Having decided to turn our beautiful mountain fragrance into a candle, our first thought was that we should try to produce them ourselves, in our spare room.
Cassandra’s Blog with Jonathan’s comments in manly blue and Cass’s rebuttals in lady-like pink
The next thought was: “how?” Actually, my first thought was: there goes my ‘man den’. So we set about downloading “how to” manuals and watching YouTube videos of perky American teenagers explaining how it was done. They made it look and sound SO easy (it only takes 4 minutes and 11 seconds apparently), and FUN, by golly by Moses! Don’t believe me? Take a look here
For my part, I was all about the fragrance. Back in the UK I used to mix my own aromatherapy bath oils all the time. Didn’t have the faintest idea what I was doing, I just used the ones I liked (I know any aromatherapy expert out there will be fainting with horror), and as long as the concoction smelled lovely, I was happy. I therefore marched confidently into a health shop in our nearest town and bought all the essential oils of the herbs we’d identified from our mountain – rosemary, thyme, pine, fennel, etc. and a sweet almond carrier oil with which to mix them. The resulting cocktail was absolutely disgusting – far too strong, gave me an instant headache, and smelled like something you might use to clear drains.
Tricksy moment for me, actually, and for our marriage. Cass: “What do you think?” Me: (desperately trying to read her poker face) “It’s, erm…” (eyes now streaming) “It’s… (throat starting to close) Distinctive.” I toyed with the idea of pretending I loved it, just for fun, but worried we’d end up needing an ambulance for him.
To cheer myself up, I mixed up some rose, geranium and ylang ylang, isn’t that a panda?! and that was gorgeous, but nothing like the mountain fragrance. Hmm… I tried adding some of my floral mix to the herbal one, wondering if that would help, but no, it was just as unpleasant – in fact, the flowers seemed to putrefy in it, adding a delightful whiff of decay. Roll up, roll up, brand new candles, ladies and gentlemen, they smell like a mountain… of compost! Me: “Nonsense darling, I really think you might be onto something (splutter, retch, etc.)” Watch it, or you WILL need an ambulance Anyway, clearly, instead of fancying myself as a natural, I should have done some proper research.
Now just hold on a moment! Just so you all know, Cass is being modest and self-deprecating (possibly for comic effect – hard to tell sometimes). The truth is, I like smells – duh! – but I am NOT great at them; Cass, on the other hand, well… she has a proper ‘nose’. She loves spotting the difference between biscuit and toast in a chardonnay, or cherry and blackberry in a Rioja. And she’s always spot on. Can I have that in writing? The closest I get is to squeak with excited recognition when she identifies yet another elusive note. I think it was together though that we pinpointed that Dudley dog’s paws smelled of digestive biscuits and Dixie’s of basmati rice. Not really candle material, but delicious in their own way.
Oh, and we do have other hobbies apart from drinking wine, by the way. Yes, drinking gin (that lovely juniper note… oh who am I kidding?!).
Also, fragrance aside, was I really thinking of making the candles myself, in a charming-sounding cottage industry manner? Hot wax and ME? I think I was famous for being the biggest klutz in my whole school at anything in the art and crafts arena. There’s a sewing sampler of mine in an album somewhere that is tragic: not one single stitch is the same size as another, and you can just feel the sweaty desperation emanating from it. Interestingly, this now hangs in a famous art gallery – and by ‘hangs’, I mean ‘is scrunched up’, and by ‘famous art gallery’, I mean ‘the bottom of a cardboard box in storage’. Wait! I FOUND it!
I can’t draw or paint (as in, not AT ALL, despite the fact that my mother and two sisters really can, and even my father, who had never picked up a brush in his life before retirement, found that he just could.) I seriously injured myself doing lino cuts in art class when I gouged out part of my palm. I am embarrassed to confess that I can’t even tie bows very successfully; for reasons passing understanding, they always end up vertical. Suggestions on a postcard, please. Or something more helpful.
So, at this point I wasn’t feeling particularly confident: I was highly likely to burn myself/husband/dogs/house, or all of the above, and my attempts thus far at the elusive fragrance were falling pitifully short.
Time to call in the professionals! See next blog entries…