Monkey Monday: Miss T's Choice

First of all: Happy BC Day!
While all of you are back to work, we British Columbians are getting an extra day of summer fun at the beach, kayaking away or visiting Powell Street festival (Miss T and I are yet to make up our minds, but the options are wide open!).

Last week, my daughter came out of her room all smiles and was warning me: "Don't eat perfume!". I noticed an unusual yet familiar scent around her, but I ignored it as I was too busy making breakfast etc.

As I stepped into her room for a moment, there was no denying the fragrance: Oh my - the entire room reeked of perfume! I looked at the funny looking bottled it came from, laughed and asked her to let me smell her perfume; a request upon which she stretched out her wrists in front of my nose, just like a pro... She certainly is my daughter (not that I ever had any doubts...). The perfume is well-made, yet humorous, abstract fruity floral (I can't really pinpoint any particular notes in it, they are all pretty much "made up" but in a good way). It's modern, yet not nearly as disgusting, boring, edible and lame as what most young girls are "supposed" to wear these days. Lastly, it's older than Miss T, but not that old: it was released in the 90's.

It was a happy day for her, that perfume must have put her in a particularly good mood! And the next day, her camp councilor brought a makeup kit for a "style contest" activity, plus her own perfume for Miss T to smell: a fairly recent (though not shiny-new) sweet-woody-musky scent by a rather conservative mainstream North American luxury clothing line. Needless to say, Tamya won the "Best Style" award that week!

So - for today, you get 2 chances to win our weekly prize, if you guess either or both perfumes correctly: what my daughter picked to wear to summer camp; and what her camp leader was wearing.

The prize: a mini of Tamya, and a mini spray of Fresh Index Pomegranate Anise.

Isolate Quiz Winner

Thank you to everyone who tried their hand at the isolates quiz this week! You all did a pretty good research job - I'm impressed :-)
Here are the questions again - plus the correct answers:

1) What is the name of the molecule that gives spearmint its characteristic scent?
Spearmint has many components in it, but the most characteristic is l-carvone. The "l" is short for laevo-carvone, or levorotary, which means "left handed" - as the propyl radical C3H5 points to the left. In d-carvone, the right-handed (dextorotary) propyl radical creates the characteristic scent of dill or is a little similar to caraway. The formula for both molecules is C10H14O, but their structure is different, resulting in two very distinctive smells.

2) What's the common isolate for these three oils: Hay Lime and Tonka Bean?
Coumarin. Yes, lime is an unusual citrus in that it contains coumarin!

3) What isolate is used to produce the drug Ecstasy?
No one got this one. You all guessed safrole, which is often the start material for heliotropin - which is the correct answer for this question. Also known as piperonal (whose micromagnetic photo was used to illustrate that post), heliotropin requires special licensing when purchased in the USA. It smells like almonds and vanilla, or cherry pie, and very similar to the beautiful scent of the flower heliotrope. More about the flower at another time!

4) What's a characteristic molecule that's common to orange blossom, tuberose and ylang ylang?
Methyl anthranilate. This ester smells like concord grapes with hints of wintergreen, and is responsible for the sweet-fruity, slightly medicinal aspect of these essences. It's also present in jasmine, but I did not want to mention jasmine as to not confuse you with indole. Indole, by the way, is not present in ylang ylang or tuberose. What gives ylang ylang its characteristic animal scent is another molecule altogether, called paracresyl methyl ether.

5) What does citral smell like? And what plant(s) essential oil(s) has/have the highest citral content?
I made this one too easy for you. I was going to select Geraniol, but knew it would be too confusing. So yes, most of you got this correctly. Citral is a characteristic smell of lemon, although most of lemon is just limonene (generic lemon-orange scent). It's the citral that gives it the sweet "lemon drop" aspect, which is even furthermore pronounced in Litsea Cubeba and Lemon Myrtle. It's also present in large amounts in citronella, lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass, lemon verbena, lemon balms and others - but it is very easily recognizable and dominant in Litsea Cubeba aka May Chang, and in Lemon Myrtle, where it comprises more than 90% of the oil.
Citral is of significance, because it is the starting point of many other natural compounds that would have been very expensive to produce or isolate directly from the plant. For example: alpha ionone, which smells nothing like citral - but has the warm-woody scent of candied violets!

Because many of those who answered correctly have already won more than once on SmellyBlog, the winner was not randomly selected this time, but hand-picked by the editor. Congratulations to BridgetTheodore - you won a bottle of Go Ask Alice by En Voyage Perfumes! Please contact me via email - ayala (at) ayalamoriel.com with your mailing address to claim your prize.

California Stats + Winner Results

California stats by Ayala Moriel
California stats, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

Monkey Monday results are finally out! The most favourite oils that were used in my California classes are:
Red Mandarin, Sandalwood, Sweet Orange
Least popular: Lavender Oil & Absolute, Galbanum
Most loved floral: Neroli

The winners are:
A few of you guessed sandalwood as a popular note, so I had to do a lucky draw. Bellatrix is the one who gets the first package of essential oils samples.

LL Graham - who guessed one correct "unpopular" note - Galbanum - will receive a second collection of essential oil samples.

Princess Ellie - who guessed the correct floral - Neroli - will receive a mini of Cabaret.

Happy weekend!

Monkey Monday: Odorous Pets

Last Friday I've learned that pets' "body odour" can vary tremendously. I found it so shocking that I just had to share it here. When a friend stopped by the studio with her two tiny and well-behaved chiwawas. They were the exact same size, one male and one female, and probably were enjoying the same diet of raw dog food. But they did not smell like what I always thought of as "dog smell". One smelled intensely of fish - not like it was eating fish, but almost like it WAS a fish. I was so shocked by this discovery that I just had to wait till Monday to bring it up for our silly Monkey Monday post and see what it will bring up here. The other dog did not smell fishy at all, but still was not what I thought of as a dog smell either.

I often get emails from customers telling me that their favourite smell is their cat's paws. Not being a cat woman myself, perhaps I just don't "get" it - and that's why I think it will be interesting to open a discussion here and hear from you:

1) What your pet smells like (if you have any)?

2) Do you find certain animal smells more pleasant than others?

3) Did you ever notice a difference between two animals of the same species - as if they have body odour just like we do?

Leave a comment and enter to win a miniature of Cassis by Aftelier.

Aphrodisiac Winner (Monkey Monday Giveaway)

Congrats to Michael, winner of our first Monkey Monday giveaway.
You're the lucky winner of:
1) Gabriel's Aunt 2oz Chocolate Bar Candle
2) Film Noir mini
3) Valentine's Greeting Card from Nikki & I that has 2 aphrodisiac recipes!
4) A pinch of my secret love potion: the Ras El Hanout spice that I've hand-blended myself, including many rare ingredients, in just the exact right proportions...

Please contact me via email with your mailing address so I can ship your prize next week :-)
Happy weekend, everyone! See you again on Monday with another great giveaway.
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