The Scent of New Beginnings


perfume-1Well, it’s here.

I came home yesterday after a weekend retreat with some friends at Opal Creek ancient heritage forest to discover that Mandy Aftelier’s Workbook One for novice perfumers arrived in the mail on Saturday.

Did you ever order something so completely outside of your realm of expertise off the Internet, have it arrive in a beautiful package and then have an out-of-body experience, where you wonder who you are to have done this and how dare you and what does this mean? And then that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach: What have I gotten myself into?

That is me, holding Workbook One, knowing that the fact that there is a Workbook One means that there is also a Workbook Two out there, and perhaps even more.

I am the last person in the world to be starting a new hobby. I have two kids under the age of three, a husband who is, if you can believe it, even more into cuddling than I am, a writing business, a family business, a part-time volunteering job at my son’s school, a house, two cats, a garden, a quilting obsession, and a strong belief that all of us should be doing less.

I am also, apparently, a crazy person who orders giant at-home perfuming courses.

Something happened to me several months ago. I was shopping in Portland and came across Heather Sielaff’s line of natural perfumes, OLO. The were just lovely, like nothing I’d ever encountered before. I started wearing Dafne, which was mixed to smell like the daphne flower that blooms in this area of the country at the end of February.

I want to bloom in winter, too!

It was something I actually wanted to put on my body — not the overpowering, chemically commercial perfumes, but something that smelled real, didn’t turn me into some kind of Charlie Brown character with wafts of unctuous and jarring scent radiating off my body.

Then, I found more of them. I interviewed Heather Sielaff, and I fell down that journalist’s rabbit hole where you fall in love with the thing you are writing about (natural perfume, though Heather is lovely, too).

Then, I discovered her, the grand dame of American natural perfuming , Mandy Aftelier, who I have been following on Twitter, and whose book Essence & Alchemy I devoured in a single sitting. I started sneaking in to Cacao, our favorite Portland chocolate shop, every chance I could get to get a whiff of her tiny fragrance, Cacao, which is sold there in a bottle about the size of a tiny brandy bottle (if Barbie drank brandy).

You must assume that a chocolate perfume smells like chocolate. Oh no. It’s like you’re floating on a vanilla bean pod down a river of chocolate with orange blossoms and jasmine blooming above you.

So here I am. I’ve got Workbook One, I’ve got some essential oils coming to me in the mail, and I’ve got that tingly new beginning feeling, like I’ve found something I just want to inhale until I can’t hold it anymore.

Wish me luck! I’ve got a new subtitle…

7 thoughts on “The Scent of New Beginnings

  1. Ariel Ocean says:

    alright, not meant as a shameless plug since I work for Cover Oregon, but everytime I read your blog this Live Long in Oregon song goes thru my head 🙂


  2. cottagemagpie says:

    Oooh, so exciting!! Of course I should not be encouraging you because I know so very, very well how hard it is to make time for everything. But it just sounds so dang fun!!! I’m getting a little vicarious thrill reading about it. Looking forward to hearing more. ~Angela~


  3. Sarah says:

    I stumbled across you blog and totally love it! Been reading through so many of your posts like a novel. 🙂 I just wanted to mention that although OLO uses many natural ingredients, it is not a 100% natural perfume brand. Synthetics are used too. As someone who find it extremely important to know and decide what is going on (and in) my body, and since I know others feel the same way, I just wanted to clarify since I’ve noticed that there is a bit of misconception about this brand when it comes to naturals. Not that the owner is purposely trying to hide anything, but that the general public doesn’t often realize the dynamics of perfumery, and when they hear that something has natural ingredients in it, they often don’t realize that there are often other non-natural ingredients too. 🙂


    • Emily Grosvenor says:

      So sweet of you to drop by! It’s so funny. I really liked the Dafne for a while but it hasn’t seemed to age well. The more I learn about natural perfuming the more I feel like I’m able to tell the difference. Right now I’m liking the stuff from Juniper Ridge. Do you have some favorites you like? Do you make your own, Sarah? I’m really just at the start of my smelling life!


  4. Sarah says:

    Hi Emily! Thanks for the reply. 🙂 I love the Juniper Ridge scents – smells just like home! I also enjoy Marble and Milkweed’s perfumes, especially the ones with spice notes. There is another company called Barnaby Black that I haven’t tried, and they seem to kinda copy what Juniper Ridge is doing, but on the east coast – their fragrance would probably be interesting to smell and compare. Providence Perfume Co. is soooooo lovely, but you might already know about that one. I recently came across a brand called Midnight Collective, and I fell in love with the scents (not perfume though; bath salts). I don’t make my own, but have a super sensitive nose when it comes to synthetics, mostly I think because I wasn’t raised around things like that so it is usually easy to pick out synthetic notes vs. natural notes. How is your perfuming coming along? Have you fallen in love with any certain essential oils?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s