What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Friday, November 25, 2011


I’m housebound today, refusing to venture out into an environment where an astounding number of people have been whipped into an irrational shopping frenzy by the media creation, “Black Friday”. For those readers not in the US, Black Friday is not the original stock market crash by that name in 1869 or the day after the stock market crashed in 1929; it’s the day after Thanksgiving. In recent years it’s been turned into a sort of holiday in its own right, a carnival celebration of consumerism. All of the stores have sales that include loss leader items that lure customers in and entice them to buy large quantities of random goods. This year I read that many stores were opening at midnight on Thursday and staying open 24 hours so that people could start their shopping early and end it late. Personally, I fail to see the attraction of spending hours waiting line for a store to open so that I can buy the same stuff I could buy any other day of the week, month, or year. I’d rather pay a little more and shop in peace, at my leisure for things I really want.

This leads me to thoughts about household gadgets that are probably leaping off the Black Friday shelves today, and DIY processes that would better be left to a professional. More specifically, the topic of the day is juicers. The resident male of the house went off for a trip to Portland with his brother, but left behind all of the debris from his latest foray into juice-making with his big macho juicer that takes up more than its fair share of counter space (of course, he says the same thing about my shoes in the closet, but we all know that’s different).

I know fresh juice is theoretically a good idea, but somehow I just don’t get it on a practical level. After feeding fruits or vegetables into the apparatus and extracting a relatively small amount of juice, there’s a huge pile of pulp to dispose of, a machine that has to be disassembled, multiple awkwardly-shaped parts that have to be cleaned, and a machine that has to be reassembled. It’s even worse if the juicer doesn’t get cleaned right away and the debris gets dried out and fused to all of its unwieldy parts. The picture, taken from the manufacturer’s website, is designed to make the juicer look much smaller and more compact than it actually is, and omits the oddly-shaped juice collector thingie that fits under the spout. I’m sparing you, gentle reader, the horror of seeing this sleek, industrial-looking apparatus filled with moldy, rotten vegetable matter.

There’s perfectly good ready-made juice to drink in every grocery store. It tastes just about as good. Maybe I’m not a connoisseur, since I don’t drink juice very often, but that’s how it seems to me. And why not just EAT the damn fruit? That way you get it all and there’s little or nothing to clean. Fresh fruit tastes really good, and chewing it makes it taste even better.

I feel the same way about food processors, even though I’ve never had one - what’s wrong with a good sharp knife or a grater? Then there are electric mixers (never had one of those, either) - what’s wrong with a bowl and a spoon or hand-operated whisk or beater? And home ice cream makers (was given one as a present) - why not buy good ice cream ready made or skip Black Friday, save up, and take a trip to Florence, where the professionals make the best ice cream in the world? And bread makers (never had one) - why not go to a good bakery and buy professional quality bread?

What are your thoughts on gadgets? Are there ones you love? Are you like me and find most of them to be way more trouble than they’re worth? Should I invent a home perfume mixing machine, patent it, and get the box stores to sell it on Black Friday to people who won’t ever use it?

[Schwarzer Freitag in Wien, 19th century print by unknown artist; juicer photo from manufacturer's website]


  1. Oh, I'm such a gadget lover. I do love the fresh juice at home, and I have a super recipe for carrot "tuna" fish that helps me get rid of the non-juice part of the carrots. As for food processors, I just love them too, especially to make creamy soups. I'm sorry, I just love machinery that does cool things, I confess. Now, I have my eyes on a VitaMix machine. Not sure when I'll spring for it, but it's something I'd like to have in my kitchen. One thing you and I are definitely on the same page about is Black Friday. I'm excited about Small Business Saturday, and I love Cyber Monday, but I skip Black Friday altogether in favor of time with family and friends. I use it to extend the Thanksgiving holiday as long as I can. Thanks for your thoughtful post!

  2. Even though we have Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October in Canada, we have imported the evil that is Black Friday -- most likely in an attempt to reduce the drain of our dollars to cross-border shopping. We already had the phenomenon of the "line-up overnight for the deals" with Boxing Day sales on December 26th.

    As for gadgets, I'm still making coffee by boiling water in a kettle (electric I admit) and pouring it over ground beans (electric grinder) in a Melitta cone with unbleached paper filters into a glass pot. I do have a small electric hand mixer because I'm lazy when it comes to whipping cream. Oh and a toaster too. That's it and that's really all there's room for in my tiny kitchen with almost no counter space or drawers.

    I'm with you on the juicer (even if someone else was to do the cleaning): whole fruit is better.

    While I'd love to go to Florence for gelato, there are a number of decent gelaterias in Vancouver, so I can indulge in the moment. The best are run by people who apprenticed with artisans in Italy. As you say, let the professionals do it.

    -- Lindaloo

    And how interesting that my word verification came up as "commi" -- the retail conspiracy is everywhere! :-)

  3. Hi Ellen,

    I used kitchen gadgets when I had to cook large meals for kids, crowds and parties. Those days are almost gone and I don't and won't miss them, but the gadgets (juicer, blenders, food processors, grinder, mixer, pasta maker, slow cookers, pressure cooker, fryer, rotisserie and more) remain taking up space in my kitchen and storage areas. The mixer, pasta maker and fryer are used twice a year for cannoli. The auger juicer three times a year for sorbet. The little stick blender is used at least weekly, but these days most of the other gadgets come out only once a year. My husband loves these gadgets but I feel that I really don't need one more "thing" in my life or my house. The more gadgets I have the more work I end up doing! I certainly don't need to go out and purchase anything else. I don't care if its Black Friday or whatever color day these shopping frenzies are called. I don't like malls and I don't like crowds and I don't like football games. I like quiet, quiet! Especially after a day of teaching music. Peace (and quiet) on earth would be so wonderful!

    Almost the Grinch,

  4. Donna Maria, It's not that I don't like machines, it's just that I don't like cleaning and housing them. We make "carrot" tuna, too, but grapefruit pulp just doesn't go well in sandwiches. I'm not familiar with "Small Business Saturday", but it sounds like I should get on board for that!

    Lindaloo, We have Boxing Day shopping frenzy here, too. I just forgot about it, and I think there's a different name for it. My favorite coffee maker is the old-fashioned espresso pot that I got at a second hand store. It's the kind that you boil on the stove, and the water pushes up through the coffee into the top part. It makes the best coffee!

    Gail, good to hear from you! You certainly have the kitchen full of gadgets. I hate malls, too, and haven't been to one in years except a couple of times when I had to take my laptop to the Apple store for repairs.

    Looks like we all hate Black Friday and all the other colors of designated shopping days. Let's have a big football crowd cheer for peace and quiet on earth!

  5. Ellen,
    I second Florence (or Venice or ...) for gelato. Unfortunately Rochester has no gelato. When I ask what gelato means on an Italian menu here, it always means ice cream. Sigh...

    One useful gadget is the drip coffee maker. It doesn't require a flame (handy at my desk at work) and it doesn't require tending.

    I sometimes enjoy shopping at a mall on a week night between Black Friday and Christmas. When the crowd is happy, it's good to be part of it. I don't know what the mood will be like this year so I can't really recommend it.


  6. Ed, I don't even try to get good gelato in Seattle. Maybe there are some places that make it, but I haven't stumbled onto them.

    The drip coffee maker is obviously the way to go at work. Of course, here in Seattle, we have espresso stands within a block in every direction. It's more expensive, but it's fun to go out for coffee sometimes with a friend/colleague.

    I don't do Christmas shopping, so thankfully am spared the experience of going to a mall between Black Friday and Boxing Day! For happy crowds, I prefer to go to one of our many street fairs that occur periodically during the spring through fall.