The Perfect Prescription

Before we give you the medicine, let’s give you a peek at the illness:

• An election year
• An unbearable commute
• Teenage children with cell phones— and they are yours
• Parking lot wars
• Another reality television show about heedless people in their 20s
• Your own cell phone
• What you are going to have to fix for dinner tonight and what you are going to feel like when you do it

One prescription can alleviate the stress and symptoms of all these illnesses: a nice soothing bath in Dead Sea Salts.

Dead Sea Salt Pans | Agraria

View of Dead Sea salt pans near Ein Bokek from the southern side of the canyon.

A few salty facts

The Dead Sea has been recognized for centuries as a body of water with healing properties and gives us dead sea salt.  Cleopatra herself bathed in the waters of the sea, taking full advantage of the high mineral content in the Dead Sea salt and the other properties this unique dead sea salt provides. Cleopatra, known for her beauty well into the later years of her life, was a testament to the benefits of the Dead Sea and dead sea salt. Jewish Roman historian Flavius touted the healing benefits of the Dead Sea nearly 2,000 years ago as well, encouraging travelers to bathe in the waters and take a sample of the sea in the form of dead sea salt home with them.

Liz as Cleopatra | Agraria

Millions were spent on sets, costumes, scripts, and top British actors, but what people remember most in Cleopatra?: The bathing scene with Elizabeth Taylor.

More recent history is filled with studies that have been done on the many healing benefits Dead Sea salt provides. Research has shown potential advantages of Dead Sea salt in treating skin conditions like acne, psoriasis and eczema. Dead Sea salt baths and mudpacks have been used to effectively reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritic conditions. For those who simply want a smoother, more radiant complexion, Dead Sea salt offers unique benefits as well.

How to take your medication

Yes, we know you already had a shower at the gym. That doesn’t count. Now it’s time to put the iPad in a drawer. Turn off the 55″ flat screen. Put your cell phone in the car outside. Send your teenagers to a work farm. Or maybe just to the movies. And get your spouse in the kitchen to fix dinner for a change. You only need 30 to 45 minutes.

A few scoops of your favorite bath salts. (We like Bitter Orange: A complex & subtle blend that permeates the air with additive waves of clove, the zest of bitter orange & just a touch of cypress. Described by The New York Times as “uplifting, mysterious and androgynous in its appeal.”) And yes, you should go whole hog and light the Crystal Cane Candle as well. Doctors orders.

Catherine Deneuve | Agraria

Invite Catherine Deneuve to read to you while you soak.

If you like? Some music. Our current favorite: Debussy’s Chansons De Bilitis. Beautiful celesta, flute, and harp music with Catherine Deneuve reading a collection of erotic poetry by Pierre Louÿs. The poems are in the manner of Sappho and the legend was that they were found on the walls of a tomb in Cyprus, written by a woman of Ancient Greece called Bilitis, a courtesan and contemporary of Sappho, to whose ‘life’ Louÿs dedicated a small section of his book. On publication, the volume deceived even the most expert of scholars. Though the poems were actually clever fabulations, authored by Louÿs himself, they are still considered important literature.

We recommend twice-weekly follow ups until you can smile at everyone around the dinner table, and you let the alpha-type in the truck with the jacked up chassis and mega tires pass you with no elevation to your blood pressure.

Need more inspiration? A few of our favorite bathing scenes below.

The Women Joan Crawford | Agraria

Joan Crawford as Crystal Allen in The Women in the ideal tub. But ditch the phone and the kid, huh?

Myrna Loy | Agraria

Myrna Loy takes a pre-Hayes Code soak in The Barbarian, 1933

Claudette Colbert | Agraria

In Cecil B. DeMille’s ancient Rome epic Sign of the Cross (1932), Claudette Colbert plays the cruel, seductive Empress Poppaea. The VERY pre-code film features Claudette Colbert bathing lavishly in donkey’s milk in a pool size tub. A little trivia: In reality, Colbert wasn’t bathing in donkey’s milk, but powdered cow’s milk. The scene wasn’t very pleasant for Colbert to film, because the milk spoiled under the hot studio lights and smelled bad, according to IMDB.

Need even more inspiration? See below.

Agraria Bath Salts | Agraria

Agraria Bath Salts

A Rosy New Year

Building a Float | Agraria

Building a Rose Parade float

One of the great things about being in California is that we have flowers and roses practically all year long. And we celebrate that by our yearly Rose Parade and Tournament of Roses in Pasadena that kicks off the Rose Bowl game.

Agraria

The 2012 Tournament of Roses Royal Court Finalists stand together for the first time in front of media, family and friends at the Tournament house in Pasadena. From left are Sarah Nicole Zuno, Franklin High School; Cynthia Megan Louie, La Salle High School; Morgan Eliza Devaud, La Canada High School; Kimberly Victoria Ostiller, Flintridge Preparatory School; Drew Hellen Washington, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy; Hanan Bulto Worku, Pasadena High School, and Stephanie Grace Hynes, Maranatha High School (Tim Berger/Glendale News Press Staff Photographer)

A History of the Tournament of Roses

This uniquely American event began as a promotional effort by Pasadena’s distinguished Valley Hunt Club. In the winter of 1890, the club members brainstormed ways to promote the “Mediterranean of the West.” They invited their former East Coast neighbors to a mid-winter holiday, where they could watch games such as chariot races, jousting, foot races, polo and tug-of-war under the warm California sun. The abundance of fresh flowers, even in the midst of winter, prompted the club to add another showcase for Pasadena’s charm: a parade would precede the competition, where entrants would decorate their carriages with hundreds of blooms. The Tournament of Roses was born.

1954 Rose Parade | Agraria

By 1954, Pasadena's Rose Parade was famous enough to merit its debut as the first-ever coast-to-coast program televised in color.

“In New York, people are buried in snow,” announced Professor Charles F. Holder at a Club meeting. “Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let’s hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise.”

During the next few years, the festival expanded to include marching bands and motorized floats. The games on the town lot (which was re-named Tournament Park in 1900) included ostrich races, bronco busting demonstrations and a race between a camel and an elephant (the elephant won). Reviewing stands were built along the Parade route, and Eastern newspapers began to take notice of the event. In 1895, the Tournament of Roses Association was formed to take charge of the festival, which had grown too large for the Valley Hunt Club to handle.

In 1902, the Tournament of Roses decided to enhance the day’s festivities by adding a football game – the first post season college football game ever held. Stanford University accepted the invitation to take on the powerhouse University of Michigan, but the West Coast team was flattened 49-0 and gave up in the third quarter. The lopsided score prompted the Tournament to give up football in favor of Roman-style chariot races. In 1916, football returned to stay and the crowds soon outgrew the stands in Tournament Park. William L. Leishman, the Tournament’s 1920 President, envisioned a stadium similar to the Yale Bowl, the first great modern football stadium, to be built in Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco area. The new stadium hosted its first New Year’s football game in 1923 and soon earned the nickname “The Rose Bowl.”

The Tournament of Roses has come a long way since its early days. The Rose Parade’s elaborate floats now feature high-tech computerized animation and exotic natural materials from around the world. Although a few floats are still built exclusively by volunteers from their sponsoring communities, most are built by professional float building companies and take nearly a year to construct. The year-long effort pays off on New Year’s morning, when millions of viewers around the world enjoy the Rose Parade.

Nicknamed “The Granddaddy of Them All” the Rose Bowl Game has been a sellout attraction every year since 1947. That year’s contest was the first game played under the Tournament’s exclusive agreement with the Big Ten and Pac-10 conferences. The 1998 Rose Bowl Game was the 52nd anniversary of that agreement, the longest standing tradition of any collegiate conference and a bowl association. Now, as part of the Bowl Championship Series, the Rose Bowl has hosted the National Championship Game between the top two teams in the nation in 2002, 2006, 2010 and will host the National Championship again in 2014.
— Courtesy of TournamentofRoses.com

A Few Grand Marshals from Past Parades

It wasn’t until the 1930s that the Tournament of Roses took the hint from Hollywood and began including not only movie stars as Grand marshals, but also the first woman GM, Mary Pickford officiated. (All images courtesy of TournamentofRoses.com)

Mary Pickford | Agraria

Mary Pickford (left) in 1933

Edgar bergen (right) and Charlie McCarthy | Agraria

Edgar Bergen (right) and Charlie McCarthy in 1940

Bob Hope | Agraria

Bob Hope at right in 1947

Richard and Pat Nixon in 1960 | Agraria

Richard and Pat Nixon in 1960

Mickey Mouse | Agraria

Mickey Mouse in 2005

How to Celebrate the Tournament of Roses If You Are Not in California

Not everyone can enjoy the crisp sunshine and heavenly fragrances from all those flowery floats on New Year’s Day. A wonderful way to capture the essence of a rosy winter is Agraria’s newest home fragrance, Cedar Rose.

Cedar Rose | Agraria

Cedar roses are the tops of mature cedar cones that are created as the cones dry out and the lower “petals” are pushed off or disintegrate. There is no Cedar rose tree or bush.

The Damask (aka Damascus) Rose was probably the first flower from which rose oil and rose water were distilled, possibly in 10th Century Persia.

Atlas Cedarwood, a native of North Africa’s Atlas Mountains, is prized for its high percentage of aromatic compounds that are distilled into essential oils. The trees are cultivated in Morocco for furniture and for the elaborate carved doors and plaques, hence the inspiration for the luxury bath bar paper design.

A Special New Year’s Wish From All of Us at Agraria

Have a wonderful new year and thank you so much for your interest in our products and fragrances. As a special thanks, Ethel Merman sends you the very best below.

Candles in the Window

Above: Lansbury sings with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Angela Lansbury, in the 1966 Broadway production of Mame calls for “Candles in the window” in the classic song from that musical, “We Need a Little Christmas.” We know what she’s talking about. She needs her spirits lifted and nothing helps elevate the mood as the warm glow and holiday scent that a candle can deliver. Or maybe  two candles. Hey! It’s the holidays — how about ten or twenty candles!

Fragrance triggers memory like no other sense — especially long term memory. All it takes is a scent of something from your childhood — say, your mother’s perfume — and you are instantly transported back to that time. Because of this, what we smell can subconsciously affect our moods. If the scent of oranges and cinnamon reminds you of happy holiday memories, then let’s light up a few candles.

And remember, just as you have fond recollections ignited by scent from your own childhood, the fragrances you bring into your home can create new traditions that your family will come to have lovely associations with.

Custom scented candles can be perfect for turning a bad day into a better one. When you come home from work, light a custom scented candle that will let you forget the stresses of the day. What better way to do that than to remind your brain of a time when you weren’t stressed out? Do you “need a little Christmas?”  Light the Bitter Orange or Balsam…or better yet, light them both.  We do.

SPECIAL FOR OUR BLOG FRIENDS:  And if you need more candles, use the coupon code CANDLES on your next Agraria order of $100 and enjoy a $25 credit with our compliments.  The credit applies to any Agraria products and is good until December 24th.

CRYSTA CANE CANDLE FAMILY | AGRARIA.COM

Crystal Cane Perfumes Candles

We Need a Little Christmas (partial lyrics)

Haul out the holly;
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again.
Fill up the stocking,
I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now.
For we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute,
Candles in the window,
Carols at the spinet.
Yes, we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute.
It hasn’t snowed a single flurry,
But Santa, dear, we’re in a hurry;
So climb down the chimney;
Put up the brightest string of lights I’ve ever seen.
Slice up the fruitcake;
It’s time we hung some tinsel on that evergreen bough.

Let’s Join Forces to Find a Cure for Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The folks at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation have done an amazing job of promoting awareness and gathering support for finding a cure for breast cancer. The founder and chairman, Evelyn H. Lauder, has directed and shaped this organization superbly. One of the great things about the Foundation is that they make participating in finding a cure exciting, engaging, and design-driven. Again this year, Agraria is donating 35% of our sales of all Cedar Rose online purchases to the foundation during the month of October.


Here are some great examples of cooperative programs to help the cause:

Saon Beauties | AgrariaSalon Beauties
Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present Salon Beauties, an exhibition of photographs by Evelyn H. Lauder, the artist’s third exhibition with Gagosian Gallery. The exhibition, to benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, continues Lauder’s long commitment to raising awareness and funds for the Foundation’s work.

Salon Beauties showcases mid-century porcelain vases depicting women’s heads, photographed to create bold shadows accentuating their theatricality. Known for her exploration of light in photography, Lauder uses shadow, light and composition to depict dramatic moods. The photographs convey Lauder’s unique eye for beauty and ability to create stories in her artworks.

September 29 through Saturday, October 1
Gagosian Gallery
17-19 Davis Street, London W1K 3DE.

The Pink Swan Project
SUITE New York has officially launched the Pink Swan Project. This second installment of the Pink Project features Arne Jacobsen’s iconic Swan chair, fully customized by nineteen of the world’s leading designers.

Swan Project Chairs | Agraria

Chairs by Alexandra Von Furstenberg, Campion Platt, and Vincente Wolf

The chairs will be auctioned on charitybuzz.com with proceeds benefitting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The online auction will run October 1-31, 2011.

View all nineteen chairs and read more about the project and each of the designers here.

About the Breast Cancer Research Foundation: It funds more than 175 dedicated scientists at major medical institutions around the world, whose research has led to advances in detection, prevention and treatment. Currently, more than 90 cents of every dollar donated is supporting breast cancer research and awareness programs.

Behind the Scents: The Damask Rose

Damask Rose Botanical Print | AGRARIA

Half the fun of introducing a new fragrance family into our home fragrance collections is doing the research on the basic elements we combine. In our newest fragrance family, Cedar Rose, which incorporates Atlas Cedarwood of which we have written previously, we also have combined the heady fragrance of the Damask Rose.

BASKET OF DAMASK ROSES | AGRARIA

Roses play such an important role in our various cultural histories, works of art, music, and medicine that they are practically a mythological character of their own. And the Damask Rose —Damask taking its name from Damascus — has it own varied story.

CRUSADERS | AGRARIA

These crusaders look like they might enjoy a hot shower with one of our luxurious Atlas Cedarwood Bath bars.

The Crusader Robert de Brie is sometimes given credit for bringing the Damask rose from Syria to Europe sometime between 1254 and 1276. Other stories say the Romans brought the rose to England, and a third account says that the physician of Henry VIII gave him a Damask Rose, as a present, around 1540.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Elisabeth is perhaps best known for the legend which says that whilst she was taking bread to the poor in secret, her husband asked her what was in the pouch; Elisabeth opened it and the bread turned into roses.

The Damask Rose is also known as the Rose of Damascus and the Rose of Castile — or the Castilian Rose.  The Castilian Roses play an important part of many Christian miracle stories from St. Elizabeth of Hungary to the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Virgin of Guadalupe

According to tradition, on December 9, 1531 Juan Diego, a simple indigenous peasant, had a vision of a young woman while he was on a hill in the Tepeyac desert, near Mexico City. The lady told him to build a church exactly on the spot where they were standing. He told the local bishop, who asked for some proof. He went back and had the vision again. He told the lady that the bishop wanted proof, and she said "Bring the roses behind you." Turning to look, he found a rose bush growing behind him. He cut the roses, placed them in his poncho and returned to the bishop, saying he had brought proof. When he opened his poncho, instead of roses, there was an image of the young lady in the vision.

One of our favorite uses of the rose essence is in cooking and food preparation. Western cookery today does not make much use of roses or rose water. However, it was a popular ingredient in ancient times and continued to be popular well into the Renaissance. And the Damask Rose is especially known for it use as an edible food. If you have never had rose flavored ice cream, go immediately to your Middle Eastern grocer — you are in for a divine treat.

Saffron and Rose in Westwood | AGRARIA

Saffron and Rose in Westwood has an amazing selection of rose-flavored ice creams.

And while Rose ice cream is certainly delicious, we are avoiding extra calories by enjoying our Damask Rose sensations in a fat-free form.

These are just a few of the products from our newest fragrance family. See our newly improved web site and learn more about Cedar Rose.

It’s a Wrap!

Spelling mansion

Wait...how many rooms?

Under the heading of “Problems We Don’t Have” comes the quandary of not knowing exactly how many rooms your home has, and for what exact purpose they were specified.

Candy Spelling

Candy, in Candyland

Candyland, the deliriously large mansion in Bel Air named for Candy Spelling, the owner, was recently sold to 22-year-old, British socialite Petra Ecclestone, daughter of self-made Formula 1 billionaire Bernie Ecclestone and former Armani model Slavica, who are divorced.

Paula Eccelstone and Candyland | Agraria

Paula Ecclestone and Candyland

In a recent Los Angeles Times article, Ms. Spelling was quoted about the original plans of the house:

Candy Spelling, the widow of famed TV producer Aaron Spelling, has claimed that she never counted the number of rooms even though she oversaw construction of the chateau-style residence, built in 1991. A blend of over-the-top extravagance and practicality, the house is estimated to have about 123 rooms. Many are customized for their purposes, such as the flower-cutting room and a humidity-controlled silver storage room.

In her 2009 book “Stories From Candyland,” Spelling tells of her unfamiliarity with the building process: “We didn’t set out to build the largest house…. Because I couldn’t read blueprints, I was often surprised by what was eventually built.”

Among things she would have done differently: the gift-wrapping room would have been larger, as would have two of the powder rooms. She devoted two extra attic rooms to gift-wrapping to make up for the miscalculation.

Which brings us to our own little bit of insane luxury — sumptuously large bath bars in our newest fragrance, Cedar Rose.

Cedar Rose Bath Bar

We are pretty excited here to begin our launch of this new fragrance line under development for a while now. Morocco’s visual splendor and its finely crafted furnishings and ornate wooden detailing in homes and mosques made of Atlas Cedarwood from the Altas Mountains in North Africa have inspired our latest scent family.

This ingot of bath soap is hand-wrapped in our beautiful custom papers — first in tissue, then in a signature gold foil specific to each scent line. Ribbons, buckles, and labels complete the process making it a perfectly self-contained gift. But of course, you will want to keep it yourself. Better buy enough for everyone.

Moroccan inspired paper  | Agraria

Save the paper for your own Gift Wrapping Room.

So if you are good friends with the young Miss Ecclestone, and would like the perfect gift suggestion as a mansion-warming present for the new digs, we suggest a few dozen of these beautifully wrapped bars with a unique scent that evokes the mysteries of Morocco and the clean air of the Atlas Mountains.

Behind the Scents: Moroccan Influences

Painting by Delacroix | Agraria

Eugène Delacroix, The Sultan of Morocco and His Entourage, 1845.

Moroccan Tile | Agraria

Moroccan Tile

L. C. Tiffany, Market Day | Agraria

L. C. Tiffany, Market Day

Our new Cedar Rose fragrance collection evokes the varied cultural influences of Morocco. For some — musicians, poets, actors — Morocco has been a place to find oneself. For others — composers, novelists, the Beat generation — it has been a place to get lost. Hypnotic and Byzantine, at once a modern city it still honors its own ancient roots in the motions of daily life. Morocco’s visual splendor and its finely crafted furnishings and ornate wooden detailing in homes and mosques made of Atlas Cedarwood from the Altas Mountains in North Africa have inspired our latest scent family.

Night sky in Tangier | Agraria

Night sky in Tangier

Mattise, The Moroccans | Agraria

Matisse, The Moroccans

Tangier, a Moroccan port city located near the Strait of Gibraltar, has had a mysterious lure for creative people. No African city is closer to Europe, no other Orient is more dearly loved by European or American artists – painters, musicians or authors. Delacroix, Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns, Matisse, Van Dongen, Tennessee Williams, Jean Genet, William Burroughs, and Paul Bowles, to name but a few, have all lived in Tangier. Malcolm Forbes, the brilliant billionaire had his most famous 70th birthday party there, commandeering three private jets to bring his guests from all over the globe to celebrate along with his hostess Elizabeth Taylor bedecked in emerald green.

Elizabeth Taylor and Malcolm Forbes | Agraria

Elizabeth Taylor and Malcolm Forbes

Kasbah Tamadot is a luxury, award-winning 5-star resort in Morocco | Agraria

Kasbah Tamadot is a luxury, award-winning 5-star resort in Morocco.

Paul and Talitha Getty | Agraria

Talitha and Paul Getty in Marrakesh, 1969. Photography by Patrick Lichfield

Le Verger de l’Etoile Filante (Orchard of the Shooting Star) | Agraria

Le Verger de l’Etoile Filante (Orchard of the Shooting Star)

In Marrakesh, opulent homes, a fusion of European and Moorish architecture, were built or restored in the mid 20th century when Morocco was discovered by the international jet set. Now more and more sumptuous residences in prime locations are changing hands, including Bled Targui, owned by Princess Henrietta von Auersperg, and Le Verger de l’Etoile Filante (Orchard of the Shooting Star), which belongs to Frederick Vreeland, the former United States Ambassador and son of Diana Vreeland, the famed fashion-setter and Editor of Vogue. Both are spacious pleasure domes set among exquisite gardens – like those enjoyed by such expatriate lovers of Morocco as Yves St. Laurent, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, John Paul Getty, and Rudolph Nureyev.

Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca | Agraria

Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca

For many the most evocative and romantic city of all is Casablanca, so famed by the 1942 American film directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid, and featuring Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Dooley Wilson. Set during World War II, it characterizes Morocco as complex, mysterious and dangerous in a sensual way.

Blue Door Morocco | Agraria

Blue Door, Morocco

“To visit Morocco is still like turning the pages of some illuminated Persian manuscript all embroidered with bright shapes and subtle lines.”
Edith Wharton, 1927

Fez-Window | Agraria

Fez-Window

“From far off, through circuitous corridors, came the scent of citrus-blossom and jasmine, with sometimes a bird’s song before dawn, sometimes a flute’s wail at sunset, and always the call of the muezzin in the night…”
Edith Wharton, In Morocco

Agraria

Agraria
(American novelist and designer Edith Wharton traveled to Morocco after the end of World War I. In Morocco is her account of her time there as the guest of General Hubert Lyautey. Her account praises Lyautey and his wife and also the French administration of the country.)

Edith Wharton, In Morocco | Agraria

Edith Wharton, In Morocco