Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Happy Birthday, SmellyBlog!

IMGP6781_crcx_sq, originally uploaded by MJ².

Happy Belated Birthday to SmellyBlog!
SmellyBlog was born a year and two days ago, on February 26th. It's so easy to forget a birthday for a blog, but it's impossible forget blogging! I went by the 26th without as much as a brief mention of this at all. I can only hope that my intensive blogging can make up for such negligence on my behalf.

To add to the mess, I spent half of the day in PANIC, as I discovered this morning that my blog was temporarily locked due to one of the google robots suspecting it to be a spam blog. This is the message you get when that happens:

"This blog has been locked by Blogger's spam-prevention robots. You will not be able to publish your posts, but you will be able to save them as drafts. Save your post as a draft or click here for more about what's going on and how to get your blog unlocked".

When you click on the "click here" it will prompt you to enter a visual identification and your email address (or username if you are still using the "old blogger". You will than be in the mercy of the blogger "humans" when they find the time to review your blog and whitelist it.
I hope this never happens to those of you who have a real blog (i.e. not a spam blog). But if it does, there is no phone number to call (I even tried calling Google Ads in my despair!). I recommend to just wait patiently and use the time where you can't blog to clean your house and go over useful information on this group:
Blogger Help Group

The other two website that the Google Ads lady referred me to proved to be of no use whatsoever:
Blogger Help (if you can find your way and figure out who to contact in that maze, please let me on your secret!)
Known Issues for the New Blogger

At 2:48pm I finally got a notification from Blogger that my blog is cleared:
"Your blog has been reviewed, verified, and cleared for regular use so that
it will no longer appear as potential spam. If you sign out of Blogger and
sign back in again, you should be able to post as normal. Thanks for your
patience, and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused".

Now that this is all over, I can focus on celebrating SmellyBlog's birthday with you. An exciting birthday preset for SmellyBlog is on it's way - a brand-new logo and look!

You are invited to celebrate with us and let us know which you think is the most suitable gift for my fabulous web-pet: Vote for your favourite SmellyBlog logo and get entered to win a juiceful bottle of Opium Fleur Imperiale!

How to vote?
The following three posts are the outline for three different logos for SmellyBlog. Comment on the one that is your favourite and the one that you think represents SmellyBlog's personality the best - and you will be entered into the draw.

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SmellyBlog Logo No. 1

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SmellyBlog Logo No. 2

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SmellyBlog Logo No. 3

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Vetiver Extraordinaire

My very first encounter of Vetiver Extraoirdinaire was in the shower gel form. I took it with me to my trip to New York in August 2006, and it prove to be a nice companion in a trip to this humid land of concrete: cooling, grounding and somewhat earthy in comparison to the environment.

It is therefore comes as no surprise than, that my first impression from Vetiver Extraordinaire was that it’s a clean vetiver, perhaps along the lines of Guerlain’s vetiver, yet with far more subtle citrus nuances than the latter. The earthy cleanliness being one of the most esteemed virtues of vetiver, I saw no fault at that and found it very appealing, even charming at first. My current obsession with vetiver got me to revisit the sample I got at Barney’s when I got my Le Parfum de Therese last summer.

And indeed, Vetiver Extraordinaire is clean and fresh, with accent on the woody aspect of vetiver. It reads like a polished, smoothly worked pebble of wood that calls for repeat finger strokes, yet lacks the warmth of wood. Instead, you will find the coolness of a stone pebble at the bottom of a cold stream. Strangely, it feels more urbane than earthy.

Vetiver Extraordinare creates the illusion of thirst-clenching. Its coolness seems to pour continuously (until it vanishes completely from my skin, after about 2 hours; quite unusual for me because perfumes usually have a very good lasting power on my skin). It feels almost sterile and distance and the lack of evolution or depth leaves much more to be desired.

I found no information about specific notes other than vetiver for this scent, and I also can’t say I smell much more in it. Perhaps a tinge of citrus and a smidgeon of mint, and an even smaller amount of myrrh is all I can detect besides the vetiverness. The ad copy from Editions de Parfums claims it is made of 25% vetiver. The remaning 75%, I am afraid, seem to be made of mostly synthetic as far as I can smell.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Oil Bath with Coconut and Vetiver

S.P.L.A.S.H, originally uploaded by Nidriel.

Following the previous line of thought about vetiver and its healing properties, I decided to treat myself to an oil bath this evening. Unlike a "bath oil" this is actually bathing in oil, with no water at first. It is a special ritual you can do for yourself on a daily basis or as often as you wish. Paying attention to every part of your body and self-massaging with the oil to smooth out pains and strains and release tension can make all the difference in how you feel. Aside from nourishing your skin with the rich, nutritious oil, you will be taking care of each and every part of your body, making sure it gets positive attention.

Most of us avoid self-massaging and leave it either to the "professional" (which we usually see only when we are already in real trouble), or wait patiently for our significant other to come around and find the moment to treat us to one. This is where the biggest advantage of self-massaging lies: you can give it to yourself as often as you want and as long as you want!
Although there is the obvious disadvantage of not being able to reach all body parts in an equal ease and apply the same amount of pressure, you will still find self massaging to be quite special and beneficial because you know your body best and you know what places need more attention than others.

For the Oil Bath:

Simply fill a small bowl with three tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil, (this evening, mine had the consistency of smooth icing). Coconut oil liquefies in warm temperatures and solidifies in cool temperatures. The only time I've seen it clear and mobile was when I heated it gently on the stove, but that's because I live in Vancouver; If you live in a warmer climate, your coconut oil might be completely liquid.

Add two drops of vetiver oil, either wild crafted or or organic. I used my wild Haitian vetiver, which is my favourite for its completely inoffensive qualities - it is sheer pleasure. In aromatherapy, I learned, more is less; I recommend not using more than three drops for this ritual of self-healing. The therapeutic qualities of the oil will be more effective when it is used in the smallest doses possible. High doses may be counter-productive, especially when applied on large areas of the skin.

Stand or sit in the bath, and scoop large dollops of the semi-solid oil with your fingers. If the oil is liquified, just dip your fingers in it as needed. Massage onto your body, starting with the head and the shoulders, smoothing out rough corners and focusing on areas that need attention. Move from head and shoulders downwards to your lower back and legs. Don't forget to apply oil and massage your arms as well - they will be working hard all this time. Once your entire body is oiled and lubricated, you can use a gentler touch, trying to push out gently any excessive stress that may still remain behind, directing it outwards of your body. You may also gently massage your face - forehead, cheeks, chin - with whatever oil is left on your fingers (you won't need to oil your face like the rest of the body...

When you are finished, fill the bath with warm water and relax. You may choose to either wash the coconut with soap, or you may leave it on your skin. You skin will remai soft and nourished, and with a gentle yet very noticeable scent of coconut and just the slightest hint of wood from the vetiver.

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Vetiver in Ayurvedic Medicine and Aromatherapy

It would not be doing vetiver justice to mention it without taking into consideration its therapeutic properties and the long history of healing trailing behind this note. Vetiver is highly esteemed in the ancient Ayurvedic medicine. It also has many uses in modern Aromatherapy practices.

In Aurveda, vetiver is considered cooling to Pitta (the dosha which is made of fire and water). A vetiver paste may be applied to the skin in order to reduce fevers and cool the body. A self-massage in the morning with the cooling oil of vetiver root in a base of coconut oil (also considered cooling oil) is recommended for balancing the Pitta, and in general, for individuals with Pitta is their dominant dosha.

Vetiver is also esteemed for its pacifying powers to the Vata (the dosha of air and ether). Its actions are considered to bring calm and comfort to the mind. The relaxing aroma of vetiver helps to cope with stress, deepen concentration and acts as a rejuvenating tonic to the nervous system.

Small amount of vetiver oil can be applied to the oil used in Shirodhara – anointing of the “third eye” with a steady, delicate stream of warm sesame oil to the forehead. This oil can be scented or unscented, depending on the purpose of the Shiodhara to the specific individual.

Other ayurvedic uses of vetiver:
- In lotions for women to enhance the breasts, as vetiver is considered to have gentle estrogen-like qualities
- Soothing the muscels after physical strain.
- Treatment of rheumatic pain
- Prevent stretch marks in pregnancy, also a good anti-aging agent for the skin, because of its skin-regneration powers.
- The vetiver plant also seems to have a healing role in the environment, as it has the ability to absorb toxins and therefore purify the environment – the earth and the water – from pollutants., originally uploaded by dewsandwaves.

In modern aromatherapy, vetiver is valued for its ability to treat various conditions of the nervous system, skin, muscles, joints and circulation as well as promoting emotional balance. The terpenes in vetiver act as a tonic and an astringent to the nervous system.

Vetiver is calming, grounding, protective, sedative, soothing, toning and uplifting. Vetiver stimulates the circulation and the production of red corpuscles.

The Nervous System and Balancing Emotions: Vetiver is particularly valuable in treating conditions such as insomnia, nervous tension and stress, nervous exhaustion and fatigue, as well as depression. Use several drops in a bath before bed time if you are experience insomnia. A massage with vetiver-scented oil can alleviate stress and bring a feeling of well-being and tranquility.

Circulation, Muscles and Joints: It also helps to relieve rheumatic and muscular pain and stiffness of the muscles and joints, as well as arthritis.

Skin care: Vetiver is also an antiseptic, and can be used in aromatherapy skin products and preparations to treat conditions such as acne, cuts, wounds and sores, and also helps to reduce oiliness of both scalp and skin.

Julia Lawless, Encyclopedia of Essential Oils
Julia Lawless, Aromatherapy and the Mind
Valerie Ann Worwood, The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy
Victoria H. Edward, The Aromatherapy Companion
Jeanne Rose, The Aromatherapy Book

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Guerlain's Vetiver

wood flow, originally uploaded by greenhem.

This is a vetiver that is seemingly simple and gives vetiver a clean, elegant and citrusy interpretation. But when noticing the unfolding of the different elements it reveals interesting layers of simple yet surprising combinations.

Citrus in the initial inhale turns into a peppery heart of nutmeg absolute, revealing the magic of this precious spice, which is the most supreme in this type of distillation, just as the freshly grated nuts. Pepper absolute is also present but to a lesser extend – it’s the luxury of nutmeg that is the star of the show.

A mysterious floral presence is secretly woven into the heart as well. It took me a while to place the jasminoidal floralcy and the almost candy-like fruitiness of orange blossom. It is only there to bond between the otherwise dry and somewhat eccentric notes, and you’ll notice it only if you lend an alert ear to it’s quite song.

The supporting base notes are of almost equal earthiness to that of vetiver – the infamous preciousness of aged patchouli, alluring as an adventure into closet full of clean woolen shawls. Cured tobacco leaves accentuate the dryness of vetiver, while tonka bean adds sweetness as well as a pipe tobacco suggestion. The base accord and dry down has a suave, elegant presence of palse suede leather and the smoothness of burnished woods along with that sweet and tart earthiness of vetiver that usually shows up only later into its dry down, once all the sharpness has dissipated.

These notes do not come one after the other in a procession; rather, they are dynamic and interactive, like a group of sea mammals surfacing out of the water for a breath in alternating moments, and at the end of only the vetiver sticks around and continues to play with the patchouli, tonka and tobacco which stays behind to keep it company.

Despite of its relative simplicity and innocent, almost non-ambitious treatment of vetiver. Vetiver by Guerlain is now a classic. It’s simplicity is both timeless and charming. If you love vetiver, you must try Guerlain’s interpretation. I haven’t tried all the vetiver fragrances there are, but this won my heart instantly.

Wearing Vetiver again reminded me of my former thrilled admiration for the artisty of Guerlain. I like being able to recognize the essences, they feel authentic and real. The classic Guerlain perfumes really do have an impressive amount of naturals and that's what always set them apart from most of the industry for me. The manner in which the essences intertwine and interact, reveal themselves gradually, disappear and reappear is nothing short of magical. Unfortunately, for the most part the tradition of this once glorious house is being maintained mostly on paper and not so much in fragrance, in my opinion. We can only pray and dream that even simple pleasures such as Vetiver will survive the perfume turmoil of our era and will be enjoyed over and over by ourselves and our successors…

Top notes: Orange, Bergamot, Lemon
Heart notes: Nutmeg absolute, Black Pepper Absolute, Orange Blossom Absolute
Base notes: Vetiver, Patchouli, Tonka Beans, Tobacco Leaf

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Must Read: Tony Burfield's Article on Basenotes

Don't miss Tony Burfield (Cropwatch's co-founder) article on Basenotes:
Tony Burfield speaks of the current events in the perfume industry regulation and how they affect consumers and perfumers. This article is extremely relevant and touches upon very important issues in the perfume industry today, as well as its future.
The article is supplemented by explanations to the various acronyms discussed in the article, provided by Anya McCoy (Artisan Natural Perfumers' Guild director). For more information about the issue, click on the FAQ on this page (scroll down to the bottom, and it will download as a PDF; if you have problems reading a PDF, feel free to contact me).

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Decoding Obscure Notes Part VII: Vetiver - Earthy? Woody? Green?

In my series “Decoding Obscure Notes” I try to shed light on some notes that have a confused identity or such vague characteristics that they truly required some more explanation.

Vetiver is not quite an obscure note, but there is a lot to be learned and explored in the realm of vetiver. The reason I decided to add it to the series after all is three-fold:
1) Vetiver varieties differ so vastly between each other that the identity or characteristics of “what vetiver truly is” is a bit vague and open to interpretation. Is vetiver a woody note? Is it earthy?
2) Vetiver has been treated in myriads of ways as a soliflore, to the point that I suspect it is a bit misleading. Particularly for consumers who haven’t experienced an authentic vetiver oil. When we look at the different “vetiver soliflores” offered, the source of the confusion and lack of clarity is evident. I am hoping that in the vetiver perfume reviews that will be posted over the next while some of these mysteries will unveil themselves to you.
3) Vetiver as a note is classified in may different ways that can also be quite confusing: it is most often described as “woody” even though it is not a “wood” at all. In other instances it is described as “earthy”, and more recently I have encountered reference to vetiver as being “green”.

Can vetiver be actually be so many things at once?
Let’s try to find out!

So let’s start from the beginning:

Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides) is a tropical grass originated in India. It is relative to other tropical grasses such as lemongrass, palmarosa, nagramotha (aka cyperus – not cypress!) and citronella.

Vetiver is now cultivated in many tropical countries in Asia, Africa, Brazil and other places. The best, or the most popular vetiver oils come from Haiti, India, Indonesia, the Bourbon Islands, Sri Lanka and Java.

Unlike most grasses, vetiver roots grow inwards, rather than expand to the sides. The root is quite large and can reach very deep (up to 2-4 meters!) into the ground. This root structure as well as the manner in which vetiver multiplies make it very easy to control (as opposed to most grasses, which pretty much take over any earth-space they inhabit, ever expanding and multiplyin, and very difficult to control!). This makes vetiver an excellent plant to combat erosion in the tropical climates where it grows. Vetiver is cultivated to protect rice puddles and keep the soil in place despite of the monsoons, without harming the agricultural species.

We mentioned the role of vetiver in preventing erosion. Vetiver has other uses which make it very popular world wide. The plant has a cooling effect in traditional East Indian medicine and folklore, and is considred to be “The Oil of Tranquility” in India, where most of the local vetiver, particularly the “Ruh Khus” (copper distillation of wild vetiver).

Vetiver is also used to cool off in the hot tropical climate. Blinds of vetiver are dampened in the heat, and the cool scent comes in to the house with the breeze. The dried roots are alsoused in pot pourris. Vetiver hydrosol is used in sharbats (cool drinks) and sweets too (I never tried these yet, but I am determined to do so!).

Vetiver is also used for many other useful purposes: the straw is used in the construction of huts in Africa, and the roots are used as a fuel; The rootlets are used to protect domestic animals from vermin, and the essential oil is used to protect cotton and linen from moth, much like patchouli. Sachets of the rootless can be placed in drawers for the same purpose, and are also hang inside Russian fur coats for protection from insects. Beside their cooling effect and the lovely scent they release, the window screens mentioned above, woven from vetiver roots also help to keep bugs and insects ou of the house. Essential oil of vetiver is added to vegetable preserves, particularly asparagus. To find out more click on this informative link.

Vetiver essential oil is steam distilled from the root of the plant, and is the main type of essence used in perfumery. I am not aware of any other essences (i.e.: absolute or concrete) produced for perfumery use. The root is quite large and can reach very deep (up to 2-4 meters!) into the ground. The yield of oil is quite high as well and so vetiver is one of the more economic building blocks.

The distillation process involves uprooting the plants, washing them from the dirt, than drying them for an extended amount of time. Before distillation they are soaked in water again. After distillation the oil is left to mature several months before being marketed and used. It is quite a process - yet because the yield is large (and the plant matter comes in large doses) it makes it quite an affordable oil, comparing to, for instance, orris root - which also requires a similar process of maturing. Orris, in contrary, is prohibitively expensive.

Depending on the country of origin, different vetiver oil varieties smell completely different. They represent in many ways the soil they are coming from, and this makes the different distillations (from different origins) quite unique. Some are darker and earthier, some are lighter and almost citrusy, some are smoky, some resemble wood, etc. What all vetiver oils have in common is the presence of vetiverol, which gives them their common sweetness and woody, rooty characteristics. Other principle constituents of vetiver oil are vitivone and terpenes such as vetivenes (based on Julie Lawless' The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils.

I have recently became particularly curious about vetiver and have collected a few interesting specimens from around the world. There are still many vetiver distillations which I’ve never smelled. The following will give you some idea of how vastly different vetivers are from one another, and perhaps lure you into the world of soil, wood and greenery that vetiver evokes so whole heartedly.

Indonesian Vetiver
This was the first vetiver I’ve encountered and I am reluctant to say I was quite repulsed by it in the first place. It reminded me of the dark, yeasty Marmite spread (click here if you are not familiar with this curious British condiment). I quickly learned that it was a very valuable note, even from this less-than-perfect distillation, although it still to this day creates a strange sensation in me when I smell it within a composition, as if it is stuck in my throat (perhaps a Marmite reminder – a spread I have never quite got accustomed to despite the recurrent efforts of my parents, who spent the best years of their youth eating it while studying in the UK). This vetiver could be described as earthy and perhaps a tad smoky and woody and quite musky. It goes very well within herbal as well as floral compositions, but one needs to be cautious as to how much is used, as this is quite a tenacioius variety. I recently acquired an Indonesian vetiver that is finer, but from a different manufacturer, and it still had almost the same characteristics, yet a tad mellower. I like using the Indonesian vetiver where its harsh qualities will be most useful: in leather and chypre compositions. There, paired by equally tenacious aromas it will add to the mix rather than overwhelm with its presence.

Haitian Vetiver
This is the vetiver that made me fall in love with vetiver as a building block. Up until than, I thought it was only chemicals that made commercial vetivers smell so fresh and lemony. I presume that this vetiver is the variety most suitable for fresh, clean, almost “green” vetiver colognes. It is ethereal and sublime, light and almost airy - and smells almost citrusy on its own, but not quite. The variety I have is of wild vetiver from Haiti. If I had to pick only one vetiver to use, this would be it. I also tried another variety (not the wild one), which is similar only with a top note reminiscent of Jerusalem Artichokes - very rooty and earth-invoking, yet somewhat heady and sweet; and with a body note that is quite woody and reminiscent of Amyris (aka West Inidian Sandalwood).

Vetiver Bourbon
My personal second favourite (even though it is considered finer than Haitian vetiver, right next to vetiver from Java – both of which are extremely rare to come across), this vetiver is still very smooth, but warmer, rounded and just a touch smoky.

Sri-Lankan Vetiver
This vetiver is so different I almost didn’t believe it was vetiver. Now, talking about woody… This one has almost no trace of earth. It smells like wood – driftwood to be precise – and you’ll almost think it is some kind of a fake sandalwood. I use this variety when I am looking for a woody note, without the need for a recognizable vetiver note. It is particularly marvelous with florals, lending a rich, deep woody fixative but still letting the florals stay at the centre of the stage.

Madagascan Vetiver
I haven't worked much with this variety, but I do have a sample of an organic oil from Madagascar. It is closest to the Haitian vetiver, only woodier and with a certain floralcy to it. It's not as smooth and woody as the Sri Lankan vetiver, but it has the typical underlining clean/earthy/sweet that makes vetivers so charming.

Indian Vetiver
Indian vetiver is the most earthy and rich of all the vetiver I’ve smelled. I would like to mention to particularly interesting specimens I have recently got from White Lotus Aromatics. Christopher McMahon, the proprietor, is a self-confessed vetiver connoisseur, and I think I got infected by his passion – which is quite understandable: there is something utterly intimate about getting in touch with the roots of foreign countries. Vetiver roots being fully enveloped in earth for the longest time, soak many of the qualities of the land they come from. This makes for a very interesting experience of visiting far away countries with a simple uncorking of a vial…

Inidian Vetiver co-distilled with Mitti (Baked Earth)
As if Indian vetiver wasn’t earthy enough to begin with, this artisan distillation marries the essence of vetiver with that of baked Indian earth. What does it smell like? You guessed it: dirt.

Ruh Khus (Wild Indian Vetiver)
While all the other vetiver oils I mentioned earlier are in different shades of amber, Ruh Khus is a dark blue-green. The reason is simple: this oil is distilled in the traditional Indian way, in copper vessels. The copper lends its unique colour of oxidation (turquoise) to the oil, as well as a tinge of metallic aroma. Copper vessels are relatively light and the Indian perfumers have the custom to travel with them to the place of harvest, to gather the plants and distill them on the spot. This flexibility is highly important for the traditional Indian perfumers, because this way they can easily travel from place to place and distill rare essences in remote places – as opposed to importing the raw harvest to a remote atelier, by which time the essences will be either gone or spoiled.

There are two more interesting vetiver varieties that I am interested in trying, and I will add them later to SmellyBlog once I’ve obtained and evaluated them. I am curiosu to explore more distillations of vetiver from around Madagascar - Reunion, Comoro and the Bourbon islands, and also of South African Vetiver.

The versatility of vetiver as well as its wide availability, reasonable price and high yield of essential oil make it an extremely valuable note in the perfumer’s palette. Whether if you are looking for a fixative for a floral bouquet; a woody nuance in an incense, oriental or chypre scent – or if you simply wanting to go all the way with the earthy characteristic of this abundant root – vetiver proves to do its job and do it well.

Vetiver is said to be used in about 36% of perfumes today. I anticipate that now, with the decline of the use of oakmoss, vetiver demand will be increasing (until it is going to be listed for an IFRA embargo like most valuable natural essences; I hope to be proven wrong in that matter).

As first I was quite repulsed by it personally. The variety I first came across smelled an awful lot like marmite, as I mentioned above.
What made me more drawn to vetiver was the perfume Mitsouko. I first found it to be very dry (a characteristic that the vetiver highly amplifies). But after I worn it a few times, carefully observing its metamorphosis over time, the peculiar scent of vetiver has captured my heart: being at once dry, woody, earthy, clean and sweet. It sounds like an impossible combination, but that is what vetiver is to me.

My favourite is the Haitian vetiver. It has a very clean, cool scent, and feels light - almsot citrusy. The vetiver in Guerlain's Vetiver smells a lot like it.

I am currently so intrigued by vetiver that I am determined to create my first non-floral soliflore with the theme of vetiver. I am hoping to share the phases and ideas of development here on SmellyBlog, as well as share the scent with you as it evolves and takes shape.

Agent Provocateur
Black Vetiver Cafe (Jo Malone)
Megumi (Ayala Moriel)
Mitsouko (Guerlain)
No. 5 (Chanel)
No. 19 (Chanel)
Sabotage (Ayala Moriel)
Sycomore (Chanel)
Turtle Vetiver (LesNez)
Vetiver (Guerlain)
Vetiver Extraordinaire (Frederic Malle)
Vetiver Racinettes (Ayala Moriel)
Vetiver Tonka (Hermes)
Vetiveru (Commes de Garcons)
Some of these perfumes and a few more will be reviewed over the next few weeks as part of a "Vetiver Marathon".
You can also find reviews for these Vetiver titled perfumes, though in my opinion they are not good representatives of the note (yet interesting perfumes on their own rights):
Vetiver 46 (Le Labo)
Vetiver (Lorenzo Villoresi)
Vétiver Oriental (Serge Lutens)

* If you have a favourite vetiver that you'd like to see reviewed on SmellyBlog and does not appear on the above list, please let me know. I will do my best to review it if I can find it in Vancouver (or if you are willing to send a sample). The above are vetivers that I tried and liked and have access to.

To make a long story short – I will try to answer the question posed in the title of this essay: Is vetiver earthy, woody or green?
The answer is, of course, “all of the above”.
Some varieties are earthy (particularly the Indian and Indonesian distillation), which makes particular sense, considering the fact that vetiver is a root covered a few meters deep in soil.
Some are woody (the Sri Lankan vetiver exemplifies that) which should’t be such a shock if recalling that patchouli oil, distilled form leaves of a plant from the mint family, is also considered woody (as well as earthy).
And some vetivers are considered green (such as the Haitian Vetiver variety), as if they were some leaves or grass – which actually is exactly what vetiver is! For whatever reason, some varieties amplify the grassy or green characteristics more than others.

The quality of vetiver all depends on the soil in which it originated from, as it soaks up many characteristics of the earth.
Vetiver is a very important perfume material, and is used in more than third of the perfumes today, and in all fragrance families.

References ("Real Book" Bibliography, besides the links sited above):
Perfume and Flavour Materials of Natural Origin by Stephen Arctander
The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils by Julia Lawless
Aromatherapy and the Mind by Julia Lawless

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Coffee, Chocolates - A Perfect Swap!

I've been swapping on Make Up Alley for a few years now, and always enjoyed the experience. It's like having fragrant pen-pals, and adds a personal touch to internet communications (if any other form of communication even exist these days...).

Each swapper packages their goods differently, and most add something: a card, a note, surprising samples... You can imagine my delight when a recent swap arrived, professionally packaged (a little voice was telling me: "you should hire this lady to help you with shipping!"), and containing the two above items.

Nyakio's Kenyan Coffee & Sugar Scrub was the "official" part of the trade. I was craving it for the longest time and I must blame MUA for that: a trial-size jar of this delicious sugar scrub was an "extra" from another swap and I fell for it hopelessly, mostly because it smells so good and feels so good to rub coffee and sugar on your skin! All in all, sugar scrubs are becoming my favourite way to exfoliate the skin and at the same time it also gets moisturized. I should start making my own, because I run through these way too quickly...

My dear swapper Lauren also had the generosity and patience to go into town and pick me a box of Eaton's Magic Morsels - handmade chocolates from her home town. How sweet is that!
And totally fitting with the theme I had going on around Valentine's Day. So there you go - you've got another chocolatier on your list. You mostly get truly American treats here: chocolate stuffed with coconut or orange filling, marshmallows, caramel. Magic Morsel have a knack for packaging their chocoltes in quite an unusual way. They seem to interpret "chocolate box" quite literally: a box made of chocolates, in attractive shapes, filled with more chocolates!

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Upcoming Events at SmellyBlog

This is just a short announcement to compensate for the extreme lack of fragrance reviews in this blog for the past few weeks. Partly because of an extended cold I was unable to enjoy fragrance and dared not share any views that may have been impaired by my nasal capacity. I don't tend to be into trying new things when I am sick, let alone when my nose is unstable.

To top it all off, there seemed to have been far too many political issues related to fragrance that seems to cast shadows of doubt and take away the focus from enjoying perfumes and perfumery, to fighting for being able to maintain that pleasure for next generation (if there will be any, with global warming and natural disasters world wide). This winter sure didn't seem very promising in any of those aspects...

But, life must go on; The show must go on; And so does SmellyBlog. I have lots of exciting things in stock for you in the next couple of months and I hope you will enjoy reading about them just as much as I am enjoying writing and experimenting with new fragrances and unusual notes. Here is some heads up on what's in store for you in the next little while:

Vetiver Marathon
For those of you who remembered the Osmanthus marathon from a while back, now it's Vetiver time! I am really excited about new specimens of this tropical root that landed on my Perfumer's Organ, and I am ready to experiment and share my process, as well as reviews of favourite vetiver scents done before me. Unlike the osmanthus marathon, this will open up with a chapter of explaining the complexities and subtleties of this outstanding perfume note This will be published as part of the "Decoding Obscure Notes", even though vetiver is not that obscure, or is it?
If any of you have a particular vetiver scent that you are particularly fond of and would like to be reviewed, please email me and tell me about it. As long as I have access to it (or to a sample) I will be more than happy to include it in the marathon.

Perfumed Collectibles
In the past few months, I have been stocking up on very interesting vessels that can contain both liquid and solid perfume. Some of them make a perfect packaging to an existing fragrance from my line. Others are so special, they deserve a design of a whole new fragrance inspired by them. These are really beautiful pieces, ranging from jewelry to bottles and boxes, some rare and exotic and others are just fun. These will be auctioned off via SmellyBlog or eBay (I haven't decided yet), and a significant portion of the profit will go to charity.

New Perfumes for the Spring
As usual, I will be releasing two soliflore perfumes this spring. One in March and one later on in May. You will be the first to hear about them, as well as the process leading to their creation and development.

Aside from that, we will have our usual fun with perfume reviews, perfumed recipes and lots of fun contests!

I am looking forward to spending the spring with you on SmellyBlog!




7th Annual Basenotes Awards

Basenotes finally released the complete list of winner for their gold, silver and bronze awards in 12 categories. To view the complete list of winners and nominees in all the various categories, visit Basenotes.

Here is a summary of the gold winners:

• Best Fragrance (Women's): Chanel No. 5

• Best Fragrance (Men's): Chanel Egoiste

• Best New Fragrance (Women's): Annick Goutal Songes

• Best New Fragrance (Men's): Terre d'Hermes

• Best for Day Wear (Women's): Dolce & Gabanna Light Blue

• Best for Day Wear (Men's): Terre d'Hermes

• Best for Evening Wear (Women's): Guerlain Shalimar

• Best for Evening Wear (Men's): YSL M7

• Best Packaging (Women's): Chinatown by Bond No.9

• Best Packaging (Men's): Dior Homme

• Best Designer or Fine Fragrance (Women's): Guerlain Mitsouko

• Best Designer or Fine Fragrance (Men's): Guerlain Vetiver

• Best Mass Market (Women's): Tabu by Dana

• Best Mass Market (Men's): Old Spice

• Best Niche (Women's): Bois de Portugal by Creed

• Best Niche (Men's): Carnal Flower by Frederic Malle

• Best Celebrity Fragrance (Women's): Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker

• Best Celebrity Fragrance (Men's): Cumming by Alan Cumming

• Best House: Guerlain

• Best Fragrance Blog: Now Smell This

Congratulations to Now Smell This blog for winning their well deserved gold award as the best fragrance blog!
Bois de Jasmin won the silver award, and Perfume Smellin' Things won the bronze. Congratulations!
SmellyBlog was only somewhere in the top ten, which is quite an achievemnet considering that I've done nothing to win or enter any competition ;) Thank you for thinking about me :)

Basenotes holds an annual award that are voted by perfume aficionados and fragrance consumers across the world. This year the awards were sponsored by Aedes de Venustas, who donated a $200 gift certificate to one of the voters.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

...And The Chocolate Winners Are:

Thank you to all of the participants in my two chocolate contests this February!

The following are the winners of my chocolate perfumes, Guilt and Film Noir:

Thank you to all of you who participated in the "Name Your Favourite Artisan Chocolatier" contest!

The winners of the draw are Dana and Moonmaiden. Please email me with your mailing address so I can send you your prize - a miniature of either Film Noir or Guilt (It's your choice!).

For future chocaholic reference, here are the links to the chocolatiers recommended by SmellyBlog readers:

Dilettante Chocolate in Seattle, recommended by Dana, who particularly loves their Dark Chocolate Truffles.

Leonidas Fresh Belgian Chocolate in Greece, recommended by Helg, who loves their pralines.

DeBrand Chocolates in Fort Wayne, Indiana - recommended by Moonmaiden, who also hints to us that they have a monthly giveaway!

Endangered Species Chocolates, recommended by Lizzy from Hawaii, who loves to share the Bat Bar with her son. Dark chocolate with chocolate nibs - this sounds both yummy and healthy! Way to go for your son for taking in the dark side of chocolate, I had to turn 30 before fully appreciating the seduction of dark chocolate!

I am now eager to explore all the artisan chocolatiers you've recommended!

You all did really well guessing the girly scent in my perfume collection David fell for. But only one of you guessed right - and it was Helg! Please email me to let me know your choice for a mini - Film Noir or Guilt.

Yes, David's new favourite perfume is none other than L de Lolita Lempicka. The packaging, for those who don't know, looks like a flat heart with golden charms. It almost looks like a celebrity scent in a way... The packaging is not the best in terms of practicality. David had struggled with it quite a bit - from twisting the cap and locking it to pulling it apart... At least, this is the small 30ml bottle (it was availale only for a short time around the holidays) so it's not too difficult to hold it in my hand).
I consider myself very lucky to share L with David - it's always a nice surprise to get a waft of vanilla, orange and cinnamon from him!
Plus it gives me an excuse to stock up on this beauty. My next L purchase is going to be the pure parfum!

A little note about the above photo - it's a monument for Quetzalcoatl, the Atztec God of Chocolate. Isn't it great?

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Gung Hay Fat Choy to SmellyBlog readers who celebrate Chinese New Year.

I wish you prosperity, luck and wisdom for the upcoming Year of the Boar!

* Image of a Chinese traditional pattern for zodiac of boar originally uploaded by ccyytt.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

l'Ecume des Jours & Rebuilding New Orleans

My perfume l’Ecume des Jours was inspired by Boris Vian’s magical novel by the same name. It was inspired by the perfect beauty of the Jazz of New Orleans, and in particular the music by Duke Ellington. This is a book that is signified by a perfect symmetric structure and the collapsing of a universe because of its own fantastic and surreal rules. It’s beauty is unbelievable. And so when I created a perfume in its namesake, I tried to make it perfect too, if this is even possible… I took the most unusual essences, such as boronia, pink lotus, seaweed, moss and cassis, and worked them together to create a watery, transparent, floral-green perfume. Something that is almost out of this world… I was very pleased to notice that recently it has finally started getting the recognition I was hoping it will receive, which translates into sales of course. And while this made me happy and proud, another thing made me sad…

Last week I watched in awe Spike Lee’s documentary “When The Levees Broke”, about the drowning of the city and the people of New Orleans. The people of this unusual city, which has been a beacon for freedom in the USA, an example for multiculturalism and a corner stone in the USA’s culture of jazz music and art – in fact a corner stone of the entire Western Civilization – have been let down by its own government. The people of this city have received very little help from the USA government ever since Katrina struck. So I thought to myself: “If the president of the United States doesn’t care for New Orleans citizens, let the Citizens of World care for them!”.

Let’s not let New Orleans collapse in the same way that the world in l’Ecume des Jours collapses into non-existence. Let’s not let a perfect city drown again in misery and death, poverty and stormy waters. This is too cruel of an end to a city that is truly the heart of America as we know it. It drowned in the water rising from the hurricane and unstoppable by incompetent levees. Let’s not drown it a second time by not helping the people of New Orleans to come back and rebuild it. Let’s help them re-build New Orleans, ensure its safety from rising water by restoring the wetlands surrounding it and building safe and steady levees this time. There is something we can do about it!

One of the powerful things a small business owner can do is help the community and help make a social change. Since the very day of conception of my little perfumery, I always knew I would do all I can to help causes that I think are important and that are close to my heart. I would like to invite you all, responsible business owners, bloggers, perfume lovers – responsible, caring people and citizens of this world - to join me in supporting charities in New Orleans that truly help the people of New Orleans and re-build the city.

I will be donating $10 from each bottle of l’Ecume des Jours that I sell to a New Orleans woman that is struggling to support her aging mother and two children. I have only raised $60 so far this way, but hopefully l’Ecume des Jours will sell more after this post, and hopefully my perfumery will flourish and grow to enable me to do even more for New Orleans.

I invite you to do the same and support an individual from the city, or donate to one of the few charities that I have confirmed are in fact helping the people of New Orleans and are most likely to actually make a difference in the future of this remarkable city.

Here are their links, as well as links to the film’s homepage:
To help New Orleans people with basic needs such as food and shelter you can donate to this charity:
Catholic Charities New Orleans - Hurrican Relief Services and Projects

To help restore Louisiana’s wetlands, essential to the future survival of the city, you can support this organization:
America's Wetland

Click here to read more about the film “When The Levees Broke”, where you can also find an interview with director and filmmaker Spike Lee, and also find out about more organizations rebuilding in New Orleans.

The illustrations and art work for these New Orleans posts are all courtesy of Mark Andersen, a New Orleans artist and a Katrina evacuee now living in Atlanta, GA. One more thing you can do to support New Orleans is purchase his art book via, which will donate 50% of the sale to a program in New Orleans to aid affected musicians.

Artwork copyright by Mark Andresen, 2006. Some images are from "New Orleans As It Was: Sketchbook Drawings by Mark Andresen from 1988 to Katrina", designed by Rudy Vanderlans and printed by Gingko Press. Avialable on and If you buy it from you will be supporting the artist, himself a Katrian evacuee.

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When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts

We watched this 5 hour + documentary five nights in a row, not able to stop thinking about this tragedy in between "screenings". It was originally broadcasted on HBO as a mini-series documentary and is now available on DVD. I believe every person in America should watch it, not to mention across the world. Moreover, it should be mandatory to watch for every high school in the US (which is probably not going to happen with the current administration, probably more keen on screening "Anti-Terrorism" propaganda instead).

The film tells the tale of what happened in New Orleans prior, during and after the hurricane. According to the account of events, what caused the drowning of New Orleans was not the hurricane (by the time it reached New Orleans it was only level 2 or 3, which the levees were suppose to withstand). It was the failure of the levees. These were the most incompetent structure and although experts and government officials knew three years in advance that they are outdated and unsafe, they did nothing about it. They simply watched the sinking of this flag-ship of American culture, not to mention individual people who's lives were at sake (and forsaken on that ship). They simply watched them drown (if they weren't too busy vacationing in Texas ranches or fighting Holy Wars in the Middle East).

In every single step of this hurricanic Via Dolorosa, the US government did everything possible to make things more complicated. Let's make a little list (which I am sure is not going to cover it all):
1) Not taking responsibility and action over the safety of the city and the questionable protection of the levees.
2) Not ensuring that the citizens of New Orleans are properly evacuated from the city, when the storm clearly was hitting level 6.
3) Not providing relief in time and rescuing the people who were stuck in the city. In fact, many resources were wasted on capturing so to speak "looters" (who in more cases than none were just looking for clean water and food for survival).
4) Delaying food and water and medical aid (the people in the city were stuck for 5 days with no food or clean drinking water)
5) Once the rescue has arrived, the families were torn apart and dispersed all across the US.
6) Once the hurricane was over and the city was ready to re-absorb its citizens, there were not attempts or efforts made to support or encourage or physically bring the people of New Orleans back home. Families were torn to pieces and the entire social fabric of this tightly woven city has been destroyed.
7) Delaying to assign emergency shelters such as trailers to the people that lost their homes, leaving them homeless and even causing death (from hypothermia) to young people who were staying at tent camps during the winter.
8) Even recovery of the dead wasn't properly done: people returned to their homes to find their dead relatives and loved ones, even in houses that were marked to be with no dead bodies inside.
9) To this day, the people New Orleans received little or no compensation for their losses, neither from the government nor from the insurance companies (to which they paid the best parts of the salary for their entire lives). Such funds and moneys, which could support the people while re-building the city, seem to be unavailable in a country that prides itself as being one of (if not THE) richest in the world.

Nice checklist, huh? This was so efficiently done I can imagine someone going through it and making sure nothing is done!

What happened in New Orleans is more than a large number of human tragedies concentrated in one city. This is a cultural tragedy. This is a message from the government of the USA that "George Bush doesn't care about black people", as one of the city's people dared to say on TV.
Of course, not only black people were affected by the hurricane - but New Orleans being a city that chooses to give more importance to jazz and good cuisine rather than oil and weapons clearly poses no political interest for the current US administration, and therefore very little sympathy translated into dollars.

So, the bottom line is - it's up to the people of New Orleans to re-build New Orleans. And if we want to see this city again and make sure that the heart of the US is still beating, we have to help them out ourselves.

Poster for When The Levees Broke from
Clips from

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

Shecloud, originally uploaded by Lalallallala.

Happy Valentine's Day, my dear Smelly Friends,

Now, wouldn't you all wish the skies looked like that today? Vancouver is at it's usual rainily gloomy charm today, yet I am determined to have fun no matter what!

I would like to wish you all a fantastic and romantic day. Whether you are celebrating by yourself, or with a lover (or two?), may it be a day full of pleasure and smiles. And remember, the most important thing of all is to Love Thyself!

After four years with my Valentine David, and ten years with my smaller Valentine, Tamya, I noticed how my perfume world is starting to affect their lives. A few weeks ago Tamya added a new word to her vocabulary: "Smelly". Mind you, it was more in association with talking about smelly diapers of pooping babies (her favourite topic for conversation), but this is repeating itself and I can't help but laugh full heartedly when she talks about smells.

And this week, I caught David in the middle of an unusual act - he was sniffing the perfumes I have on my bedside table - and actually testing them! One of them was particularly to his liking, and I found myself inhaling pleasant wafts of sweet perfumes from him one night, which went on until around noonish the next day. He admits he loves it. Shamelessly so, I must add: The perfume is in a bottle just about as girly as could be, and the juice is not particularly masculine either. If you guess what it is, you'll win a prize - a 2ml bottle of Guilt perfume!
- The only hint you're getting is a link to my wardrobe.

*And don't forget to enter the Chocolatier's Contest: All you need to do is recommend us your favourite chocolatier. You will be than entered to win a 2ml bottle of Film Noir.

** Below is a fantastically original Guilt-Marnier Chocolate Truffles recipe, inspired by Guilt perfume. It's easy to make and fun. I will post photos soon...

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Guilt-Marnier Chocolate Truffles

These scrumptious chocolate truffles are the dessert version of my Guilt perfume. Orange and chocolate re a classic combination. Here we go the extra step by using wild orange essential - a particularly bright and sparkling citrus essence, as well as the sweet richness of Grand Marnier liquer. But it is really the addition of orange flower absolute that makes these truffles a departure from your every day treats: this precious floral essence adds a surprising twist, a melt-in-your-mouth bouquet.

I highly recommend using the 70% bittersweet chocolate from Lindt, not only for its flavour, but also for the super-thin squares which can be crubled effortlessly by hand; if you use these, simply brake each square into four by hand.

Get organic whipping cream if you can find it. The ones with no additives will truly make the whole difference. I find these to be preferable for any dessert preparations: the natural whipping cream whipps to a lighter and prettier whipped cream than those that have stabilizers. And the flavour is completely out of this world.

400 gr Bittersweet Chocolate
1 cup heavy (aka whipping) cream
1 Tbs. Grand Marnier Liquor
15 drops Wild Orange Oil
5 drops Sweet Orange Oil
3 drops Oranage Flower Absolute
1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder, sifted

a. Chop the chocolate into small pieces, or break by hand, into more or less similar size pieces.
b. Place in a Bain Marie over gently simmering water, and stir with a wire-whisk.
c. Once the chocolate is melted, add the cream and the Grand Marnier. Stir with a wire-whisk until the cream completely blends with the chocolate.
d. Remove from the heat.
e. Add the essential oils drop by drop, and stir with the wire whisk until completely blended.
f. Transfer into a tupperware container and refrigerate until firm (for 2 hours or more).
g. Cover a baking sheet with the cocoa powder
h. Scoop the truffles using a melon-scooper. It is really going to save you a lot of trouble. But if you can't find a melon-scooper, you can use a shapely measuring teaspoon (1/2 tsp. size will suffice - you want to keep the truffles small and special!)
i. Roll the truffles between your palms to turn them into perfect spheres, and place the truffles on the sheet
j. Rinse the scooper in warm water in between truffles, to make it easier
k. Once all the truffles are made, shake the baking sheet to cover the truffles with cocoa.
l. Refrigerate until firm before serving.

If the aroma and flavour of home-made chocolate truffles seems to not be worth the effort, consider these side-effects of making truffles at home:
1) Your house will smell so good when you cook the ganache - and after.
2) The sensory experience is quite therapeutic. Ask Freud - or look at this photo. I haven't had so much fun since I played in mud as a kid or went to the pottery studio...
3) The earthy scent of chocolate will linger on your hands for hours to come, making you feel oh so delicious on your own...

If you don't happen to have all the essential oils mentioned within hand reach, there is some flexibility in this recipe. Of course, the result will be different, but it will still be a delight for the senses. The orange essences can be replaced by sweet orange oil, which is widely available from all aromatherapy and health food stores. It's always recommended to use organic citrus essential oils - their aroma is superior, and they don't contain some of the toxins that are so abundant in the peel of sprayed citrus fruit.

Variations: This recipe can also serve as an inspiration: it can be tweaked and improvised on. I highly recommend experimenting with other liquor flavours and other essential oils. Substitue the Grand Marnier with Galliano, Kaluah, Kirsch, or any other berry liquor. When pairing essential oils with these, use your imagination - but don't forget that essential oils are highly concentrated. It's better to use less and add more, than put too much. The pleasure will be diminished and the results can be quite frightening - particualrly with strong spice and floral oils. Add a drop at a time, mix well and taste in between to avoid olfactory disasters of the palette!

* The instruction for this recipe are loosely adopted from the recipe for Chocolate-Mint Truffles from the book Aroma by Mandy Aftel and Daniel Patterson (Page 43).

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Red Hot Chocolate Beverage

In the movie Chocolat, Vianne (the chocolatier played by Juliette Binoche) serves Armande (the diabetic lady played by Judi Dench) a special concoction spiked with what she is mistakenly recognizes as rancid cinnamon – but in fact is hot chilli pepper. The Aztecs, who were the first to concoct a cocoa drink – cocoa beans cooked in water and spiced with vanilla and hot chillis. This beverage was thought to give power and act as a phrodisiac.

After watching the movie “Chocolat” for the first time several years ago, I had an awful craving to try this drink, and so I tried making it myself. The ingredients, as in any recipe, make all the difference between an ordinary muddy beverage to an exquisite hot chocolate. Dutch processed cocoa is less acidic and more flavoruful. It has an unmistakable reddish colour (as opposed to the dusty-brown of inferior cocoa powders). Black chilli pepper has a rich, rounded flavour and is also quite sweet comparing to other chillis. And the brown sugar adds a nutty flavour.
The recipe is simple but feels very wholesome and authentic.It is richer and fuller than a hot chocolate cooked from cocoa powder only, but not as rich (and choking…) as the hot chocolates that are made of full milk, heavy cream and chocolate. I think it’s perfect – served as a fancy desert drink, a seductive treat or even a breakfast power drink.

2 cups milk of your favourite calibre (1% works just fine)
1 Tbs. Dutch cocoa powder
2 Tbs. brown sugar
30 gr. bitter 75% chocolate (I like Lindt – 3 squares equal to 30gr.)
½ tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
Black chilli pepper for garnishing

In a small, clean and dry saucepan, mix the cocoa and sugar in a small using a small whisk. Slowly add the milk, while continuously whisking the mixture to prevent lumps from forming. Cook on a medium heat, until very warm, than add the chocolate squares and the vanilla extract. Stir well to avoid sticking to the bottom. Cook until milk is just about to start bubbling.
Serve hot, in small cups, sprinkled with black ground chilli pepper – or your favourite hot pepper or cayenne. Other spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom will work well too.

For a more spicy, aromatic hot chocolate, add the following spices to the milk before cooking:
1 Cinnamon stick
4 Cardamom pods
2 clove buds

Now, if you keep on reading to the next post, you'll find a very nice surprise...
...And don't forget our chocolate contest!

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DIY Love: Charlotte's Custom Underwear

If you haven't found that perfect gift yet for that special someone, Charlotte of Five Is For Riches creates custom underwear to suit your fancy. These one of a kind panties are not only sexy and unusual, they are the most comfortable pair of undies you’ll ever have, and the most durable underwear I’ve ever seen. They come in all sizes (from small to extra large), textures and styles and you can pick your own colours and the select from the original designs of appliqué (the undies above have a burning heart appliqué) and silkscreen – all designed by one talented and loving woman, Charlotte Hewson. They can be also worn by men, believe it or not. I've seen it and it's quite amazing to see what these undies are willing to cover... (should have kept the photos, I knew it!). These make a perfect romantic gift as well as a gensture of friendship between girls - you can know it will become a staple in her wardrobe!
To order, all you'll need to do is email Charlotte and let her know your pants' size and favourite colours.

My friend Charlotte is one of the most talented textile artists I’ve met. She taught me how to make my own underwear in a special Valentine’s Day workshop at the late Seamrippers studio (now defunct, but hopefully it will re-open). Which, now that I’m thinking about it – can be another treat you can give yourself: take one of Charlotte’s workshops, and learn how to make your own underwear. It only takes 45 minutes!

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Artisan Chocolate Truffles & A Chocolate Contest

What can be better than chocolate? A hand-made chocolate!
The following are two original, artisanal chocolatiers, one is a Vancouver based chocolatier, who makes some of the best chocolate truffles, as well as other sweets; the other is a perfumer who dares to pour some of her fragrant ideas into a base of chocolate, with some stunning results!

Bad Girl with a Good Taste
Some of the best chocolate I’ve ever had come from a little company called Bad Girl Chocolates. These artisanal chocolate truffles are all handcrafted by one lady, Kelly Boyd, and are just amazing. My favourites are the Gianduja Pyramids, and I love both the dark and the milk chocolates ones. The dark one has a hint of coffee flavour and the hazelnuts are a tad crunchier, while the milk one is smooth and creamy… The pomegranate truffles are to die for with their contrast of dark chocolate against a smooth filling of tart pomegranate. There are a few new falvours which I haven’t tried thouhg, such as the Hot Chocolate Truffle (heart shaped and with edible gold leaf) and the Fleur de Sel Caramel Truffle, with the infamous French salt for as an added nuance. These are very reasonably priced for their quality and artistry, and are worth every penny. They can be shipped to anywhere in Canada, or be picked up if you live in Vancouver.

Desire in Sunlight's Perfumed Chocolates
Isabelle Aurel is a student of Mandy Aftel, and her line features many interesting solid and liquid perfume. But perhaps the most romantic of all are her edible perfumed chocolates: Chocolate ganache infused with precious essential oils – jasmine absolute, blue lotus, tuberose and many more. These could make the most romantic and sensual desert dinner – by pairing the gently melted ganache with an array of exotic fruits and nuts. Isabelle recommends dipping figs in the jasmine chocolate - the ultimate aphrodisiac treat!

Isabelle also makes chocolate truffles, which come in three flavours:
Sweetheart Tuberose
Spirit Blue Lotus
Seductive Jasmine

Share your favourite artisanal chocolatiers from your own town, and be one of the two lucky winners to receive a 2ml miniature of one of my liquid chocolate parfums - Guilt or Film Noir.

Next: My very own recipe for red-hot-chocolate, plus a very sexy surprise!

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Roses et Chocolat Update: 3 Bottles Left

Only three bottles left of Roses et Chocolat!
If you intend on wearing this delicious melange of roses, chocolate and vibrant spices - now is the time to order, while supplies last.

Roses et Chocolat is also available in our signature pendant as a crème parfum. This will be particularly suitable with our limited edition Carnelian pendant.

Samples are all sold out now, sorry!

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Artisan Natural Perfumers' Guild Press Release re IFRA's 40th Amendment

-Boycott Called to Halt Adoption of International Fragrance Association’s (IFRA) 40th Amendment by UK-based Watchdog Organization Cropwatch Gains Momentum with Online Poll and Petition. Poll by Perfumer and Flavorist newsletter P&Fnow shows a landslide for Cropwatch with 85.1% of the vote.

-USA- based Artisan Natural Perfumers Guild joins in effort to Demand Opening the Process Up for Public Input and Review of the Process before thousands of small perfumery and toiletry businesses are adversely affected by restrictive, unfair compliance standards.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MIAMI SHORES, Fla./February 8, 2007. On February 7, 2007, fragrance and flavor trade magazine Perfumer & Flavorist released the results of an online poll showing 85.1% of readers in favor of boycotting proposed fragrance industry guidelines that will heavily limit the use of natural essential oils in perfumes and cosmetics.

Compliance with these guidelines (the IFRA 40th Amendment) requires that listed essential oils and naturally occurring constituents be kept to certain minimal levels in consumer products. At the core of the Amendment are safety issues in regard to skin reactions. The ANPG and Cropwatch fully support sensible safety guidelines to protect the consumer, but do not believe IFRA has proved that many of the essential oils affected present the supposed risk, nor have they allowed input from the impacted concerns, especially small businesses.

Although IFRA guidelines are only mandatory for their members, they have become the industry norm globally. Consequently, the livelihood of many small businesses is being threatened by an organization that does not represent them. Adhering to the complex measures not only requires sophisticated computer software, which most small natural products businesses do not possess, it also unfairly targets natural ingredients. Without a level playing field, these small businesses cannot be expected to compete. Approximately 200 essential oils will be controlled by IFRA if their 40th amendment is ratified.

Previous IFRA guidelines have been responsible for the reformulation of many classic perfumes, essentially destroying works of art that existed in liquid form. It is asserted that perhaps a warning label would have sufficed in allowing the original perfume, scent intact, to remain on shelves. Just as demand for natural toiletries and fragrances is growing worldwide, the 40th Amendment could do damage from the level of growers, distillers, up to suppliers and manufacturers. The end result may be the destruction of businesses and the absence of genuine naturally scented shampoos, creams, lotions, perfumes and soaps from store shelves.

To illustrate how the existing and proposed regulations from IFRA do not make sense, ANPG President Anya McCoy recently blogged on Peanuts vs. Perfume. Peanuts can kill susceptible people, yet their sales are unrestricted: Some perfumes may cause a rash, yet the International Fragrance Association’s (IFRA) 40th Amendment wants to severely limit the public’s access to them. Consumers are allowed to make informed decisions about peanut products, yet with IFRA and EU (see the related FAQ) guidelines and regulations in place, consumers will no longer have the freedom to make informed decisions about which scented products they wish to use. Access to aromatherapy essential oils may also be limited.
The ANPG believes the amendment may be unreasonable because the measures are based on questionable scientific premises, and they are decided behind closed doors without any possibility of public discussion or debate. Since the call for a boycott was proposed two weeks ago by little-guy Cropwatch, 549 people have signed an online petition, backing the challenge to the Goliath IFRA.

Therefore, the ANPG joins Cropwatch in asking for a moratorium on the IFRA 40th amendment, until these issues have been fully addressed. We ask that a review of the scientific methodologies that were used in the original determinations of skin sensitization be examined, that the compliance requirements be reviewed, and that warning labels on products be considered in place of prohibition or restriction. Guild Founder, noted natural perfumer and author Mandy Aftel, and Guild President, perfumer Anya McCoy will be working with others in the industry to challenge the IFRA stance and open the amendment adoption process to the public.

For more information, you may download a detailed FAQ from:

Anya McCoy, President
Artisan Natural Perfumers Guild
P.O. Box 245
Miami Shores, FL 33153
PHONE. 305-756-0065


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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Reviews on BitterGrace's Blog

Visit BitterGrace's Blog to read reviews of eight of my perfumes, in two sets:
Ayalitta, Espionave, Palas Atena & Razala
Rainforest, Epice Sauvage, Bois d'Hiver & Autumn

As an aside note, I am always surprised of the "orange" reaction Epice Sauvage gets (not only from BitterGrace - also from other reviewers and customers). There is not a drop of neither citrus nor citrus flowers in the formula. It's not just missing from the website description, it's simply never made it into the juice. My only explanation: the coriander oil. There is something citrusy about it, even though it's a spice. Another possible explanation: many of us learned to associate orange with spices such as cinnamon and cloves because they are so often used together. Nevertheless, I find it very peculiar!

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