Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Poetry Tuesday: "A Clear Midnight" by Walt Whitman

This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the
themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and the stars.

by Walt Whitman


The Lonely Alchemist

Monday, December 26, 2011

Movie Monday: "Tin Man"

Tin Man is a semi-Steampunk, semi-cyberpunk, semi-sci-fi sequel to "The Wizard of Oz." It re-imagines the land of the O. Z. as a military state under the evil rule of the Sorceress Azkedellia. Midwestern waitress D. G. (Dorothy Gray) is tossed into the mix to rediscover her magical past and save her parallel universe from the witch. Along with memorable and surprisingly well developed characters such as Cain, Glitch, and Raw, she spends 4.5 hours trekking across the O. Z. and recovering her memories.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Seven Days of Christmas: Yule Log

The Yule Log seems to have had its roots in Germanic Paganism, but for many it is a Christmas tradition that can't be lived without. In case you don't have a fireplace or a yule log this year, here is a substitute.


The Lonely Alchemist

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Seven Days of Christmas: Merry Christmas Eve

Each family has its own traditions for celebrating Christmas Eve, but for me, the evening is not complete without Auld Lang Syne. This may be a New Year tradition for some, but I can't get enough of this song!


The Lonely Alchemist

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Seven Days of Christmas: In the Bleak Midwinter

Here is the Wizard Dreamer's favorite carol:

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.


The Wizard Dreamer

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Seven Days of Christmas: Good King Wenceslas

The Lonely Alchemist's favorite Christmas carol:

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel

"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me bread and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither."
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather

In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing


The Lonely Alchemist

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Seven Days of Christmas: Word Wednesday: "Ginger"

The word of the day for this week before Christmas is ginger. Ginger root, that is. Ginger is both a delicacy, a medicine, and a spice. The English word ginger comes from French : gingembre, Old English gingifere, Medieval Latin ginginer, Greek zingiberis. The word is originally derived from Tamil (a language of the Indian subcontinent) inij ver, ver being the Tamil word for root. Ginger is used in curries, sushi, cookies, bread, soup, liqueurs, tea, ginger beer, and ginger wine, but the holiday classic and favorite use for the spice is undoubtedly the gingerbread cookie.

I love ginger. Ginger candy, Ginger cake, ginger as a secret ingredient (perfect in chicken soup) and gingerbread cookies! They are THE perfect holiday cookie. This recipe is adapted from Saveur magazine. It is originally from an old bakery in Stockholm, Sweden.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Seven Days of Christmas: Poetry Tuesday: "Land of Long Shadows" by Ruth Hill

For those of you who are tired of hearing traditional Christmas poetry, here is a lovely winter poem that makes me homesick for my native Alaska.

"Land of Long Shadows"

Lingering, lengthening, lavender shadows

softly sadden the snow.

Rowdy clouds and swirling flurries:

shadows slide ’cross slithering drifts.

The sun crawls around the low horizon,

drip-torching flames.

Inuit stalk Inukshuk statues,

their black and white parkas

eclipsing the horizon flares.

A tiny silhouetted sapling,

whipping in the winter wind,

makes a mile-long shadow,

across the creek, over the clearing,

and far into the woods.

In the shadow of faraway mountains,

slate blue flares pink, then fades.

Deep trails flood and fill

with violet blue.

Sunny valley bottoms

are squeezed up into the starry sky,

until all the shadows touch,

and the world is still.

by Ruth Hill


The Lonely Alchemist

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Seven Days of Christmas: Movie Monday: the Alchemist's favorite Christmas movies

There are more Christmas movies for rent at the video store than a person could watch during the month of December. There are, of course the classics like "A Miracle on 34th St.", "A Christmas Story" and "It's a Wonderful Life." But there are some Christmas movies that are constantly overlooked. The kinds of off-beat movies that anybody reading this blog would enjoy. And don't forget the Christmas episodes of TV shows! Here are some fantastic movies that will put you in the Christmas spirit (and may just tickle those Gothic sensibilities too!):

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Gothic Tidbit

LinkThe following is from "The Mysteries of Udolpho," a Gothic novel by Ann Radcliffe. You can read the whole novel for free here.

She gazed at him for a moment in speechless affright, while he, throwing himself on his knee at the bed-side, besought her to fear nothing, and, having thrown down his sword, would have taken her hand, when the faculties, that terror had suspended, suddenly returned, and she sprung from the bed, in the dress, which surely a kind of prophetic apprehension had prevented her, on this night, from throwing aside.
Morano rose, followed her to the door, through which he had entered, and caught her hand, as she reached the top of the stair-case, but not before she had discovered, by the gleam of a lamp, another man half-way down the steps.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Etsy Perfume Shoppes: Part 2

Here are some more of the wonderful selection of perfume shoppes on Etsy. While there are over 200 shops on Etsy that sell perfume and scents, I am obligated to say that not all perfumes are created equal. Those that I am listing are either all-natural or mostly natural and have a less mass-produced feel than some of the shops. I have not tried perfumes from all of these shops, but from the sellers profiles I can tell that healthy personalized scents in small batches are their priority.

For my first list of exotic Etsy perfume shoppes, see here.

So here are some more lovely fragrance shoppes:

GreenManNaturals: Eco-friendly literary themed solid perfumes and perfume oils.

ForStrangeWomen: Natural Perfumery - Forest & Victorian-Inspired.

ArabesqueAromas: A Botanical Apothecary.

: Rebel & Mercury Pure Botanical Parfums.

Hand-made aromatherapy, fragrant, and metaphysical oil.

BirdcageandLabyrinth: Steampunk and Gothic perfumerie.

Maoli: Fun and Natural Perfumes made with Aloha.

Vote with your wallet!

This is one of the best consumer information sites I've ever found. Better World Shopper provides guides on how to "vote with your wallet" and make a positive difference in the world through your purchases. They have charts of the 20 best and 20 worst companies in the USA based on their five methods of evaluation (in the image below). The information they provide can help you become a more informed and conscientious shopper.

And can you guess who makes the top of their list for best company? Seventh Generation cleaning products! So next time you have to wipe some grease off the stove, clean it with something that's good for the planet. And who takes the cake for worst company overall? Exxon Mobile. No surprise there.

Let me be the first to admit that when I go to the grocery store, I'm not always thinking about what is best for the planet. I'm usually thinking about how I can eat healthily on a tight budget. But with the handy guide from Better World Shopper printed and tucked in my wallet, I will have tangible reminder to think of health, cost, and global impact equally. Sometimes all it takes to make a real difference is a little gentle reminder. Next time I go to the store, I'll try to buy more from Sprouts and Stater Bros., not from Walmart (#3 on the "bad" list). This may seem like a little difference, but if each consumer makes a tiny impact, we end up creating a landslide of validation for safer companies and condemnation for unsafe ones. We have more power in our wallets than we realize.


The Lonely Alchemist

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Poetry Tuesday: "The Haunted Palace" by Edgar Allen Poe

In the greenest of our valleys
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace —
Radiant palace — reared its head.
In the monarch Thought's dominion —
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair!

Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow,
(This — all this — was in the olden
Time long ago,)
And every gentle air that dallied,
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
A winged odor went away.

Wanderers in that happy valley,
Through two luminous windows, saw
Spirits moving musically,
To a lute's well-tuned law,
Round about a throne where, sitting
In state his glory well-befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen.

And all with pearl and ruby glowing
Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing,
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch's high estate.
(Ah, let us mourn! — for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him desolate!)
And round about his home the glory
That blushed and bloomed,
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed.

And travellers, now, within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms, that move fantastically
To a discordant melody,
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever
And laugh — but smile no more.

by Edgar Allen Poe


The Lonely Alchemist

A Touch of Jane Austen

Have you ever wondered which Jane Austen heroine you are really like? This adorable quiz can tell you! I took this two years ago and got the result of Eleanor Dashwood, but more recently I got Lizzie Bennet. (I guess I've gotten more adventurous).

Have Fun!


The Lonely Alchemist

Poetry Tuesday: "Monna Innominata [I dream of you, to wake]" by Christina Rossetti

"I dream of you, to wake: would that I might
Dream of you and not wake but slumber on;
Nor find with dreams the dear companion gone,
As, Summer ended, Summer birds take flight.
In happy dreams I hold you full in night.
I blush again who waking look so wan;
Brighter than sunniest day that ever shone,
In happy dreams your smile makes day of night.
Thus only in a dream we are at one,
Thus only in a dream we give and take
The faith that maketh rich who take or give;
If thus to sleep is sweeter than to wake,
To die were surely sweeter than to live,
Though there be nothing new beneath the sun."

by Christina Rossetti


The Lonely Alchemist

Monday, December 12, 2011

Movie Monday: "Scaramouche"

If you watch a lot of old movies, you've probably seen the 1952 Swashbuckling classic "Scaramouche." If you haven't seen it then go rent it; you are in for a treat!

The movie takes place during the French Revolution, but in true form to the blind side of Hollywood, the movie almost completely ignores both the poor people of France and the entire Revolution. It stars Stewart Granger as Andre-Louis Moreau, a nobleman's bastard son who embarks on a dangerous vendetta to avenge his young friend. He is determined to slay the vicious Marquis de Mayne (Mel Ferrer, who makes the perfect aristocrat) who killed his young idealistic friend in a duel. As he trains, he takes on the character of Scaramouche, a roguish Italian commedia dell'arte clown, for a local theatre company. And naturally he woos two beautiful women, one feisty actress (Eleanor Parker) and one innocent aristocrat (Janet Leigh) who, through the comedic confusions of the film, might prove to be Andre's own sister.

A Quote for Thought

My favorite quote: (from "The Plague of Doves" by Louise Erdrich)

"...If a volcano should rise out of the lake bed and blow, covering us with killing ash, ours would be calm forms, preserved sitting gravely as the fates, staring transfixed at a picture or a word. I have seen other plaster forms in books. I know the ones from Pompeii were first noted as mysterious absences in the solid ash. When the spaces were filled with plaster, and the volcanic debris chipped away, the piteous nature of those final human moments were revealed. Sometimes, I think I am more akin to that absence, before the substance. I am less the final gesture than the void preceding it. I have already disappeared, as one does when long accustomed to one's own company."


The Lonely Alchemist

Etsy Perfume Shoppes: Part 1

I love perfume! Who doesn't? Making it and wearing it are some of my favorite hobbies. And since commercial perfumes can be quite unhealthy, organic perfumes, natural perfumes, and botanical perfumes are quickly rising in popularity and making a huge niche market for themselves on Etsy and other hand-made goods websites. Here are just some of my favorite (and the best) perfume sellers on Etsy: SaraWen Magical and Romantic Perfume Inspirations offers lovely Gothic, Steampunk, and Fantasy perfumes.
New Zealand Award Winning & Handcrafted Solid Perfumes in various themes.
Madame Scodioli makes unique and intriguing perfumes, soaps, etc... Fantastical fragrance creations from the land of the fairies.
: Botanical perfume; organic, sustainable and natural.
Botanical Perfume, Handmade Couture Fragrances, & Jewelry.
Herbal body care for modern flappers.

Looking for more? Don't worry! I will be posting some more great perfume shoppes soon.


The Lonely Alchemist

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Is your perfume sexy, or deadly?

Here is a little warning about commercial perfumes and body products that I stumbled on the other day:

"The average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals not listed on the label. Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products."

Visit here for the full article:

Just goes to show that you really
can't trust labels nowadays!

So what's the solution? Natural/botanical perfumes of course! Indie perfume shoppes have been popping up all over the web (and probably within 10 miles of your house) in the last few years to offer a more healthy and personalized alternative to commercial perfumes. Etsy has an amazing collection of perfume shoppes, and while they are not all natural, a quick glace at the profile of the seller will tell you whether or not you are safe using their products! Check back here soon for a list of my favorite Etsy perfumers who offer high-quality chemical-free perfumes and colognes at competitive prices!


The Lonely Alchemist