Saturday, August 11, 2018

Last Call: Fall 2018 Perfumery Courses

Fall 2018 Perfumery Courses are fast approaching!
Sign up this weekend to Fall 2018 Perfumery Courses & Save!
We have some spaces remaining in the Chypre course (November 4-8), and have added another beginner-intermediate level course the following week, November 11-15. Registration closes 3 months prior to courses start date, so now is the time to secure your spot!Also there is a new book sale!Save 10% (more than $230) and join our fabulous Chype and Floriental courses offered this November, and $468 if you sign up for BOTH by August 12th - this will give you 10% off your tuition fee. To qualify, purchase both courses online using the code YHAMHKTB0AVG. I'm thrilled to offer new workshops and courses again this fall at my beautiful new studio in Clil, an eco-village located in the scenic Western Galilee (Northern Israel): Chypre (Nov 4-8) and/or Florientals (Nov 11-15) for an unforgettable experience and lasting knowledge!I feel particularly blessed in this new space, and fortunate to be able to continue teaching and making your learning process even more meaningful and memorable. My teaching approach incorporates all the senses, and provides you with inspiration from the unique point of view that was not possible in my previous establishment in the Pacific Northwest.Our new and improved Ayala Moriel's School of Perfumery & Aromatic Arts is located in a wonderful region full of creative artisans and I've already collaborated with a few - some of which have been featured guests at the perfume courses and workshops I've held, such as artisan distiller, bio-dynamic vintner, leather craftsman and a tobacco shack. The Middle East is one of the most exciting places for perfumery from both botanical, cultural and historic points of view. Additionally, I've built here a state-of-the-art studio space that is dedicated to the art of perfumery, and can comfortably accommodate up to 8 students and can function as a perfume school from hours-long workshops to full-week courses.The unique program I've built showcases a marvellous perfume collection of natural, niche and vintage fragrances that every perfumer should know about; hundreds of raw materials - and most special of all: being surrounded by many living plants that are actually used in perfumery - both as raw materials and as livinig and breathing references. Some of these plants grow wild, and others I've planted in what is slowly becoming a unique botanical garden of perfume plants. REGISTEATION Registration for both Fall courses ends August 12th. Because most of my students travel from far away to participate in this unique program, it is very important to sign up no less than 3 months prior to the course (even if you live closely in Israel). This ensures that the course you're interested will actually run and have a spot for you. So please secure your spot now!You can also reserve your spot via email and paying the registration fee, which is non-refundable ($500), and making payment arrangements (up to 3 payments) for the remaining balance; or you can pay in full now and receive 10% off if you register for BOTH courses. This will save you up to $468.As always, I'm happy to help make my students' stay in my "neighbourhood" as memorable, comfortable and enjoyable as possible. Because our new settings are so special and a little off-the-beaten track, I've teamed up with local businesses to offer you delicious lunches (complementary with your tuition), and have connections here that will help you find affordable and suitable accommodations within the village limits and the best services for all your needs (I've also prepared a special guide for you, which each student will receive upon registering to help you plan your trip). We'll also include some exciting fragrant field trips and feature workshop in each of the courses - experiences, smells and locations that were not possible in the previous settings and surroundings. COURSE/PRODUCT REVIEWS:Whether if you studied with me in person recently or long ago, have taken the correspondence courses, read my book - I would really appreciate you taking a moment to add a review and/or feedback of my program so that future students can also benefit from it! Adding your review is simple and easy, and would help me a great deal in continuing this program and getting more students interested and engaged. Simply click on the relevant course listed on my Perfume School Courses page, and click on the "write a review" button near the customers reviews at the bottom of the page. Looking forward to seeing you at my studio this coming fall!

Monday, August 06, 2018

The First Few Sips are the Hardest


"The first few sips are the hardest", I tell my daughter, who's in her favourite coffee shop in Vancouver, sipping on her favourite beverage ever, which she always drinks. Except, she hasn't had it for almost two years. We simply weren't around.

First comes the ecstatic response when seeing the cup, filled over the brim with this crushed ice and mocha. Then comes a sip, and her facial expression changes. There is nothing wrong with the taste. It's exactly as she remembered it. Perhaps it's even too much the same as she remembers it. I can see how with every sip she's turning sadder, getting deeper into another place and another time then this very moment in the coffee shop where we're at. And the tears start welling up.

The first few sips are the hardest. The first one is a big wave of happiness, familiarity, comfort. Like the first time she had it (probably with her dad). Then she remembers sitting next to him in the coffee shop on Robson street , watching attentively over his shoulders as he's writing code on his laptop, for hours on end. It's a happy memory alright. Except that they don't do this anymore. And the wave of happiness is washed over by a tsunami of sadness, with rushing memories of all the good things that were and ain't no more. And also all the not so great memories like that time when mamma ordered the wrong drink and... oops, Mom, my coffee spilled on the floor. And before you even know it, she misses everything - elementary school, and summer camp, and this babysitter, and another. And every each person that ever got her that drink in that very same coffee shop.

The first few sips are the hardest. And if you're experiencing this flavour nostalgia for the first time, after many years of not tasting (or smelling!) something that has been deeply engrained in your life for ever so long, and don't have the words to express it, or the emotional tools to cope with it, it might become a natural disaster of personal magnitude. Maybe you'll never even drink coffee again after this. It's just too much like an emotional rollercoaster, with the ups so high and the lows so devastating that this aroma has now registered as a dangerous thing in your mind.

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Friday, August 03, 2018

Balmy Breeze


Balmy breeze with remnants of freeze. Black cottonwood buds (Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa) lightly scent the air, bring to mind chilly spring morning that are warmed up by their cozy balsamic aroma. The beginning of spring (and allergies). Except that it's August. What a strange experience, on a warm summer day to be greeted by this scent and no other on my arrival to Vancouver!

This smell is like walking along the defunct train tracks from Granville Island to my daughter's speech therapist on False Creek. Breathing in the cotton-candy sweetness of these mysterious trees, which I was never able to recognize. Or walking by a vanilla-and-balsam-scented tree on Sunset Beach and never really understanding where the scent comes from. It took me years to pinpoint the source - not a flower, but the resin-protected young leaf, wrapped in sticky matter honeyed and persistent like propolis.  

I'm tempted to craft something from them - tincture, dry - anything to preserve this gorgeous scent that I will not find when going back home. But it's just the beginning of the trip and I can't get my suitcase filled with too much liquid mess already. Liquids are just not travel friendly. So I wear Komorebi instead...

Next peculiar encounter is with wisteria. I am immediately transported to the Petit Trianon garden in Versailles - a miniature village with an ancient wisteria vine that was in bloom in the spring I was visiting. Again, this is an out-of-place and out-of-season experience, disorienting as jet lag itself.

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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Summer Splash!

Enjoy 15% off when ordering $60 or more online and using the code SummerSplash18.
Also, there are store-wide reductions (see post below). Offer expires July 31st at midnight.

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Price Changes... Not What You Think!

Restocking, Repricing

Three years ago, I switched my website to Shopify. While this made the website way more user friendly, it also forced me to seemingly increase my pricing. In reality, what truly happened is that while you were all used to them being presented in USD (which reflected the true cost of my raw materials), they now had to be shown in CAD. This made the prices look higher by about 30%. Not a good thing for sales. Even though there was no real price increase!

I tried everything to make this less confusing and reduce its effect on my sales. For example, making the price visible in USD conversion (but still customers would be billed in the end in a seemingly "higher amount" because it charged them the value in CAD). Besides being confusing to the eye, I imagine it also did not add to the credibility of a business who increases their amount at the checkout ;-) Sigh...

Not surprisingly, this has hurt my business quite a bit, so I'm trying to change this, although this will continue to affect my business. I have recently went through the entire website, and brought back the "original prices" when everything had a price that reflects the actual value of it, and was viewed and billed in USD. So that you will be able to see the true value of each item, what I did was go through the ENTIRE WEBSITE, and create a "sale" on each product, by reverting the prices to the numbers you are all used to from the good old days (and still showing the original amount that it should have cost), only that this will be in CAD.

Needless to say, this will make me lose a lot of money per product - but I hope will win some new customers (and bring some of you back). This is not an easy step for me, and one that I have been debating with myself ever since the website has started. Because, the fact and the matter is, that my raw materials pricing has only increased. For example: 3 years ago, the price of an ounce of jasmine was just a little over $100. Now it is more than $200. Similar price increases are found in everyone of the core ingredients that I use across most of my creations - rose, vanilla, and more. The prohibitively costly raw materials such as boronia, osmanthus, champaca etc have gone through the roof, and still I stick to my old formulae and never compromise. If I ever reformulate it is only to make a perfume BETTER - never cheaper.

Part of my values (which are not listed anywhere formally), are that I don't particularly have any interest in making my perfumes an "unattainable" item, something that only celebrities and oligarchs can afford. Neither do I want everyday people who feel the pressure to be like celebrities or oligarchs need to break their banks and go into debt to obtain them. I want real people like you and me to enjoy my very real perfumes: creations that come straight from my heart... and hopefully also touch yours.

Neither do I ever have any interest in mass marketing (and producing) them. I create everything in small batches, and sell them in small sizes that allow anyone to afford them - at least once a year on your birthday or anniversary, if you save up a little bit (but most likely more than that). Most of my sizes, when used daily, will last you anywhere from 6-12 months.

Another thing is the actual volume in containers vs. the amount listed: my roll-on bottles changed, and even though when I purchased them as 5ml bottles, they take 6ml to fill. This may sound like a small change, but when we're talking about a parfum at 30% concentration, this is adding up a lot to my costs... So consider yourself lucky to get one extra millilitre, and for way less money than ever before... Ditto the miniatures, they are usually filled with more around the 5ml than 4ml. But I just didn't want to make a big deal out of it and increase the cost. So there you are.

So, this is all good news for you, and I hope this will allow you to
purchase this perfume you always thought was too expensive... Even though you probably didn't know it was the same price as it was 3 years ago...

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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Rose Petal Beads

Rose Petals
Here's a glimpse into a five day process of making fragrant rose petal beads (perfect for rosary or any kind of prayer/meditation jewellery). This a time-consuming process that requires daily attention, but it's very satisfying to create something from garden to the finished product.

Rose Petal Beads, Day 1
Here the rose petals are beginning to cook with some water and a binding gum. I am not disclosing which kind because I followed a recipe with gum arabic and I was not happy with the results to added another gum at the end. In other words: this is a work in progress and I'm not sure which gum really is the best. When I know something, I'm happy to share it (most of the time). When I'm not sure I would rather not mislead you.

Rose Petal Beads, Day 3
Day 3 or so of rose petal cooking...

Rose Petal Beads, Day 4
More stewing on day 4. The rose petals are not broken down yet so I've decided to grind them in a food processor.

Rose Petal Beads, Day 4
Now it's a nice paste! But still not gooey enough.

Rose Petal Beads, Day 4
Trying to make a bead (and it wasn't formed well enough, which is why I added more gum on the last day).
Rose Petal Beads, Day 5
Day five, time for more cooking and finally the fun part: Forming the beads!

Rose Petal Beads, Day 5
Piercing the rose beads, one a time. Nails that I stick into a  scrap of foam (styrofoam would probably be a better choice but I didn't have anything handy).

Rose Petal Beads, Day 5
The rose petal beads were left to dry on the nails for about a week (depending on the humidity levels, this can take less time). Make sure to twist them a bit on the nail so they don't completely stick to i.

Rose Petal Beads, Off the Nails
Coming off the nails...
Rose Petal Beads, Off the Nails
And... voila! Now I just need to decide which kind of jewellery I want to make out of them.

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Raspberry Streusel Coffee Cake


Summer is here and the fruit is ripe - and gets overripe before there's time to completely enjoy it... So some has to become this cake, which is one of my favourite cakes ever... It's the second week in a row that I'm making it and we have no trouble finishing it up - and thankful whenever there is a guest over to help us out!

It's super simple to make, and the best part - it smells so beautiful when it bakes - nothing quite like pastries baking when they have loads of almonds, butter and vanilla in them!

100g Melted butter 
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour 

Prepare the streusel by mixing together the dry ingredients, then pouring the melted butter on top. If the mixture is too moist, add more flour until crumbs have formed. Refrigerate and proceed with making the cake

For the cake: 
10 Tbs. salted butter, room temperature
2/3 Cup sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract or 1 tsp. vanilla paste
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Zest from 1 lemon
3 eggs
2 cup unbleached white flour
250-300g raspberries, fresh or frozen, tossed with 2 Tbs flour 
2 tsp. double acting baking powder, or 1 package baking powder 
1/4 cup buttermilk or sour milk 

• Use an 11 inch springform pan, lined with parchment paper.
• Cream the butter with the sugar, vanilla and almond extracts.
• Beat in eggs, one at a time.
• Sift the flour with the baking powder Beat into the egg mixture. Add the buttermilk and mix well.
• Toss in the dusted raspberries (flouring them first ensures that they won't sink to the bottom; if using frozen ones, let them thaw a little bit before adding the flour, so that it actually sticks to their outsides and covers them).
• Spread the batter into the baking pan.
• Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out pretty clean (as long as you don’t insert it through the fruit!)
• While the cake is baking, prepare the Raspberry Sauce. 

For the raspberry sauce:
250g raspberries
160g powdered sugar
2 Tbs Créme de Cassis liquor 
Juice from 1 lemon (about 2Tbs)
Blitz in a food processor until smooth. Keep refrigerated.

To serve:
This raspberry torte is best served on the day of or the next day at the most (if it will last at all!). Serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle the raspberry sauce all over it.
Or, serve at room temperature with a  dollop of whipped cream and drizzle with the raspberry sauce as well.

Raspberry Coffee Cake

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Black Gardenia


Russian Leather meets tuberose in Anna Zworykina's Black Gardenia. Zworykina's plays up the rubbery nuances of tuberose with the addition of  leathery-smoky quality of castoreum*, and I suspect there is also a tad of birch tar or cade in there. The green and creamy aspects of tuberose are still felt, but they feel mushroomy and dark, and stay true to the promise of the name Black Gardenia. This is by no means a shy flower, but rather a fleshy, dark, prowling feline-like beast that becomes more aroused the longer it lingers on your skin.

Along the tuberose star, there are frangipani, neroli and ylang ylang as a supporting actresses. The first two bring out the stem-green aspects of tuberose and gardenia; the latter highlights its creamy, leathery, salicylic qualities. There are some oak-barrel-like undertones from the sandalwood and agarwood, giving the leather a sturdy frame to stretch on. Slowly the smokiness dissipates and makes room for a smooth, woody-vanilla skin-scent. There is also a hint of something fruity-floral (perhaps the davana), and the floral gardenia illusion, although subtle, is felt in a suave, smooth, tropical-floral-on-warm-skin way.

The interesting things about complex compositions and raw materials: Once you notice something, you will notice it again in different stages of the composition. Another time around wearing Black Gardenia, the  juicy fruitiness of the Davana comes off right away, adorning the tuberose, shimmering and reflecting the ylang ylang juicy banana aspects, and creating more of a tropical-fruity effect, where as in the first times I worn it, I noticed the creamy-green tuberose facets more.

While Black Gardenia has a clear personality of leather-tuberose, it has many nuances that piques my interest throughout its duration on my skin. It is lovely, a little addictive and a case in point that white florals can take a stance without being loud, and be pretty without ever becoming boring.

Top notes: Ylang Ylang, Neroli, Frangipani
Heart notes: Tuberose, Jasmine, Rose, Orris, Davana
Base notes: Castoreum, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Agarwood 

* A botanical, vegan version is also available, which I haven't smelled

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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Candy Lei

fallen plumeria'
Cuir de Gardenia smells more like a flower candy than leathery gardenia. Surprisingly straightforward for Aftelier, who usually pairs together two contrasting elements. This time around the sweet-floral aspects of gardenia are amplified by isolates that take away from the complexity of the gorgeous tiaré absolute it is built upon. I have smelled the absolute and it is a perfume on its own right - which is why I assume the perfumer tried to add as little as possible to it. The Tiare absolute combines a heady florally with a hint of sharp verdant aspect in the opening, and a buttery-creamy softness that balances it perfectly.

The choice of oil for the base is a bit at odds with the white floral theme - oil does not do justice to many white florals, and tend to hide them in their fat folds instead of allowing their shimmering beauty to shine. Also the intentional lack of top notes does not do this justice either, creating an effect of plunging into a decadent layer cake without any notice. Ethyl maltol (the  same cotton-candy molecule that gave Angel its powerful chocolatey effect), Ethyl Phenylacetate (providing a sweet pea-like fragrance), which further sweetens it and perhaps barely accentuates the naturally occurring green aspects - they still end up completely buried in this sugary floral lei. Thankfully, I'm not smelling an overdose of methyl anthranilate (we've already smelled what that does in Chanel's Gardénia). I'm also surprised to smell no jasmine or vanilla absolute, both "the usual suspects" for a gardenia composition, and could have worked well here without taking away from the tiaré.

The castoreum, which is supposed to give it the "cuir" and interesting balance is barely there, which is a shame. Because gardenia and leather could be beautiful together. Sometimes when we are too careful to lose an essence by adding other elements to it, we end up doing just that.

When all the sugary isolates fade away, there is a return of the tiaré absolute, but only a shadow of it as the oil absorbs much of the scent and creates a different aura to it. I really wish I could smell it in alcohol base. I am certain it would do it more justice.

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