My Summer Scrapbook

Courtyard beauty: this is papyrus by the pond.

Summer is coming to an end in just about a day and a half... It's been a very sweet, yet short, summer. And I'm glad I was able to get some rest in preparation for the busiest season, commencing tomorrow, with my week-long intensive week about Orientals!

- This sign marks the site of daily pilgrimage: Sunset Beach...

Easter Lilies, blooming in summertime at the pond in my building's courtyard.

Summer squashes, leeks and mini artichokes at West End's Farmers' Market

Red Currants at West End Farmers' Market

Twisted carrot legs, sitting atop a carrot sandwich cookie (that's right - it's filled with cream cheese frosting!). In the background is a roobois chai tea, the perfect companion to carrot cakes OR cookies...
Angel's Trumpets: the full glory of their scent to be discovered only at dusk.

Continue reading more elaborate summer fragrances and flavours in this post.

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Summary of Summer: Fragrances and Flavours

Just by the building that gives all the services possible to bathers of Sunset Beach, there grows this mysterious little tree, with the most intensely smelling flowers. They look a little like jasmine, but smell like honeysuckle. Their scent intensifies around sunset and after dark, and makes saying goodbye to the beach even harder every evening!

Here here: a less brighter image of the cafe at Sunset Beach. The closest swimming beach to my house, albeit probably not the cleanest... It's never too crowded, and always very peaceful - which is what I love most about it. I was able to not only contemplate on my Orcas perfume there, but also swim alongside a seal!

Red currants in the West End Farmers' Market: these actually taste awful, if you ask me. Kinda bland and sour with an unpleasant aftertaste. No wonder why the mostly cook them into jelly! Black currants, on the other hand, have a much stronger aroma, probably less agreeable, but I love them. Go figure...

Afternoon tea @ Noriko's: these are Yuzu Imo Yokan (these are jelly-like consistency sweets to accompany tea). She served them, of course, with the most flavourful Japanese green tea - it had no additives, yet had a peach or osmanthus-like character!

Noriko also gave us these miniature sour plum & shiso rice crackers, which are absolutely adorable...

Rosemary and two types of seaweed at Sunset Beach. There is a whole bush of rosemary there, and it is going to play a big role in a perfume I'm working on called Orcas, which I've been blogging about throughout this summer...

Just a bunch of (dead) crabs...

Zucchini flowers: my first time trying them this summer. One time I stuffed them with rice and baked them in olive oil. They turned out fantastically crisp and delicious.
Other time, I stuffed them with herbie soft cheese and sauteed them in olive oil, they did not hold their shape as well as with the rice, but were just as if not more yummy, and a very nice addition to a summer salad!

Angel's Trumpet: by night time, these trumpets are like a feast for your nose. All you need to do it place it in the trumpet and inhale the candy-like, heliotropin citrus and flowery perfume of this datura type of flower.
Hard to believe it belongs to the same family as tomato, pepper and eggplant!

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Sun, where art thou?

Building has sundeck., originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

This signage looks just as ridiculous now as it has in early July, when it was still cloudy and rainy in Vancouver...
August was barely over, and it already started raining again. My beach days are far and few in between cold wet days, and today was the last day of work for Vancouver's lifeguards... I'm going to miss them almost as much as I will miss the swimming itself - because we both share this strange passion for the beach and the ocean.

Saturday was my last day of swimming, and I was clever enough to bring them all samples of some manly scents to sniff, and most importantly - my 5th mod of Orcas. I'm not the kind of gal that pushes her business everywhere she goes. But when it comes up, it does. We were started to bid our farewells on Friday, and strangely, the question of what I do when I don't swim laps between the shore and the red floaty markers only came up when summer was just about to be gone... The lifeguards seemed to be quite fascinated by my strange profession, and one of them seemed to be unusually interested in fragrance actually. He was even telling me how much he likes the scent of rosemary, and pulled a few needles off the bush behind him, telling me he even likes to make tea out of it.

So it was inevitable that I would tell him about Orcas - a seaweed and rosemary scent that was greatly inspired by my immersion in the Pacific Ocean at Sunset Beach. And I just had to bring my vat of the Orcas test batch the next day. I wasn't planning on giving them samples to take home because I don't usually do that with test batches unless the mod is for sure complete and I have no intentions of adding anything else... The rosemary-loving lifeguards was so smitten with it, he liked it even more than ArbitRary and l'Herbe Rouge (the samples I brought them to take home to impress their wives...). He also noticed that it has a way of intensifying with time - it's as if the scent grows on the skin! This is, I believe, due to the presence of ambergris, which creates that kind of alchemy with the way the notes are playing - first bursting in freshness, than pretending to disappear, only to emerge with a big blow like the whale!

I felt compelled to bring them samples the following day, but it was windy yesterday and not that this would stop me from swimming - but I had to go to the Night Market (it's a summer must and I haven't been there yet this year!) with my friends that evening, and the day just slipped away without me ever making it to Sunset Beach.

And than came today: the lifeguards last day. And I didn't make it there. I admire the Triathletes that swam 5 kilometers in the rainy ocean today. I guess it is just not meant to be... So I'm saving all the Orcas V jus for myself and I will see them next summer!

I still believe I have work to do with this Orcas cologne. It won't be until I actually get a hold of some fair amount of seaweed absolute that I can continue my work. And I'm still waiting to hear back from the suppliers, who's definitely taking their time...!

Scents To Go With Summer + Giveaway

Before summer slips away… here are some of my summer staples this year in my perfume wardrobe. We’ve been blessed with a warm and sunny weather this summer (which I hope will prove to remain this way till it fades into fall). I’ve been spending each evening at the beach swimming in the otherwise freezing waters of the Pacific ocean. And I believe that this temporary change to my lifestyle, where my 2-level apartment turns into a beach house (quite literally: the entrance gets covered with sand every evening), my perfume choices are anything but the typical-Ayala wardrobe this summer.

I’ve been keeping my scent choices to the bare minimum. I find that scents are generally overbearing in the heat and tend to keep my scent choices similar to my garments this season - a minimal wardrobe whose highlights (both practically and style-wise) is Vancouver designed and made bikinis - and the rest are light fabrics to help me cool off (transparent white cotton shirts, bamboo and linen dresses, and screen printed nightgowns that are light as a feather), and some splashes of colour to keep everything lively and fun (how about some azure, turquoise and coral?).

So this is how my scent wardrobe looks like. It’s embarrassingly sparse but I love it this way.

Eau d’Orange Vert
Those who know my perfume tastes well enough should know that citrus is NOT my favourite fragrance family. I adore the scent of lemon verbena and lemongrass, not to mention the simple yet timeless aroma of freshly squeezed lemon and their zest dripping into the lemon juice (my favourite way to make a salad dressing is this and a drizzle of olive oil. Nothing more is necessary!). However, I find most citrus scent to lack dramatically in the area of originality or interest. This is greatly due to the fact that most citrus notes are top notes, and fade at an embarrassingly fast rate, usually leaving behind a “meh” trail of nondescript florals or woods, or, worse, the dreaded synthetic musks that are so common in nearly all modern perfumes. Eau d’Orange Vert is everything but a boring citrus. It bursts like a bubble of ether on a plump bitter orange peel. It’s dry yet juicy and nearly mouthwatering – as refreshing as a gin and tonic. It is absolutely non floral at all, which helps to cut through the heat, whether dry or humid; and last but not least important - it conceals a slightly mossy base with a light sprinkle of oakmoss, and that gives it the ultimate appeal for a Chypre lover like myself. Unforutnatley, this has been reformulated quite recently to include no oakmoss at all. And while it still has the juiciness of a grapefruit pulp plus a hint of green mango, both of which very refreshing, it is not as classy as the original. Nevertheless, still better than many other citrus out there.

Terracota Eau Sous La Vent
For those fine evenings at the beach, this strange product which is suppose to enhance tanning (I’m not sure I can attest to that) smells like a stunning white florals at nightfall and is refreshing yet creamy. It makes for a erfect beach scent, and its scent blends nicely enough with most sunscreens – and especially my favourite, which I will discuss shortly.

Hawaiian Tropics Sunscreen
Of all the sunscreens, this is the only one that I actually love its fragrance. Everything else makes me feel uncomfortably covered in an unwanted scent (not to mention some sticky or greasy texture). I can’t say it’s not sticky or greasy, but the scent definitely makes up for every other fault it may have. After all the sunscreen and preservative ingredient list, the very end reads like a tropical vacation – extracts of papaya, mango, guava and plumeria (frangipani) flowers. This might explain why the flies come for a sniff the moment you put it on at the beach, as if you just sliced up a fresh mango fruit! Thankfully, the can realize quickly that there is no real food involved and they leave you and your bikini alone with your beach daydreaming…

Vanille Banane
When I was a little girl, a trip to the beach always included a frozen treat. Usually – a banana flavoured icecream bar with faux chocolate covering. This is an intense and wearble version of this experience, and makes for a wonderful compliment to any pigrimage to the beach, even if you are already covered in sunscreen. Several dips in the ocean will also take the edge of its sticky sweetness.

Bronze Goddess (formerly known as Azuree de Soleil)
Whatever shape or form this fragrance comes from is quite the experience. Though I have to admit that when the brozed body lotion is a little mature the scent turns into something not altogether unique or pleasant (more like a heady drugstore mess). So use up the body products fast! Which is what makes me start thinking that the scent is perhaps better than applying the body oil or the glittery bronzed lotion (it’s full of glittery mica which makes one look like a goddess alright). As for the body oils – I’ve been switching to body oils of my own concoctions instead, and find them to be a lot more reliable as a product, as the scent does not turn into something nasty after maturing.

Song of Songs Anointing Body Oil
My own concoction, which I just released at my tea party, has been a long time favourite that I’ve decided to share with you. The term garrigue came up on this blog while discussing Mediterranean scents. Well, this is a combination of that impression (though no herbs are used in it per se). The responsible element to that effect is the labdanum. It’s like the heated rocks and herbs on the mountains, adorned by sensual roses and saffron. Applying it to the skin leaves it perfumed for some 24+ hours, not to mention a very nourished, silk-like feel to the skin itself, as if it was immersed with botanical gold. It has squalane oil (olive derived, which is a very rejuvenating to the skin as it is very similar to vitamin A), and tea seed oil (a natural anti-oxidant). The particular formulation there is very nourishing yet at the same time very light weight and fast absorbing.

This was my take on how to make a citrus not boring. Jasmine green tea accord is refreshing, especially with an overdose of lemon-verbena-like notes of litsea cubeba, and that underlining fir absolute, which is surprisingly refreshing despite its Christmas tree association. I shouldn’t brag, but Fetish keeps me interested even though it’s a citrus. And I wear it when it’s hot to the point of bothering and it’s not in the least cloying despite that hint of vanilla at the base (vanilla is one of those few natural notes that has a tendency to grow with time rather than fade).

I admit I worn it only once this summer. I also ate green figs once this summer, which come to think of it, is more than I usually get when I stay in Vancouver! A friend picked them from a tree in Kitsilano. As much as I appreciated them, they were pale in comparison to the fragrant figs we get in warmer, dryer Mediterranean countries. A summer without green figs is incomplete, and Philosykos can be a stand-in for the real thing.

Sienna Musk
Last summer Laurie and me had a little exchange of samples of our own scents and this one was love at first sniff. It was a very hot summer, and the forest fires were roaming so there was no sense in trying he Feu de Bois, because it was already smoky!
Sienna Musk is a subtle woodsy musky scent, from the same family as Kyoto (which is another favourite of mine). Wearing it reminds me of peaceful summer evenings on my balcony, burning incense and hanging out on the hammock.

ArbitRary Candle
It may sound counter-logical to burn a candle to reduce the heat. However, when temperatures go up, just placing an ArbitRary candle in the room brings in the refreshing aroma of basil, lime, hay and jasmine.

L’Eau d’Issey
Smelling an ozone-like aroma floating above the water surface was magical got me interested again in l’Eau d’Issey, a scent I wear sparsely and rarely. I love how it is in the parfume extrait form; though admittedly the white-musk dry down is a bit of a let down. But what can you expect from a designer scent?

Un Jardin Apres la Mousson
I worn this practically all summer last year; but neglected this scent for the most of the summer in favour of Eau d’Orange Vert. However, in the past 4 days it’s been so hot that the aloof character of this scent seemd in the right place, especially with its bracing iciness of vetiver, ginger and coriander seed.

Which scents go with your summer? Leave a comment and enter to win a Song of Songs Anointing Body Oil!
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