Holiday Gift Guide 2010

Can you believe the holiday season is already upon us? Thanksgiving will be here in a heartbeat, and the first night of Hanukkah is December 1st. So it’s time to hop to it and get gifting. I’ve gathered together some of my favorite bloggers (links below) to offer our recommendations for those special items on our to-give lists, and maybe even our own wish-lists. My list includes many price points ranging from $6.50 for a gorgeously scented soap to $325 for a precious limited edition perfume, with lots in between. As you might have guessed, all of my recommendations are 100% natural which means no petrochemicals, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, or parabens.


Urban Eden (Now Oilve and Oud) Shahrazad soap ($6.50 per bar) I recently reviewed Urban Eden soaps and at the time I had just started using my bar of Shahrazad. At this present moment, I have but a tiny sliver left and recently placed an order for another bar so I can continue to bask in its plentiful floral spiciness. Tuberose, frankincense, and cardamom are the standouts in this richly lathering soap that’s perfect for this time of year.

 


Gabriel’s Aunt tea light sampler. ($9 for a set of 10) After you spend some time at the Gabriel’s Aunt etsy shop, you’ll be glad you can choose 10 different tea lights in your sampler. Nikki Sherritt, creator of GA, has so many scrumptious scents to choose from that it really is hard to pick only a few. My favorite isRoyal Couple ($25 for 8oz candle), a rose and jasmine blend that warms a room with a finespun throw. You can read more about her liquid and solid fragrances here and here.

 

Wing and Prayer mini sampler ($10 for three 1/8oz rollerball) This has got to be one of the best bargains in the natural perfume world. $10 for three nicely sized fragrances? That’s a steal that we all need to take advantage of! I adore Flowers, a gardenia fragrance with sweet notes of linden and beeswax as well as Bella, a soft blend of verbena and neroli. An individual bottle is $35 for a 1.78oz spray which is also an incredible value for such gorgeous, all natural scents.

 

Scented Djinn Sahar ($25 for 5ml) This beauty boasts jasmine, sandalwood, and champaca infused with honey and vanilla. Sounds pretty right? It’s also calming and cozy and I love to wear it on cold fall mornings. I reviewed Saharthispast spring if you would like to read more.

 

evanhealy Sweet Blossom Hydrating Oil($29.95 for 4oz) Smoothing this body oil over freshly showered skin is a pleasure of which I will never tire. Frankincense, neroli and a light touch of ylang ylang intertwine to create a comforting scent that will put a smile on the lucky recipient’s face. And not only is it beautifully fragranced, it is made with cold pressed, organic oils of sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, jojoba and apricot kernel so it feels as good as it smells.

 

Organic Apoteke Droseros Hydrating Mist ($30 for 5oz) Hyrdosols have become a part of my daily skincare routine. Sometimes I spray it on my skin when it’s dry and I want to apply a body oil (such as evanhealy’s above) and I also mist my face with a hydrosol before using my serum. Currently, Organic Apoteke is my favorite because it’s soothing and hydrating. But honestly, I really love it because it smells so darn good. It’s like there’s a magic honey ingredient in this mist that lasts for hours and swirls around my skin amidst delicate rose petals. I’ve got this in the travel size, and you can be sure it’s going with me on my next plane ride.

DSH PerfumesÉpices d’Hiver ($40 for 1 dram/5 mls or $120 for 1 oz) Épices d’Hiver was launched by DSH Perfumes last fall, and got a lot of wear during the cold months, which here in the Northwest can last well into May. So suffice to say, I wore it many a day. Now that the rain and cold are upon us once more, Épices d’Hiver is back in action, providing me with a cozy spicy go-to fragrance suffused with nutmeg, hay and woods.

Ayala Moriel Parfums Palas Atena ($48 for 4mls or $120 for 9ml flacon) Palas Atena was the first Ayala Moriel fragrance that I fell for, and it still ranks high on my list of favorites of her creations. It’s a classic floriental with notes of patchouli, amber, champaca, cinnamon, jasmine, lavender, neroli, sandalwood, and sweet orange. Each essence flows into the next, moving in continuous harmony like a high quality vintage fragrance.

Intelligent Nutrients Aromatics in Focus ($50 for 0.85 oz) Feel free to spritz this alluring aromatic all over yourself. Mist it on your face, your skin, and your hair and let its organic vitamin e and castor oils hydrate while organic flower oils intoxicate. The neroli jasmine duo is swoon worthy, and so well loved, that I can’t imagine anyone not being thrilled to open up this 100% organic scent.

 

Roxana Illuminated Perfume’s Rosa Solid ($72 for 5.3 gm solid in a refillable silver compact) Oh lovely Rosa! Such a precious compact made even more so by its contents. If you are a rose lover, or know one, you should feel compelled to give Rosa a serious gander. Rose otto from Turkey and an absolute of rose bourbonica from India grace this sensual solid perfume, as well as woods, oud, vetiver and leather. Its rich and earthy bouquet is full but wears close to the skin. One of my favorite rose perfumes.

 

Aftelier Perfumes Candide ($150 for 0.25 oz which includes a 2ml mini, the mini is sold separately for $45) Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes has just launched Candide, and made a personal appearance last night at Bendel’s in NYC to celebrate its release. And believe me, she has much to toast as Candide is truly beautiful. It radiates with sparkling notes of pink grapefruit, blood orange and raspberries all wrapped up in sueded jasmine petals. Its lush and enticing, but cheerful and flirtatious as well. A suggestion of frankincense affords a bit of grounding, but to be sure, Candide is lighthearted through and through.

 

Strange Invisible Perfumes Elektrou ($325 for 0.25 fl. oz. pure perfume • Available in-store or by phone only. Call toll free: 800.919.7472) Strange Invisible Perfumes has lured me in once before with these limited edition gems. I caved and bought Dimanche last spring, and have not regretted it for a second. It exudes two notes that I can’t seem to get enough of, hay and honey, in a surprisingly sophisticated and provocative manner. Well, if you wish you’d jumped at the chance to get Dimanche, Elektrou is quite similar, with a few distinct differences. Dimanche’s opening is on the sharp side due to the edginess iris sometimes possesses. Elektrou on the other hand is immediately soft with its vanilla and smooth amber accord. Sandalwood plays a large roll in Elektrou’s suppleness, emanating a sensual ease. It’s going to take serious restraint that I am not sure I have to keep myself for purchasing Elektrou as I want every scarf I own to smell just like it. It’s a splurge no doubt, but one that the perfumista in your life (which is probably yourself) will adore.

Please stop by the following blogs for more gift ideas.

Perfume Shrine

IndiePerfumes

Roxana Illuminated Perfume

All I Am- A Redhead


Posted by ~Trish

image courtesy of Roxana Villa.

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Gabriel's Aunt Venasque and Bohem

This review continues my exploration of natural perfumes from Gabriel’s Aunt. Last week I wrote about Royal Couple, a radiant and sultry rose/jasmine duo that comes in both a cream perfume solid and a candle. Today, I will focus on two of her roll-on perfumes, one that also features jasmine, but from a different perspective.


Venasque is an homage to the lavender and chocolate loving Southern French town by the same name, and uses jasmine in the top notes to enhance the experience. One would not smell Venasque and think, “my what a fabulous jasmine scent”, as it’s decidedly a lavender based perfume. But this lavender is fuller than usual as jasmine melds into the purple buds, enhancing its herbaceous essence with a juicy floral lift. Lovers of lavender will appreciate the lushness that Venasque brings to the plant which can oftentimes be dry and crisp.


A dusting of cocoa powder lands gently on Venasque after an hour, meeting the expectations set by the perfume’s back-story. Lavender continues to be the star of this fragrant experience, therefore it doesn’t become a lavender infused chocolate truffle (which sounds really tasty come to think of it!). Venasque is more like a lavender field that has been nourished by dark chocolate in its soil. The rich, bittersweetness effortlessly evolves as jasmine receeds. A judicious use of patchouli adds to this earthy imagery. As with Venasque’s jasmine, it’s the suggestion of patchouli that enhances the richness of the chocolate and the herbal aroma of the lavender.


Even though the drydown is similar to the delightful vanillic ending of Royal Couple, I wholeheartedly recommend men try Venasque as well as women. I happen to be a lover of lavender, so Venasque is a perfume I would reach for again and again. I already have two lavender favorites, Roxana Illuminated Perfumes’ Vera and Ajne’s deLavande, but Venasque rounds out the collection beautifully. Both of those fragrances lean more powdery and cozy, while Venasque is an amplified, aromatic lavender with a gourmand flavor.


Bohem, GA’s best selling fragrance of 2009, resides in the spicy-incense realm with its allspice and cedarwood blend. In addition, vetiver, patchouli and tobacco give a good deal of body to Bohem, most notably being vetiver. I thoroughly appreciate vetiver’s ability to provide a smoked earth quality while simultaneously allowing the surrounding essences their full glory.


The heart of Bohem becomes a little sweeter as cassie and davana lend a honeyed, fruity glow to the incense swirling on your skin. Tobacco and the allspice aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves infuse the smoke from beginning to end which like Venasque, would smell wonderful on either a woman or a man.


Nikki Sherritt, the woman behind Gabriel’s Aunt, is a bit of a dark horse in the world of natural perfumery. She flies under the radar, probably because she is more well-known for her candles, but should receive due recognition for her artistic hand in blending natural perfumes. Nikki has samples for sale on her site, and I encourage you to experience them for yourselves.


Venasque and Bohem are available on the Gabriel’s Aunt website. $38 for a 1/4 oz roll-on.

You can read Ayala Sender’s review of both Bohem the fragrance and the candle on SmellyBlog.


Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: Samples from Gabriel’s Aunt were provided for this review. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
Image of Venasque, France from TravelWebshots

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Gabriel's Aunt Royal Couple, Jasmine and Rose Bliss

*Please note that Gabriel’s Aunt is now Rebel & Mercury, see link below for website. 

Gabriel’s Aunt (GA) isn’t entirely new to me. Nikki Sherritt, the creator of GA’s natural candles and perfumes, also pours candles for Ayala Moriel Parfums. I adore Ayala’s White Potion candle, so I figured I should give Nikki’s concoctions a try as well. I wasn’t expecting to be as crazy as I am over GA’s scents. In fact, after I wore the perfume samples Nikki sent me for a couple days, I promptly went to her etsy site and ordered some candles figuring if her perfumes were this good, her candles must be as well.


I will review everything I bought and was given by GA over the next few days (or weeks) but I wanted to start with Royal Couple, a heavenly combination of jasmine and rose that comes in both a cream perfume solid and a candle. Nikki describes her cream perfume solids as having just one or two essences in them to encourage layering. Yet Royal Couple’s short list of jasmine and rose belies its complex bouquet and is entirely lovely on its own.


After smoothing the perfume solid on my wrists and neck, I was reveling in thick and juicy jasmine petals…of the indolic jasmine grandiflorum variety. It’s a potent jasmine, but not so intense that it chokes the wearer or those around you. Rose was not a part of this jasmine-fest at the outset, but slowly made its way onto my skin, along with a spicy jasmine sambac development. I don’t know what jasmine Nikki uses for her Royal Couple blend, maybe it is a combination of the two. Regardless, the evolution of Royal Couple from heady and densely floral to a more piquant yet refined jasmine, was unforeseen and welcomed.

The drydown was equally delicious because I love a well-done vanillic floral base. Only Nikki knows if there’s a touch of vanilla (or maybe benzoin?) in Royal Couple, and if there isn’t she’s got a magic touch with the raw local beeswax she uses in her perfume solids. Organic coconut, jojoba and sweet almond oils are also used in the solids, making them a pleasure to apply to the skin. The scent has excellent longevity and I am seriously elated that Royal Couple is also offered in a candle.

GA’s candles are soy based, made with locally grown, Non-GMO soywax. Nikki never uses soy/paraffin blends which allows for clean and environmentally sound candle enjoyment. And like her perfumes, the candles are made with 100% all natural essences. The Royal Couple candle is a nice accompaniment to the solid perfume, as the rose essence flourishes with heat. It’s a freshly cut rose that is very full, thanks to the support of jasmine. As I began writing this post last night, I had the perfume solid on my skin, the candle burning beside me and I felt like I was in a royal garden filled with the freshest of jasmine and rose blossoms. It was bliss.

Royal Couple EDP (solid is no longer available) and  Royal Couple Candle  (Royal Couple is now the Rose, Jasmine, Grapefruit Everyday Collection Candle) are now available at Rebel & Mercury. 

Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: A sample of Royal Couple Cream Perfume Solid was provided for this review by Gabriel’s Aunt. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
“Madagascar Jasmine” at art.com

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