Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Licorice Notes

Happy Spooky Halloween!

Today will be dedicated to licorice notes – the notes used to flavour the gooey chewy sticky black candy that is of the signature flavours of this holiday. Licorice notes are strange. They are usually either loved or loathed. Very few people have intermediate feelings about them. The peculiar scent of licorice notes is a reconciliation of contrasts: spicy warmth and minty chill; rough dryness with smooth, mouthwatering sweetness. Perhaps it is the sweetness of licorice that is the most peculiar. I used to chew licorice root as a little girl, and it was a completely sugar-free candy, yet felt very sweet. I am saying “felt” rather than “tasted” because I think the licorice aromas cheat on the senses to create an impression of a sweet taste that is not really there.

Licorice root is not the only source for licorice sorcery. In fact, most licorice candies are flavoured with oils of aniseed, star anise and fennel. Anise is the sweetest of all three, and feels warm and diffusive. Its ability to mask odour only adds to its mystique. Star Anise is a tad more dry, clean and spicy in feel. Sweet Fennel is sweet indeed, with a hint of green. Tarragon is another plant with a licorice aroma, only greener and herbal, with a sense of tangy freshness. Tarragon absolute is a thick, syrupy version of tarragon, accentuating the licorice-candy qualities of this herb.

Here are a few perfumes for the licorice lovers amongst us. These may not mask your body odour when you go fishing or ghost busting, but they sure are olfactory stunners thanks to the mystical presence of licorice notes.

Apres l’Ondee might have been one of the very first scents to use aniseed note “out of the box” and in an unusual context. Here, the obscure quality of anise complements the melancholy of violet and orris.

L’Heure Bleue further expanded on this theme, and here the aniseed note is paired with the almost-gourmand almondy notes of heliotrope, sweet violet, carnation and woods.

Lolita Lempica (Au Masculine) makes a definite gourmand statement that is once again paired with violet. Vanilla and rum add sweetness, and woods and cistus add an underlining pine-like masculinity that is maintained through out the composition. The feminine version is just as high on licorice and anise, again paired with violet, only with a slightly different base (vanilla, tonka, musk and vetiver).

Chinatown takes licorice notes to yet an even more extreme sweetness, as star anise and fennel do in the infamous Five Spice. Like a Five Spice salt, Chinatown creates a strange, sweet and warm sensation, balanced by exaggeration as it is paired with even sweeter white florals and peach juice, and a counterpoint of patchouli and vetiver.

Eau de Reglisse, Caron’s most recent addition to their outstanding collection, takes a different route. Here licorice is taken as it is – the dry root – and infused into a refreshing lemonade drink along with litsea cubeba. The licorice is subtle and is revealed once the sparkling lemon notes of litsea have subsided. It is more like chewing licorice roots than the gooey candy. Eau de Reglisse is an interesting eau, while being cool and refreshing still retains the woody warmth of licorice twigs.

More perfumes with licorice notes:
Anice (Etro)
Anisia Bella (Guerlain)
Jean-Paul Gautier Classique (aniseed top note)
Piper Nigrum (Lorenzo Villoresi)
Salvatore Ferragamo for men
Rive Gauche pour homme
Silver Rain
Black Licorice
And two of my Zodiac perfumes: Sagittarius and Cancer


A fun activity that is easy to make. Young children will love making it - and using this fragrantly sweet lip treat.

4 Tbs. almond oil
2.5 Tbs. coconut oil
3 Tbs. beeswax (unbleached), grated
1.5 Tbs. dark chocolate (at least 85%), preferably unsweetened
1 tsp. honey
1 Capsule Vitamin E
10 drops aniseed oil
10 drop sweet orange oil
(or any mixture of these two oils)

Measure and mix all the ingredients except for the essential oils and vitamin E.
In a Bain Marie (double boiler), melt them all down over low-medium heat.
Once all the ingredients have melted, remove from heat and let it slightly cool off.
Add the essential oils and vitamin E, and pour immediatley into containers. Make sure the consistency is neither too liquid nor too hard to touch and use.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Behind the Scents with Tamya Parfum

The first rain in a desert country is something extraordinary. There is a word for it in our language, “Yoreh”. After the dead-dry months of dust and dried straw and broiling sun, the earth responds to the rain gratefully by releasing a haunting aroma and setting free the many seeds that are buried within her. They will sprout as early as the next day, and within a couple of days, the earth is covered with teeny signs of life of many species. The most significant plants, besides the bright green grass against the rich brown soil, are the Autumn Crocuses, aka Sitvanit ha-Yoreh (Sitvanit is from Stav, the Hebrew word for Autumn, and the Yoreh is the first rain). In other words – the Autumn Crocus of the First Rain.

The other species is a type of bluebell, which is called “Rain Bells”. A very modest sibling to the European species, as these flowers are tiny and quite rare. They don’t grow in groups as the European ones do, so one must remember where they emerged in previous years to find them.

After nine months of the best pregnancy I could ever wish for myself (or any other woman), and after 22 hours of labour (which I would happily fast-forward if it was only possible), on October 29th, 1996, at 12:50am, my 9 months and 22 hours odyssey to motherhood had reached its destination, and a beautiful girl took her first breath, which most likely had smelled of a combination of wheat germ oil in a hospital... That very night, the Yoreh had knocked on the roofs of the Western Galilee, and clenched the thirst of the dry earth. Two days later, when we came back home from the hospital, the earth was covered with the spouting grass. My mother and brothers came to visit. The clouds had already cleared (that’s what they do around the Mediterranean), and in the late afternoon and the magic hour just before sunset, the warm Autumnal sun has glowed on our euphoric faces and the little fruit-of-the-womb. We went for a leisurely stroll among the olive orchards and observed the same golden light glowing through the rare petals of Autumn Crocuses and Rain Bluebells with a peaceful feeling of wonderment in our hearts.

I am telling this as I am biting into the last creamy guava that has been scenting my house for the past couple of days. The scent of a guava fruit instantly reminds me of these first weeks ten years ago. The baby and me were fortunate to enjoy the nourishing abundance of Autumn fruit. My mom spoiled me with only the best of them: guavas, anonas (aka custard fruit), persimmons, pomegranates and the very first tangerines of the season – perhaps not quite ripe enough, but no one cares. The first tangerines are a symbol of autumn and the first days of school. They are still rather green on the outside but already ripe enough to enjoy, especially if you are a kid.

In summer 2004, I felt it was time for me to bottle that special magical hour and that magical autumn. I wanted a perfume that would be glowing like the diagonal sunrays just before sunset; I wanted it to be abundantly fruity; I wanted it to be as sweet as a baby’s breath, and tender as the scent of a newborn crown.

Bluebell Singing, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

I overcame the challenge of the composition by using a few unusual essences to compensate for the limited fruity palette of the Natural Perfumery Organ (guava note was out of the question, unfortunately): The precious oil of Yuzu, an exotic Japanese citron with an intensely fruity, citrusy, bright aroma (reminiscent of grapefruit and Clementine combined, but much better) as the main fruity note along with black currant buds absolute. For the heart, I chose mostly white florals, that all have a hint of fruit and are sparkling and lively: Jasmine Sambac, Hyacinth Absolute, Ylang Ylang and Frangipani. The base is milky and musky, with notes of ambrette, Atlas Cedarwood, Sandalwood and a tad of vanilla. The results were an instant success with the first trial. I had to later on eliminate the hyacinth, as it is a very unusual building block and very difficult to find. However, omitting it did not make a significant difference on the perfume. It still smelled like “Tamya”.

The challenge was with picking the name. I was chasing my tail trying to find nice French or Italian names for “Golden Dusk”, “Fruit of the Womb”, etc. Sometimes, the simplest things just stand in front of us and we stare through them blindly… After a while it dawned on me that I should simply use the name of the muse for this perfume: Tamya. And so it remains to this day.

P.s. Image of Sitvanit originally uploaded by Sibboleth

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Miracles Happen

This is Tamya two years ago in early Fall 2004. Her femur is broken and she is sitting in a wheel chair posing for a newsletter of The Corporation. Her entire left leg is in stabilzed by a brace. This was the most traumatic event in her life. The pain and the helplessness has forced her to use language in situation in which otherwise she would have been self-sufficient. She learned to trust us, her parents, in every detail of her life and had to communicate more complex needs. She learned that she can lean on us to support her cope with pain. In a sense, this was Tamya's re-birth. It was as painful as birth and she emerged out of this extreme experience a completely different person. At the age of 8, the unbelieveable happened: Tamya started talking.

To read more about the story of Tamya's transformation, visit the Pumpkin Blog.
Don't miss tomorrow's last episode in the Autism Blogala: the story behind Tamya parfum. The winners of the Blogala Draw and the Annick Goutal quiz will be announced on November 1st.

At that time (Fall 2004) I was wearing Yohji more than ever, as I just discovered that scent. From than on, Yohji reminds me of this transformation from pain to sweet victory of overcoming one’s own obstacles… Yohji will forever remain a scent that is difficult for me to wear, as it brings the ambivalent feelings of this family trauma and the significant inner change it triggered in the three of us. Ironically enough for me, Yohji also starts green and with ozone notes that are peculiar and somewhat aggressive. Both notes are extremely difficult for me anyways (perhaps the only two that I have a very strong adverse reaction to)… There is also an intense bergamot note, like an intense sniffage of an ultra-fresh Earl Grey teabag. The ozone gives up on its domineering aspirations after about half an hour, and by the time you reach the basenotes, the greens grassy notes dry down (literally…) into the sweetest coumarin accord ever – just like fresh cut grass that is left to dry in the warm sun. Upon drydown Yohji turns around 180 degrees and reveals the most luxurious confection of vailla, caramel and juicy raspberry syrup, all dusted with a powdery comforting softness. I always wanted to write a review of Yohji, but the opportunity occurred only now. I feel that only within this context my impression and experience of Yohji is the most truthful (though extremely subjective).

Top notes: Galbanum, Green notes, Ozone/Oceanic notes, Bergamot
Heart notes: Praline, Raspberry
Base notes: Coumarin, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Musk

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Happy Birthday to Tamya!

This year is the first year that Tamya can tell us how old she is: Ten!
She had the perfect birthday:
Lots of friends visiting
Birthday Cake (we made blackforest cake together!)
Pumpkin Carvin'
Lots of cool presents (mostly craftsy stuff, including smelly markers, scrapbooking stuff such as stickers and tracing templates, her first journal - with a lock! - and her very first set of acrylics and canvas frames!).

We now just got back from getting her favourite Gelato - four scoops as always: Mango, Black Sesame Seed, Spiced Pumpkin and Vanilla. Surprisingly - no coconut this time!
If this combination sounds weird to you, let's set the record straight: these are best eaten, according to Tamya, when mixed together, rather than enjoying them separately. Perfumery is all about mixing the unlikely component and creating a new whole that is greater than the sum of all parts. Tamya is showing early signs of talent in that direction. And did I mention her new signature mixture of her coconut body spray with her pineapple detangling spray? Smells divine, though not quite practical...

Please participate in our Blogala Autism Fundraising! Only three more days to go, and you can win cool prizes and also contribute to a good cause!!!

For more details visit:

Autism Blogala Announcement
Annick Goutal Mystery Scent Contest
Tamya Parfum Blogala Special

Today I was wearing Tamya perfume in honour of my daughter. It now reached the last phases of the dry down, which are soft and subtle musk and vanilla. A soft way to end an eventful day... Tomorrow I will be telling the story behind this haunting perfume, which is gathering a growing circle of admirers.

P.s. One of Tamya's little friends had a tea party in Tamya's room last night. She poured almost the entire content of her Diorissimo mini into one of the miniature tea cups. I noticed a very pretty and familir scent suddenly appeared around her and her mom towards the end of the day, but it didn't really occur to me what it was until I cleaned up the room the next day... And only tonight (when I was washing the dishes and the tea cup amongst them, which made the kitchen mysteriously gorgeous smelling) that I realized that the orange-coloured thick residue in the teeny tea cup was not ancient orange juice, but an evaporated Diorissimo!

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Treatments for Autism + Tips for Parents

Autism cannot be cured. Thankfully, it can be treated. The earlier the diagnosis and the earlier an intervention program is set in place to support the child and the family – the better the prognosis.

Visit Tamya's Pumpkin Blog to read about other methods and approaches for treating autism, including Sensory Integration, Soical Stories, ABA, Biomedics, Dietary Intervention, Music Therapy, Art Therapy, Animal Therapy, and more..

A few tips about recruiting people to work with your child:

Funding for autism therapy varies between countries, states, provinces, districts and cities. There is one thing in common everywhere though: there are always limited resources, both financial wise and manpower wise. If you are fortunate enough to live in a country that funds autism, and have a budget to work with – use it wisely. Here are a few tips:

1) Use whatever resources you have to the max. Get the professional (and expensive) therapists and consultants to be in constant communications with all the caregivers and educators involved in your child’s life. Get the daycare teachers to do as many one-on-one sessions as possible with your child (be it a Floortime session, an ABA session, a Sensory Integration session). These can be really short sessions, as long as they are frequent and meaningful.

2) Spend as little money as possible (if at all) on any consultant that actually behaves like a consultant. You need to get advice from people that know your child enough to truly recommend anything valuable. Consultants that see your child once a month or less are usually useless, unless they are amazing experts in their field. You would probably be able to tell pretty fast though…

3) Work as a team. Treat your therapy professionals as a team, and make them feel good about being in your team. Team meetings are excellent, as long as they don’t happen too frequently. Once a month is a good timing. More than two months apart might be too little especially in the first years. Bring some treats to the team meeting too ;)

4) Be the team leader. The parents know what’s best for their child, and they should be the ones who make the big decisions on what’s important to work on.

5) Make sure your therapy and educational team is always in fluent communication with you and preferably also with one another. The more you open the channels of communication, the better treatment your child will get. Joint sessions can be one of the most rewarding experiences for both the therapists and your child. They will create an environment of collaboration for your child and more importantly – provide continuity between one session to another. Practice makes perfect…

The people you choose to work with your child on a daily basis are going to have a significant impact on your child life. So be sure that you and your child like them and feel comfortable and safe around them, regardless of how impressive their education and qualifications are.

Quite recently, in British Columbia anyways, funding for autism has increased and became more reasonable. This is a blessing as well as a curse. There aren’t that many therapists experience or trained for treating autism, and unfortunately there are a few that are attracted to the job because of the new funding more than the work itself. Obviously, you want the person working with your child to be passionate about helping them

Some parents and therapists could be as passionate about their treatment philosophy as if it was a fundamentalist religion. I am none such fundamentalists, and I don’t believe that there is one single way to treat autism. which uses the most effective techniques for each specific child, in a particular situation and settings. I am going to do my best to steer away from such controversies, and I will simply outline a few of the most commonly practiced methods, which are used in schools and in most early intervention programs.

I personally believe that an eclectic approach that includes the methods that are most suitable for the child’s needs is ideal. I have my own personal bias towards Floortime, as it was a very rewarding experience to me and prove to work for my child; But I wouldn’t go as far as rejecting any other therapy just because this is what worked for my child. ABA is very effective for children with severe autism. It may help for teaching the child preliminary tools that are needed for the next step. I am a practical woman (and I bleive most parents have to learn to be practical after being in the business long enough), and I think you should pick and choose what’s best for your child, in each and every particular situation. For instance, a child may respond well to the playful and stimulating interactions of the Floortime approach, yet need a structured ABA session to learn her math and typing; She may also need a “sensory diet” to help her regulate her nervous system, social stories before difficult events (such as visiting the dentist or getting her hair done), and may even end up needing the help of drugs to regulate her obsessive-compulsive behaviorus once the hormones starts kicking in around puberty…

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Stanley Greenspan is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Behavioural Science and Pediatrics and a practicing Child Psychiatrist. Greenspan developed DIR aka Floortime, a unique therapy approach for working with children with special needs, which has been significantly successful with children diagnosed with autism, a neurological disorder that deeply affects the child’s ability to communicate effectively with their environment.

According to Greenspan’s theory, there are six preliminary developmental milestones, which underline all human intelligence and interactions with the world: language, communication, turn taking and other social, emotional and cognitive skills. The six milestones are:
1) The child’s ability to be interested in the sensation from the world as well as calm him/herself down.
2) The ability to engage in relationships with other people
3) The ability to engage in two-way communication
4) The ability to create complex gesture, to tie together a series of actions into an elaborate and deliberate problem-solving sequence
5) The ability to create ideas
6) The ability to build briges between ideas to make them reality-based and logical
(Greenspan and Wieder, 1998).

The Floortime approach is designed to help children that for some reason (i.e. their particular structure of the brain, etc.) did not develop one or more of those six milestones.
Floortime helps the child go back to the missing milestone and re-build it, so that more advanced and complex skills will be built upon.

The philosophy of Floortime is very unique and it is very humanistic in nature. It stems from deep respect for the child, and tries to use the child’s strengths and areas of interest in order to build upon new skills and to challenge the child. Also, it is most important to note that Floortime tries to bring out and nourish the internal motivation of the child in the areas of speech and communication. Rather than “teach” the child how to communicate, the parent/therapist/caregiver leads them to find their own internal motivation, from which stems the will and drive to communicate with us.

Another principal extremely important in Floortime is that children learn much better through activities that involve a relatively high level of emotional excitement, especially positive one. Actions such as raising our voice to a vivid, dramatized and high-pitched sound, making broad gestures, or engaging in a pleasant physical ativities are some examples of how we can bring the child’s system to a level of excitement that is optimal for their learning. The child will be more inclined to pay attention, engage in the activity, and as a result – close more circles of communication, and even increase output of language. When we follow the child’s lead, there is more chance the activity will end up being “high energy” and stimulating, and engaging for the child, since it is the child’s interest to begin with.

By following the lead of the child, the parents, caregivers and therapists try to increase circles of communication with the child. The focus is on how many circles the child closes, rather than the actual means of communication (the child can communicate with their actions as well as vocalizations, etc.; In some cases even “avoidance” is communication – if it is a response to a communication circle that was initiated by the caregiver). By responding to the child’s actions and acknowledging
his/her interest, we help the child step out of their “shell” and engage in the world outside them. It is essentially like inviting ourselves to their world, reach out to them, and than pull them out to be interested in the world around them.

According to Greenspan (1998), following these principals can change the structure of the brain of children that otherwise were known to “lack” the ability or the will to communicate. Floortime can be adapted to different needs and levels of communication.

Recommended reading:
The Child With Special Needs: Encouraging Intellectual and Emotional Growth by Stanley I. Greenspan and Serena Wieder. This book covers not only the basics of Floortime, but also brings case studies of both children and their families, including the families' coping styles with the child's condition.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Contest Reminder!

Don't forget to enter Ayala's Perfume Review Contest! The more reviews you post on Basenotes and Make Up Alley, the more chances you have to win one of three cool prizes - Pure Parfums or a Perfumed Pendant from Ayala Moriel!

For more details visit our original Perfume Review Contest announcement.

Also, don't forget to post comments on SmellyBlog this month. Each comment means a contribution of $1 to Autism Community Training in BC. We hope that you will also get inspired to contribute to autism organizations in your community. Money is not the only way to contribute: increasing awareness to neurological disorders and other developmental conditions and sharing your stories if you know people with autism or other disabilities is not any less important. Poeple with disabilities are part of our community and contribute to it just as much as people without disability!

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From Little T's Dresser

I promised you all a while back around Mother’s Day to tell you all about Tamya’s favourite smells. So, here we go. This post is about a few real tangible products, and the next post will be about her favourite fruit and food etc.

Tamya’s dresser (not that she really has one, it’s more part of her shelf-full of little treasures and little girl’s jewelry), includes two perfumes that she actually used at certain point or antoher, and a few minis that are there waiting for her to get interested. I think we can easily wait a few years before splurging in Diorissimo, Champs Elysee, Mitsouko and Narciso Rodriguez. For now they will just get occasionally splashed on the floor by little visitors who admire their attractive miniature packaging.

Petit Guerlain, the first perfume I ever bought her, is a wonderful scent, that can be applied in abundance. I got it for her when she was about 4 years old and she liked it right away. Everything about this little perfume is made right:
The smooth, pebble-textured frosted glass of the oval bottle and it’s round cap with matching texture (easy for little hands to grab on, open and close).
The liquid within is alcohol free, which is basically a solution essences-infused Turkey Red Oil emulsified into water (with a few preservatives and other emulsifiers judging by the ingredient listed on the box).
It is prevented from spillage by a reducer in the neck of the bottle…
As for juice itself: pure and delicate. It is soft, clean, gentle and fresh. Truly delicate, like you would want your little one to smell without overwhelming their senses. It can be applied with abundance with no risk involved. Notes include lemon, orange, lavender, mimosa, rose, orange flower, and tonka bean.
It makes for a wonderful eau whenever you need a simple, clean fragrance. I am referring to the Eau de Senteur, which comes in a splash bottle and safe enough for toddlers to apply on their own. It is also available in an Eau de Toilette, which is alcohol based, and is better used by older kids.

Tamya used to splash this all over in the morning or before bed time, usually turning the bottle upside down on the upper part of her wrists, in the most cute manner of all. It’s been a long time since she wanted to wear it though.

Petit Parfum, the first perfume I made especially for tamya, is a roll-on essential oil, and looking back I think it’s a bit too strong for kids, but wonderful scent to wear around them without overwhelming their senses. The formulation is very concentrated, as it is in parfum oil. The notes include lemon, lavender, neroli, lavender absolute, agarwood and olibanum. The lavender absolute is a stunning turquoise colour, and gives the yellow jojoba oil a lively green shade; when made into almond oil it’s more turquoise-y. The bottle is decorated with a handpainted red ladybug.
To wear it the classic Tamya way, smear the roll on up your arm and around your neck before bedtime. You will have the best sleep, guaranteed.

At certain point, Tamya was really jealous of my Perfumed Pendant and was almost ready to rip it off my neck. So I filled one with Tamya Crème Parfum, and she is happy ever since. She rarely wears it, but it is still frargrant with yuzu, jasmine sambac and cedar. Jewelry for her is not really meant to be worn, it’s meant to be played with. This weekend you could read about the story of the creation of Tamya parfum.

Orange Flower Water – also know as Zaher or Blossom Water – are an excellent skin toner, especially for oily or zit-prone skin of adolescents. Soak a cotton pad with the fragrant water and wipe face thoroughly, enjoying the euphoric scent of orange blossoms. You can find orange flower water in most Mediterranean markets, as they are used to flavour pastries, drinks and sweets. Or you can opt for a more expensive one from aromatherapy companies. The most luxurious orange flower I have ever smelled was Neroli Hydrosol from A Little Olfactory.

Tamya loves coconut and pineapple, so I will also include two items that in her life are not so much a vanity, but a necessity.
Coconut Escape Body Milk
For moisturizing her fast-paced growing pre-teen skin, after bathing Tamya gets covered from head-to-tow with a mist of Coconut Escape Body Milk from Escents. It is scented with coconut and tonka bean. This is by far the smelliest, fastest way to get your teenage girl to prevent stretch marks.

Cirlce of Friends Abebi’s Safari Detangler
Aside from its delicious pineapple aroma, I would be lying if I said that Tamya love this product. But her mommy sure does, as it has proven to be the most effective way to combat those bird-nests that appear daily in the hair of a little girl who hates brushing it. Spray it on the affected area, work it in, and brush. No pain, guaranteed - from a perspective of a young lady who hates her head and hair being touched in any way. The Canadian based line is tested on parents only, and promotes cultural diversity. It is full of fun products that are available online or from The Hairloft – the only hair salon that can get Tamya’s hair done, and in less than 30 mintues while watching (or ignoring) her favourite music video. Judging by the performance of this item alone, if we were allowed to visit there more often, we would have had the entire line by now.
P.s. I wanted to include photos of the other products, but I am experiencing some technical difficulties with uploading more photos. I recently switched to Blogger's Beta, and some things have improved since than, but others are a bit problematic... Hopefully I will be able to add all the other images later.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I had a feeling for a while when I was filling out the new flacons, that they hold more than the manufacturer's has stated. I finally had the guts to challenge that paradigm today, and measured the content.
These hold 9ml and not 8ml as stated on my website.

The good news:
All of you who bought 8ml parfum in the past couple of months actually got an extra 1ml for free!
I will not be making changes to the current price for the time being, not until the New Year, anyways. The new price will only be about $10 more than it is now, which is still a very good deal for that size of flacon, comparing to other brands who sell a similar quantity.

I will be making the update on the website over the next few days to frelect the real volume of the flacons.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Shopping Cart Announcement

The shopping cart on Ayala Moriel Parfums is all set now!
You can now place your orders directly on through the website!

If you order a Fragrance Wardrobe or a Sample Pack, please specify in the PayPal notes which fragrances you would like to order, and I will pack them for you with love!

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Perfume Shopping with Little Duckling & A Guessing Game

A little while ago, I went perfume sniffing with Tamya and we went to The Bay – the only place in Vanouver where you can find Annick Goutal’s line. Now, Tamya is about the funniest person to go perfume shopping with. Although I know she can smell, she doesn’t really know how to do it, if you know what I mean… She usually blows on the object for sniffing (flower, scent stripe, perfume bottle, etc.) rather than inhale. I find it super funny and super cute, like everything she does really. And since this is her special month, I don’t mind flaunting it proudly on my blog…

So, on the circular table, there stand the entire Annick Goutal line. And Tamya is with me, doing pretty much what I do (spritzing cards and blowing her nose on them LOL). All of a sudden, I notice she is doing something she never done before in a perfume store: she opens one of those lovely Goutal crystal bottles, and she sprays some on her wrist!
Needless to say she smelled divine, the scent was gentle and pretty on her little wrists and I have to keep asking her for a sniff… The next time we went Goutal sniffing, she did the same thing, with the same fragrance. Mommy is tempted to get her a bottle, obviously.

Now, you get to guess the fragrance, and you will win a sample of the mystery perfume and a miniature 2ml bottle of Tamya parfum!
I am going to give you one hint though: it is NOT Songes. This scent haven’t made it to Canada yet. It could be anything else though…
For every comment or guess on this post, I will be donating $1 to Autism Community Training in BC.

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The Five Stages of Loss

The 5 Stages of Grief (or Loss)
Denial (this isn't happening to me!)
Anger (why is this happening to me?)
Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if...)
Depression (I don't care anymore)
Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes)

When a child is diagnosed with a disability, the parents often go through a similar process to that of grieving – also know as The Five Stages of Loss (or Grief). There is a lot of variation in how the process is experienced: some experience every single stage, some don’t; some stages may last years, other may last only a day or two. It’s really different from one individual to the other.

Learning that your child is “not what you thought s/he is” is more difficult than it seems from the outside. You have to say goodbye not only to the dreams (and unfortunately also expectations) for your child’s future, but also let go of all that you thought they were until this point. Their behaviours all of a sudden bare a different explanation. You think you understood and knew your child, and all of a sudden you don’t.

It’s interesting to note, that once your child grows up, and gains enough conscious to understand that they are different – they in fact will go through a similar process. I can’t speak about the process from this point of view, but you can read stories like that, for instance this story I found on the internet from the point of view of a young lady who has a learning disability, and also this article that talks about the process of accepting one's diability.

I would like to share with you the process I went through with my daughter diagnosis, from a young mother’s point of view.

Through her first two years, Tamya seemed to develop like all typical babies do. For the most part. She seemed to be a happy baby, and for the most part followed the main developmental milestones and reached most of the main ones at the average age: she smiled at 6 weeks, turned fron side to side around 3 months, was sitting at 6 months, crawling at 8 months, and learned how to walk when she was one year old. The things that were a bit unusual were very subtle, and could be only discovered in retrospect, knowing that indeed she did have autism: lack of interest in toys in general, fear of furry animals, grinding teeth, and certain vaguely autistic responses to social cues (i.e.: she did not wave goodbye). At the age of 18 months and on, Tamya was curiously walking the opposite direction when we were going on walks, or would walk at least 10 meters ahead of us (unawareness of danger), and was also extremely fascinated by chasing her shadow and going up and down stairs.

At 18 months some of our family members started to express concern for Tamya’s development. She went through elaborate medical examination to see if anything is missing in her diet, etc. We kept thinking that she is fine, as for the most part she seems to be developing normally, and she was also very communicative (thanks to the tremendously expressive saucer-size eyes she’s got). Her attentive and intelligent observation completely fooled us to think that she is probably going to start talking like nothing has happened any day now. This seemed to make sense, because the way she learned how to walk was very slow and cautious. She never fell: when she sensed loss of balance, she gradually lowered her bottom and sat down, until she perfected her walking skills.

The shit has finally hit the fan when she started daycare at the age of three. It wasn’t so much the language that alarmed and worried her teacher, it was more her perseveration and her unawareness of danger. Tamya spent her first month in daycare opening and closing drawers, flicking lights, playing with the curtains, and trying to find the exists through which she can escape daycare and be left alone without those demanding adults!

After about a month in daycare, her teacher couldn’t keep her worries to herself, and she just told us, bluntly and courageously, that she is really worried, and from her experience from another child she educated – she thinks that Tamya had autism. You can imagine my rage: “how dare she think that MY child, who has the most intensely expressive EYE CONTACT could POSSIBLY have AUTISM???!!!”. But it only took about two more weeks to get over that outrageous anger as well as mistrust (after all, who is that teacher anyways? She is not a doctor, she is not en expert, she doen’st have the right to diagnose my child!!!”).

Than the worries and the fears started sinking in real fast. Is our daughter going to keep wearing diapers for the rest of her life? Is she going to ever talk? Is she going to have a good life? Do we still love her the same way? It was an emotional roller-coaster, that we couldn’t handle for too long…

Two weeks later, we woke up at 6 in the morning for an emergency meeting with a child and family psychiatrist who happened to speak my native tongue and also have the talent to calm people down and give them reasonable and logical solutions in the most stressful situations.

However, a few more weeks later, Tamya’s biological father (than my husband) took off and went back to Israel, and I became a single mother to a child that had no diagnosis yet. So I had to go through the process of grieving in two parallel avenues – the one related to the loss of the relationship, and the other to the loss of who I thought my daughter was until now. The reason I am telling you this is not so that you think that I am such a courageous and strong woman (usually the response I get from people when they hear my story). I am telling you this because it is very common that families break when a child in the family is diagnosed with a disability. The stress, fear, worries and tension it adds to relationships is enormous, as if raising children and maintaining a relationship isn’t challenging enough as it is. It’s a real test for the strength of a relationship, and parents should get all the support they can get and need in order to keep their family intact and attend to their own personal needs and maintain a certain level of sanity.

From this point on, for about at least a year if not two, I lived constantly in the two stages of both extreme depression and worry on one side, and a constant bargaining with the systems – so that my daughter would get all the support she is entitled to – the community health nurse got involved, came for home visits and gave me tips for increasing language and managing behaviours, an occupation therapist came on board almost instantly after than, we got assessed for speech therapy right away as well, and by May, we started receiving weekly speech therapy sessions through the Centre for Ability.

As you see, I spent very little time in the other phases. I really didn’t have much time. I am a practical woman (especially when it comes to taking care of my loved ones), and so within two months after the “breaking news” from the daycare teacher, I had almost all the services available lined up for my daughter, and she was on the shortest waiting lists all the time. I just wouldn’t have let her postpone her “getting better” anymore than I did when I was denying her condition before. There was a huge element of guilt there too. I should perhaps add GUILT as a stage in the process, as it is experienced by most parents to children with special needs. You always feel that you should have done better, if you only didn’t or did do this, or that, your child would have been better off now… It’s a frustrating, disharmonic feeling that can either freeze and paralyze to depression and numbness, or it can make you push yourself and everybody else harder and achieve results. I tried to do the latter.

It wasn’t until Tamya was four that she was officially diagnosed with autism in Sunny Hill (a division of BC’s one and only Children’s Hospital). This was after she got ear tubes installed, and hearing impairment was ruled out as a factor in her language delay. At that point, I was prepared for the worst. I already knew she has some form of Autism, because she was informally diagnosed in a hospital in Israel a few months earlier in the winter (due to grandparent’s request, they couldn’t wait to have the diagnosis, where I ddin’t really care what she has as long as it’s getting treated!). Tamya got pretty much the worst diagnosis they could have possibly come up with, which none of her educators could agree with – severe autism, apraxia and a moderate cognitive delay. While we all knew she has autism (high functioning) and apraxia (dyslexia in speech and challenges in sequencing) cognitive impairment was out of the question. That girl is simply too cunning and intelligent for that. But labeling helps, apparently, in getting funding for therapy and help in the school system. As long as you see your child as a child and not as a walking example from the DSM-IV, and give them all the love they deserve multiplied by 100, labels can’t harm. In fact they prove to be effective sometimes when you need to explain why your child is saying the same thing over and over or throwing unexplained tantrums in public…

I think I have pretty much reached the stage of acceptance. I don’t feel guilty about denying my cild’s condition for the first suspicious year and a half, and my child is happy and gets what she needs to be healthy and reach her potential. I may need to go through similar phases when she grows up (as disabilities are a lot more apparent once a child grows up) and becomes a teen and than an adult. And even more difficult – when she becomes aware of her condition and goes through the grieving process herself. But I feel I am strong enough to accept what my fate has put on me and I woulnd’t exchange my child for a “normal” child for anything in the world. I can’t imagine my life would be nearly as wonderful as they are without her and without her charming yet sometimes frustrating autism.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Eau Sauvage

From the moment I met Eau Sauvage, it was steaming passion. It’s sparkling clarity and bold sensuality are seductively well-mannered. Eau Sauvage is what I would want to immediately splash onto a man’s chest and than bury my head into... This would probably be my one recommendation, aside from necessary precautions, for a blind-date gadget (whether if you are a man or a woman)… It radiates good taste and vibrates with a lively charm. Eau Sauvage has the sensuality of clean, freshly showered skin, smooth just-shaved cheekbones, the sweater of a lover left behind for further cuddling and sniffing, permeated with the impeccable scents of sweat sweet hay.

As a side note I may ad: I wasn’t exposed to the Eau Sauvage ads featuring showers and mysterious men just about to take off their black sweater – and was pleasantly surprised to find them fitting to my own internal image of the scent (which is quite unusual in the world of perfume ads).

It wasn’t until I became a perfumer that I learned that the magic charm here lies with the oakmoss. Oakmoss has the power to add a rich, complex underlining base to what otherwise would be just another one of the many fleeting eaux de citrus & herbs. And so while Eau Sauvage is unmistakably sparkling with citrus, it is also one of the first Chypre for men, and actually a revolutionary fragrance in its time.

Eau Sauvage was one of the very few significantly different fragrances for men. The fragrant history around the world (Arabia, India, Ancient Greece and Rome) tells us that men indulged shamelessly in a diverse selection of aromatics: from sweet and indolic flowers (rose and jasmine) to heavily sweet balsams, incense, musk and ambergris. Contrary to that, the modern Western man, since perhaps the days of Napoleon or even earlier, submitted themselves to a painfully limited palette of aromas: citrus, aromatic herbs, woods and some musk. Anything sweeter, heavier or more floral was reserved for women. Of course – there were a handful of significant and unusual scents for men prior to Eau Sauvage: Jicky (Guerlain, 1889, considered the first modern perfume but also one that dared to question the gender boundaries of perfume), Mouchoir de Monsieur (Guerlain, 1904), Pour Un Homme (Caron, 1934), Old Spice (originally released by Shultan in 1937 and was actually marketed for women but happily adopted by men).

What reserves Eau Sauvage such a special place in perfume history are two things: its composition, of course, but also it’s timing. It was released in 1966, a time when men were perhaps ready to start breaking out of the strict olfactory boundaries that locked them in a clean prison of citrus and herbs. Other scents released around this era are Tabac Original (1959), Chanel’s Pour Monsieur (1955), Pino Silvestre (1955), Monsieur de Givenchy (1959) and Creed’s Cuir de Russie (1953). These paved the path to the revolution of men’s scents, a quiet revolution that is still happening and morphing quietly into a rebel against the exact same things that restricted Western men, olfactory-wise, for the past two centuries. Eau Sauvage was a milestone in breaking out of the norm – starting with the use of substantial amounts of oakmoss and patchouli at the base, and hedione and jasmine in the heart. Only few people at the time knew that the Maestro had an even more revolutionary scent in stock – the one reserved for his wife Therese (designed for her earlier, in 1960). In Eau Sauvage, Roudniska used only a bare amount of the hedione comparing to his masterpiece for his wife, and none of the aquatic melony notes used in Le Parfum de Therese. But the use of citrus and basil and an expanding jasmine heart created a very similar effect, yet one that was be more easily acceptable by his audience.

Another departure from the norm was its mass appeal to both men and women. Since the release of Jicky, there wasn’t as much olfactory “gender-confusion”, and everybody felt comfortable stealing each other’s cologne, as long as it was Eau Sauvage. Diorella was sooon to follow, perhaps to shut down the cologne-kidnapping complaints and cologne-custody court battles that followed Eau Sauvage and threatened to break too many marriages… Diorella was a toned down version of Le Parfum de Therese, and a floraler version of Eau Sauvage (more hedione, and more jasmine, with the addition of melon). Where Diorella failed (marketing wise), other houses gained and started releasing many more unisex scents ever since – O de Lancome (1969), Diptyque’s l’Eau (1968), Santa Mari Novella’s Melograno (1965), Goutal’s Eau d’Hadrien (1981) – and than the explosion (or shall we say inflation?) in unisex fragrance in the 90’s, accompanying and/or following Calvin Klein’s One (1994).

The use of basil, citrus and oakmoss is genius, and along with the jasmine, considering it’s time, it is also daring. To me it will always stay at the top – the epitome of masculine fragrances, and fragrances at large.

Top notes: Lemon, Pine, Lime

Heart notes: Basil, Jasmine, Carnation

Base notes: Oakmoss, Patchouli, Musk, Hay

Image credits:
Posters from
Bottle image from Dior.com

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Perfume Review Contest!

Tell Others About Ayala Moriel Parfums - and WIN A PERFUME!!!

If you are a member of Basenotes or Make Up Alley online forums, you can add your reviews to the existing listings of Ayala Moriel Parfums. Submit your review and your name will be entered into a draw to win one of these three prizes:

1. 8ml Kinmokusei parfum

2. Perfumed Pendant in Palas Atena

3. Mini Wardrobe with 4 mini bottles of our newest scents: Kinmokusei, Razala, Les Nuages de Joie Jaune and Zohar

Simply write what you think about our fragrances and rate them according to the rating system on these websites:

Basenotes: http://www.basenotes.net/house/102178

- Click on the perfumes you would like to review and enter your review in the text box provided.

Make Up Alley:

1) Click on this link or go to Product Review and search for "Ayala Moriel",

3. Select from the list the perfume you would like to review

4. Click on "Share your views! Write your own review!"

5. Enter your reviews and ratings and tell the world honestly what you think about our line.

Draw date: November 7th, 2006

The lucky winners will be contacted through their forum profiles and will be announced on www.SmellyBlog.com

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Monday, October 16, 2006

The Love and Death of Miss Dior

I have a soft spot for Miss Dior. It was my first true introduction to Chypre.
My first encounter with it was actually a “blind buy”. I bought a set of Dior minis in one of my travels, about 5 or 6 years ago, without ever sniffing the lady before. The Miss Dior bottle wasn’t closed properly, so about half of it spilled all over the case containing the collection, making them all smell unanimously wonderful.

What stroke me as most special about Miss Dior when at first was how warm and round it was. No one note stood out in particular. It was a true “perfume” in the sense that the sum was greater than its parts… The spilled Miss Dior diffused soft, thick, almost oily molecules in the air, surrounding me with a constantly vibrating aura that feels utterly erotic. The following is what I wrote a few years ago about my impressions from the EDT that resided in that mini bottle 6 years ago (half of which evaporated away to the atmosphere, and the rest soaked into my skin and poisoned it with Chypre love). I still have about 0.5ml left to remind me slightly of what it used to be, and luckily also a vial of a vintage Eau de Cologne to remind me of the glorious days of Miss Dior before the reformulation.

So here is how I raved: “This wonderful and timeless Chypre is as smooth and as round as could be, so well orchestrated that the different notes blend in harmoniously and act together rather than compete with one another or "show off". It is young-spirited and sophisticated at the same time, therefore appealing to women of all ages that are seeking a classic, refined expression of their feminine self, without feeling overly girly...
Though different olfactory stages and notes can be detected, they are not as pronounced or separated from one another as you might expect. Rather, they lead to one another with a harmonious continuation that makes the complete experience magical and seductive. Which is, after all, the secret for the charisma and sex-appeal of Chypres – the way they blend different notes without leaving too-obvious hints as for what they really are. You know the notes are in there, but you smell them all at once, singing in one beautiful accord!
The top notes of galbanum, gardenia and citrus are accompanied by no other that the relatively harsh herbal notes of sage which surprisingly converts the top note accord into a peach-like fruitiness. The top notes appear fresh and soft simultaneously, and lift up the Chypre nuances of patchouli and labdanum from the base.

Once the initial green frutiness has mellowed, Miss Dior reveals her round, feminine floral heart of jasmine, neroli and rose, completely balanced as no note is dominating the other.

This all dries down to a base accord of a warm and somewhat wild Chypre accord: patchouli, oak moss, labdanum, as well as civet notes which contributes to the roundedness and fullness that links the phases altogether. Some refined, subtle woody notes of vetiver and agarwood appear late on, adding a clean, somewhat “sour” nuance, neither making the composition dry or bitter by the half, nor taking away from it’s overall luscious femininity.
It is definitley a must for all Chypre fans!”


A couple of years after the mini EDT, I was fortunate to spot a small flacon of the parfum extrait for an unusually reasonable price, and was surprised at the difference between the two concentrations. The Parfum was a lot more fruity and round than the Eau de Toilette – the sharp (almost metallic lead-like) top notes of the sage and galbanum were softened and smoothed that for a while I was almost convinced it was similar to Diorella’s fruitiness. There is a cedar note in there as well, and along with the sage, it strangely makes me recall the magical Vol de Nuit now. I would have never thought I would find any resemblance between the two. There is a smooth, almost powdery-woody feel to it. But the base is as oakmossy as could be, with the pulsating raw energy of civet tamed only by whatever you can do to hide the long lasting, recurring waves of chypric orgasm that lasts for as long as you let it lick your skin.

Top notes: Galbanum, Sage, Gardenia
Heart notes: Jasmine, Rose, Neroli

Base notes: Patchouli, Oakmoss, Labdanum, Civet

There is a rumour about Miss Dior being reformulated. I wasn’t so worried until I actually got a new bottle of the EDT. This smelled like Miss Dior, no doubt. However, to my disappointment, the animalic quality has been tampered with. Forget about those erotic waves of pleasure… The new EDT now opens with a sparkling note of lemon and lemon leaf, goes through a floral phase that is a pale, watered down reflection of its former “New Look” satin-white-corseted-waist, and than dries down to a chypre base that is dominated by no other than VETIVER. Yes, you heard me right. Vetiver. The clean, tart, almost citrusy, woody root. Not oakmoss. Not civet, but vetiver. It may be a non-sensitizer (for now, anyways) but by no means can it replace oakmoss!
If that makes you feel better, though, the new formulation does include oakmoss (it’s even listed on the ingredients on the box). It also has tree moss, actually. But overall, instead of the refined sexuality, it is more of an eau suited for summer since the addition of citrus at the top (formerly, the chypre effect was mostly achieved by the presence of aldhydic greens and galbanum, and the citrus nuance was actually a neroli note, rather than a citrus peel oil). It is still better by all means than many of the watered down florals out there; but the new formulation has caused it to lose a significant amount of its edge and originality. To top this off, Miss Dior is now followed everywhere by a trashy copy of her original self threatening to inherit her fame without any merit of her own: the “Miss Dior Cherie” – a strawberry and popcorn brat that never heard of oakmoss and dares calling herself a Chypre. I can only imagine how many people bought Miss Dior Cherie as a gift by mistake just because of the similar name.
I propose a moment of silence in memory of Miss Dior of the New Look.
And plenty of angry letters to Dior Fragrances.

Image credits:
New Look photo originally uploaded by Deignucdavis
Bottle image from Amabilia.com
New Look Sketch

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Tamya Parfum - Blogala Special!

This is a reminder that Tamya parfum is now on sale for only $75, and that of each sale, $10 will be donated to Autism Community Training, a charitable society owned by parents of children with Autism, that provides autism training, education and workshops in British Columbia.

By buying Tamya perfume not only will you scent yourself with one of Ayala Moriel’s finest and most sought-after perfumes; you will also will contribute to a worthy cause!

Tamya is a mélange of pure jasmine sambac, frangipani, Japanese citron, ylang ylang, cedar and musk. It conjures up memories of the first Autumn crocuses and wild Mediterranean bluebells awakening by the first showers. The earth is covered by sprouting wild grass and the sunrays of sunset glow through the petals as they kiss the earth goodbye...

And don't forget to leave your comments on SmellyBlog's autism posts this weekend. For each post, I will be donating $1 to ACT.

Thank you for reading SmellyBlog! After Afgter 8 months of existence, we know that SmellyBlog is blessed with at least 100 unique readers per day!
All you need is to say hi. I know you are there... Don't hide!

Image credit: Sitvanit Hayore, Originally uploaded by Holy Land Essence

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Etiology and Causes of Autism

The causes of autism are mostly a mystery. It is really difficult to tell what caused autism in each and every individual with autism. There is no known way yet to prevent autism from occurring. Similarly to Cancer, Autism is now thought to be many different diseases, set off by different causes, yet presenting certain similarities between the different cases of autism.

The term Autism was coined in the early 1940’s by Dr. Leo Kanner. Kanner defined the state in which schizophrenic patients behaved in a withdrawn manner, as autism. Throughout the 40’s until the 60’s, the medical community believed that children who presented autistic behaviours in fact had schizophrenia, and they also believed that it was a result of bad parenting and lack of bonding between the child and the mother (or the other caregivers). Of course this did not make parents feel too good about themselves and did not provide them with the tools to help their children.

Thankfully, this theory and approach was tossed out and replaced by others – and more importantly – a better understanding of the autistic mind and emotional state has been achieved. We may not know the exact causes for autism, but at least we know about a few things we can do to help autistic children to develop into their full potential as adults and decrease their suffering.

The rate of children diagnosed with autism is escalating: autism used to be found only in 1 child in 10,000. Six years ago, the rate was one to 1,000, and that has doubled into 1 every 500 children. Autism is now an epidemic judging by the numbers… However, some of the increase can be accounted for by the fact that the parameters for diagnosis have changes several times in the past decade.

The causes for autism could be one or more of the following:

There is no one gene that is known to cause autism. However, siblings to children with autism are more likely to present symptoms of autism than siblings of children without autism. Scientists hope, of course, to be able to prevent certain types of genetically caused autism (for instance: a research I recently read was about immune-system rejection in pregnant woman, that may have caused autism in their child; there may be a cure for that with adequate diagnosis prior to pregnancy and treatment during pregnancy to prevent the immune-system rejection of the embryo.

Environmental Causes
It is possible, though not proven, that certain children are pre-disposed at birth to have autism, and certain stimuli from the environment in infancy and early childhood bring out the symptoms.

Pollution and Exposure to Toxins
The many toxins in our environment could be the cause for autism. There is some research about connection between vaccines and autism, but it is not confirmed yet that vaccines cause autism. The scope of the effect of pollution is yet to be discovered…

Links to Other Conditions
Autism in some individuals is linked to other medical conditions, i.e.: Metabolic Disorders (i.e.: untreated Phenylketonuria), Congenital Infections, Genetyic Disorders (Fragile X, Tuberous Sclerosis), Dvelopmental Brain Abnormalities, and certain neurological disorders that can happen after birth. Also it might be linked to certain conditions in which the digestive system cannot break down certain enzymes, and these act as neurotransmitters which affect the development of the brain and its functions permanently.

There also seem to be a link between repeated ear infection and use of antibiotics, and the development of autism. There is a theory that the lining of the stomach gets affected by the antibiotics in a way that prevents the digestive system to properly break down certain proteins – and in return, a similar effect to what was described above may occur (i.e. proteins act as neurotransmitters and damage the brain and the nervous system).

The Right Brain Connection
Individuals with autism seem to have a dominant “right brain” which is quite obvious in the way in which they think. They also seem to process language in a different part of the brain than most people do. Autistic people are a lot more detail oriented, and have difficulty in understanding and developing symbols. Autistic people also have a larger brain than normal people. The brain seems to be swollen, especially in the front lobe and side lobes (which might explain why my daughter likes a lot of pressure on her head and forehead – perhaps it eases the brain pain?). We don’t know if the large brain causes autism, or is caused by autism. But we know that autistic people have a larger brain and that it’s not easy to live with a brain that is too large for the side of your skull!

An interesting theory I heard of only recently is that autism is caused by excessive release of testosterone in the mother’s blood stream during pregnancy (which is said to be caused by stress), and this causes autism (which also, interestingly, is described by the same researcher as an exaggerated form of “male brain”).

There are many theories, but none has been proven beyond doubt and to be honest – these are still to provide any satisfactory conclusion that will really make a significant change in the life, treatment, education or quality of living of autistic individuals and their families. We are still waiting for this to happen!

Online Resources about Causes for Autism
eMedical Health.com
Wrong Diagnosis.com

Next Week:
How to Deal with Diagnosis - The 5 Stages of Loss

Autism Treatment and Therapy

P.s. Please note that none of this short article is in any way scientific. I am just trying to summarize the many thing that I read, heard and learned during my almost decade of autistic motherhood… If you want the real nitty gritty research stuff, numbers and arguments – you can easily find them online or in your nearest university. I also do not intend on arguing about the causes of autism. I don’t have any theory. All I know is that none of theories really explains to me why my daughter has autism, and none is particularly helpful in finding ways to cure her or help her… I am thankful for the many educators and therapists, that with years of experience, have developed plenty of highly effective methods of educating children such as my daughter and helping them to become the best person they can be.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Earliest Signs of Autism

Autism affects all areas of life, but most profoundly it can be defined as a condition in which shared attention is extremely challenging.

Until the age of 18-24 months, most autistic children seem to develop typically. They reach the major milestones of development in a similar age and show barely any signs that anything is out of the ordinary with their development.

The reasons for that are unclear. Is autism a disease that only sets off at 18 months? Is something in the early medical history of the child responsible for the development of autism? Or perhaps, it is only when the child has reached the age when the milestones of speech, language and complex communication are expected to be apparent, that the autism finally reveals itself in the child even though it might have been there since birth.

There are, however, some very subtle signs that may be found in infants as early as 6 moths of age that are early signs of autism.

In the article “Autism: Recognizing the Signs in Young Children”, Jennifer Humphries describes these early signs to be expressed in three areas of early development:

Gaze is different in quality - brief and from the corner of the eye

Hearing seems to be impaired even though it isn’t when phsycially examined. i.e. the child will not respond to their name, or may not respond to certain noises and sounds. This is believed to be caused by the sensory needs of the infant - blocking out noises that are perceived as threatening, or the infant is blocking out sounds that are not interesting.

Social Development and Play is different, i.e.: the infant is not interested in or enjoy games that most babies find pleasurable and fascinating, does not respond to facial cues, etc.

Most autistic children get diagnosed around the age of three. It is not until about 18 months of age that the symptoms of autism become apparent.

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What to Watch For? Characteristics of Autism

The following are early signs of autism that appear in early childhood (ages 2-6) and a bunch of different strange and unexplainable beahviours. If you are worried about your child, or another child you take care of, educate or are involved with, watch out for these early signs of autism. These symptoms can be divided into five groups, in several important areas of life and child development.

The following list of characteristisc will help you not only to determine whether or not a child or an adult needs to get diagnosed or get special help, but more importantly – help you understand the child or adult who is suffering from autism, and be able to help them in your day to day interaction with them. Aristotle said that we cannot love something we don’t understand, so therefore I urge you to learn more about people in our community that are disabled. They deserve to be loved just like any other human being. Understanding, acceptance and love are really powerful things. They can bring reconciliation and peace to the hurt ones, and help them be at peace with who they are. In return, they become a contributing resource to our community, in many ways – some obvious - such as being able to work and pay taxes; and some more subtle - such as teaching us about our own weaknesses and strengths, and forcing us to be better people every day.

Verbal and Non-verbal Communication:

  • Speech and language skills may begin to develop and then be lost, or they may develop very slowly or they may never develop.
  • Preference for non-verbal communication such as gestures, pointing, or reaching.
  • Difficulty or inability to imitate sounds and words.
  • Echolalia (repeating what was last heard). For instance: repeating questions instead of answering them, or repeating the last choice when given two or more options to choose from.
  • Words may be used without their usual meanings.
  • Difficulty in understanding non-verbal communication gestures (i.e. waving goodbye, pointing, facial cues and expressions)
  • Language Sound Patterns: Intonation may sound flat, or inability to control how loud or soft the voice is, irregular rhythm in speech.
  • Extreme difficulty in initiating communication, maintaining a conversation
  • Inability to understand personal boundaries (may stand or sit too close to people when communicating with them).
  • Autistic people with more vocabulary and language skills may have hard time listening to other people and flowing with the conversation (may go on and on about what interests them rather than having a back-and-forth exchange of information.

Repetitive Behaviours:
  • Ritualistic actions that they repeat over and over again (i.e.: spinning, rocking, staring, finger flapping, hitting self, etc.)
  • They may be overactive or very passive and can show intense anxiety or an unusual lack of anxiety. Anxiety, fear and confusion may result from being unable to "make sense" of the world in the usual way.
  • They may take unusual risks with no fear of real dangers.
  • Unusual postures, walking or movement patterns.
  • Extreme dependence on routines, insistence on keeping everything the same, and resistance to change. Even the smallest changes in the environment may throw them off balance and make them feel intensely threatened and insecure (which often triggers extreme stress, fear, or even a tantrum).
  • Restricted interest: constantly talk about or obsess on one thing, idea, activity, person, etc.

Sensory Integration / Responses to Sensations:
  • Auditory and/or visual processing problems. Sensory input my be scrambled and/or overwhelming to them. Sensory sensitivities vary all the way from mild to severe hyper or hypo sensitivities.
  • Unusual sensitivities to sounds, sights, touch, taste and smells
  • Unusually high or unusually low pain thresholds
  • Effects on Learning
  • Many of the characteristics and aspects of autism discussed above can strongly interfere with the ability to learn through typical teaching methods:
  • Lack of spontaneous or imaginative play (e.g. may use only parts of toys; line up or stack objects; no imaginative/pretend play).
  • An inability to imitate others. (e.g. sounds, gestures, gross or fine motor movements, etc.).
  • Inability to focus on the task at hand. Some will have a very short attention span or concentrate only on one thing obsessively.
  • Difficulty sharing attention with others.
  • Difficulty with abstract ideas (e.g. difficulty using items or toys to represent real objects).
  • Difficulty grasping the concept of time and order of events.

Effects on Learning:
Many of the characteristics and aspects of autism discussed above can strongly interfere with the ability to learn through typical teaching methods:

  • Lack of spontaneous or imaginative play (e.g. may use only parts of toys; line up or stack objects; no imaginative/pretend play).
  • An inability to imitate others. (e.g. sounds, gestures, gross or fine motor movements, etc.).
  • Inability to focus on the task at hand. Some will have a very short attention span or concentrate only on one thing obsessively.
  • Difficulty sharing attention with others.
  • Difficulty with abstract ideas (e.g. difficulty using items or toys to represent real objects).
  • Difficulty grasping the concept of time and order of events.

Co-occurring Conditions:
  • Many individuals with autism have other health problems:
  • Neurological disorders including epilepsy
  • Gastro-intestinal problems, sometimes severe
  • Compromised immune systems
  • Fine and gross motor deficits
  • Anxiety and depression

These were adopted from the website of Autism Society Canada. Remember, these are various symptoms, and do not necessarily all occur in each individual suffering from autism.

To read more personal stories and examples, visit the Pumpkin Blog.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Members of the Chypre Family

The Chypre family is versatile, inclusive, tolerant and embraces many different nuances and variations on the chypre theme. It is, perhaps, the very loose and laid-back attitude of Chypre that is working against them now in the prolonged and painful process of extinction, as the Chypre family adopts bastard chypre-wannabes that do not contain even a drop of oakmoss!
More about that in the future article “The Dawn of Pink Chypres”. This is a sad story… But before we start weeping, let’s see what are the different sub-categories of the large and beautiful Chypre Family!

Heavy with a peach-like fruitiness. Often combine notes of peach, plum and apricot – which highly complement the dark earthy notes and the sparkling citrus notes of Chypre. This division of the family includes trendsetting classics such as Femme and Mitsouko, and also more modern scents such as Y (YSL) and my very own Autumn perfume, which is in fact an Homage to Femme, using natural essences only.

The most innovative and of all the Chypre family, Chypre Animalic Florals sometime have a leathery, dry effect that may suggest masculinity. Dzing! (l’Artisan Parfumeur) is one extreme example, also bordering on the leather; Agent Provocateur reeks with indole, musk and aldehydic florals; and there is also the classic Miss Dior, originally underlined with sizzling-hot civet base (review of different versions and concentrations of Miss Dior will be posted here very soon), and similar to it is also Ma Griffe. My personal addition to this sub-category is one of my most avant-guarde creations – Schizm, which pairs intense tuberose, orange blossom, jasmine and pepper over a base of oakmoss, cedar and wild mushrooms (which lend the animalic quality).

Originally, these were gardenia infused Chypre. Chypre Florals now contain many other florals as well – such as rose, jasmine, tuberose. Patchouli is added to the base, for emphasizing the floral notes. Here you will find Soft classics such as Le Dix (Belanciaga), the bold American Knowing (Estee Lauder), aldehydic princesses such as Parure (Guerlain) and fragile florals such as Chant d’Aromes (also by Guerlain).

Though extremely long lasting, these Chypre feel fresh and radiant and usually have pronounced citrus notes. The sparkling hedionic jasmine and citrus infused Eau Sauvage, Diorella and Le Parfum de Therese (all by genius perfumer Edmond Roudniska) are the beacon after which everybody else followed – including, for instance, Annick Goutal’s most successful and delicate Eau d’Hadrien, Chanel’s brilliant and sparkling Cristalle, and my very own ArbitRary. This category, for the most part, tends to be unisex oriented.

These are often the lightest chypre – usually with a leafy-green, at times herbaceous and coniferous notes. Galbanum is one of the most popular additions to green Chypres. These are often border-line with green florals.
These are usually extremely elegant and clean-cut composition, including No. 19 (Chanel), a masterpiece of galbanum, citrus, jasmine, rose, orris, woods, oakmoss and a hint of leather; Ivoire (Balmain), a refined dry composition of roses, greens, moss, and a hint of leather sweetened with raspberry; Private Collection (Estee Lauder) juxtaposing galbanum, orange blossom, rose, jasmine and oakmoss; Chamade (Guerlain), which is also an unusual cross between green chypre and aldehydic floral, with notes of galbanum, hyacinth, ylang ylang, oakmoss and vanilla; Ayalitta, which is an earthy-green Chyprey; and my recent Spring release newest version of Grin, in which the green of galbanum announces the presence of green dewy florals such as freesia, boronia and rose, underlined with oakmoss, vetiver and precious woods.

Prominent base notes of sandalwood, patchouli and vetiver add a dry, clean edge to those Chypre compositions – usually (but not always) these are very masculine. Somehow I went almost completely blank trying to find examples for Chypre woody perfumes besides Mitsouko, even though it's not particularly masculine strictly speaking; Agent Provocateur, an unusal Chypre as it is not truly mossy but achieved the diffusive mossy effect by using massive amounts of vetiver and aldehydes; and my own Democracy, which is masculine and somewhat ambery-animalic, and Megumi, which rather feminine and floral. If you have any suggestions, please post your comments...

Dry, smoky compositions those are dark and masculine. These include the Cuir de Russie pungent-dry leather compositions (Chanel, Piver, Creed, etc.), Jolie Madame (Balmain) which interestingly uses sweet violets as well as generous amounts of moss; Bandit (Piguet), Miss Balmain (Balmain), Yatagan (Caron), Bel Ami, and Caron’s legendary Tabac Blond.

With an outdoorsy scent – these are sporty and refreshing, and usually masculine in nature. Pino Silvestre and Rainforest are the best examples I can come up with at the moment (if you know of other suggestions, please comment!).

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Origins of Chypre

Chypre is one of the most esteemed fragrance families and many of the most fascinating perfumes belong to the Chypre family. The term is somewhat of a mystery to the layman and the everyday perfume consumers, and even perfume sales people will often be puzzled by it (and now neither its meaning nor how to pronounce it).

Contrary to the common knowledge, the legendary Francois Coty did not invent the concept of Chypre perfumes. What he did do was modernize these composition with the use of contrasting citrus top notes as well as several synthetics; and also, he has created a solid foundation of popular demand for this magical perfume family with his witty marketing, that has lasted for many years to come.

So when did Chypre perfumes really originate? In the island of Cyprus, of course, and many cenruries earlier. We know about chypre scents being made on the island as early as the 12th century. They made primarily of labdanum resin and mixed with other local aromatics from herbs and flowers. Later on, pastilles or little Oyselets de Chypre (Chypre Birds) were formed from a paste of labdanum, styrax and calamus, mixed with tragacanth. The perfumes in those old days were burned as incense and the birds decorated and scented rooms. It wasn’t until the 14th century that oakmoss was added to these pastilles. A book from 1777 provides perfume formulas for two chypre compositions that included oamoss as well as civet, ambergris, musk and various resins and plant aromatics, including rose and orange blossom.

Image credit: Goat2, originally uploaded by Mareea

P.s. In case you wonder what the goats are all about - not only are they from Cyprus, but also, it was originally from the goats' hair that labdanum resin was combed and that is how it was traditionally collected.

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What do Chypres Smell Like?

Chypre compositions are based on the juxtaposition of earthy notes of oakmoss and other supporting notes with the fresh notes of bergamot, citrus or other highly aldehydic notes. The contrast creates a surprisingly smooth result, where extreme blurring of the notes occurs, and all the notes are blended into each other while none stands out in particular. This is one of the most unique things about Chypre, and along with their versatility and endless possibilities for originality they are often perfumer’s favourite group to work with.

Chypre perfumes are often described as mossy, earthy, warm, spicy and nature-smelling. The scent of a basic chypre base accord is reminiscent of the forest floor in autumn, of crushed leaves and foliage. This is perhaps one of the reasons Chypres are traditionally considered “Fall Fragrances”.

Image credit: Tree Lichen, Originally uploaded by DSutherland

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