Thursday, July 30, 2009

What Not To Do When It's 34 Degrees Celsius

Iron Heat, originally uploaded by incuboy.

Iron Heat, originally uploaded by incuboy.

Ok, this is unheard of (at least for me): Vancouver today is hotter than Clil. Unbelievable. Indoors its warm enough to sweat from the tiniest efforts (i.e.: twisting a screwdriver into a screw to put back the blinds on the windows). And when you step outside you get this blast of hot air, not unlike what happens when one opens the oven's door while it's still roasting potatoes. And please remember that Vancouver is for the most part an air-conditioner free place, except of course for chain-operated cafes, supermarkets, malls, etc. The average BC businesses do not bother with installing air conditioners because it is so rarely needed here. Keep in mind that for us in BC summer means a handful of beautiful days (i.e. room temperature at the most) with lots of rain inbetween, and only very occasional days of temperatures over 25C. Today we reached highs of 34C (aka 93F) which lingered well into the late evening. Now at 10pm it's finally "cool" - 28C.

There is very little I am able to do in such weather conditions, besides noticing what weighs me down and is unbearable in these conditions:

- Blogging on your laptop when it's actually sitting on your laps (unless you want to have laptop marks on your thighs)
- Wearing jewelry - or wearing anything, for that matter. Even the notion of putting any fragrance on seems overbearing. I stick to the basics - vetiver scented soaps and my sandalwood fan to maintain my sanity.
- Baking or cooking (I roasted eggplants for babaganoosh for dinner today - big mistake!)
- Lighting candles, scented or otherwise: while they do make the room smell fabulous - they also warm up the place even in small increments. And you don't want THAT to happen.
- And pretty much anything else that has a purpose other than cooling off.

On the other hand, the heat is causing me to behave in most uncivilized manner. For example, today I bought a pair of shorts, something I haven't done since I was about 11 or 12. On any normal day I am principally opposed to wearing shorts (I just think they are the most hideous garment ever invented and you won't catch me dead wearing ones). This weather is really comprisming my morals!

And on another completely strange note, I find myself strangely eager to make some fragrant preparation that are utterly messy. Tomorrow I am planning to release all the lavender buds off their stems (I got them from Montrose Farm from Bowen Island at the West End farmer's market). I want to make more bath salts and sugar scrubs. And more than anything else I want to finally get on to making my own incense cones. If it wasn't for the disadvantegous humidity, this is what I would have done a week ago when everything got out of control... I may not be able to control myself tomorrow though and just start working on that incense anyway. And if my laps aren't burning fro wearing shorts and typing on my laptop, I'll even blog about it.

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Lychee-Coconut Chill

The end of our British Columbian heat wave is nowhere to be seen, and at when I'm not pretending to get work done (that happens between 8-9:30 in the morning or after 10pm - the only times when temperatures drop a little below 30) you will find me lying on the floor (unfortunately it's carpeted...) panting and staring at an icy beverage of some sort - ice water is of course my first choice, but ice tea, ice coffee, or something else cold seem to bring me a little more energy.

This simple drink is greatly inspired by Royal Thai drink which I had at the Thai House restaurant in Vancouver (I'm sure they're not the only one who serve this drink though). Their offering is very creamy (even though they state they use low fat coconut milk), frothy even, with the coconut cream floating at the top with a consistency of a merengue. The coconut milk is blended with lychee juice and at the bottom of your glass, you will find a generous treasure of chopped up lychee fruit. It clogs the straw and tastes delicious!

Coconut has a cooling effect for some reason. I don't know if there is anything scientific behind it, but in Ayurvedic medicine this is what it is used for. When I was growing up in Israel in my little organic village with no electricity (or even a refrigerator for that matter) I would spend hot days on the (un-carpeted) floor sipping coconut water that I made by mixing coconut flakes with the coolest water I could find - those stored in clay pitchers called "Jahra". Besides going to the beach it really is the best you can do in such climate with no air conditioner or ice...

But back to the Lychee-Coconut Chill, the cooling beverage I want to share with you - it is not quite like Royal Thai but a lot lighter and much effortless to prepare or to drink. All you'll need is two ingredients:

2 cups (1 can) Coconut Milk
1 Liter Lychee Juice
Mix together and keep refrigerated. Serve with ice as desired, or blend with crushed ice in a blender.

If you want to be a little more adventurous you can also add 1 tsp. of kewda floral water. It really complements the flavour well without taking away from the lychee or the coconut. It's a very subtle aromatic addition, and is also considered cooling in Ayurveda - all the more reason to try it out!
* Kewda water can be found in East Indian stores. It may be called Keora.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Geranium-Lychee Iced Tea

As promised, my recipe for a most refreshing and exotic iced tea that will help you cool off in this unusual heat wave that swept British Columbia this July. We consider anything above 10 celsius is "beautiful day" and anything around room temperature as "hot". So you can imagine we are not quite set up for 30 celsius and over (today is expected to go as high as 32!).
Using a high quality tea is key to the success of this tea. I prefer to use Inner Alchemy's Moonbeam Glory, which is quite fancy and a beautiful tea on its own rights; besides the delicious lychee, it also has dried wild blueberries in it and natural flavour of black currants, wild blueberries and blackberries. But if you can also use a high quality rose or lychee congou (it is not easy to come across the real thing but well worth the search).

2 tsp. Lychee or Rose Congou
1 Liter boiling water
3 tsp. sugar (optional)
1 Liter lychee juice (I use Dewlands' Litchi juice, which is sweetened only with white grape juice and is yummy!)
2 Freshly picked pelargonium (geranium) leaves. Rose geranium or lemon-scented geranium is the best

Bring water to a boil. Steep the tea leaves for 5 minutes. Sweeten with sugar if desired and bring to room temperature. Add the lytchee juice. Rub the geranium leaves slightly between your palms to release their aroma and add to the juice and tea. Refrigerate and serve with plenty of ice for a cooling and energizing summer drink. I took this to the beach yesterday in a thermos with lots of ice and it was fantastic!

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Make Up Alley Recognition

Wow, I just visited Make Up Alley and noticed that the product reviews directory now recognizes Ayala Moriel as a brand. I'm so very excited and thrilled that this happened!

Thank you SO MUCH to all of you MUAers who made this happen. I'm sure all your reviews had a lot to do with it! Big hug to each and every one of you!
There is a review I believe for each one of my 50 perfumes offered at the moment. So I guess my next goal would be for my teas and candles to be reviewed there too... Just a little wishful thinking, won't hurt, right?

And as a little thank you - when you place an order with Ayala Moriel, please mention MUA in your notes (and your MUA nickname if you like) and you will receive a free tealight candle with any sample order and a bath salt with any order of a full size bottle.

Have a great week!




Sunday, July 26, 2009

Linden Blossom Lost and Found

Linden Blossom, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

This post comes about a month late, as linden (tilia) trees bloom mostly through June. It was about 3 weeks ago that I finally found the tree, twice. The long "leaves" near the flower, which are not really leaves, are a little deceiving. So it's no wonder I missed the tree for so many years even though it was right under my nose. They are actually aprt of the flower structure. The true leaves are heart shaped (and are never used for tea as far as I know).
I first spotted these at the pitch and putt in Stanley Park, took these photos, but didn't notice much of a scent so I was not sure this is really the tree.

Than a week or so later, I walk down Robson Strasse. Somewhere between Bute and Thurlow, there it was: the heady, honeyed-green and clean-woody scent of linden blossom, threatened to fall into oblivion by the hostile aromas emanating from The Body Shop right under it. It's not even trying to compete, so you will have to look for the scent persistently, and go above all the intense street smells to get it.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lemon Bar

There is no mail delivery to my building for 3 weeks now, so you can imagine my delight when I went to the main post office yesterday to pick up the mail (usually there are only bills there) - and found out that two packages I was long expecting finally arrived and I was able to pick and unpack both on the same day.

One packages was from Gabriel's Aunt in Seattle, containing a new batch of White Potion candles as well as several of her candles that I was dying to try for quite some time*. Nikki is so talented with her candle ideas, it's only a matter of time for her to be discovered and considered the big name in natural home-fragrance. Her candles don't only smell great from their tin or jar, they smell great when they burn. Whoever told you that you can't make a naturally scented candle that has a throw or smell interesting simply don't know what they are doing.

Well, Nikki surely knows how to make a candle work without the aid of any aromachemicals or pre-blended candle fragrances that come from a cookie-cutter fragrance factroy. Her scent ideas are fun and original, and her candles burn clean and steady for hours and hours on end, releasing the unique aroma that was given to them before they were poured and moulded. It's so different to smell the real essences in a candle as opposed to an imitation of everyday olfactory pleasures. In Nikki's candles, when you smell chocolate, you know it came from a real cacao bean, and you can really feel that difference. There is a reason why I chose to work with her on my own candle collection, and the results are nothing short of stunning.

I alway check to see what's new at Garbriel's Aunt, as Nikki always manages to surprise with her Just For Fun candle collection. I was particularly eager to try her Lemon Bar scent. I love lemon pastries so much it's a mystery I don't ever wear lemony scents. I find these scents fun to smell as body care or home fragrance but become easily bored with them as a personal perfume. Just a couple of weeks I made a coconut-lime scent that although I liked very much, I thought would be better as a body oil than an acutal perfume (at least for me personally).

With essential oils of lemon, lime and butter CO2, I knew Lemon Bar candle will smell heavenly. And it does. It smells exactly like how my entire house smells like when I bake lemon-lime wafers, and the scorched butter and sugar take over the space and carry along the citrusy zest of lemon and lime. A particularly fun candle to burn in the summer, when baking is out of the question but you want to be in a cloud of lime zest. The butter, I find, adds an almost coconutty nuance, which could be just my own association, but nevertheless makes the candle feel a little tropical.

* I will tell you about the contents of the other package on Monday.

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Blunda Perfume Exhibition No. 5: YOSH Olfactory Scents

Yosh Han, from YOSH olfactory scents is the guest perfumer at Blunda today, in part 5 of Blunda's Natural Botanical Perfume Exhibitions.

Yosh will be creating two conceptual perfume art installations specifically for this event, as well as showcasing her lovely limited edition Winter Rose, a gentle rosy spicy perfume inspired by her travels through Turkey. Yosh will generously offer aura readings with the purchase of Winter Rose.

Come meet the perfumer, savor delicious treats, and smell the surprises that Yosh has for you.


Blunda Aromatics 304 So. Edinburgh Ave, Los Angeles CA 90048

To RSVP: Call (323) 658-7507 or email

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Friday, July 24, 2009

What Are You Wearing This Summer?

Happy Friday everyone!
Today is your last chance to enter the draw to win 2 miniature bottles of Jo Malone's Grapefruit Cologne and Lavender Cologne.
Simply comment on the Ultimate Summer Wardrobe post and tell us what you are wearing this summer - and your name will be entered into the draw later tonight.

UPDATE: The winner is Flora. Congratulations!
*Please contact me with your mailing address.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tropical Tea Party - The Beverages

Although a tea party, the beverages were not restricted to tea only. Here is what we had:
The Charisma house blend of jasmine green tea, osmanthus blossoms and freshly picked herb from my patio - spearmint, lemon verbena and lemongrass!

Magnolia Oolong Tea - one of my favourites, from Murchie's.

Iced tea - of Lychee Black Tea (I used Inner Alchemy's Moonbeam Glory, which also is flavoured with other berries), only slightly sweetened and mixed with lychee juice and a couple of fresh lemon-geranium-leaves (also from my patio!). A full recipe will be posted here at a later date.

Coconut Milk + Lychee Juice was another refreshing drink, although without any tea involved.

And of course - tea tasting from my line of teas.

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Tropical Tea Party - The Preparations

This is just a glimpse at the preparations for the party. I had some touch nuts to crack!

The coconut was to be used in the Mexican fruit plate/salad (see below). You start by poking the holes at the top of the coconut (I do it with a hummer and a nail, but you can also use a screwdriver). If the water smells and tastes sweet, it's a good coconut. If it smells and tastes sour, don't bother opening it. This was the second coconut I tried (the first one was rotten!), and it was so good Tamya and I sipped out the coconut water with a straw. So much fun!

Coconut Cocktail Au Naturelle, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Cracking a Tough Nut, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

After draining out the water, most coconut cracking experts would tell you to use a big bone knife and just attack the center. Being a vegetarian, I don't have a bone knife and I am too scared to hurt myself in the process, so I just use the primitive method of nailing the coconut in a corner and than banging heavy objects such as rocks at it until it cracks up. It shouldn't take too long. A hummer is my favourite choice of a heavy object because it has a handle and this way I don't risk banging my fingers when the rock hits the coconut ;-)

Cracked Coconut, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

To separate the meat of the coconut from its brown shell, you msut use a flexible knife and work your way around. Try to break the coconut into smaller pieces, that helps too. Once all the meat is removed, you still need to use a potato peeler to remove the brown skin that separates between the white coconut meat and the hard shell. Be sure to store your coconut in clean cold water in the refrigerator until use, so prevent it from turning gray or drying out.

P.s. It surely was not helpful that we had a heat wave and the kitchen felt like oven during the day. So I did most of the baking late at night... During the day there was no way I were able to make a shortbread crust of butter cookies of any kind!

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Tropical Tea Party - The Food

5-Tiered Tea Treats Tray, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

First tier: Tea-Sandwiches
Cucumber & Mint
Tomato & Tagetes
Radish & Mint
Carrot & Ginger
Avocado & Cilantro

Second tier: Scones
Plain sweet scones (Empress Hotel Recipe)
Devonshire Cream
Lemon curd
Meyer Lemon Marmalade
Peach/Apricot Jam

Third tier: Cupcakes and Small Deserts
Fresh Black Currant Cupcakes with Violet Glazing
Miniature Crepes with Mango & Whipped Cream

Fourth tier: Cookies
Lemon-Lime Wafers (icebox)
Macademia-White Chocolate Drop Cookies

Fifth Tier:
Charisma Truffles
Cubed Coconut, Papaya & Mango with Lime & Chili
Jasmine Tea Tarts with Lychee Fruit
Chocolate Macarons

5-Tiered Tea Treats Tray, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Lavender, Blueberry & Violet Cupcakes, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Lavender-Bluberry-Violet cupcakes
lavender-blueberry batter; violet confiture glazing, violet-cream-cheese frosting; decorated with candied violet and fresh sprigs of lavender flowers

Earl Gray Lychee Tarts, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Earl Gray Lychee Tarts
-Earl Gray shortbread tart shells filled with Earl Gray ganache and topped with fresh lychees, blueberries and raspberries

Scones and Jam, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Sweet scones (I used The Empress Hotel's recipe), with jams and Devonshire cream. Also great with lemon curd.

Mexican Fruit Salad, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Freshly cut tropical fruit - papaya, mango and coconut - topped with chilli and squeezed lime juice.


Tropical Tea Party - The Presentation

Tropical Flowers Scent Strips, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Tropic flowers we smelled: Tuberose absolute, orange blossom absolute, golden champaca absolute, ylang ylang extra, ylang ylang concrete, Pink Lotus, Jasmine grandiflorum, Egyptian Jasmine, Jasmine Sambac, Attar Motia (jasmine sambac attar), Tea rose essential oil (from China). When smelling the jasmines, we compared the different kinds, and also demonstrated their relationship to civet (the indole that is so strongly present in both - especially in Jasmine grandiflorum from India).

Indian Attars, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Indian Attars we smelled at the presentation:
Kewda Attar, Summer Rose Attar, Saffron Attar, Attar Motia (Jasmine Sambac), and several Indian attars that are complete perfumes made of tens of not around 100 different spices, woods and flowers: Amulya Attar, Amberi Attar, Black Musk Attar

And last but not least - presenting 4 Limited Edition Tropical Flower & Spice perfume, which I will discuss in more detail over the course of the next few days on SmellyBlog. For now let's just announce their names and main theme:

Tuberose Massaman - tuberose against steamed curried rice notes of turmeric and saffron attar, and of course - a massaman curry blend of spice oils and lemongrass.

Jasmine Pho - clear and transparent jasmine tea against fresh cilantro, basil and lime as they steep in a freshly brewed Vietnamese Pho noodle soup.

Curry Rose - Indian summer rose attar and Ruh Gulab spiced with cumin-laden Indian curries, overtop the fenugreek-like notes of immortelle and patchouli shawls.

Champaca Chai - cooking chai on top of the Himalayas, evoking the spice, tea, steamy full-cream milk and the smoke from the woods that burnt to make this elixir.

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Tropical Tea Party - The Guests

And of course - the people make all the difference. I was fortunate to have the most amazingly passionate, sweet and fun guests at my last couple tea parties. I have a feeling they all enjoyed smelling the different raw materials, discovering my perfume collection - and of course, sipping on some fine tea and nibbling on the pastries and tea sandwiches we made for the party (this time I got my boyfriend and his sister to my rescue as temperatures went so high I had to leave baking to evening only (meaning: very last minute). Everything turned out delicious...!

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Ultimate Summer Wardrobe - Scents for Every Occasion

This midsummer, I’ve invited a few others of my favourite bloggers to list their favourite summer scents. What started as a simple “top 10” list (we bloggers all love those for some reason, as redundant as they may seem to some of our readers – or not) – turned into a summer guide to what to wear, when and why for nearly every possible summer scenario we could think about. I want to thank all the participating bloggers for being such great pals and joining me on this last-minute blogging project; and for coming up with so many cool ideas for different summer scenarios that requires a matching scent. Special thanks to Gaia for finding this quirky summer photo and for Elena for adding the tagline on the image (I still need to figure out how to do stuff like that on Photoshop – I only know very few tricks there!).

So here we go, scents for (nearly) every possible summer occasion, at least the ones I could think of with a lot of help from my perfume blogger friends. And I would like to hear what you think is missing from the list or what you'd chose for your summer wardrobe. I will have a draw between the readers to win 2 miniature bottles of Jo Malone's Grapefruit Cologne and Lavender Cologne.

A Day at the Theme Park or Fair
I though this would be my toughest scenario to find a match for. But it was the easiest: Sugar by Fresh = cotton candy and lemonade. Just add some butterflies as you scream your way on the rollercoaster and you’re good to go.

Summer Night in the Big City
I’ve only been in three big cities during the summer: London, Montreal and New York. The first I was too young to wear any perfume, plus it rained so much it did not feel like summer). Montreal is mostly remembered for the jazz. And the latter was your expected humid, suffocating polluted summer days and one of my main purposes in the trip was perfume shopping. One evening I ended up with my newly acquired Chinatown. A grave mistake as this is better in cooler weather. But from than on I will always remember Chinatown as my New York City perfume (I bet that would make Bond No. 9 happy). If I were to choose my own way now, I would go with something more personal and close to the skin, something to call my own and identify myself in the big crowds. And in a more quite, less obtrusive way than how Chinatown does it. For the sake of picking one scent I chose Magazine Street by Strange Invisible Perfumes. It starts with a lovely white magnolia note and a sharp contrast of vetiver and develops into a musky skin scent, woody, a tad smoky, and very distinct.

International Travel / Jet-Setting
This is a tough one. When I travel I don’t like wearing much, and what I usually do “wear” is those little towelettes soaked in some typical eau de cologne. For long flights that’s usually as much as I can tolerate. Or I would sometimes stop at Hermes and put some Eau d’Orange Verte. Such scents help me feel refreshed and a little bit cleaner than I probably am being stuck in a cabin for long hours (most of my flights are to Israel, so we’re looking at least at 14 hours inside the plane). I like airplanes so little that I don’t really want to associate anything with my actual flight. But last time on my trip back from France, on the London-Vancouver flight, I stopped at Chanel before I got on the plane and doused myself with Sycomore. It turned out to be an excellent choice. It’s a scent I already love (so no fear of associating it with airplanes) and there must have been something really grounding and comforting in the vetiver with hints of mastic resin.

Going Sailing
Deseo, with its equal measure of trashy coconut and synthetic fruit and clean-cut modernized so-called “chypre” - it reads more like a fougere to me. It has a hint of that watery-musky base that so many aquatic masculine fougeres have (Cool Water and the like) but at the same time feels warm and confident. Deseo is like a beach scent with balls, and would be my choice for a little wild ride on a motorboat in English Bay.
P.s. I’m such a show-off, you should know that it would be my brother actually riding the boat, and I will be begging him to tone down the speed ;-)

Drive-In Theatre
Not that I’ve ever been to one (yet) so I can only imagine this based on what I’ve seen in all those 50’s movies. I can’t imagine myself wanting to wear a 50’s style scent (read: aldehydic floral) in the summer. So instead I am going for a scent that my brother described as smelling like the interior of a taxicab, and by that I mean pretty much the entire “Vanille” collection from Comptoir Sud Pacifique. Their Coco-Vanille is particularly realistic, as it smells exactly like those little coconut-scented paper trees that are so commonly popular with taxi drivers in Israel. If you want something more wearable, go for Vanille-Abricot or Vanille Pineapple.

Summer Siesta
There’s nothing sweeter than taking a little nap to make that hot afternoon pass faster, and skip straight into sunset. And even better – a nap taken on a hammock in the garden. To me, Sweet Lime and Cedar smells like this siesta: a combination of the jasmines climbing on the pole where the hammock is tied up to, remains of a watermelon eaten on the grass, and of course the fibers of the hammock releasing their scent even more in reaction to the salt from one’s sweaty back...

The Farmer's Market
Philosykos, because green figs is the only thing that will never show up in a Farmer’s Market in Vancouver and I miss them so much!

Summer Garden Scent
Of all perfumes, the one I chose to wear when tending to my summer garden (all pots and planters, mind you – I’m still on the waitlist for the community gardens!) is Chrysalis by Soivhole’. It has a dominant note of marigold (FYI: any amount of marigold is dominant and this one is beautifully done without being too much), and marigold to me read summer! Other notes include Absinthe, cognac, fig and organic butter tincture, jasmine, orange blossom and carnation.

Beach scent
Yes, this subject is very original, I know, but definitely necessary whenever summer is in question!

My all-time favourite remains Azuree de Soleil Body Oil (it’s now called Bronze Goddess but I’m still finishing up my second bottle of the original name). Its mix of vetiver, incense, gardenia and honey resembles a sun warmed skin and it’s not as clichéd as so many other beachy scents. I love it on its own but it also layers beautifully with other scents (meaning: you can wear another scent on your pulse points and they really complement each other). My favourite pairings are Songes and Chinatown.

Rainy Beach Day Scent
But for the sake of changing things around a bit, I have two more scents for the occasion - which is all the more appropriate because it’s the single summer activity I take part of no matter what. You’ll rarely NOT find me on the beach during the summer! I even go jogging on the beach when it rains (that goes for every season though…).

And on a day when it rains and all you can do on the beach is build sand castles or jog along the seawall, there’s nothing better than Turtle Vetiver, which smells like playing in wet sand.

Poolside Scent
Terra Cotta Eau de Sous le Vent is again not really a perfume but technically a tan-enhancing body spray. It also smells wonderfully of gardenia and sun-warmed skin, perhaps with hints of coconut and suntan lotion. I first worn it on a balmy May night at Cannes beach by the Cinema de la Plage, and hope this is the memory that’s going to stick with me. There is more gardenia than sun warmed skin or sand, which is why I’ve picked it as a poolside scent rather than for the beach. It lacks that “dirty” side of sand and salt and oiled skin so I think it will be more appropriate for the sterile fun environment of a pool party.

If there is one thing I could do without during the summertime is Bar BQ. Being a vegetarian and a perfumer there is not much for me in it: I can’t eat the food. Even the vegetables and fake meats will most likely be covered with meat juices, and I could never see the point of scorching vegetables anyway. Must be something that works wonderfully with meat… And besides, the smoke and the smell are horrific to me. I know I am a minority but whenever my neighbours downstairs Bar BQ (which is pretty much every other day of the week and even more so during the summer) I just want to run away…
So what to wear in that situation? Tough question, because all I try to do than is avoid the smell… Perhaps Giacobetti’s ingenious Tea for Two (l’Artisan Parfumeur), where the smokiness can be mistaken for a cup of fragrant lapsang suchong masked with brown sugar and steamed milk.

The Chinese Night Market
Every year in the summer, for three nights people from all across the Lower Mainland defy the notion of guaranteed bad parking conditions and swarm the Chinese Night Market in search for bargains and Asian street food that can be found nearly nowhere else in town. For such a night I suggest wearing a sheer playful floral, and my choice is Pure Poison. There’s nothing serious about it and the combination of orange blossom and heady tuberose over incense and musk is universally sexy and goes well with sweet crepes, fruity bubble teas and deep fried ice cream. If you are planning on having a green papaya salad, reach for Sweet Lime & Cedar instead.

Best Fruit Salad Scent
Fruit salad scents have been all the rage for over a decade now starting somewhere in the mid 90’s innocently enough with aquatic florals such as Acqua di Gio, Light Blue and so on. Unfortunately, once the aquatic floral craze died out with stayed with fruit salads, compotes and syrups till this very day, which took over most designer and celebrity fragrance releases for women. Only now we finally get to see the end of it (I hope) with some more interesting takes on the subject. Un Jardin Apres la Mousson is a prime example; where juicy cantaloupe is juxtaposed with vetiver, pepper, ginger and coriander, resulting in a fragrance that is wearable, transparent and intriguing despite its simplistic composition.

Summer Meditation
With so many things happening in the summer, and the unlikelihood of saying “no” to all these attractive choices, one could end up exhausted and in much need for introspective down time or meditation. Than I like to burn Buddhist sandalwood incense or fine Japanese incense sticks under my Star Jasmine bush and just sit back and relax on my porch… For such times, there is no better incense summer scent than Kyoto, with its hinoki, musk and mastic notes it is deceivingly light but really quite haunting.

Read on what other excellent perfume blogs have to say about scents for every occasion in summer:


The Non Blonde

I Smell Therefore I Am (Abigail's List)

I Smell Therefore I Am (Brian's List)

+ Q Perfume Blog

Scent Hive

Savvy Thinker

Moving and Shaking

Bittergrace Notes

Perfume Shrine

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tropical Tea Party

chi chi, originally uploaded by bobby__emm.

chi chi, originally uploaded by bobby__emm.

Your are cordially invited for a Tropical Tea Party - hosted by Ayala Moriel Parfums, themed around tropical flowers. Guests will experience 3 VERY limited edition perfumes inspired by tropical flowers and exotic spicy foods from Southeast Asia, and get to experience different natural essences from around the world.

The new perfumes will be revealed at 2pm, followed by a presentation about tropical flowers in perfumery.

Tropical flowers and exotic spices will be featured within the refreshments and pastries served to accompany Ayala’s exotic perfumed teas.

Sunday, July 19th, 1-5pm
Presentation at 2pm

#314-1230 Haro Street (corner with Bute), Buzz #295

Phone: (778) 863-0806
Or via Facebook

*Spaces are utterly limited so please RSVP by July 16th to allow us to prepare enough treats and refreshments for all of you.

More details:
This fantastic summery tea party is hosted by Ayala Moriel Parfums, and is themed around tropical flowers. Guests will experience 3 VERY limited edition perfumes inspired by tropical flowers and exotic spicy foods from Southeast Asia.

Tropical flowers and exotic spices will be featured within the refreshments and pastries served to accompany Ayala’s exotic perfumed teas. You will experience these flowers with all your senses - touch, smell, sight and taste! - and if you listen carefully you may even be able to hear them sing!

At 2pm Ayala will introduce the 3 limited edition perfumes, and than guide the guests in a multi-sensory presentation about tropical flowers in perfumery. Only the party's guests will be privy to the scent and names of these perfumes, so it's a very special occasion you should not miss!

This is a rare opportunity to learn and smell previous raw materials from around the world, i.e.: Tuberose, Gardenia, Jasmine, Lotus and many more that you probably never heard of! Also will be featured rare attars from India, which are the traditional Indian perfumes.

The presentation will take place at 2pm, and is an intimate forum where you can experience r

All I will tell you for now is that each is centered around a flower and a Southeast Asian food or spice mix, which makes a magnificent and exotic contrast and a very well-balanced perfume.

Magnolia Oolong
Jasmine Green Tea
Pomelo Blossom Tea
Earl Gray Cream
Lychee Ice Tea
Young Coconut Juice with Kewda Water & Fresh Spearmint
*Tea tasting from Ayala Moriel's line of Perfumed Tea

1st Tier: Tea Sandwiches
Tomato & Tagetes
Peanut Butter & Banana
Avocado & Cilantro
Cucumber & Nasturtium
Minted Radishes

2nd Tier: Scones
Devonshire cream
Meyer Lemon Marmalade
Apricot Preserves

3rd Tier: Miniature Desserts & Truffles
Fresh Black Currant Cupcakes with Violet Glazing
Miniature Crepes with Mango & Whipped Cream
Jasmine-tea tarts with fresh Lychee
Vanilla Cream Cheese & Banana Cupcakes
Lemon-Lime Wafers (icebox)
Macademia-White Chocolate Cookies
French Macarons by Say See Bon Pattisserie
Hand-rolled Flower-Scented Charisma Truffles

Ayala's truffles and teas will be available for purchase of course so you can enjoy them at home too!

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Geranium, Green and Minty

, originally uploaded by Rod the Rabid Rodent.

, originally uploaded by Rod the Rabid Rodent.

More often than never, geranium essential oil is used for its crushed leaf effect and fresh herbaceous qualities. As mentioned earlier, the presence of menthone and isomenthone renders geranium leaf oil’s freshness and minty character. Linalol makes it a little similar to lavender, and geranium overall is often considered an herbaceous and leafy raw material. In addition to that, the citrusy elements (i.e.: limonene) make it especially favourable in masculine fragrances.

You’ll find geranium in many masculines for men, though rarely will it appear in the name of the scent (the days of Geranium Water are long gone!) or as a major theme. Geranium can be find in classi fougeres such as Azzaro and Canoe, but also in more modern ones such as Cool Water, and the new emerging classification of fougeres for women, beginning with Sarah Jessica Parker’s quirky Covet (where it’s paired with cocoa, citrus and sharp florals to produce a “fougere on estrogen”) and Deseo for women (it smells more like a fougere than the mossless “Chypre” its supposed to be).

In Fougeres, geranium is mostly used for bouqueting the composition, adding the roundness that florals such as rose and jasmine are usually utilized for in “feminine” scents; because while it does provide a similar effect, it is also far less expensive, as well as has that edge of being herbaceous and leafy, preventing it from being too flowery for a man to wear (even though the distinction of florals being feminine is relatively new even in the Western world).

In l’Herbe Rouge I’ve used geranium for exactly that purpose – it’s a fougere composition, yet I wanted to use something to create harmony among the mossy, earthy base (oakmoss, hay, patchouli, vetiver) and the crisp, sharp lavender and juniper top notes. It seems to work really well alongside the leafy lemongrass as well as the spicy clove heart notes.

In the Bois d’Hiver candle, we replaced the rose with rose geranium (for economic purposes – rose otto would make the candle prohibitively expensive, and even the less expensive rose absolute still comes at an outrageous price). In that context, it does well, even though I don’t know about using it in the perfume formulation. I think the florals make it really rich (Bois d’Hiver has rose otto, jasmine and orange blossom).

For the purpose of researching geranium, I’m now doing an experiment replacing rose geranium in a few of my more “masculine” scents instead of the rose, i.e.: Democracy and Rainforest in particular. I think these two might actually benefit from the crispness of geranium and could do without rose’s overwhelming complexity. In Democracy it seemed to have worked fine so far, with half the amount that I usually use for rose otto. Economic indeed.

These days I’m working on a geranium perfume. My main challenge is to give geranium the centre of the stage. I’ve started with a version that is leafy-green and a littly minty. Rather than pretend the herbaceous and leafy green aspects are not there and try to mask them, I’m attempting to bring them out by using several geranium kinds (Madagascan, Morrocan, Egyptian and Bourbon), paired with peppermint and rosemary to accentuate the minty-herbaceouse qualities, lemon and grapefruit to highlight the citrusy aspects, and vetiver and tobacco base notes to support the woody dry out of geranium oil.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer School

For far away students who can't participate in the monthly sessions and the 2 year program, I've designed a new course structure that is separate from my 2 year course. These one week intensive course are an introduction to the world of perfumery and provide you with basic hands-on experience that I hope will inspire you to learn more on your own.

This week-long intensive course runs from 9:30am-3:30pm and offers theoretical and practical guidance alongside hands-on lab exercises and experiments. The first session, beginning this summer, covers studying the raw materials, perfume structure, how to blend a formula, how to write a formula, building accords and creating simple solid perfumes, as well as cologne and citrus formulation in an alcohol base.

It also includes a feature workshop: The Art of Naturally Scented Candlemaking with Nikki Sherritt. Nikki is the founder of Gabriel's Aunt and is also the savvy candle maker that crafts the beautiful candle line for Ayala Moriel Parfums.

Depending on how well this summer course will be received, I will be offering these week long intensive courses throughout the year. Each session will include a featured class (i.e.: scented bath and body products, sachets, incense, solid perfume making, etc.).

Dates: August 10-14

No. of spaces available: up to 6 students.

Click here to sign up.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Geranium, Red and Bold

Red Geranium, originally uploaded by kathryn45.

Red Geranium, originally uploaded by kathryn45.

There’s something aggressive about geranium. It immense odour intensity and is very tenacious and can easily overpower anything else in the perfume and just take over. When I was at the training week in Grasse, one of the exercises we were given was to guess the raw materials and the proportion of an accord. It was an accord of lavender and geranium oils, and smelled predominantly of geranium. My first guess was that it was a 60-40 ratio (60% geranium). The truth was the complete reverse: there was 30% geranium, and the remaining 70% were lavender. This would have been the case if rose absolute or even rose otto were used. The lavender would have been stronger. Which only goes to shows you how dominant can geranium be!

So what happens when geranium takes over? Whether if its sweet fruity, rosy, or minty notes come through - they becomes so intense, at times even cloying. Some become intensely musky. And this is partially why I shy away from using very much geranium in my compositions. Egyptian geranium is particularly strange and musky, which can be worked to your advantage.

At other times, the geranium can create very strong association of potpourri. In Diptyque’s L’Eau, this is the whole point. Whether or not potpourri smells are to your liking is of course entirely up to you. But the perfumer sure better be aware of the potpourri potential of a note and how to create the desired effect.

But geranium’s aggressiveness can serve you right in some perfumes. It works wonders in orientals, such as in Dioressence, or the bold ambery Anne Pliska, the legendary dense Old Spice; or Noir Epices, which is simultaneously traditional and modern with its mix of dusky dry spices and dark musk and illuminated with geranium, jasmine and sweet orange. The upfront, bold geranium note is also used to balance the over-the-top white florals in Fracas, headed by tuberose, and also in cutting edge leathers that have become classics – Knize Ten, Impreial Leather, and others. Geranium is also paired with musky vetiver and warm cinnamon and sweet orange in Aveda Personal Blends Key Element #3 Fire Nature (which I love, by the way).

In my Zodiac collection, there is geranium in two perfumes: Taurus, where it takes a second-violin role to support the rose heart, contrasted by patchouli; and Aries, where geranium’s firey-red boldness is set against a backdrop of tobacco and musk overlaid with hot spices – cinnamon, black pepper and cloves and the exotic, diffusive warmth of zantoxylum (Tomar seeds). I just recently revamped Aries and got rid of the lime top notes, I found that they got in the way of the musk and geranium creating a fresh-green distraction from what Aries is all about. Now it’s musky notes are more pronounced with a touch of cascarilla, ambrette, opoponax and bourbon vetiver.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Geranium, Soft and Pink

Pink Geranium, originally uploaded by fatminky.

Pink Geranium, originally uploaded by fatminky.

Today I want to highlight the more feminine, pretty aspects of geranium. The first time I've encountered rose geranium out of the garden was in a face cream the metapelet in the Kibbutz gave us one evening after we spent too much time in the sun on a field trip. It smelled so amazing - soothing, beautiful and a little cooling - that it turned me into a sucker for rosy facial care forever... While geranium is clearly rosy, it is more often treated as a masculine note. I assume this is because it helps in bouqueting while keeping costs low and still have the more fresh and minty aspects that are so often required to market a scent for men.

But geranium, and bourbon geranium in particular, have an intensely sweet aspect to them that can smell almost confectionary. In Cabaret, a rosy floriental, the rose geranium plays a role greater than just extending the rose notes. I’ve taken advantage of this and paired Rose Geranium with Turkish rose otto and amber, surprisingly creating the illusion of coconut. To exaggerate this impression, I added some massoia bark, which has the fatty sweetness of roasted coconut. The result is strongly reminiscent of Rahat Loukum, immersed in rosewater and dusted with starch and coconut.

In the ylang ylang soliflore Coralle, Geranium Bourbon is merely in the background to round-off a tropical bouquet supported by the jam-like notes of davana (an herb from the Artemisia family that has notes of overripe berries and hints of Chambord liqueur). Geranium Bourbon is usually my least favourite choice because I find its full-bodied wine-like qualities overbearing at times. But in this context it was the right geranium to choose.

And more recently, for Mother’s Day, I’ve created Geranium Ritual Bath Salts that were meant to smell all feminine, pretty and grounding. I wanted it to conjure images of fresh laundry and babies (how motherly!) so I’ve also used hints of lavender for the fresh linen association, and Roman chamomile that creates a baby-powder accord with the other notes. Subtle amounts of myrrh and jasmine and the peru balsam oil as a fixative prevent it from smelling like yet another relaxing aromatherapy blend. Even though the formulation is for bath salts it will work beautifully as a real grown-up perfume.

The flowery and rosy components of geranium - linalol (which is also present in rosewood, ho wood and lavender) softens up geranium's otherwise bold character and of course when this aspect is accentuated, you will get a softer geranium. Also the rose alcohol (geraniol, citronellal, etc.) which are what gives geranium its rosy characteristics can be played softly, depending on the context, and avoiding the potpourri impression that is so easily to fall into when working with geranium. In Olivia Giacobetti's L'Ether, rose geranium is used so beautifully it has none of the harshness (it is not listed in the notes -Myrrh, Benzoin, Rosewood, Sandalwood, Saffron, Maple wood - but it is very present). The backdrop of myrrh and woods and the sweetness of benzoin make the geranium in L'Ether come across very mysterious, like the endless unfolding petals of a mythical eternally blooming rose.

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Rose Geranium Field

Rose Geranium Field, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

In the past year I’ve been quite obsessed with geranium. This seemingly simple, familiar note is far more interesting than I’ve expected, and if it wasn’t for a few exquisite samples that I have received from Eden Botanicals at the time, I probably would have gone about my ways completely overlooking its potential as a centerpiece in a composition, let alone treat it as an interesting perfume material.

Geranium is a very important and useful note in perfumery, but usually plays only a supporting role: its high contents of geraniol, citronellol (both present at very high ratio in rose oil and absolute) makes it a perfect rose extender. It is nearly considered “a poor man’s rose” as it is far less expensive than any rose oil or absolute.

All geranium oils (including what is commonly referred to as "rose geranium") is extracted from the entire plant, not the flowers. The leaves and flowering tips of fragrant geranium varities are all harvested for distillation. In fact, even the branches are fragrant. And appropriately so, the oil has both floral and leafy elements, which is what makes it such a versatile and important perfumery raw material.

Geranium is marvelous in fruity accords, where it adds body and wine-like sweetness. And its minty aspect (from menthone and isomenthone) is what makes geranium a perfect team player in leafy-green, fougere, herbaceous, citrusy and cologne-type fragrances. Although I have used gerainum extensively throughout my collection) it was never the centrepiece.

One challenge with geranium is that it is ever so potent. A little goes a very long way and it can easily overwhelm a formula. But that can be seen as an advantage too! Also, it is relatively more simple than rose, so it’s easier to use geranium in a formula that requires a rosy element without cluttering it. Rose is far more difficult to work with than rose geranium – it poses a great challenge of walking on a tightrope between having too little to be noticed and too much elements that creates “mud” instead of a clear statement in a perfume.

The reason for this attitude of mine was not because I didn’t like geranium. On the contrary. I love the smell of fresh geranium leaves and whenever I pass a plant I borrow a leaf and crush it between my fingers. However, for some unknown reason, it does not seem to work very well on my skin when it is in high dosage, and I can’t really explain why. So this is perhaps one of my greater biases that stopped me from exploring what else can be done with geranium.

But after testing a few very fine geraniums (which I will discuss shortly), I felt immensely inspired to start working with this raw material more “seriously” so to speak. And my experiments I will explore with you here over the pages of SmellyBlog over the next few weeks. A very suitable topic for summer, since geranium has such an open, summery feel about it.

The species most commonly and widely used in perfumery is Pelargonium graveolens. I’ve received two excellent samples of this species, one grown in the Bourbon islands (aka geranium Bourbon) and the other grown on the Himalayas in India.

Geranium Bourbon
This variety is rosy and candy-sweet. Although it is considered second only to “African Geranium” (this is the common name for the now very scarce Algerian Geranium), I’m afraid to admit that generally it is my least favourite of them all. It can be a little too sweet, bordering on candy. This particular geranium though, although still detectably candy-sweet, was very much to my liking. It is very full-bodied and wine-like, and develops into a woody dryout, with hints of green. For some reason it reminds me of the Mediterranean beach I used to go to growing up in Israel (it’s called “Banana Beach” and is up north between Nahariya and Rosh HaNikrah, if you’re ever in the area you must go – it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in Israel!).

Himalayan Geranium
Opens very rosy, fresh like crushed leaves, lightly floral, but also full-bodied and smooth with sweet herbal, minty, green undertones and a slightly powdery dry out. At certain phases it actually reminded me of Himalayan cedarwood, with the same clean, woody and smooth texture.

Madagascar Geranium
This beautiful organically-grown geranium is from the species Pelargonium roseum. It is more complex, warm, a little spicy even and very rose-like and sweet. It develops into a powdery, ambery and heavy rose, and remains complex and well-balanced. The final dryout is a little more fresh and lemony, while remaining rosy and rich.

Egyptian Geranium
Also organically grown, but from another species Pelargonium x asparum, this oil is completely different from the typical “Rose Geranium”. It begins fuzzy, like freshly picked geranium leaves. Very realistic, in fact. It’s simultaneously rosy, green and powdery but a little sharp with perceiveable musky undertones. Its dryout is lemony as well as grassy and earthy.

If there is one thing I learned from my visit to Grasse was to appreciate even more the simplest, most common natural raw materials. There is always something new to explore about them, discover new ways to unveil this aspect or another.

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American Scents

Stripes, originally uploaded by Eff Bee.

Stripes, originally uploaded by Eff Bee.

Happy Fourth of July to all my American readers and customers just across the border!

There is no other scent more American to me than wintergreen. It’s in American toothpastes and chewing gums, and also in the ever so popular and oddly flavoured root beer. I don’t think there is anywhere else in the world where wintergreen is perceived so fondly (except for Canada, perhaps, but I suspect we can blame it on proximity). In Europe, wintergreen and sweet birch are used only for cleaning purposes, and Europeans are puzzled by the American fondness for root beer. Just recently, a toilet bowl cleaner made its way to my home and it smelled intensely of root beer. It was a very odd reverse association (I can’t imagine how odd it is for someone used to clean their toilets with wintergreen solutions to actually be offered a drink with that stuff!

But peppermint is also very American. The best peppermint oil actually grows in the USA and it’s sweeter and fuller than some other sources. To me growing up peppermint is the scent of toothpaste (the way it should be…) and has more of a medicinal/therapeutic association. It would be an addition to your tea if your stomach hurts, for instance, or you could just rub pure peppermint oil on your tummy instead. In North America, I think most associate peppermint with the Christmas candy cane and it’s more of a sweet childhood smell… More similar to how I perceive spearmint, perhaps.

And there’s cinnamon – cinnamon buns, and cinnamon in apple pie, both of which I’m very fond of; and caramel to drip on both (I can do without that, but adore the scent of a freshly baked pecan pie). And of course the far less flattering scents of deepfried fast food, from donuts to French fries. Just the other day I passed a well-dressed lady, accessorized with an aldehydic floral AND a cone of French fries. The combination was horrendous. I imagine this is how diners smelled in the 50’s when aldehydic florals were at their prime…

I can’t really think of anything else at the moment. The US is such a wide and versatile country I’m sure it has different regional scents - where as here in Canada it’s all just coniferous and maple syrup from coast to coast, pretty much, perhaps with a touch of castoreum... I would love to hear from you what scents you think are typically American.

Just the other day I posted my list of 10 American perfumes on Helg’s excellent Perfume Shrine blog. I will re-post them here today (most have been reviewed here in the past, so I won’t be commenting much on them). They are not necessarily my favourites, but certainly what I consider to be very representative of what American perfumery is (even though I am not necessarily sure that they were all made and designed by Americans in the US). There’s something really bold about most American perfumes, at times even crude; but than there is also the modern school of thought, which is all about clean, clean, clean. As if there is a need for a proof for America’s sanitary system.

Youth Dew – it’s a classic. What else is there to say?

Private Collection – the epitome of what an American nobility should smell like.

Obsession – Another classic, even if obnoxious to some. Is it possible this is where all the candy scents begun?

Lovely – Balances nicely the clean-skin approach with a modern sensuality. And even though it’s very subtle and - let’s face it – a crowd pleaser, it has a boldness about it, its personality, which makes it stand out. Even though it is similar to Narciso Rodriguez for Her.

Glow – Although I can’t get myself to wear this (it is a scrubber on me) on the right person it does smell like coming out of the shower. And that appeal explains why it is such a success. JLo is one of the very few celebrity perfume brands I have respect for (even though, again, it does not mean I love all her scents – very far from it). I personally only wear her Deseo but didn’t think it’s appropriate for this list.

Old Spice – There has to be a drugstore scent in this list, and if I am to choose only one, this would be it!

Aromatics Elixir – speaking about bold!

And last but not least – we must mention some niche perfumes that create that have the starts and stripes all over them:

Anné Pliska – this one actually reminds me of root beer in an odd way. Although while I can’t drink root beer, I enjoy Anne Pliska perfume very much. It’s both distinct and well made.

Bourbon French's Dark Gift (unfortunately discontinued)

Hove Perfumery's Spanish Moss (it's the only scent I tried from the house, but I am sure there are others worth trying)

What notes smell like America to you? And which American perfumes are the most American of them all?

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Lime & Cacao

Lime+Cacao by Ayala Moriel
Lime+Cacao, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

Contrasting colours of lime green against deep brown are the centre of this playful fresh gourmand, perfect for summer! Inspired by the Mexican way of treating chocolate, Lime & Cacao is more more piquant than sweet and balances the sweetness of South American balsams with zesty lime and mineral and melancholic Blue. The lemon-drop sweetness of litsea cubeba and crushed geranium leaves give Lime & Cacao a vibrant heart.

Top notes:
Mexican Lime, Fresh Ginger

Heart notes:
Rose Geranium, Litsea Cubeba, Nutmeg Absolute

Base notes:
Cacao, Tolu Balsam, Blue Cypress

This one-of-a-kind perfume can now be adopted as your own custom scent via Etsy.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day!, originally uploaded by Ian Muttoo.

Happy Canada Day!!!

To celebrate the beauty of this vast country of maple, fir and incredible people I would like to offer you, my beloved Canadian customers, free shipping within Canada on all orders made from now (July 1st) till July 5th (your order will be refunded the shipping amount after you checkout - so don't panic when you get charged shipping on the way out :-).

I'm heading off to the beach to enjoy this beautiful day and will hopefully be able to resume posting as usual by Monday when my daughter starts summer camp and I can get some work done for a change ;-)

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