Book Giveaway! Alyssa Harad’s Coming to My Senses


It’s been an exciting week for scent. We’re hot on the heels of the news that the human nose can smell as many as one trillion different scents. This, up from the estimated 10,000 scents that scientists thought we could smell.

The lesson to us all seems to be this: Never limit yourself to pegging your vision on what is known. Haven’t we learned that yet with living species on earth and the number of stars in the galaxy?

If you’re not yet a scent convert — or even if you’re just at the beginning of your own journey of the nose — you can enter my latest giveaway for the nose-obsessed. This month I’m offering a copy of writer Alyssa Harad’s Coming to My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure and An Unlikely Bride.

I’ve been interacting a bit with Alyssa on Twitter, and I can affirm she’s as lovely a person there as she is on the page. In her book, she tells the story of being something of a late bloomer — of going from an academic writer who lived  into a full-on perfume obsessive. It is a story that will resonate with anyone primed for sensual awakening.

You can read some excerpts from the book here.

If you’ve ever done something that surprised yourself, or found yourself drawn in a new direction and wondered what happens when you shed the old you and follow your heart, this book is for you. I like to think about it as a handbook for people who spend too much time at their desks and need a little kick in the pants to go out and seek the pleasures of the body.

Alyssa is still doing some book events and has been known to use people from the audience as human scent strips.


This contest ends Friday, April 4 at 10:00 a.m. PST.

Talking Travel and Perfume on Arts Alive

Who says you can’t wear an artfully wrinkly shirt on national television? Heck, who said anything about national television? Yep, as my husband recently mentioned to me, I was seen by tens of people last week when I went on ArtsAlive, our local arts show, to talk about my upcoming travel writing workshop and about the my new project tracking down the scents of the West.

It was an amazing experience. We have a ton of talented people volunteering at our local cable station, really cool folks who are putting together fun shows with local personalities. There’s even a show called “Speaking Frankly,” by, you guessed it, a guy named Frank, a retired philosophy professor, though I do wish it were called “Frankly Speaking.”

My interview was with Lynda Phillipi, a local travel agent, so pretty much the perfect person to interview a travel writer. I’m not used to being on the other end of the interview equation. At this point I’m not used to putting on makeup and having anyone pay any attention to me whatsoever after being home with my kids for three years, but I think it went well. You be the judge!

Warning: It’s really long, like 15 minutes.

By the way, Adam’s probably wrong about the tens of people. I’ve already been able to connect with some other artists in town who saw the show and are interested in collaborating or meeting. The Arts Alive Crew is looking for other people to interview, so if you live in Yamhill (or close), contact Arts Alive through Facebook. And if you are interested in taking my travel writing workshop, it’s not too late to sign up for the Terroir Creative Writing Festival.

Spring Cleaning! Scents for Clearing Space

These were blooming in my front yard this morning.

Cue the Wordsworth, it’s daffodil time!

In addition to suddenly crying at Olympics commercials aimed at the mom segment and feeling grief over the shape of my neck, I’ve found myself doing something lately that is making me feel like a changed woman.

I can’t stop talking about feng shui space clearing.


When my friends ask me what I’ve been up to I launch into a really long story about how I’ve been cleaning out my closets and my cabinets.

The most amazing thing has happened. Instead of going all glassy-eyed, early everyone I talk to speaks of their desire to do the same. People understand, at an intuitive level, that there is something wrong in their houses. They want to make changes and they don’t know where to start.

Well, I started here.

ClearYourClutterA few months ago, my friend Tai loaned me Karen Kingston’s Feng Shui guide to decluttering, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui. Karen Kingston is the woman who coined the term “space clearing” in the 1970s and who has been practicing a specific form of the ritual she created as part of her feng shui business. Don’t read this book unless you want your entire outlook on stuff to change!

But back to Tai. Tai was feeling the need for the book in her own home but perhaps not ready to tackle its challenges, so she was happy to pass it along to me  in the meantime.

“Emily, the author says you are connected to all of the objects in your house by invisible strings, like spaghetti. I don’t want to live in a bowl of spaghetti!”

After she left, I looked around at my house and its constant state of almost order. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely done with spaghetti house. So I happily took the book and have been going through it chapter-by-chapter, addressing each part of my feng shui bagua in the process.

Did I just say feng shui bagua? Does this mean that I need to start subscribing to More magazine and going on Hawaiian yoga retreats? Here’s a bagua map courtesy of Home and Feng Shui.

Basically, you place it over your house, with your entrance lining up with the career/water box. The idea is that by addressing different parts of your home that are associated with parts of your life, you can attend to your self in the process.


Lest you think that all of this is a bunch of hokum let me me explain how it has worked for me when I decided to clear out my kitchen of all of the unused, messy, dirty junk.


My kitchen post-cleaning. We’ll see if it stays in this condition.

My kitchen is a place of gathering, as it is for most families, and it is located in my marriage and love center. It is the first place I tackled after reading the Feng Shui decluttering book.

First, I did a full reassessment of every storage space in the kitchen: cabinets, fridge, drawers, under the oven, pantry, desk area, bookshelves. It was hell. I hated every moment of it until I started to love it. For me, the turning point happened when I opened up one of my cabinets and realized that I had two extra shelves on it with nothing on them.

I shut the door, my husband walked in the room, and planted a kiss right on my mouth. Is that the proof?

Well, maybe. Here’s the other proof. One after I cleared my kitchen, I got a message from a friend that an exchange student in Seattle needed a new home after his host mother experienced significant health crisis. They were going to send him home. As you can guess, that didn’t happen, and we now have a 17-year-old from Finland living with us.

Milo has brought a lightness into the house that you really miss when you have little kids. New people, new energy, new information about the world, and a new brother to play with. If the idea behind space clearing is that you open up the physical space for new energy to enter your home and your life, I’d say it worked more powerfully than I was really prepared for!

Here's all my boys at a glance. Pretty sure I'm going to fall apart when we lose our latest.

Here’s all my boys at a glance. Pretty sure I’m going to fall apart when we lose our latest.

Space clearing isn’t just about getting rid of all of the clutter and junk you’re not using — though that is part of it, too. It is about renewing the energy in your home and your life and removing all of the built-up emotional junk in a space.

Scents in space clearing

Certain scents lend themselves especially well to this process. You can think about it as forcing out all of the bad stuff and opening up space for the good. With scent, this has obvious benefits. No one wants to live in a musty, dusty, old-smelling house.

I like to make my own spray mist calibrated with these essential oils, which have specific properties in aromatherapy. For me, with two little kids running around, these oils make sense and add to a feeling of balance in the home.

Lavender: balancing, calming
Sandalwood: harmonizing, meditative
Chamomile: anti-inflammatory and calming
Bitter orange: De-stressing, uplifting

Important: Before you mist your home, first follow these instructions for clearing your space of clutter according to feng shui principles. Or better yet, buy a decluttering book and get busy!

Recipe: Spring Cleaning Calming Spay mist


  • One 32 oz. spray bottle of distilled water
  • 10 drops Lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops Chamomile essential oil
  • 10 drops Bitter Orange essential oil
  • 5 drops Sandalwood essential oil


Add the essential oils into the spray bottle of distilled water and shake. When your space has been cleared of clutter and cleaned, walk around the room in a clockwise direction and spray the mist, paying extra attention to the corners.

I can’t promise that you will end up with a new Finn joining your family or anything dramatic like that, but the practice is sure to make your spaces fill with vitality and new energy!

What about you? Do you have certain rituals you go through in spring in order to flush the feelings of hibernation out of your home?