY JELLY CANDIES $12.32
These classic French pâtes de fruits get a holiday twist with tart cranberry flavor and festive red-and-green packaging. Slim enough to slip in a stocking and sophisticated enough to offer as a host or hostess gift, each box has 20 jewel-like jellies nestled within. And, since they’re sold by Natural Candy Store, you can be sure that they’re completely free of artificial ingredients, so share these seasonal sweets and enjoy liberty, fraternity…and cranberry!
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VIOLET MOON SHIMMER CREAM $15
We at The Swoon Society are voracious for violet, so we can’t get enough of the violet-scented body care products from Sensuous Beauty. I always carry the Vivacious Violet Lip & Eye Balm in my purse, but it’s fun to add a little sparkle to the season—and the skin—with their Violet Moon Shimmer Cream. Made with organic oils, shea butter, and a pinch of pixie dust, it will reflect the twinkle of the tree and make you the star of any holiday gathering, so gather up several for gift giving, because the ladies on your list will take a shine to this shimmer.
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OPEN BOOK CUP AND SAUCER $10
An open book and a cup of tea go together like Miss Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Bibliophiles and tea drinkers will flip for this delightful duo, featuring a ceramic cup resting atop the open pages of a book-shaped saucer. (This set was showcased in Kirsti’s post about Tea Drops, which would make a great companion gift or stocking stuffer.) Sold by the Library of Congress, it makes a “capitol” contribution to your holiday haul.

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THEORY11 PLAYING CARDS $5-10
When it comes to seasonal gift-giving, stack the deck in your favor by dealing out these stunning packs of playing cards. Whether used for blackjack hits or magic tricks, a box of cards will get the party started, while the loners on your list can shuffle off to play solitaire. With more than 30 styles to choose from, many with gilt embossing and intriguing origins, a happy holiday is in the cards.

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CHINA RAIN PERFUME OIL $14-64
The film version of Ready Player One is set to release in the not-too-distant future, so expect 80s nostalgia to come back in vogue. Get “ready” with this classic perfume that was all the rage when Kirsti and I were in high school. There are many imitators, but the original China Rain® was created by Body Time, which still sells the perfume oil in several sizes, including a convenient roll-on that we used to toss in our backpacks and back pockets. Get one for yourself and you, too, can be a China Girl.

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WOODEN INKLESS PEN
 $39
After reaching in my purse one too many times to pull out a broken pencil or dried-up pen, this revolutionary writing implement is now on my personal wish list. With a beautiful walnut or zebrawood body and patented alloy tip that never needs sharpening, it’s a space-age tool that has the write stuff whenever you need it.

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EARL GREY TEA JELLY $5.50
A great gift for the tea lovers and foodies on your list, this curious condiment contains just three ingredients: organic tea, organic sugar, and pectin. While the kettle is on, enjoy toast and tea without waiting for the whistle, or serve with a sliced baguette and soft cheese to demonstrate your hospitali-tea. Makes a wonderful stocking (and mouth) stuffer, so be sure to stock up on this stuff.

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THE GAME OF KINGS BY DOROTHY DUNNETT $13
Not to be confused with A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (himself a Dunnett devotee), this first book in The Lymond Chronicles introduces readers to 16th-century Scottish nobleman Francis Crawford of Lymond—a Renaissance man and accused outlaw who has returned home to clear his name and exact revenge against the man who framed him for treason. If you love Outlander, be aware that author Diana Gabaldon is also a fan of Dorothy Dunnett, who joined us for a portion of our trip to Scotland in 1997. The six volumes in The Lymond Chronicles have been optioned by the producers of the television series Poldark, so get the hardcore historical fiction lovers on your list started with the first book and you’ll have gifts for several occasions to come.

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OCTAGONAL BASE WINDOW LIGHT
$32
A practical gift that will be appreciated for years, this electric taper suffuses any space with the warm glow of candlelight—no need for batteries, drip catchers…or a fire extinguisher. Unlike many window lights that are made from cheap, gold-tone plastic, the base of this fixture is solid brass with a slip-resistant bottom and a laquered finish that means it will maintain its sheen without polishing. I keep a pair on my piano year-round, but move them onto the windowsill during the holidays to extend a warm welcome on cold December nights. These lights sell out every year before the end of Black Friday weekend, so look for the best deal of the season in the coming week (usually 30% off with free shipping—no minimum) and don’t miss this window of opportunity.

 

And, lastly, recipients will be “overcome” by a gift from The Swoon Society S.H.O.P.
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Season’s Shopping, Swooners!

 

Green Fairy Tale

Author: Kirsten K., Cocktails, Drinks, Entertainment, Food & Drink, History, Movies, Recipes, Spirits

Twenty-five years ago today, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was released in theaters. Being a fangirl (emphasis on “fang”), I flew out to see it, but amidst the gore and gothic romance, one scene sank its teeth into me:

Count Dracula fills a glass with green liquid, then pours water from a carafe over a sugar cube, which rests on an intricate silver spoon suspended atop the glass. He tells Mina, “Absinthe is the aphrodisiac of the self. The green fairy who lives in the absinthe wants your soul, but you are safe with me.” Mina takes the sugar cube and sucks on it with a look of ecstasy on her face.

Needless to say, I swooned.

For the past decade, absinthe has been enjoying a revival, but back in 1992, I hadn’t heard of it. The public Internet was in its infancy, so I had to do some old-fashioned library research in order to learn more about this mysterious drink. I discovered that it was a popular libation in Gilded Age Paris that was purported to have psychedelic properties and had been credited with inspiring great works of impressionist art, literature, and music. It had also been illegal in the United States since 1915.

Absinthe is a potent alcoholic drink featuring a mixture of botanicals, including sweet anise, fennel, lemon balm, star anise, and peppermint. One primary ingredient is grande wormwood, an herb containing high levels of thujone, long thought to be responsible for absinthe’s mind-altering effects. Due to its transformational nature and the vivid green color of the liquid, drinking absinthe became known as “romancing the green fairy.” It was believed to be highly addictive and, in the lead-up to Prohibition, took the blame for many of the social problems of the day.

The forbidden always seems more exotic, so I plotted to get my hands on a bottle, but years passed without success. I traveled to New Orleans in the spring of 2000 and visited the site of the Old Absinthe Bar where, ironically, there was not a drop of absinthe to be had due to the continued ban on its importation, but I was not the only one who’d caught absinthe fever. That same year, a product called Absente was released in America. Marketed as the first legal absinthe in the U.S. since the ban, it was made using a process similar to the original 19th-century versions, replacing the wormwood with southernwood and adding sugar.

I immediately purchased a bottle, along with their matching absinthe-style glasses and spoons. Still infatuated with the ritual that I’d seen at the cinema and read about in my research, I reverently set up my glass and spoon, placing the sugar cube just so, then carefully poured ice-cold water over the sugar and into the glass of Absente. I watched, captivated, as they combined to create la louche—the magical alchemy that transforms clear, emerald-hued absinthe into the opaline shade of green milk glass. This was finally happening! I brought the glass to my lips and took a sip.

In the build-up to this moment, I’d never entertained the thought that anticipation of a thing is often greater than the thing itself. I had also failed to consider that absinthe contains two types of anise—a flavor I don’t favor. Further, I’d never been a fan of hard liquor. Even watered down and sweetened up, this brew was robust, to say the least. I could only choke down about half of the liquid.

Disappointed, but unbowed, I wasn’t quite ready to abandon my quest for true absinthe. Despite discovering that I didn’t dig the drink, I still yearned to experience the heady effects that had inspired artists like Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec and authors such as Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway, so the search carried on and I continued to accrue absinthe accoutrements.

Helping to keep the dream alive, absinthe was featured in two movies released in 2001. The first was Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!, in which several characters savor the spirit and subsequently hallucinate a green fairy in the form of Kylie Minogue. A few months later, I found myself once again in the theater staring up at a stunning bottle of absinthe in From Hell, where Johnny Depp’s character is at once chasing the dragon and romancing the green fairy.

Eventually, Kirsti—who’d caught the absinthe bug from me—convinced a friend who was traveling to the Czech Republic to smuggle a bottle of genuine absinthe back to the U.S. for us. Bottle finally in hand, we set out our paraphernalia and prepared to imbibe. This was it.

Antique silver absinthe spoons are highly collectible, but these stainless steel versions are beautiful and affordable.

I didn’t feel the same thrill I’d experienced when preparing to drink Absente for the first time, but we performed the revered ritual and drank up. I finished my entire glass and even had another, but as the evening progressed, I never felt more than a slight buzz from the alcohol—no symphonies heard, stanzas conceived, or scenes envisioned, and not a single flash of fairy wings.

The romance was officially over.

My absinthe-related supplies and books were relegated to a dusty shelf, while the bottle of contraband liquor languished in a cabinet. This would have been the end of the story if not for our friend Mika, who, in addition to being a trained opera singer and pastry chef, is a talented mixologist with a knack for dreaming up delicious drinks. She likes to rinse a glass with absinthe before constructing a cocktail, or incorporate a small measure in the mixture itself, imparting an almost floral note that I find enchanting. Like many a skilled composer, she doesn’t always transcribe her technique, but BuzzFeed compiled a convenient list of absinthe cocktails for those who don’t take their liquor neat—or too seriously.

Hidden within this vintage-inspired artwork by Robert Rodriguez are the names of Tempus Fugit’s absinthes.

If you have the heart of a true absintheur, you’re in luck! Absinthe was officially legalized in the United States in 2007, leading to a flood of options for enthusiasts. Absente was reformulated to contain actual wormwood, and even Marilyn Manson got in on the game with his acclaimed version, Mansinthe. Many are of high quality, but beware of imitations. I tried one that looked more like mouthwash than absinthe and did not form a louche when water and sugar were added. We at The Swoon Society are partial to Vieux Pontarlier, a pre-ban absinthe from Tempus Fugit Spirits, purveyors of luscious liqueurs in beautiful bottles.

Despite some conflict along the way, this green fairy tale has a happy ending, so raise a glass in cheers to a journey of 25 years, but opt for emerald and skip the silver…unless there are vampires about.


Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Absinthe

 

Have you caught the bug? For detailed information about the history, ingredients, and ritual of absinthe, visit Absinthe Fever.

 

Living Memori

Author: Kirsten K., Fragrance, Wellness

One of my favorite examples of a memento mori, “All Is Vanity” was drawn by illustrator Charles Allan Gilbert when he was just 18 years old.

Death is in the air at this time of year. Reminders of our mortality abound in the form of styrofoam headstones on suburban hillsides, ghost-shaped bed sheets billowing from branches, and costumed skeletons stalking the streets. All Hallow’s Eve gives way to Día de los Muertos, the Mexican Day of the Dead, on which family and friends remember loved ones who have died. At Catholic school, where Kirsti and I met, All Souls’ Day was observed each November 2nd to commemorate the souls of Christians who’ve passed on (sorry, heathens, you’re S.O.L.—Souls Outta Luck).

It is in this “spirit” that natural perfumer Mandy Aftel created Memento Mori for Aftelier, her Berkeley, California-based fragrance atelier (clever!). Memento mori is Latin for “remember that you have to die,” and this sentiment has been depicted in art throughout the ages to remind us that our time in these bodies is both fragile and fleeting. To create a similar work of art using her perfumer’s palette, Mandy sought to “capture the musk-like smell of skin” with aromatic essences ranging from ambergris to wood violet.

When I first inhaled the scent, it reminded me of Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo in New Orleans, a city that has itself elevated the celebration of life and death to an art form. There is something exotic, yet comforting, about the fragrance—a recognition of the simultaneous yearning to explore the new and unusual while clinging to the familiar and dearly beloved (or departed). I don’t know if I was influenced by the description, but it does call to mind the scent of sun-warmed skin, especially when emanating from the warmth of my own skin.

Mandy has said that Memento Mori was a deeply personal perfume for her to create, but perfume is also deeply personal to the wearer, both in the choice of fragrance and how it morphs and changes on each individual to create a unique blend of scent and self. It is a living thing, which is appropriate for a composition meant to remind us that, though our time here may be short-lived, it should be well-lived. So seize the day AND the spray, because Memento Mori may be one of the finest fragrances in living memory.


Stuff  Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Memento Mori

 

Memento Mori is also available as a 2 ml miniature or 8 ml (¼ oz.) liquid perfume. Not ready to commit? Try a sample.