Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Espionage Tea Party June 13th

You are secretly invited to my upcoming tea party, which is themed around Espionage - both the scent and the profession ;-)

Tea Selection:
Lapsang Suchong
Lavender Earl Grey
Milky Oolong

Other beverages:
Gin & Oolong
Irish Tea (Assam with Whiskey)

1st Tier: Savouries
Eggplant Wraps with Goat Cheese & Fig Pesto (pine nuts & walnut oil)*
Polenta with basil & tomato**
Smoked Salmon with Dill Cream Cheese & Capers Tea Sandwiches
Curried Egg Salad Sandwiches
Apple & Smoked Cheddar Tea Sandwiches

2nd Tier: Scones
Savory Cheese Scones with Rosemary & Chives
Served with Devonshire Cream and Onion Marmalade

3rd Tier: Sweets & Treats
Espionage Truffles (50% cocoa dark chocolate with smoked salt and Hendricks gin)*
Vanilla Tarts
Flourless Espresso Cake*
Chocolate & Orange Blossom Madeleines

* Wheat free
** Wheat and dairy free

1pm doors open
3pm presentation: The Secrets of Masculine Scents
Most men let the women in their life choose their scents for them (girlfriend, wife, sister...). This presentation will encourage you to take charge of their olfactory world and pick a scent that truly represents who you are without worrying too much about what everyone else is thinking. You will discover it is not nearly as important as you may have thought!
And for the ladies who will be eavesdropping through the keyhole, we will give some surprising tips about how to use your espionage skills to pick the right scent for a man in your life, even if you hardly know him.
3:30 Espionage treasure hunt with prizes!
4:00 Private studio sale

- Don't forget to bring your false ID, recording devices and the microfilm with the secret code. You know the one I'm talking about...
To RSVP for the party, please email/call or on the Facebook event page.

You can also you can get your tickets online here ($10 per person to cover my cost of supplies for baking all the above-mentioned goodies!). It will charge you $3 online plus $7 at the checkout for "shipping".
Please note: You will be reimbursed for the $10 if you make a purchase at the studio for $10 or more.
Upon receipt of the payment, you will be emailed the secret password that will allow you entry to the tea party.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Indigo Winner Announcement

Sorry, Smelly Readers, for taking forever to make that draw for the Mother's Day giveaway. As the lack of action on this blog can prove, my life has been too busy to blog lately (particularly in the business front).

As it turns out, the winner of the Indigo sample is Mama G.

I promise to be back with another giveaway come Friday, and also I have a very fun post coming soon (tomorrow, actually) about scents to wear on a 1st date, so stay tuned!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Coffee Break

Coffee Time, originally uploaded by NuraNAlbayraK.

"Coffee should be black as Hell, strong as death, and sweet as love".

- Turkish Proverb

Yesterday I served Turkish coffee for my students, and one of them urged me to blog about it. Coffee is not much of a topic for me, but seeing how long ago was my last post (teaching really does require my full attention this week), I thought I'd give it a shot. As it turns out, you don't need to drink coffee to stay up all night... Writing about it can serve the same purpose.

Turkish coffee is very popular all throughout Arabia, and is nothing like any other type of coffee Westerners are familiar with. This is a very dark roasted coffee, finely ground, that is prepared by cooking and is not filtered whatsoever. It is often flavoured with cardamom, and usually sweetened with a very generous dose of sugar, during the cooking process. Milk is never added to Turkish coffee.

I'm probably the wrong person to discuss coffee, being a devoted tea lover and being very easily affected by caffeine... But this stuff is very potent in that regard. Coffee is the minimum expected of hospitality in the Middle East (after offering a glass of water, of course). This is what we always received when we were guests at Arabic and Druze homes in the Western Galilee where I grew up; and we always made sure we had some at home for coffee-loving guests (my parents were firm believers in herbal teas otherwise...), and mostly for construction workers whenever something had to be built around the property.

Even though I was never into drinking it, I knew how to make it from the tender age of ten or so. I never felt comfortable making it though, I have to say. Because I mostly had to serve it to strangers - the men who were working on my parents' property, during their coffee breaks. And I was extremely shy. With every move I took walking with the tray with tiny porcelain coffee shooters on it, putting it down and pouring the coffee - I felt as if a hundred eyes are following me from every direction. It was the worst feeling and I hated doing it but I could not refuse when my mom asked for help. As an aside note though: I'm pretty sure it is a role reserved for men to serve the coffee in the Arabic communities. And the Bedouin men make a point of freshly grinding the coffee beans for the guests before brewing it. It's part of the ritual, building the anticipation for the dark beverage, besides the brewing, triple-boiling and pouring...

But now I'm thankful that she taught me how to make it, because I can serve it whenever I want to and it never fails to amuse, impress and bring pleasure to my coffee-deprived guests (I serve them more than herbal tea, but some people really need their coffee and don't feel that tea has enough caffeine - poor things!).

It's really simple, and it always turns out perfect even without tasting if you do this:
Blend together equal amounts of sugar and coffee - 1 tablespoons each of Turkish coffee and sugar for every cup of water.
The Turkish coffee I buy is already flavoured with cardamom (ground along with the coffee, and surprisingly still smells fresh even though to the best of my knowledge I had that coffee, in a sealed jar, for some 6 years. Shhh...). But cardamom pods can be added while cooking (or omitted altogether if you prefer your coffee without it).
First put the coffee and sugar in the finjan ( a little saucepan with a spout, designed especially for that purpose - you can find similar ones but less picturesque, in most homeware stores), mix well, than add the water, and cook until boiling.
The key to making the coffee work though is bringing it to a boil 3 times. This is really what brings out the flavour. So remove from the heat after 1st boiling, set aside for a few seconds, return to the stove or flame, boil again, and so on for 3 times in total.
Every time it boils, it will almost spill over the finjan. Wait until that very moment... And only than remove from the heat. It's a little like playing with fire. And if you don't move the put fast enough - you'll have a living proof of your coffee making efforts all over the stove.
In other words: pay attention to your coffee when you brew it, or else you'll get a mess as reward for your multi-tasking tendencies (you may *think* you have waited too long and the coffee will wait for you while you check if the laundry machine has finished its cycle; but it won't: it will spill over just when you're about to return to it. Trust me).

My brother likes to add a couple of geranium leaves to the coffee, and it's another heavenly fragrant addition that goes well with both the coffee, cardamom and the sugary sweetness. And also with the rosewater-drenched baklawa, if you happen to have that luxury. Here are some photos of the coffee he prepared for us in the desert!

So that's that for the Turkish coffee. And you may want to serve it with sweets on the side (baklawa), but if you put that much sugar it's not mandatory at all. So perhaps love is just one tablespoon of sugar?

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Vancouver One Of A Kind Show & Sale 2010

I'm very excited to announce that I just got the news of being accepted by the jury to the Vancouver One Of A Kind Show & Sale!!!
This is the 3rd year in Vancouver, and will be hosted at the new Vancouver Convention Centre. I'm so thrilled to be able to offer my perfumes in such a wonderful show. It really showcases the most amazing artists of North America and I'm just so fortunate to be able to join them.
The show has been around for 30-something years, and there are also shows in New York City, Chicago and Toronto. And if all goes well, I am hoping to be able to visit the other cities in 2011 for their shows.


Monday, May 10, 2010

High Fibre Fragrances on Basenotes + Giveaway

Visit Basenotes to read Walker Minton's article High Fibre Fragrances (or How I Discovered Natural Perfume).
Post a comment on that article, and enter to win a coffret with the 8 scents mentioned in the article ($360 value):
Vetiver Racinettes
Bon Zai
Épice Sauvage

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Yasmin Giveaway on The Non-Blonde

The Non-Blonde ran a giveaway for a mini of Yasmin perfume last week, and the winner was announced today: Jane (See_Jane_Sell), a fellow Canadian perfume lover. Congratulations, Jane! I hope you enjoy Yasmin perfume.


Cabaret Review on ScentHive

Visit ScentHive to read Trish's review of Cabaret, my rahat-loukum inspired perfume.

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Bluebells, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Happy Mother's Day!
I hope all the mothers among you were treated well today and got the appreciation you deserve!

I always associate purples and blues, and violet, iris and lavender scents with my mother: If she were ever to be a perfume wearer, I would imagine her wearing l'Herue Bleue or Apres l'Ondee. The violets and heliotrope in both are exactly what I associate with motherhood: tenderness and mystery.

Today I wore Indigo, the perfume I created for my mother. At its heart are violets, supported by boronia and iris, the spiciness of carnation and the opulence of orange blossom. It's an odd perfume in my collection and not really accessible. The top notes are strange: caraway and anise. But they really complement the unusual boronia and violet perfectly. The base is incense and amber with suave cedarwood from the Himalayas.

What scents do you associate with motherhood, and which perfume did you wear today? Comment and enter to win a sample of Indigo perfume!

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

What's Brewing?

Last couple of weeks have been more than busy. And that means very little blogging for me, which I am very regretful about.

As far as writing goes, I've been busying myself with some writing (an ongoing project with Eden Botanicals), as well as a lengthy proposal writing as part of an application process to a prestigious event that I really want to participate in this coming winter.

And what has been taking the best part of my time are the shows and fairs. It seems that every weekend there is something happening and I have very little if any time at all to reflect and recollect my thoughts and share them with you here.

But what you're probably more interested to hear about is what I've been brewing in my little studio (pictured above, you finally get to see where I work and create all my sweet smelling stuff).

Well, I've been working on several custom perfumes, simultaneously. A higher than usual number of them this month, actually. Which is very exciting! Custom perfume creation is one of the most challenging, fun and rewarding parts of my work. And they are all turning quite interesting too. That's the part I like the most about custom scents - the ideas of scent combinations that I've never thought of before and probably never would have thought of either.

I've been also formulating scented body oils, which is something that I hope to add to the product line by the 2010 holiday season. The most successful of all is Song of Songs, which deserves a whole post on its own. I've been meddling with a few other scents but am not as happy with the results as I am with the Song of Songs body oil. In fact it is so fantastic that I've nearly used up my 50ml trial bottle (well, 15ml of it went to Laura to try as well!).

And I have a few other perfumes I'm working on for quite sometime (not that my collection needs any additions, mind you!). I usually tend to obsess with just one particular topic for a while, until I get it right. Right now though, I'm less focused than usual, and I have a few experiments going on simultaneously for a few months, which is rather confusing, to the point that unless I look at my notebook or my treasure box of "in progress" - I would really be having a hard time explaining to you what I'm up to!

A few of them have an osmanthus theme. It's a very tricky note and I am trying to explore ways of pushing it further to different directions, including the perfume I've been processing in my brain forever as a tribute to New Orleans.

Another note I'm trying to push to the max is clary sage. There is so much potential in clary sage that I only am now beginning to discover - amber and tea are the two interesting focal points that I'm exploring in this note.

Tobacco is another theme that has been going on for a while. I am working on a very specific tobacco scent that I really, really, really hope would turn out well. The concept is that of fruity narguilla (aka shisha or hooka) tobacco. Anything fruity is a challenge with all naturals, and those tobaccos are so artificially flavoured it's difficult to nail down something of that atmosphere. But more about this later. It really does deserve a post (or more) of its own, so you get to take a peek at what's happening behind the scenes with that one.

And aside from all these wonderful aromatic explorations, I've also am going back to school to study French! Which is so exciting. It seems that there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything I want done and learn everything that I want to learn.

It's time for bed now... However, I will be back more this coming week with more thoughtful insights into raw materials and my creative process turning them into perfumes.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

May Flowers

This post is part of Roxana Villa's May Flower blog project. Visit her Illuminated Blog for a full list of participants and links to their articles.

I'm going to take you for a little walk in the gardens I frequent in the West End. Summer arrived here early, after a very long spring that began sometime in December. Spring and summer flowers are blooming in succession as well as simultaneously. These photos were actually all taken on April 24th. Vancouver is one big flower party these days!

Cherry Blossoms, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Cherry blossoms, certainly the symbol of spring, or even early spring if you wish. They are still decorating the city by the hundreds, refusing to leave the party. They want to observe the summer flowers too!

Lily of the Valley, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Lilies of the valley are rather rare in these parts, and this is the very first time that I've seen them in such abundance. With their tiny bells they announcer of summer, just like snowdrops announce the end of winter. They remind me of hidden gardens and all things bright and green.

Bleeding Hearts, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Wild bleeding hearts are perhaps not as impressive as the cultivated and more defined variety, but they are such a romantic reminder of love gone wrong. I imagine their scent to be green and poisonous, although in reality they have very little to offer in the world of scents.

Chocolate Lily, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Chocolate lilies are an alpine surprise that is always a little funny to find, with their queer checkered petals shaped like chocolate Easter eggs...

Coral Rhododendron, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

These rhododendrons smelled exotic and tropical, like a giant indolic lily. The yellow rhododendrons in my building's garden are already in full bloom and greet you at the door with a hit of lily-scented cloud...

White Magnolia, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Star of the show, this dwarf white magnolia is such a beauty, even if not as fragrant and gigantic as the others that were blooming earlier this spring.

Pink Rhododendron, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

This big pink rhododendron was a surprise to me, because the large bell-shaped ones tend to be nearly odourless. This was a complete perfume, and smelled like a dewy orchid. It was simultaneously sappy, resinous and a little pine-like and soapy.

Gardenia, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Even my gardenia plant, which always refuses to open its buds, has opened several flowers that were tightly sealing their fragrant secret written on white petals and coiled in a green capsule that only summer knows its access code.

We already have lilacs and peonies blooming, as well as elder flowers. I wonder: what will be left for summer?


Monday, May 03, 2010

Tea Giveaway Winner

Thank you everyone for voting in the tea poll!
I'll keep it open for a while longer, to get some more feedback from you till the end of the month, because we won't start working on the new tea till June.

So far the white tea is leading (which is what I was hoping to create anyway! Maybe I can read your thoughts and didn't known it till now?).

But I wanted to thank the ladies who commented, and from which a winner was randomly selected on to receive a freshly blended Immortelle l'Amour tin. The winner is:

Congratulations, and please email me with your current mailing address so I can get your prize shipped this week.