Perfumes from the Orchard (Besamim me'ha'Bustan) + April Giveaway

Smadar picked this beautiful bouquet from her garden and orchard - an arrangement of seasonal fragrant flowers from trees, bushes and shrubs which were the inspiration for the evening titled Besamim me'ha'Bustan (Perfumes from the Orchard) and which took place on March 19th at the restaurant Smadar be'Clil in my home village in Israel's scenic Western Galilee.

It was both a pleasure and honour to co-host a night of perfume, desert and wine pairing with Smadar Yardeni of Smadar be'Clil and Yaniv from Lotem Winery. And the response form the guests and audience at the event has so much exceeded my hopes and expectations I am still feeling warm and fuzzy inside reminiscing about that beautiful night. The reason it took me so long to post about how it went can be attributed to traveller's wi-fi woes, as well as prolonged case of jet lag. But neither has diminished my memory from a most fine night spent with very lovely people, both on the hosting and the guest side.

Here's Smadar on the morning of the event, with the lavender & Earl Grey creme brûlée she's prepared in taste-size portions inside Turkish coffee cups. These were creamy and delicious, the caramelization process she did in the process of cooking the custard gives these brûlée a hint of honey.

Once I set the table with my mini-display (nothing too fancy, as it was all carried in my suitcase along everything else I needed for three weeks abroad) - it was time to taste the beautiful wines Yaniv brought with him from Lotem Winery. We selected three wines from Lotem for the pairing, plus one white wine from Kishor Winery: a lovely, citrusy-floral Savant Viognier, to go with the vegan malabi (based on coconut cream and flavoured with orange flower water). Note to self: an evening that starts with a glass of organic wine  can only be a happy one.

The event was structured as an olfactory and culinary symphony with 6 acts around 5 desserts that was inspired by seasonal ingredients, and was complemented by 6 perfumes, 4 wines and 2 teas. In each "section"  the guests experienced raw materials in their essential oil (or absolute) form, then smell them within a perfume, taste them in a dessert, and enjoy a complementary beverage (either tea or wine, or both).

We opened the evening with rose-tinged marzipans, handmade by Smadar, paired with fresh Charisma tea (loose leaf jasmine plus fresh herbs from Smadar's garden) and Vivace - Lotem's fine rose wine, which is extremely light and unusually on the dry side. I then spoke about two familiar yet fascinating ingredients: mint and almond, and let the guests smell essential oils of both, and also perfumes that are related to the subject: Charisma (which includes spearmint) and Hanami (inspired by cherry blossoms - which are not unlike the almond blossoms that were in bloom still last month).

Next came the fantastic creme brûlée I told you about earlier. Everything was beautifully served among sprigs of blooming lavender, and the individual Turkish coffee cups were a perfect size to serve such a decadent treat. I then let the guests smell essential oils of both lavender and bergamot and spoke about the connections these have via chemistry and their presence in the ever so popular Earl Grey tea. We smelled Lovender perfume at the end of this section.

The third part was spicy and warm, with vegan ginger mini muffins, studded with crystallized ginger inside, and served alongside dainty little teacups of piping hot soy milk chai. We smelled spice oils, with primary focus on ginger and cardamom (which are botanical relatives) and spoke about spices that are "warm" versus spices that are "cool". We also smelled Zangvil perfume, of course.

Now we took a little intermission from the desserts, and experienced Sonore - Lotem's bold Shiraz wine, accompanied our "tasting" of anything rosy: we experienced rose otto and absolute, as well as Cabaret perfume - a demonstration of rose and musk.  Yaniv explained about the origin of this grape, from Shiraz in Persia, which tied in beautifully to the origins of rose (Rosa centifolia or May Rose is native to Persia as well). I also tied it with the fondness of Muslims to musk and roses, and the symbolism of roses in Sufi poetry.

The highlight of the evening was one of the most beloved ingredients of all: orange blossom. We first experienced it in the vegan malabi (based in coconut cream) alongside the beautiful Savant Voigner from Kishor - which highlighted the citrusy notes, and even the petitgrain-like character of the orange flower water (something that my brother Yotam, who was among the guests in the event, pointed out).  We smelled different types of orange blossoms - orange flower water, orange flower absolute and neroli.

The grand finale was the chocolate mousse that was flavoured with orange blossom absolute and wild orange oil, topped with candied kumquat slices (from Smadar's orchard, of course). We paired this with the stunning Nebiolo, an aromatic yet light Italian varietal with floral characteristics and definite cassis flavours. And we concluded with smelling Zohar perfume - which went beautifully with all this luscious gorgeousness and the good mood that was already in the room went up even a few more notches.

I truly hope to create more events in the future with Smadar - it feels like this is just the beginning of a great friendship!

Last but not least, because this is the first day of April, it's time to announce this monthly giveaway: Leave a comment on this post, with your guess as to which flowers were in Smadar's beautiful bouquet - and enter to win a mini of Cabaret!

February Giveaway: NARCISO

Half of February has already passed, and I now realize I haven't even posted my giveaway for this month... Time flies!
So, for this month we've got a little Narciso beauty pouch with a scented body lotion, as well as eau de parfum spray samples of this fragrance.

Reminder for the rules: Each month, blog commenters (on all and any post) will be entered into a draw on the first day of the following month. The winner is selected at random. You must respond via email with a mailing address in order for me to be able to send you the prize. If a prize is not claimed,  it will go to another random commenter, or will be offered again at a later time. Winner who have already won something in the past 12 months will not be entered into the draw.

Winner of January Giveaway

Thank you for everyone who contributed with insights and comments throughout the month of January!
The winner of the lucky draw is SmellyBlog reader Darcy Rouhani. She will receive a coffret of 5 vintage minis from the 80's, including Bal A Versailles, Animale, Sunwater, Hollywood, 360 Perry Ellis and 273 Fred Hayman.

Please continue leaving comments in February :-) I will announce the prize for this month shortly. 

Alternative Methods of Application for Sensitive Skin

What if you weren't blessed with a thick skin like most of us? How can you keep scent in your life yet keep skin rash out of it? I was approached by a customer who happened to develop a nasty rash to her favourite perfume (Immortellle l'Amour, thanks for asking). No matter what, she still wants to enjoy it (which makes me equally sad and flattered). It suddenly dawned on me that she may not be the only one who could benefit from tips for how to enjoy scent without ruining your epidermis.

There are several alternatives for wearing scent that I highly recommend you try experimenting with. They can be divided into three major categories: Scenting the hair, scenting the clothing, and jewelry. The methods that can be used also can be further divided into application of liquid perfume (either oil or alcohol based, which you would spray, dab or splash on another object that is worn close to the body but not directly touching the sensitive skin); scenting through incense smoke; or taking advantage of your own body's warmth to coax the scent out of a piece of jewelry it's encased within; and lastly - saturation or immersion by proximity, as with placing scented sachets among the objects you'd like to scent.

Hair holds great potential for those who can't enjoy it on their skin. There are ancient tradition world-wide for scenting the hair. Its ability to retain scent makes it especially appealing. In Arabia, women use incense smoke to scent their hair after washing. And in India, women scent their hair with fragrant oils, such as sesame oil from seeds that have been saturated with the scent of jasmine petals, Monoi de Tahiti (coconut oil infused with the island's native gardenia flower) to scent and nourish the hair and protect it from the sun. And if you live in a tropical country - tucking a flower behind your ear is all you'll need - be it a champaca flower as they do in India, or plumeria or gardenia in the tropical islands (i.e. Hawaii and Haiti).

Liquid Perfume Application: Dab a little of perfume on your fingertips, and work it into strands of your hair. Avoid the scalp to prevent skin reaction. It's better to use oil-based perfume on your hair, especially if your hair tends to be dry and frizzy. Scented nourishing hair oils are another great way to enjoy fragrant without affecting your skin, and give your hair an extra boost of nutrients and lock in moisture. If you are using hair oil, it's best to apply them on damp, towel-dried hair before you style it.

Incense Method: Burn your favourite incense, and surround yourself with smoke for 10 - 15 minutes so that your hair will absorb the scent. Be extra cautious that the ember at the tip of the incense stick (or hot bowl and embers if you are burning loose incense on a charcoal) do not touch your hair - it will burn and smell awful!

First of all a word of caution: if your skin is very very sensitive, you might not want to use this method on a scarf you are worn directly on your neck. In this case, a shawl might be a better idea - or a handkerchief (see more below).
Another thing to keep in mind is that perfumes often can stain. So it's best to use this method with dark scarf. Also, natural fabrics from animal origin such as wool and silk retain the scent better than cotton or linen.
Spray: To scent your scarf, spray your favourite scent into the air directly above it. This will reduce staining, and distribute the scent evenly on a larger area of the scarf.

Handkerchief perfumes were very popular, especially among men, in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. They would carry one, neatly folded, peaking from the jacket's pocket. They were scented with specially formulated "handkerchief perfumes" - usually a bouquet of several floral notes, or soliflores. The advantage of a scented handkerchief is that if you go through a very stinky part of town (or are stuck on a stinky bus) - you can bring it to your nose and escape the stench... In addition, you needn't worry about your skin getting any rashes, but will still enjoy the perfume as it drifts up from your pocket.

Liquid Perfume Application: Dab some perfume or apply a few drops on the handkerchief and place in your pocket.

Saturation Method: Such handkerchiefs can also be placed inside drawers or between your sweaters and clothing or even stationary so that they can absorb their pleasant scent.

The result of adding scent to clothing is usually quite subtle, and I won't lie to you and say it's the same as applying it directly to your skin or hair. It's not as intimate. However, it is a wonderful and inoffensive way to add scent to your life, as well as joy. The Japanese, whose scent culture does not include much of skin-application of fragrance, would tuck sachets of fragrant woods and spices into their kimono sleeves (which are very wide, and were used also as pockets of sorts).  Another less known fact about scenting clothes is that while you move, it also moves the scent molecules around, leaving a pleasantly fragrant trail in your wake...

Liquid Perfume Application: Spraying fragrance in the air is usually  more effective (see above re scarf). But even a little dab on your jacket's collar or on the sleeves near the wrists can add some scent to your daily life.

Saturation Method: Place sachets or scented soap between your garments. You can purchase high-end Japanese sachets, that come in either paper bags or fancy silk pouches - or sew your own simple linen sachets of single notes such as lavender buds, patchouli leaves, liatrix leaves, etc. Even whole spices such as star anise, vanilla beans or cinnamon sticks can be placed in drawers or shelves to scent clothes. Some herbs and fragrant woods, such as patchouli leaves and cedar blocks (or balls) also will protect your wool and silk from greedy moth.

Women in biblical times (and till this day in Ethiopia) would wear a chunk of myrrh on their neck that would warm up against their body to release its delicate scent. This is what the Song of Songs is referring to "A bundle of myrrh is my beloved unto me; she shall lie all night betwixt my breasts" (Song of Songs 1:13 based on the King James Bible translation). While wearing it directly on the skin might be too risqué for a person with sensitive skin - if it is enclosed in a pouch or a container, the damage may be minimized. Same for solid perfumes: they will warm on your body and release the scent so that you can smell it rising from your chest - even if you can't wear it directly on the skin.

If you have any other tips for enjoying scent without coming into dermal contact with it - please do post a comment! And this is also an opportunity to remind you that we do have a monthly contest here on SmellyBlog. All of your comments during the month will be entered into a draw come February 1st, and the winner will receive a set of vintage minis from the 80s.

Outlook on 2015 + Giveaway

There's a lot on my mind these days, as I plan my moves for the next few months (and year). This is in lieu of a New Year's Resolution. I think it's much better to have goals rather than "resolutions". As far as wanting to change oneself - true change happens over time, in the things you do every day. Not what you decide you want to be on the first day of the year. Besides, I am Jewish, so I've already made my resolutions four months ago ;-)

While 2014 was dedicated to completing my book, I still have some lose ends to tie with this project, namely bringing it to you in an electronic format that you can easily purchase through iTunes, and read on multiple devices, including your smartphones! I'm proofreading it already, so this shouldn't take too much longer. But will be a great complement for the book I've written as it is an interactive format and it will make a lot of the studying easier (in some ways - for those who love digital formats, that is).

This year I'm planning to continue my educational work - with a vengeance!
There are several courses already planned out for this spring, and even as far ahead as fall 2015.
Citrus & Colognes Week (May 4-8)
Leather & Tobacco Week (May 11-15)
Fougere (Fall 2015 - dates TBA)

For additional workshops, classes and salons, do check my calendar for more workshops, as it will be updated this week.

The highlights of which I will "warn" you now are an incense workshop in February (there are still 2 spaces left) and in March I will be making history (well, personal history, at least) by offering a perfume workshop in my home village Clil in Israel, and most excitingly - a fragrant hike that I will be co-guiding with my brother Yotam, a certified tour-guide extraordinaire and a most captivating storyteller. I'm not only excited to be teaching classes and workshops in Israel for the first time, but most honoured and touched by my brother's invitation to work on such a fun project together!

Last but not least on the educational arena: Starting this month, every last Thursday of the month, I will be holding a Scent Salon at my studio. Each salon will be dedicated to a different raw material or olfactory tradition, for example exploring vetivers from around the world, or learning about the Japanese koh-doh ceremony and experiencing different kinds of oud. Spaces for these salons are limited to 10 people, and although you don't have to sign up to all monthly sessions - it is highly recommended! It is a great opportunity to not only connect to ancient traditions that have graced civilization for hundreds if not thousands of years - but also form new connections to fellow humans and perfume lovers in our community. The "pilot" of this series will take place Thursday, January 29th, from 4-6pm, at my apothecary in downtown Vancouver.

As far as the business side of things go, I will be truly focusing only on my online store. No more markets or events for me (at least for now), and I'm pretty much done with retail. At the end of the month I will no longer be at Giving Gifts & Co, and my retail presence will boil down to only one shop - Dream in Gastown.  Of course you are still welcome to book private sniffing sessions at my studio, and my online store is open 24/7 and ships worldwide. This focus will enable me to do what I do best, which is have an online business with top-notch customer service that truly connects to my customers, worldwide. This will also enable me to have adequate time for being creative, adventurous and daring. At least as far as perfume making and product design goes.

Which brings us to the last but not least: the creative side of my life, which means more perfume and other goodness to incorporate into your daily self-care rituals. Here is what I'm hoping to achieve:
1. Rebrand and repackage my Zodiac perfume line.
2. Greatly improve the packaging for my body oils, hair oils and facial serum.
3. Create some new body and skin care products, namely a deodorant and a lip balm. And hopefully also a new soap or two. Wish-lists from you guys are most welcome, by the way.
4. Complete an experimental perfume-meets-art project that involves a collection of short stories.
5. Work with a professional editor (Shauna Rudd, I'm staring at you) on my publishing my next book project.
6. Put some serious effort in the manual of raw materials that I've been postponing and neglecting for more years than I can count. Now that my first book is completed and out of the way, I can put some real work into that (even though I know this is going to take many years). Rome was not built in one day. But what people did every day towards building it sure did make a big difference...
7. The usual, and probably what every blogger wishes for at the beginning of the year: Blog more!

It may be a little too ambitious, but I've always been a firm believer of setting the bar of expectations high, so that I don't ever get too arrogant and proud of what I did achieve. It makes for a constant feel of falling too short. But it does get the work done...

What are your hopes and dreams, plans or resolutions for 2015? Please do leave a comment! Which brings me to one more thing regarding SmellyBlog: I am returning giveaways to this blog. However, in a very different format. Once a month, I will have a lucky draw from among ANYONE who has commented that month, and the person who left the most comments has the best chance of winning a fragrant and/or delicious prize. I have a lot stashed in my "to give" box. So let's get started, now!
For the month of January, the winner will receive a coffret of 5 vintage minis from the 80's, including Bal A Versailles, Animale, Sunwater, Hollywood, 360 Perry Ellis and 273 Fred Hayman.
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