DARKLY DREAMING: A Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Course Guide.

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I recently had the distinct pleasure of writing a course guide for the uninitiated and those new to the splendors of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and their myriad, wonderful fragrances. You can find it over at Haute Macabre.

And because I don’t know how to be brief and possess the uncanny (and not at all annoying!) ability to make a long story even longer, you will find it broken down into three installments, for easier reading:

It gets a little personal, I’m afraid. I find it difficult to separate a beloved thing from the experiences I’ve had while adoring that thing -so there are more than a few anecdotes and opinions. It cannot be helped!

I have loved Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, their people, and their fragrances for a very long time now and I do hope I’ve done them justice with my words.  Let me know what you think! Have I missed anything?  What are your favorites scents and collections?  Favorite BPAL memories over the years?


Hexmas cards for fiends and family

Black Metalf

It’s getting to be that time of year again. That time wherein you, with growing unease and guilt which will soon turn to a strange resentment, realize that it’s the eighth year in a row you’ve promised yourself that you wouldn’t forget to send holiday cards out to friends and loved ones and yet here you are waiting until the very last minute and it’s very likely that you don’t even have all of the addresses that you need.  You certainly don’t have any actual cards handy.

(And speaking of cards, your cousin sends out cards in a timely fashion every single year, and she even hand-makes them for God’s sake.  Why can’t you be more like your cousin?)

When it comes to store bought greeting cards, if you are anything like me, you most likely don’t care overly much for the dopey, saccharine offerings immediately available in your Barnes & Noble or Hallmark or where ever normal people do their shopping for such things. Babies in mangers and wise men and red nosed children building snowmen? UGH. GROSS.

In this vein I’ve* put together a Hexmas card list brimming with dark themes and weird imagery from artisans whose aesthetics I greatly admire.  Below you’ll find humor and beauty and even a bit of naughtiness; Krampus and ghosts and cats – a little bit of something for everyone! Or, well, at least folks like us.

And of course, if you think there is something/someone I have missed – please let me know in the comments!

*with thanks to Becky, Jamie, and Kate for your suggestions!


Caitlin McCarthy Art


Black Metal il_570xN.683544096_7v1h



Heretical Sexts




Dana Glover



Kat Philiben



Poison Apple Print Shop

IMG_4088-500x500 IMG_9123-500x500


Haunting Impressions


The Conjurers Kitchen
 (You can eat them! Made with luxury rice paper & edible ink)

Krampus pack 1-2dead birds pack-1



the snows of yesteryear

les neiges d’antan from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan?

Track list:

Come Wander with Me / Deliverance, Anna von Hausswolff  | Hellebore, Julia Kent | Impaled Matador, Disemballerina | Pleione, Musicformessier | Shadow Sun, Christina Vantzou | Grey Days, Chelsea Wolfe | From The Mouth Of The Sun, Woven Tide | Stop Suffering, Tropic Of Cancer | From Here, Stephen Vitiello + Molly Berg | Haunted Houses, Emma Ruth Rundle

Links of the Dead {November 2015}

Natalia Czajkiewicz

Natalia Czajkiewicz


A gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about in or related to the Death Industry recently.

Self-Care for Future Corpses
Welcome to Boon Hill; A graveyard simulator
Deathly Maidens: Film maker Wesley Chambers top 5 “Death and the Maiden” films
This Rare Illness Makes People Think They’re Dead
Jon Underwood to open permanent Death Cafe in London
Where in the world is it illegal to die?
Airbnb winner spends Halloween night in the catacombs
Dia de Muertos: A Primer
What to say to someone who’s grieving vs. what they hear
Why I still want to look beautiful even though I am dying
Sarah Sudhoff’s At the hour of our death
Creative Slang Terms For Death from the past 600 years
Meet the new faces of Death at Dirge Magazine: Sarah Troop & Bess Lovejoy

Previous installments:
Links of the dead for September 2015
Links of the dead for August 2015

Let me tell you about this thing I ate {A Blue Apron Review}


Acorn Squash Tempura Tacos

While I love to cook, I don’t always love taking the time to cook.

Sure, on the weekend, I use to happily spend 10-12 hours flitting in and out of the kitchen fussing over the same pot of chicken broth (it’s totally worth it, of course -and it smells go good!). But during the week, I really just can’t be bothered.  Or rather, I guess I don’t want to be bothered with planning meals, shopping for them, and having everything ready to go at 6pm in the evening.

I get it, some people thrive on that.  Some people make all their meals on the weekend and then either freeze them or parcel them out during the week. This is also not an option for me, as my weekends are now mostly spent caring for my grandmother, and I just don’t have time to do things like that for us here at home. So during the week, after work – and yeah, I work from home but I’m on the phone 90% of the time and working from home is not all binging on Downton Abbey all day like some people think it is – all I really want to do is order a pizza or make a Chipotle run or something.  But that’s not sustainable; you can’t do that every day and still feel good about yourself and still fit into your clothes.

A few months ago a good friend of mine mentioned that she had started using Blue Apron, which is basically a delivery service that sends you a box of pre-portioned meal ingredients, with recipes. It’s about $60 for the fixings to make three, two-person meals, and I think there are options for larger, family sized meals, but it’s just me and my Viking, so we don’t really need more than that.


Spinach and fresh mozarella pizza

You peek at the upcoming menu for the week (they have both vegetarian and meat-eater options), decide if you like the recipes, and then either opt in or skip that week’s delivery.  So far, we have gone the vegetarian route and usually schedule a delivery every other week; I don’t have time to cook every day, and if we had one of these boxes arriving every single week, there would be a lot of food that would never get cooked!

The box arrives packed with recipe cards with clear instructions and lots of photos, and ingredients which are already portioned and measured: if a curry recipe calls for a teaspoon of cumin, there it is, neatly labeled, in its own little cup. Two tablespoons of olive oil arrive in a tiny screw-top jar; six sprigs of cilantro, in a zipped plastic bag. Of course you still must chop and dice and mince and cook and simmer (and clean up afterward, ugh) but everything is already there for you to get started.

Is it cost effective? Well, I don’t know.  If you’re the type who doesn’t mind paying for convenience, then absolutely. What I love about it most though, is that all of the recipes are seasonal and call for seasonal ingredients, and while so far there’s been nothing really crazy-unusual, more than half of these I definitely would not have thought to make on my own. Acorn squash tempura tacos?  Never would have come up with that in a million years.  But I am here to tell you that they were amazing.


Ponzu-Tahini Soba Noodle Salad

A few tips to keep in mind:

Those foil cooling packs that they include to keep the food from spoiling? The ingredients are water soluble, so just snip one end, dump the contents down the drain, and recycle the rest.  Speaking of recycling, some folks have issues with all the little containers and cartons and packing that Blue Apron includes for all the knick knacks – the oils and spices and various & sundry tiny ingredients.  It looks like they are trying to address this with a recycling program

These are not exactly low calorie meals.  While I think that they are, for the most part, healthful and nutritious, each meal runs you around 700 calories, according to the portions on the recipe cards.  You can probably get around this by using less oil than is called for here and there, and maybe portioning things out into smaller sized dishes, but Weight Watchers this is not.

So far there are only vegetarian and carnivore options – no gluten free or dairy free meals or anything like that.  I don’t know if that is something they are adding, but I have to imagine that there is a niche for this type of service and someone else is already providing it? If not, someone needs to run with that idea!

The recipes are on the site for free, so you don’t even have to sign up and pay for the service if you want to make any of the things I’ve mentioned here! For your convenience, I have linked to all of the recipes below, with the favorites being starred.

Would I recommend this?  I think I would. I’m not even getting any affiliate perks by saying so, as they don’t seem to have a program for that yet.  And for what it’s worth…out of all of those ridiculous subscription boxes I’ve been signing up for and canceling over the past year?  I think this one is probably my favorite.  Well, this one and the wine subscription – Bright Cellars – because, you know.  Wine.  I’ve not mentioned that here before, so here’s a mini-review:


Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Homemade Garlic Croutons & Sunny-Side Up Eggs

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Crispy Ricotta Pierogi with Warm Apple-Cabbage Salad & Browned Butter

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Queso & Pepper Arepas with Kale-Avocado Salad & Chimichurri


Elsewhere: The New Faces of Death

Sarah Troop / Photo credit: Sarah Waldorf


For Dirge Magazine I interviewed five influential woman active in the Death Awareness/Death Positivity community. The first of these, my profile on Sarah Troop, Executive Director of The Order of the Good Death and Social Media Editor for Death Salon, as well as, blogger, writer, and friend, went live today.

This was a serendipitous coincidence, for today I also facilitated Orlando Florida’s third Death Cafe; Sarah was instrumental in getting me started down this path with her unflagging support, encouragement and advice.
Read more here: The New Faces of Death: Interview with Sarah Troop


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