The Holly, Moss, and Ivy…


The Holly, Moss, and Ivy botanical perfume

Always excited by the evergreen symbolism that accompanies Winter, I have decided to mix up a seasonal batch of my botanical perfume “The Holly, Moss, and Ivy” this year.

I first created “The Holly, Moss, and Ivy” in 2012 when I moved from Los Angeles to Northern California. The kitties and I took a cozy 19th century log cabin in the woods two miles outside of downtown Grass Valley. A very large, wonderful old Holly tree, cut into a traditional topiary-style, stood at the entrance-way of my front yard, which was bordered by an equally large and wonderful Ivy hedge. (This hedge was full of buzzing honeybees that summer, and I loved to stand nearby and just listen to them.)


My new surroundings were constantly inspiring to my perfumer’s nose – and eyes – each of the three seasons I lived there. And this scent was born from that enthusiasm. The Holly, Moss, and Ivy is a sweet, earthy, warm, resinous, yet slightly powdery scent, composed mainly of Peru Balsam, Patchouli, and Lavender with a touch of Clary Sage and Vanilla. The scent is also available to sample and via Rebecca’s beautiful botanical, handmade soaps which are available in The Holly, Moss, and Ivy scent throughout the season. Hand made, they are harmoniously-blended to perfectly match and strengthen this green, unisex botanical scent in the fougère style. This soap also has similar notes to The Awakening and The Man of the Woods and can be layered with all three botanical perfumes. The Awakening, my limited edition scent, is now back for a limited time. (i.e there are two bottles left!) Arabesque soap-and-perfume gift sets will also be seasonally available.

(Note: Orders containing the Holly, Moss, and Ivy soap will ship the first week in December. To ensure availability, pre-orders are not only welcome but encouraged.)


My first Winter in Grass Valley was also the first Winter in a long, long while, that I could go outside and gather all of the Christmas greens I wanted from my own front yard! Quite a luxury for me!

I look forward to doing the same this year in Nevada County, and can already see and smell the fresh Cedar boughs, tied together with a red ribbon, adorning my front door!

kings and queens

I will leave you with a traditional English song on plant folklore and how beautifully it is intertwined with the seasons, taken from a book that I always keep on hand this time of year: John Matthew’s The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas. 

O, the holly bears a berry as white as pure silk,
And the Lady bore the Green Man
When the ewes give their milk.
And the Lady bore the Green Man
Our first hope for to be,
And the first Prince of the springtime
It was the birch tree,
Birch tree, birch tree,
And the first prince of the springtime
It was the birch tree.

O, the birch he bears a leaf-o
As green as the moss,
And the Lady bore the Green Man
To dance in the grass,
And the Lady bore the Green Man
That merry we might be.

And the Princess of the Maytime
Is the young hawthorn tree.
Hawthorn tree, Hawthorn tree,
Hawthorn tree, hawthorn tree.
And the Princess of the Maytime
Is the young Hawthorn tree.

O, the Hawthorn bears a prickle
As keen as the sun,
And the Lady bore the Green Man
To die in the corn,
And the Lady bore the Green Man
Our harvest for to be,
And the first Queen of the autumn
Is the old apple tree.
Apple-tree, apple-tree.
And the first Queen of the autumn
Is the old apple tree.

O, the apple bears a fruit-o, as blood as it is red.
And the Lady bore the Green Man
Our last hope for to be,
And the first King of the winter
He was the holly,
Holly holly,
And the first King of the winter,
He was the Holly.

robin at chalice well gardens

May your winter months be merry and bright!


-During a visit to the Chalice Well Gardens in Somerset, UK, the day after Christmas, this little Robin seemed to follow me everywhere. England, 2008.
-Departed Kings and Queens taken from a Winter trip to the Victoria Albert Museum, London, England. 2008.
-Hawthorn berries harvested from a tree just outside my home at the base of the Ivy tree, with Rebecca’s soap, Grass Valley, CA. 2012.
-Miss Winnifred Iselda Kitten, bird-watching in the backyard of our Grass Valley home. CA. 2012.
-The Holly, Moss, and Ivy botanical perfume nestled in the crevices of my Italian Plum tree, Grass Valley, CA. 2012.

Pre-Holiday Sale on hardbound copies of The Fragrant Kitchen Cookbook

Peasants_breaking_bread public domain

I don’t know about you but, despite the demanding pleasures of grad school, I have already started thinking and planning for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner! (I spotted celery root, my favorite seasonal vegetable, in the grocery store and  — that was it for me!)  I have a few hardbound copies of my cookbook still in stock, and as I am not planning on having any more printed in 2015,  I thought I would offer a small pre-Thanksgiving sale for those who are, like me, entering Cooking Mode, already!

You can get a hardbound copy of The Fragrant Kitchen Cookbook: Culinary Recipes from a Botanical Perfumer for $22.00 plus shipping by using coupon code *** fragrant1015 *** while supplies last…

The recipes have a simple, earthy, Mediterranean emphasis to them and the cookbook features aromatic tips and recipes that are a meaningful part of my own daily life and seasonal cycles.

The book is illustrated by beautiful 14th century images taken from a medieval herbal on health and well-being, The Tacuinum Sanitatis. And at the back of the book is a rich Resources section with information on where to get aromatic supplies and ingredients, a list of my favorite cookbooks and aromatic research books, helpful organizations of interest, shopping tips for avoiding GMOs in your cooking, advice re: leftovers and etc.

The Fragrant Kitchen ships Priority mail within the US and outside of the contiguous US, they ship First Class Mail.

The Fragrant Kitchen: Culinary Recipes from a Botanical Perfumer has been described by my readers below —

“A visual and epicurean feast for the senses, bounty from another time.”

“A beautiful, soulful cookbook that perfectly reflects the passions and inspirations of botanical perfumer, Kirsten Schilling. Lovely recipes, narrative and illustrations. The Fragrant Kitchen Cookbook will be my cozy, uplifting companion during this bleak mid-winter! I can’t wait to stir-up some magic…..”

“Very nice perspective about the blend of scent and flavor.”


For those of you who missed it, my Women’s Circle (for kitchen witches, cat ladies, and other likeminded souls…) has been busy lately with some really wonderful activities. Last week we read aloud the names of 170 past and present pets as a part of our annual Animal Blessing Ceremony and later this month we are building a Dios de Los Muertos altar to tell stories and otherwise honor our beloved departed. Email me if you want more details on subscribing to my Virtual Women’s Circle and Online Community.


Two bottles of my limited edition Autumn 2015 scent, The Awakening botanical perfume remain… it is aging and growing more and more delicious by the moment. I nearly want to keep it all for myself. Sample or purchase here (and do hurry, before I change my mind! ha!) With green, fresh notes of Boronia, Patchouli, Black Pepper, and Peru Balsam, this limited edition scent is a luscious, unusual, and heady, unisex delight that gets many compliments.


And finally, for my Midwinter Scent of 2015, my subscribers will receive samples of my other precious limited edition scent, Labdanum & Ambergris Eau de Parfum. These will ship around the second or third week of December, completing the 2015 Subscription packages.

Thank you, cherished subscribers and Arabesque customers, for your support of all my creative endeavors this year!!!

Introducing Arabesque’s Summer 2015 Scent~ The Thousand and One Nights!

1001 nights

When I was researching One Thousand and One Nights I learned that the earliest version was written in Persia in the 10th century — I had had no idea it was that old! Many versions and translations now exist today, some emphasizing the fantastical and adventure aspects of the stories, other emphasizing the more erotic and romantic aspects. Here are two audio clips from the latter camp. Both verses come from Book Three and this specific translation is by E. Powys Mathers, published privately in London, 1923. The first is Musk Kisses, though I quite liked There is Myrrh too. (I suspect that there are many exotic perfume ‘recipes’ hidden within the pages of this vast story!)

I chose to avoid using the more predictable ‘Eastern’ perfumery ingredients such as Jasmine, Neroli, Oud, and Sandalwood when creating this perfume. Instead, “The Thousand and One Nights” botanical perfume smells like inhaling the fragrance of a wonderful, dark, beautifully-carved wooden spice chest — it is a sultry, spicy, unisex botanical perfume made with Patchouli, Clove, Cinnamon, Sweet Orange, Madagascar Ginger and Ambrette Seed essential oils in an Organic Jojoba oil base.

And speaking of musk kisses, the scent of Ambrette Seed, which comes from India, is often described as ‘musky’ and personally, I can’t get enough of it these days! I distilled some Ambrette Seed this summer and the hydrosol, when used as a body spray, makes a very nice compliment to the botanical perfume. Note that the Summer 2015 Ambrette Seed hydrosol is quite a limited edition batch, available only while supplies last!

1 ml samples, 3 ml bottles, and 1/2 oz. minaret bottles of “The Thousand and One Nights” botanical perfume are available in my Etsy shop.

And in honor of the clever storyteller Sheherazade from One Thousand and Nights, I’ll close with a wonderful Brainpickings link to a talk that author Neil Gaiman did on the organic, living and evolving nature of stories called “How Stories Last.” It is just wonderful.
I think Sheherazade would agree.

Arabesque’s Handmade Botanical Incense

rose petal incense

As summer blooms and the Northern California flowers unfurl their fragrant petals all around me, I just could not resist the urge to create something! So — I’ve made two delicious batches of my annual handmade incense! Now available:

Kyphi – Most well-known as an ancient Egyptian incense though there are also ancient Greek and Syrian variations. The ingredients remain fundamentally the same in all of the recipes. My incense is my own adaptation of the 2nd century Syrian recipe and features honey, red wine, sultanas, galangal, organic cinnamon bark, frankincense, myrrh, benzoin, rose petals, orris, lemongrass, sandalwood powder. The precious resins and botanicals are powdered and then, bound together with the wine and the honey, form a fragrant brick that is left to dry slowly in the sun.

Rose Petal – made in the Elizabethan fashion. (A recipe that, I suspect, came straight from the goddess Venus, herself!) Powdered Rose Petals with a pinch of powdered lavender blossoms and fragrant Iris, melded together with rosewater, formed into earthy lozenges and left to dry in the sun.

Do note – this is not incense that is well-suited for use on traditional charcoal tablets. To truly appreciate the delicacy of the flower petals and aromatics, the nuance of the melting honey, resins, spices, herbs, roots and the floral waters, this incense requires a more delicate and refined source of heat…

But I will say that they are worth the trouble. As one very old, loyal client and dear friend says “They are infused with ancient magic!”

perfume sampler

The incense is also available in a small Incense Sampler for the curious! The Rose Petal incense, save for the samplers, is already sold out but is available for pre-order in my Etsy shop with a two-week shipping window. (Usually my annual incense goes quickly so best to get it while you can!) To enjoy this incense, and the Kyphi, crumble and burn on a censer, or in your electric incense burner… warm on low in a cast iron pan, or enjoy in the Elizabethan way – warm in a very hot pan and walk through your home, perfuming the rooms as you go.

Also don’t miss my unisex botanical perfume, Kyphi, inspired by the incense…

In closing, I was accepted to graduate school and will begin a MA degree in Humanities this Fall 2015. I’m extremely excited to begin my focus on women and plant folklore in mythology and I just know my academic explorations will cycle back into my creative work in wonderful new ways. My sincere thanks to all who have participated in the ongoing “Pay What You Will Sale” to support Arabesque’s exciting and ongoing expansion!

Well, I think this catches me up on all of the Arabesque news for now so – until my late-Summer perfume inspired by One Thousand and One Nights launches, take care and have a wonderful summer! And if you want to keep further tabs on my work, or merely enjoy my gratuitous horse and kitten pictures from the ranch, like my facebook page, here.


Arabesque’s 2015 Fragrant Distillations


Every Summer I distill aromatics with my small copper tabletop still, The Alambiccus Gaggia. The result – fragrant, steam-distilled hydrosols – are aromatic, medicinal, cosmetic, and culinary treasures!

On offer this year are the fresh-distilled hydrosols of Witch Hazel, made from organic Witch Hazel Bark, Vetiver Root Hydrosol from Vetiver I imported from Madagascar, Spearmint harvested fresh from my garden, and wildcrafted Melissa or Lemon Balm.

They are available in my Etsy shop June-September and also by special request. An excellent resource for learning how to integrate the use of hydrosols into your daily life is Suzanne Catty’s Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy available on Amazon in a hard copy or via Kindle.

My first distillation of 2015 happened on May Day Eve, as pictured in sequential steps below, courtesy of my botanist friend, Ty Wheeler. The result was a fresh and — we thought, quite surprisingly floral –Spearmint hydrosol.

Pictured left to right, below, are my beautiful plant materials, gathered in preparation for several distillations: Fresh Spearmint from my garden, soaking in the round bowl is Organic Witch Hazel bark, and soaking on the right in the rectangular bowl is Vetiver root from Madagascar.

distillation day 1

For a single distillation, fresh, clean water must first be added to the copper still. In my case, I used fresh, Northern California well water!


Then the fragrant plant material is added. It rests in a metal and mesh basket on top of the fresh water inside the copper container. When it reaches the proper temperature the hot water then passes upwards and through the plant material, producing a fragrant steam which results in our end product – a hydrosol.


Here I am preparing the still for the distillation…  it is important all screws are tightened and seals are properly closed to enable the hot water and steam to travel through their required channels.


Time to hit that glowing red button and begin the distillation, which typically takes about an hour and a half. (And, yes, enjoy a beer or, in my case a Dark and Stormy, while we wait… )


Pure, Steam-distilled Essential Oils from ‘the Milkmaid of Fragrance’

ess oils

Now offering two exotic, high-quality, steam-distilled essential oils

I was fortunate to manage a wholesale essential oil company called Natural Extracts for seven years in the Hollywood Hills. Not only did I learn a lot, and get to smell and collect many exotic ingredients, but now I also have a lot of interesting inventory as a result!

I used to love pumping the kilo and gallon-sized orders, as pictured below, December 2011. While filling the containers with the giant and uber-powerful pumps, I always felt like the ‘milkmaid of fragrance!’

milkmaid of fragrance

To see more photos from my days at the essential oil company, Natural Extracts, visit my business Facebook Page.

I am offering Ylang Ylang Complete from Madagascar and Australian Sandalwood (extra-strength) while supplies last. 1 ml samples of the steam-distilled extra-strength Australian Sandalwood essential oil and the Ylang Ylang Complete, Madagascar, are available for purchase at my Etsy shop.

Buying steam-distilled essential oils, when possible, is important to me as it indicates a purity, and an absence of chemical solvents. In my humble opinion, steam-distilled essential oils are well worth the few pennies extra in terms of quality. And Australian Sandalwood is a sustainable alternative to Indian Sandalwood essential oil, the supplies of which have been over-harvested and all but exhausted.

pumping ess oils

Essential Oil samples ship via First Class Mail.
Essential Oils ship Priority Mail, insured, within the US and First Class Mail, without.


harvesting pomegranates

Arabesque is expanding!

Help my business to blossom
by participating in my

I am excited to say that Arabesque Aromas is growing in myriad ways this year. I am working on a second book, going to school, creating a small, scholarly tour of Ireland for 6-8 people, planning a new web site, and shopping for new botanical ingredients. (Not to mention all of the new perfumes that are whirling around in my head, asking to be born… including a scent inspired by One Thousand and One Nights!)

To help fund the expansion of Arabesque, I am offering a Pay-What-You-Will Sale on digital copies of my aromatic cookbook The Fragrant Kitchen: Culinary Recipes from a Botanical Perfumer.

To participate, simply Paypal your contribution of $6.00 or more to kirstentulipani@gmail and I will email you a full-color PDF of my cookbook.

(Happy to also email the PDF as a gift with a note to third parties.)

Thanks in advance for helping me to fund the growth of my business!
I am very excited to share all of this newness, richness, and beauty with you as the year unfolds!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,167 other followers