Monday, June 15, 2015

Isabelle May Botanicals

Before the rain came in last night, I gathered the last peonies from the garden. Their fragrance kept me company all of last night and today. If only I could replicate the sweetness of these beauties in a peony perfume!

I have been working on many custom scents for clients the past few months and making many new discoveries as I blend. I began using Palo Santo in my perfumery, a sacred oil from the rain forest, that in the past I reserved for special occasions in healing sessions. It has such a powerful and grounding scent that opens the heart as it blends with Damask rose, Jasmine or Cistus. 

The more mature my perfume making becomes, the more courageous I have become in making new combinations of scents. I am currently working on a perfume that is built around Apricot and Lemon myrtle. This is a brave experiment as lemon myrtle is very strong and has a very heady and strong lemony scent that reminds me of lemon drops. Every perfume is truly a new adventure.
A package arrived today including White rose absolute, Citron, Osmanthus and Cacao, to name a few. It is hard not to spend every waking moment with these new beauties. 

Every time a new shipment arrives, I know that my grandmother Isabelle May would have loved the experience of carefully opening every new scent and studying the properties of each bottle. I named my perfume line after her as she was such a beautiful and kind mentor to me. She introduced me to the mysterious world of plants in her gardens. While I grew up around many beautiful plants at home, it was through the eyes of my grandmother, a botanist and cultivator, that I truly felt the magic. 
In time, hopefully I will make a perfume that smells like fresh peonies and I will name it Isabelle.

Wishing everyone a beautiful Summer!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winter Swans

Beautiful swans at Gerard Drive, the Springs, N.Y.

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

The magic of the bluebirds appeared again yesterday. 
It was only the second time that I have ever seen them and it was so deeply moving that I was brought to tears. Their song made my heart sing. 

Eastern bluebirds are quite rare. While they are making a slow comeback in population, they are rarely seen. This group of birds found water and Japanese holly berries (Ilex Crenata fruit).

Their blue feathers stood out against the incoming snow.

A rare and special gift.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Winter wisdom.

The softest thing in the universe
Overcomes the hardest thing in the universe.
That without substance can enter where there is no room.
Hence I know the value of non-action.

Teaching without words and work without doing
Are understood by very few.

Lao Tsu
Tao Te Ching

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Nourishing Jing Essence

In Chinese medicine, the winter season is governed by the Water element. The associated organs are the Kidneys and the Bladder. It is within the Kidneys that our Jing or Essence resides. I view our Essence as our true nature and the supreme residence of our life force. 
I have returned once again to the Claude Larre and Elisath Rochat de la Valee translation of the Su Wen. I love these texts with all of my heart. Each season I dive into their wisdom and discover something new that I had not read before. The texts are poetic descriptions of our intimate relationships with the cycles of nature. 
It is during this time that Yin predominates, we move more slowly and we go deeper inside of ourselves as the darkness of Winter settles upon us.
While reading these beautiful words I have been taking great care to nourish my own Essence by researching, and preparing delicious and warming foods. My dishes have included ginger, beets, zucchini, artichokes, squash, pumpkin and a variety of beans and warming spices. 

The Su Wen chapter 2 states that in the winter season, heaven and earth are like strangers without any communication between the two. The direction of the North is the season of the cold. Water and soil are separated, it is the period to keep seed safe for germination. During this time, there is an underlying understanding that we are suppose to return to the energy of the North, the true unity of the heavens. 
During this time, we may reconnect with our spiritual practices at a deeper level by going inward.
We may also feel the need to live more in retreat, at home, by the fire or preparing nourishing foods with friends and family members.

Root vegetables, meats, bone marrow broth, onions, chicken, saltier, bitter and heavier foods that require longer periods of preparation and digestion are suggested during this time. 
The Kidneys govern the lower parts of the body and are responsible for warming the system. They represent the state of Yin and Yang in the body. 
The color associated with the Kidneys is black, the number six and the sound is a groaning. When there is a separation of the Yin and Yang energies of the Kidneys, there may also be the emotion of fear. 
While considering foods that nourish Jing, I have been studying how each food may support and provide longevity and productivity while also nourishing the Earth element and digestion. We need a strong capacity to digest nutrients so that they may intern feed the Kidneys as well as nourish the blood.


This soup above was made from beets and other root vegetables. It was topped with creme fraiche and crushed pistachios and the remaining frozen parsley from the garden. I have also made beet soups with other roasted vegetables. The soup below was made with carrots, onions, garlic, a potato and topped with creme fraiche again and fresh dill.

 Each batch is unique and feels fortifying and warming to the core. Beets, as all red foods in Chinese dietary medicine, nourish the blood.

The soup below was made with kidney beans. Between the soaking and simmering, this soup took almost two days to make. In the end, this was worth every second. There is the following philosophy in Chinese food preparation and cooking, that the longer it may take to create, the more potent the medicine of the food. 

Much of my Winter cooking and food choices have been inspired by Stefanie Sack's MS, CNS, CDN new book What the Fork Are you Eating  published by Tarcher/Penguin. This is one of the most insightful books that I have ever read. She includes important information that we all need to be aware of, not only as consumers but also with regards to our nutritional choices. 
Stefanie has included pages of meaningful resources that simplify definitions and terms that are used in the regulations of the food industry.
Great care and attention to detail was given to this important book. We want to take the time to nourish ourselves with the best ingredients possible but this can often be confusing in a world with so many choices. Stefanie graciously presents us with many truths and alternatives in our day to day culinary choices.

I especially love Stefanie's recipes. The zucchini latkes above were inspired by her recipe found in the book. I have made them several times and they are always easy and delicious. 
To learn more about Stefanie and her amazing work please visit her site:

Thank you Stefanie!