Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Last Minute Gift Ideas from Voluspa

There's barely a week left until Christmas! *gasp* If you're like me and completely not prepared, Voluspa has you covered.

Voluspa 2-wick metallo tins make the perfect Hostess Gift. Be sure to have plenty on hand so you're ready to go. They are priced perfectly at just $16 each!

Voluspa Petite Jar Candles make great stocking stuffers. At just $6 each you can grab a few for variety.

When you're not sure what fragrance to get, buy them all in one gift set! Voluspa Maison Gift Sets have one of each of the fragrances in each Maison Collection. The packaging is stunning for a gorgeous ready-to-go gift. I love the Rouge gift set for the holidays as it contains my favorite fragrance, Golden Cypress Sawara (perfect for this time of year), and Traci's (Voluspa founder and Creative Director) favorite fragrance, Warm Perique Tabac. Plus, the deep red color is perfect for the holidays.

Need other gift ideas? Let us know. We're here to help.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Voluspa Maison Collections

Early 2010, Voluspa launched 2 new collections: Maison Blanc to replace their old Basic Creme Collection and Maison Noir to replace the old Basic Black Collection. In the summer of 2010, they launched Maison Rouge.

The new Maison Collections include a new 12oz candle with a 100 hour burn time, a 2-wick tin metallo candle and a cosmetic jar candle. The petite diffusers by Voluspa are available at a great price point for just $28 each and the room and body spray packaging is decadent.

Each collection includes 8 fragrances. Most of the fragrances are new but Pomegranate Patchouli, Crisp Champagne, Vervaine Olive Leaf, Golden Cypress Sawara and Saijo Persimmon survived the transition from the old Black and Creme Collections to the new Maison Collections. Not sure what to try? Check out the gorgeous new Maison Gift Sets that include one of each of the new fragrances for each collection.

The Someday Show

It's amazing how much time and money people spend decorating their house. One critical item that most homeowners forget, however, is fragrance. Scent finishes a space and helps create ambiance and warmth.

In the foyer, it's important to select a fragrance that is welcoming and not offensive. Many people are sensitive to florals and vanilla fragrances so it's best to stay away from those in the foyer and common areas. In the fall, we like the Lafco Family Room candle for the foyer. It's fresh Cortland Apple fragrance is light and inviting and the bright red, hand-blown glass container adds a punch of color.

As you move on to the family room, relaxed and casual fragrances work well. In the fall, Nest Pumpkin chai is like a worn pair of jeans that fit perfectly. It's spicy scent is unique and comforting.

The kitchen is a great place for clean and bright fragrances such as Voluspa Mandarino Canella. Juicy orange mixed with a sweet spice under currant works well in the fall. Voluspa offers their Maison fragrances in candles, diffusers and room sprays. Diffusers offer a constant fragrance while room sprays work well when you need and instant burst of scent. Candles in various shapes in sizes allow you to select the one that's just right for you. Candles with lids offer a clean look when not in use.

In the living room a more sophisticated fragrance is nice. We love Belle Fleur Kyara Clove. It's a blend of leather, wood and spices that makes you feel like you're lost in an over sized worn leather chair in a den surrounded by rich wood paneling. It's luxurious and relaxing fragrances is perfect for cooler months.

Bedrooms are a great place for more sensual fragrances such as Tocca Colette. This alluring fragrance is a blend of sandalwood and vanilla - scents highly sought after by both men and women making it perfect for the bedroom. Candles create a romantic environment and this soothing scent will leave you wanting more.

Bathrooms are a fun place to play with fragrance. Since most people aren't in bathrooms for a long amount of time, this is a great time to get creative and try something different. In the fall we really like Votivo Teak in the bathroom. It offers luxurious woody notes but also a clean essence that works well in bathrooms. Votivo offers their Teak fragrance in a diffuser, candle and room spray to vary the intensity of the scent. Room sprays work well in bathrooms when you need instant fragrance. Diffusers are handy since they offer a constant fragrance without having to keep an eye on them. Votivo travel tins work well in the bathroom as the lid keeps hair spray out of the candle wax when not in use. If you have a candle in the bathroom that crackles or pops when you light it, chances are it's hairspray that has settled on the top of the candle.

Fall is a fun time to play with scent. Selecting different fragrances for each room that layer nicely with each other creates an effect your guests will never forget.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sandalwood and Vanilla Goes Together Like Ross and Rachel

I love the combination of sandalwood and vanilla. They balance and compliment each other like yin and yang, masculine and feminine.

Earlier this year Tocca launched Colette - a very sensual, romantic blend of sandalwood and vanilla. Colette is alluring and mysterious. The fragrance leans towards feminine, like the scent a woman leaves on a pillow. Sexy and soft. Colette is like the beginning of a relationship when you can't get enough of each other. It taunts you and tempts you and you want more just as you want more from your new lover - more time, more intimacy. Tocca Colette is a seamless fragrance for when everything is seductive and exhilarating.

As the honeymoon subsides, along come Aquiesse Sandalwood Vanille -a cozy, soothing blend. The balance between masculine/feminine is equal in the blend. As you settle into your routines, things become comfortable and Aquiesse Sandalwood Vanilla is just as relaxed as you. It's like a big, warm blanket to surround you as you spend quiet nights at home. You can cuddle with this fragrance and feel loved as it's earthy sweet blend envelopes you.

Then comes Aura Luscious. This fragrance is like a big bear hug. It grabs you and holds you tight and let's you know that no matter how bad it seems, everything is going to be alright. This warm and exotic blend is the most bold of the three. It leans more towards masculine and has a strong grip to it. When your love lets you down, and they will, Aura Luscious guards and protects you. During rough times, Aura Luscious offers the strength to press on.

Sandalwood and Vanilla go together like Ross and Rachel. Tocca Colette for the romantic, sensual moments when enough is never enough. Aquiesse Sandalwood Vanille the most relaxed and cuddly moments when things are smooth and comfortable and you're the best of friends. Then Aura Luscious for when "We were on a break!" to hold you tight through the rough times.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Aura Candles

Aura was founded by Jasmine Parks and Chelsea Wilson of California. They set out to create a high-end candle that was also affordable. This fun and slightly edgy candle line is simple, yet detailed, and always down to earth.

Aura mastered the 4 key elements to a successful product:

  • Product: In this case I'm calling the fragrance the product. The fragrances for Aura are fantastic. Aura candles provide a great cold throw (they smell so great on the shelf you want to buy them) and in warm throw (they smell so great burning you want to buy more).
  • Packaging: The packaging is professional, appropriate and colorful. Packaging needs to be eye catching so you want to pick up the product and give it a sniff and Aura candles come through with color and simplicity. Aura packaging would work well in a variety of stores and definitely draws your eye to investigate. The packaging is also simple enough to not add excessively to the price or be a burden on the environment. Beautiful, excessive packaging might get you to buy initially, but if you aren't happy with the performance, you won't return for more. Aura does not fall into this trap. The Aura candle names are vague but the fragrance notes on the front of the product work well to guide you in the right direction. I'm a sucker for cheat sheets.
  • Price: The price is perfect for the offering. At $24 they are a great value and they are right at a sweet spot in this economy - affordable but not cheap in quality - exactly where you want to be right now.
  • Performance: The candles burn beautifully - cleanly and easily. I'm so impressed with the way Aura candles burn, and so excited about the fragrances, that they will absolutely be a staple in our home. There's nothing like investing in a product that wants you to not only return to get more for yourself, but more for others as a gift to share your new-found love.

Aura offers 9 fragrances including:

Cosmic: limitless; grandiose. A creamy and scrumptious blend of blood orange, vanilla bean, vanilla orchid & amber. Cosmic is a delicious blend and a great place to start with Aura candles.

Clairvoyant: quick, intuitive knowledge of people and things. A tangy citrus scent with a hint of floral including yuzu grapefruit, cassis, orange and rose geranium. Clairvoyant is clean and fresh - great for creating an invigorating environment or clearing the air.

Karma: fate; destiny. A soft and sweet scent with a hint of spice including notes of Tahitian vanilla, pink grapefruit, agave nectar, cardamom, cayenne and sea salt. Karma is a great soothing scent. If you like vanilla, start here with Aura.

Luscious: highly pleasing in taste or smell. A warm and exotic blend of tangerine, vanilla, sandalwood, musk and amber. I'm crazy about Luscious. It's like a big bear hug letting you know everything is ok no matter how bad it seems.

Obscure: vague; inconspicuous. An exotic and botanical spicy blend of black ginger, musk and white pepper. Obscure is a curious floral. It smells peppery to start, but turns floral as it burns. The black ginger is the flower that blooms from the ginger root. If you like unusual florals - this is for you.

Sublime: supreme or outstanding. An earthy and sensual blend of pomegranate, patchouli, pink pepper, plum and Italian bergamot. Sublime is not too fruity or too earthy. It's a perfect blend between pomegranate and patchouli. When burning, the peppery notes really make the fragrance pop and the bergamot keeps everything from getting too heavy.

I love the way Aura candles burn. So clean and easy. While I could never get the wax completely level, it didn't come close to tunneling. It's rare for a candle wax to come so clean off the glass, but these candles do. That's a feat that's tough to accomplish and Aura handles it with ease - as if there's no other way.

Aura 10 oz candles are made with a soy wax blend and cotton wick and last approximately 60 hours.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Aura Clairvoyant

Clairvoyant: quick, intuitive knowledge of people and things.
A tangy citrus scent with a hint of floral including yuzu grapefruit, cassis, orange and rose geranium

Aura Clairvoyant has saved me more than once. There have been a few days recently when my eyes just don't open all the way. That groggy, draggy feeling you have when you just can't get going. I make a hot cup of tea and settle down next to my computer to work with Clairvoyant by my side.

Slowly, the bright fresh citrus scents in Clairvoyant wake me up. Grapefruit and cassis lighten the air. A slight hint of orange brings a smile as it reminds me of my fond addiction to Aura Cosmic. As the fragrance opens up so do my eyes. I'm more alert and eager to accomplish my tasks. The fragrance evolves and unveils the rose geranium that brings a fullness to the scent.

Where Aura Cosmic is my comfort, Aura Clairvoyant is my tool. I use it to invigorate me as well as freshen the air. When the house is stuffy or stale, or after we cook fish for dinner, Clairvoyant makes everything clean and lively. Another Aura candle I can't live without.

Stats: 10 oz, 60 hours, soy wax blend, cotton wick
Burn quality: 4.5/5 Fragrance intensity: 4/5

2010 Holiday Gift Guide

Wondering what to get your fragrance loving friend this holiday? Here's a list of products any candle or fragrance fan will love.

Thymes Frasier Fir candle in Red Pot
Mountain fresh with the aromatic snap of crisp Siberian Fir needles, heartening cedarwood and relaxing sandalwood.
I like the deep red glass and the simplicity of the lid and packaging. This candle also offers almost twice the burn time of the standard size Frasier Fir candle for just $34. 12 oz.

Nest Holiday Candle
The quintessential holiday fragrance with a blend of mandarine orange, cinnamon, pine and eucalyptus.
The Nest Holiday candle is a staple on our gift list. This fragrance best encapsulates the holidays. It's not overly tree or fruity and it's not sweet or gourmand. It's fresh, festive and brings back memories from years gone by. Be sure to buy more than one! If you buy one as a gift, you won't want to give it up. The 3-wick size is gorgeous and can be re-used as a flower vase when the candle is done.
If you want to give the gift of scent without a candle, the petite diffusers by Voluspa are fantastic. The packaging is beautiful and the price is great at $28. With 24 fragrances available, you're sure to find just the right scent. Golden Cypress Sawara is perfect this time of year.

The petite jar candles by Voluspa are great for travel or for trial. The easy screw top lid and sturdy glass makes them handy on the go. At just $6 each, they make fun stocking stuffers. 15 hours each. 24 fragrances.

The Tocca Eau de Parfum gift set couldn't be more adorable and for just $45, it's an incredible value. This gift set includes three 0.5 oz bottles of perfume in Tocca's signature fragrances: Florence, Stella and Cleopatra. You could also break apart this gift set to give 3 separate stocking stuffers, tie into the bow on a gift or use as an add-on to a larger gift. So charming!

The solid perfume by Tocca makes great stocking stuffers. They work well for travel or for discrete touch-up during the day - just toss in your purse and go. Available in most Tocca fragrances including Cleopatra, Stella and Giulietta. $30 each

I am absolutely addicted to Beau Bain bath bombs. Hand made with simple ingredients, these bath bombs are a wonderful, pampering gift. The fragrances are divine and these bath bombs leave your skin moisturized and silk smooth. Available in a 6-pack, 12-pack and individually. $8-$30

Long-stemmed lighters are great for lighting candles, fires and grills. These refillable lighters come with a life-time warranty. Available in 7", 9" leather-wrapped handle and 12" with stand.

Wick Dipper & Snuffer
The only way we extinguish candles at home is with a wick dipper. Simple use the wick dipper to push the burning wick into the melted wax to drown out the flame with out any smoke or soot. At just $5.95, they make a great stocking stuffer for any candle-lover. The tweezer style snuffers will extinguish a taper candle without any smoke or soot.

"A bayberry candle, burned to the socket, puts luck in the home, food in the larder, and gold in the pocket."
Our favorite holiday gift is true bayberry tapers. It's an old New England tradition to burn bayberry tapers to the nub on Christmas Eve or New Years Eve for health and prosperity in the year to come. Available in 6" and 10" pairs.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Aura Cosmic Candle

Aura Cosmic is one of my most favorite fragrances of all time. It is the only scent that has threatened to take the spot of my beloved Voluspa Makassar Ebony & Peach. Gasp. That's hard for me to say. Makassar Ebony & Peach has been my number one since the day we met many years ago. Nothing has come close to hinting at that pedestal until now. I am crazy in love with Cosmic.

Aura managed to take what could be a country-bumpkin scent and made it chic and hip. I love the use of blood orange essential oil- so fresh and pure. The earthy vanilla bean makes it yummy without being overly sweet and compliments the blood orange perfectly. Cosmic has just the right touch of amber to deepen the scent without dominating the fragrance. The hint of vanilla orchid is divine. This candle will definitely be a staple for me.

It's rare for me to give a candle an overall rating of 5 stars but Cosmic easily wins that rating.

Burn quality: 4.5/5 Fragrance intensity: 5

Join us for Aura Euphoria Week!

Aura Euphoria Week

Introductory Offer
Enjoy 10% OFF Aura Candles until 11/21/10 with coupon code AURA.

Aura was founded by Jasmine Parks and Chelsea Wilson of California. They set out to create a high-end candle that was also affordable. These creamy custom blended soy candles are generously scented with the finest fragrance and essential oils. Each evocative blend is designed to burn slow and clean using cotton wicks. This fun and slightly edgy candle line is simple, yet detailed, and always down to earth. Hand poured in the USA.

Click here to see how you can win an Aura Candle!

We'll announce the winners on Sunday, November 21st at We will ship the prize package to any continental US address. Fragrances vary. Good luck!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Join Us for a Chance to Win a Voluspa Candle!

Viva Volupsa Week

Fueled by a love for art, fragrance and elegant illumination, Troy and Traci Arnsten created their first scented candle in their kitchen in 1999. A creamy combination of coconut, soy and apricot waxes comprises their proprietary custom wax blend that enhances fragrance throw, glows beautifully, and delights consumers world wide. Finding their niche by creating striking packaging and extraordinary scents, Voluspa home fragrance products are found in prestigious retailers around the world and have become a staple in the homes of Hollywood's elite.

Join us for our LIVE giveaway on Monday, November 15th at 7pm EST.

We'll draw all 3 raffle winners during the live giveaway. You do not need to be present to win, but we will have a bonus Voluspa Maison 12oz candle plus a few Voluspa Petite Jar candle giveaways exclusively for those that attend the live giveaway. Good luck!

We will ship the prize package to any continental US address.

Join us each week as we give away a full sized, luxury candle from one of the following amazing candle lines: Anthousa, Agraria, Aquiesse, Altru, Antica Farmacista, Archipelago Botanicals, Aromatherapy Interventions, Belle Fleur, Bluewick, Capri Blue, D. L. & Co. Candles, DayNa Decker, Godiva, Jonathan Adler, K. Hall, Lafco, Lampe Berger, Le Cherche Midi, Linnea's Lights, Modern Alchemy Candles, MOR, NEST, Paddywax, Red Flower, Rigaud, Seda France, Thymes, Tocca, Trapp, Vera Wang, Vie Luxe, Voluspa or Votivo.

Click here to see all of our weekly winners!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Meet The Maker - Kelly Hall Barr of Simpatico

In just 6 short months, Kelly Hall Barr of K. Hall Designs launched a new luxury home fragrance comapny, Simpatico. Simpatico features 6 core fragrances and a Holiday fragrance. The Simpatico fragrances are more complex than the single-note scents by K. Hall Designs.

Congratulations to Ryan Patrick Kelly of Ohio for winning a beautiful Simpatico candle for submitting your Meet The Maker Question.

Meet the Maker - Daniel Benedict of Daniel Benedict Designs

Last summer we met with Daniel Benedict of Daniel Benedict Designs. Daniel started in home fragrance with Slatkin & Co and from there then went on to create Vie Luxe with Marjorie Gubelmann. He and Marjorie parted ways and Daniel Benedict Designs was born - an eco friendly luxe candle line.

His fragrances include:

Beach House - inspired by a seaside Mediterranean beach house. The essence of bergamot is enhanced with sea air and intoxicating lemon blossom.

Driftwood - the essence of a sun drenched Moroccan Beach has been created by this mystical scent.

Palazzo - white jasmine is masterfully blended with fresh honeysuckle and enhanced with French tuberose.

Park View - infuses regal Casablanca lily with delicate heliotrope and is finished with crisp green notes.

Penthouse - an exotic combination of lush black bamboo entwined with delicate green jasmine and finished with the essence of rare black orchid.

Sand Dune - the essence of white and green tea combined with crisp sea grasses.

He recently changed his packaging to be made of all reclaimed and recyclable materials. Daniel Benedict Design candles are 9 oz and have a 65 hour burn time. They are made with a beeswax blend, natural fragrance oils and cotton wick.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Aquiesse Holiday Candles

When I walked into the shop this morning these Aquiesse Holiday candles instantly caught my eye. Gorgeous! Aquiesse created four fabulous Holiday fragrances:

  • Monterey Pine: pine, balsam and thyme
  • Winter Currant: red currant berries, cassis, citrus and oak
  • Frankincense & Myrrh: frankincense and myrrh
  • Cinnamon Tabac: cinnamon, sweet tobacco, vanilla

The Aquiesse Holiday candles are available in the same beautiful glass as their Portfolio Collection, complete with dust cove/candle base/snuffer lid. They had a 100 hour burn time for just $32 each. LOVE!

Manuela Testolini of Altru Candles

Atru, meaning "unselfishly giving of one's self to others". From the word Altruism. This unique collection was inspired by the beauty and handcrafted artistry of cultures around the world. The inspiration for Altru, by Gamillah, comes from a desire to connect with an enormous universe of consumers who aspire to improve the world in every way possible -- who want tomorrow to be better than today. The proceeds from the Altu Candle Collection support the In a Perfect World Foundation which aims to empower children to become compassionate and socially conscious leaders. "By supporting Altru, you embrace a cause that seeks to give children a stronger voice in making the future more 'perfect' for us all," says Manuela Testolini, the Founder and CEO of Gamillah, Inc.

She considers her greatest masterpiece to be her Integrity candle. The inspiration for the fragrance was Cairo, where her mother grew up. Manuela went through 9 versions of the fragrance to get the Night Blooming Jasmine fragrance just right for her mother.

Thanks to Deb Roberto-Kelly of Ohio for submitting your question.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wicked Witch of the West

If the Voluspa Makassar Ebony & Peach candle is the good, Wicked Witch of the East, then the Black Forest Candle by Archipelago Botanicals is the Wicked Witch of the West. Where Voluspa takes deep ebony wood and balances it with juicy peach for a pampered stroll through the woods in an Alice in Wonderland carriage, Archipelago Botanicals speeds ebony wood over to the dark side.

The addition of the black currant in the Archipelago Botanicals Black Forest candle gives it a sharp bite. That tart accent mixed with bold Douglas Fir creates a fierce, unwavering combination that is unique and intriguing. A forest fragrance like no other.

The intense fragrance is matched with strong packaging - black container, seductive black wax and a silver box with a crocodile effect pattern. The AB signature badge seals the deal. It's Batman in candle form. Audacious, distinct and oh so sexy.

Fragrance intensity 3.5/5. Burn quality 3.5/5.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tunnel Vision

To try and prevent a candle from tunneling burn it for a long period of time the on the first burn. For a candle in a container, you want to try and get the entire top of the candle liquid wax. For a pillar candle, burn until the liquid wax it to 1/4" of the edge.

The first burn sets the stage for the life of the candle. The opening of the candle will almost never get larger than the size of the initial wax pool. On a standard size jar candle, if you only burn the candle for an hour on the first burn and create a 1" wax pool, you'll be left with a significant amount of hard, dry wax around the edge of the jar that will likely never melt. It generally takes 1 hour per inch in diameter. Try to burn the candle for long periods of time as often as you can after the initial burn to keep the candle from tunneling later.

Creating a candle that doesn't tunnel is a combination of many things. The quality and type of wax is one component. Some waxes melt easier and quicker than others but may not necessarily be the one that works best with the fragrance or that provides the best fragrance throw. Many candle lines use a blend of different waxes to get the right combination.

A significant factor in preventing tunneling is selecting the proper wick for the wax, fragrance and container. Votivo uses the same wax for every candle but adjusts the wick and the fragrance for the proper burn. The trick is to find the wick that provides a large enough flame to melt the wax without overpowering it or the container. A well crafted poured candle will burn level within 1 1/2 to 3 hours after lighting. The larger the container, the larger the challenge. Some candle lines are trickier than others. Rigaud is the easiest.

Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for the candle. They know their wick, wax and container best. If the instructions list to only burn for 3 or 4 hours at a time - there is a reason. Best to follow their specific instructions.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Votivo Amberwood Candle

Smoky tea notes mixed with ginger, French dianthus, patchouli and sandalwood.

I've never met such an angry candle as Votivo Amberwood. It seems like it's going to come out of the gate fighting. I'll admit, from the cold throw, I was a little intimidated to try it. I was afraid it was going to beat me up. Maybe it was the ginger growling at me. Or the dianthus coming at me like hair raised on the back of a dog with it's spicy daggers. Luckily for me, it warmed up and mellowed as it burned. The bark on this candle is definitely bigger than it's bite. It goes from Doberman to Beethoven pretty quickly.

The warm throw is much smoother than I would have guessed, but it still has an edge to it. Like it could attack at any time but it's comfortable just hanging out for now. This candle could warm you to the core even in Alaska. It feels like a long, hot soak in a jet tub.

Dianthus comes across like a mix between cinnamon and clove creating an aggressive spicy note. The ginger gives it a real kick creating a 1-2 punch with the spices. Patchouli and sandalwood bring the the fragrance down to earth but are indistinguishable to the overwhelmingly spicy aroma. I'm surprised that this power-packed combination of scents isn't overwhelming in fragrance. It filled the room perfectly without strangling me.

I can't figure out why it's called Amberwood. There doesn't appear to be any amber or wood in it and the description doesn't reverence being lost in a cabin in Amberwood State Park. I think I'd name it Spice Market or Black Clove. I couldn't find any tea in it either, though the candle would go very nicely with a steaming hot cup of tea on a brisk day. If you need to be warmed deep into your soul, this is your candle.

Fragrance intensity: 3/5. Burn quality 4/5.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Votivo Champaca Candle

Trudging through the rugged Himalayans on 15th day of the dark fortnight, the journeyman pauses to gaze at the black sky. The inspiring aroma of rare sandalwood inextricably interwoven with the scent of the delicate champaca petals soothes his weary soul as the whispering smoke of the nearby village ascends into the heavens.

Champaca is a fragrance that is spun so many different ways in home fragrance that it can be tough to identify. Tocca takes a tropical twist with champaca flowers in their Bali candle and tries to create an image of swaying palm trees and sandy beaches. Voluspa Champaca Bloom & Fern is a heady floral coming across mostly as gardenia. The fragrance of the Votivo Champaca candle seems, to me, to be them most true representation of the champaca flower.

The cold throw on this candle comes across very much like the Nag Champa by K. Hall. Very natural, grungy and earthy. I feared of being swallowed up in an gritty, spicy blend. A few hours after burning, however, I realized that wasn't the case at all. I was surrounded by an exotic, soft floral fragrance that is almost elegant. While the spicy aspect remained, the scent was very warm and rich.

There's a sweetness in the fragrance as well. If I stand very close to it, there's an almost caramelized brown sugar scent. It reminds me of toasted marshmallows by a campfire. The sweetness is lost in the room, but the smokiness from the fire remains.

Votivo Champaca is a very soothing, curious scent. While the Votivo Gingersnap candle we tried the other night was very jeans and t-shirt, Votivo Champaca is very hippie chic. Alternative, edgy, unique and happy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How Votivo Candles are Made

Votivo was acquired about 3 years ago by Grace Management Group. Many years ago, Bob Caldwell owned a bedding plant business with his wife. At a craft fair, his wife was so impressed with the amount of activity around one of the booths that she purchased the product and showed it to her husband. He recognized the material as scented vermiculite. Being in the bedding plant business, they had plenty of vermiculite on hand. They started making their own scented sachets to offset their seasonal plant business and their fragrance destiny was born. They created three fragrance businesses under the name of Grace Management: WillowBrook, Greenleaf and Bridgewater.

Having a nationwide sales force and a 300,000 square foot warehouse, they were looking to bring in another line that they could add to their distribution system. Votivo offered a luxury, high-end compliment to their exiting offering.

Votivo uses over 90% soy wax blended with other waxes for stability and rigidity so the candles don't melt while shipping. The wax is stored in containers in back of their factory. That way they can use the South Carolina heat to help keep the wax a 180 degrees to keep it from going solid in the tanks.

The wax is then brought into the factory in small batches and mixed with the fragrance oils. Votivo uses the same soy wax blend for every candle but they'll tweak the fragrance and the wick for the cleanest burn.

While the candles are not hand poured, Votivo candles are highly hand crafted as everything from that point on is done by hand. The wicks are centered on the bottom of the glass and then centered on the top. The wicks are trimmed to the perfect length and then the candles go under a heater to smooth out the tops of the candles.

All of the seals on a Votivo candle are threaded and pressed by hand. They are applied to the glass with glue and then secured with a light gun and the twine is trimmed by hand. All of the labels on the boxes and candles are applied by hand. Votivo candles are individually hand wrapped and trimmed before being placed in the box.

We were incredibly impressed with the amount of care that goes into creating a Votivo candle. We've always had a high respect for the Votivo brand, but after seeing the company and meeting the owners and the Votivo team, we left with an incredibly high regard for the business.

How Votivo Fragrances are Created

Trey Rollins, the Brand Manager for Votivo, starts all new fragrances with inspiration. Inspiration can come from his experiences, fragrance trends, voids in the current Votivo offering, and from other fragrances such as perfumes.

Trey creates a vision in his head of what he would like the new fragrance to resemble. He gathers pictures, photos and descriptions and creates a Fragrance Brief. The brief is submitted to the Votivo perfumer, Mike. Mike is IFF trained and he is also trained in Aromo Chemicals so he not only knows how to create a fragrance but also how the fragrance will react in the product.

Votivo has over 1,000 compounds in their library and they use, on average, 100 compounds to create a Votivo fragrance. Once the fragrance is created, it is submitted to the Votivo fragrance panel for review. There are approximately 25 people on the panel that rate the fragrance on a scale of 1 to 5. The fragrance has to score a 4 or higher overall to make it into the Votivo Collection.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Votivo Gingersnap Candle

A soul warming journey into the depths of comfort and relaxation, Gingersnap is a hearty blending of coarsely ground vanilla bean, steel cut brown sugar, and a dash of hand shaved nutmeg baked in a sun kiln oven to produce the best gingersnap cookies you've ever tasted.

We recently tried Votivo Gingersnap for the first time and we all fell in love. We had pumpkin whoopie pies for dessert and enjoyed this candle late into the night. A perfect way to welcome Fall weather.

Votivo Gingersnap is a delicious balance between not too sweet and not too spicy - leaning more towards spicy. The nutmeg gives it a slight edge that I like. It blends nicely with the vanilla bean and brown sugar to soften the sharp spiciness. When burning, the fragrance is just like the best gingersnap cookie you could imagine.

Votivo Gingersnap is relaxed and comfortable. It filled the room with fragrance without screaming at us or giving us a bellyache from sugar overload. I could live with this fragrance for hours.

Votivo Gingersnap is great anytime you are looking for an easy-going, reliable fragrance to warm you inside without smothering you in sweetness.

Fragrance intensity 4/5. Burn quality 4/5.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tocca Havana Candle

Havana's constant salsa rhythm moves you as you enjoy the sweet yet spicy mix of sugarcane and rum. Let the excitement of this adventurous Caribbean city envelope your senses.

I love the slightly sweet and exotic blend in the Tocca Havana candle. Again, I admire Tocca for creating a fragrance that isn't feminine. This is a fun unisex scent. The sweetness of the sugar cane blends with rum to create an intoxicating and alluring fragrance. Tocca Havana is a scent I can enjoy year round - in the summer it's fun and festive. In the winter is seductive and soothing. I enjoy this fragrance particularly late in the afternoon and evening when it's time to wind-down and relax.

This time of year, when the weather is cool, the Tocca Havana candle pairs well with my favorite drink, Winter Rum. We found it at The London Bar in NYC, owned by my #1 idol, Chef Gordon Ramsey. It's a blend of:
  • Montecristo Rum
  • Liquor 43
  • Fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Real Maple syrup
  • Lime juice
  • splash of Black Seal Rum on top
  • I add a whole clove. Dave likes to top it off with a whole star anise.

The drink is very similar to the candle - a slightly sweet blend of sugar and rum. Yum!

Fragrance intensity: 3/5. Burn quality 3.5/5.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tocca Stella SPF 30+ Sunscreen Wipes

It seems strange to be writing a blog post about sunscreen in October, but that is exactly when I need these on-the-go wipes - when least expected. There have been a couple of occasions when the weather has been just stunning and I was going to be in the sun longer than I intended. I love the Tocca sunscreen wipes because they are individually wrapped, so I can stick them in my purse or car and be ready to go at any time. My skin is so fair that I can't be in the sun unprotected. I hate wearing sunscreen so I only use it when required.

The Tocca Stella sunscreen wipes pack a lot of sunscreen! Enough to cover as much area as I need to or to share with my kids. It isn't too heavy or greasy and has a nice fragrance. I wish it was stronger in that fresh, Stella Blood Orange scent, but at least it doesn't smell like coconut or chemicals. SPF 30 is perfect for me. No worries in sun without overkill.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tocca 007 Leather Martini Candle

The 007 candle from Tocca infuses your living room with sparks of intrigue and desire. Encapsulated in the scent is the leathery interior of an Aston Martin and a dry Martini. A hint of mystery to stir curiosity, lavishly abundant in charm and ease.

Tocca 007 Candle
I appreciate that Tocca, such a feminine candle line, isn't afraid to offer a very masculine fragrance. 007 smells like rich, soft leather inside a luxurious car. I imagine myself finely dressed alongside a stunning date on our way to an exquisite event.

While leather isn't a scent for everyone, this candle is a great option for those looking for the perfect fragrance for a man cave. Tocca 007 offers the most pure, simplistic option for leather. Unfortunately, the martini is lost on me. I find that to sadly be the case with any liquor reference in a candle.

Most leather candles blend themselves into cologne, books, tobacco or wood. The ones that try to be pure leather often come across as cheap, nauseous leatherette. The Tocca 007 candle, however, comes across as fine leather, simply done.

Fragrance intensity 2/5. Burn quality 3/5.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tocca Home and Personal Fragrance Overview

In 1994 three friends got together to create an affordable clothing line that still had all the fashion and detail of designer clothing. They named the business TOCCA, after the Italian word for "touch" referring the the embellishments on the clothing.

Tocca Candles
Tocca beauty was launched in 1997 and started with a laundry delicate (that they are still well known for), their original solid perfume and a body product. The beauty division grew into several bath and body products and an extensive collection of candle fragrances.

Tocca Perfume
A few years ago Tocca launched their first eau de parfum in their leading fragrances - Cleopatra, Stella and Florence. While the Tocca body product fragrances match the candle fragrance, the perfume is an interpretation of the candle scent. They turned the home fragrance into a personal fragrance by adding deep base notes to extend the longevity of the fragrance on the skin. They also layered the fragrances more intricately for a more robust scent. Rather than make a room and/or body spray out of their home fragrance scents to compliment candle sales, they created a whole new category for them to really expand their offering. The result has been a tremendous success.

Tocca Perfume Gift Set
Tocca now offers their eau de parfum in 7 fragrances: Cleopatra (cucumber grapefruit), Stella (blood orange), Florence (floral), Brigitte (papaya ginger), Giulietta (apple tulip), Bianca (green tea lemon) and their newest launch, Colette (sandalwood vanilla). They also offer Cleopatra, Stella, Giulietta, Brigitte and Florence in a solid perfume option. I love the new perfume gift set that contains a mini version of Cleopatra, Stella and Florence. It's incredibly charming and very well priced.

Tocca is an excellent example of "If you're going to do it, do it right". They take their bath and body category very seriously and it shows. They are regularly featured in beauty magazines. Tocca created a true perfume rather than a body spray and it's paying off in their success. Tocca believes that small indulgences go a long way. Hopefully you'll have the pleasure in indulging in a Tocca product someday. As the inside of the box states, "Love yourself".

Tocca Giveaway Blog Question

One way to win a candle during Tocca giveaway week is by answering the question in this blog post. You have until Sunday, October 10th to post your comment. We'll select our favorite comment from the entries below and announce the winner on Monday, October 11th. Please check back to see if you won.

Tocca fragrances are inspired by classic movie icons and exotic locals. If you were to create a home fragrance line, what would be the theme of your fragrance collection?

The winner will receive a 10.6oz Tocca candle (retail value $36) in a fragrance of our choice. We'll ship the winning candle to any address in the continental US. Good luck!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tocca Colette Candle

Inspired by the French novelist and libertine, Colette, TOCCA's newest fragrance captures the seductive essence of a woman. Known for her romantic liaisons as much as her inspiring writing, Colette embodies the irresistible scent of a woman that lingers on the pillow long after she leaves. Warm, spicy and sweet, Colette is the perfect fragrance for the sensual woman in us all.

The weather is just getting cool so I'm gravitating more and more towards cozy, nurturing fragrances. Sandalwood and vanille work well for me so when I saw Colette I was drawn in from the start.

The eau de parfum has the following fragrance notes:
  • Top Notes: Bergamot, Mandarin, Lemon, Juniper Berry, Pink Peppercorn
  • Middle Notes: Jasmine, Violet, Cyclamen, Pine Needles
  • Bottom Notes: Incense, Musk, Sandalwood, Amber, Vanilla, Cedarwood
Tocca candles are not always a direct duplicate of the perfume, but rather an appropriate compliment. Typically the candles are a simplified version of the perfume, so I'm not sure of all the notes in the Tocca Colette candle. What I do know, is that I'm crazy about it. Really crazy. Ok, I'm addicted to it.

I tried Colette last night to start to get to know her. We were off to a good start but still warming up to each other. I tried Tocca Colette again all day while I was working and we started to connect. Tonight she is by my side again. I've never gone through a Tocca candle so quickly. I'm in heaven. We're BFFs.

The candle is exactly as it says -"Warm, spicy and sweet, Colette is the perfect fragrance for the sensual woman in us all." It isn't your typical sandalwood/vanille combination. It isn't heavy or too sweet. It does has a feminine quality to is. It's sensual, intriguing and curious. Is it the playful top notes of juniper berry and pink peppercorn that tease me? Maybe it's the pine needles leveraging my love for woody notes to make me weak in the knees. Just like a temptress, Colette draws me in, wanting more. Tocca Colette Eau de Parfum

Most sandalwood/vanille candles comfort me, wrapping me in a warm blanket. Sometimes they smother me. Colette, however, is tantalizing and seductive. Like a luxurious cashmere sweater. Soft, chic and elegant. She's surrounds me but lighter. More of a whisper. Sometimes she teases me and I have to find her. In the stairwell. Upstairs in the bedrooms. She's mysterious and I need more Colette candles to surround me in her sultry scent.

I highly recommend buying more than one of these candles or she'll leave you wanting more too. And I definitely need to get the perfume!

Fragrance intensity 3/5. Burn quality 3.5/5 - keep the wick trimmed.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thymes Indigenous Collection

The Thymes Indigenous Collection features rare and original fragrances rooted in diverse cultures and exotic locales from around the world.

Thymes Anjou VertThe Anjou Vert fragrance was inspired by the French countryside. It blends Anjou pears, rosebud petals, lilac and cyclamen blossoms with ginger, cinnamon and clove. The floral accents and spices compliment the pear. This is a very strong pear, sweet, fruity fragrance.
Thymes Blue Lotus is a very watery fragrance, great for gift-giving or for a fresh, easy-breezy scent. The inspiration for Blue Lotus comes from the Nile where arid land is transformed into a lush landscape. This fragrance blends blue lotus and water lily with amber and sheer, white musk. It is a light, simple scent that easily pleases.

I did a whole blog post on Thymes Malagasy Vanille - I love the scent so much. Malagasy Vanille is a great soothing scent. It blends Madagascar vanilla, creamy sandalwood, cinnamon bark, golden amber, bergamot, ylang and velvet musk. It warms me inside like a nice, hot toddy.

Tamarind Lychee blends white grapefruit, tamarind, lychee blossom and yuzu with ginger and smooth, creamy coconut milk. This is the most zesty fragrance in the group with yuzu and grapefruit coming across the most.

Neroli Blossom is a floral blend of neroli, gardenia and jasmine blossoms touched with vanilla. This is the most floral fragrance in the Thymes Indigenous Collection.

Thymes White Persimmon White Persimmon is a very fruity blend of white nectarine, pears, peaches, guava and sweet persimmons with a touch of vanilla. This is the most sweet/fruity candle in the Thymes Indigenous Collection.

Verbena Bamboo is a blend of tangelos, verbena, pamplemousse, peony and blue freesia against a backdrop of rare woods. The strongest scent in this candle is the verbena - coming across like a grassy lemon - very fresh and perfect for the kitchen.

These 9oz candles have a burn time of approximately 40 hours. Thymes candles burn cleanly and easily.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Main Event Episode 83 Thymes Bath & Body

Thymes has many bath & body collections that feature one fragrance. In each collection, they tailor the packaging and products to the fragrance. For example, Kimono Rose and Moonflower have rollerball perfumes to attract a younger audience while the Goldleaf perfume is in a feminine, traditional perfume bottle. The soap for Eucalyptus is glycerin and translucent for the shower while the soap for Kimono Rose and Goldleaf are packaged as a 2-bar gift box in a more dainty size for a powder room.

Thymes Goldleaf Perfume
TheThymes Goldleaf Collection is designed for a more mature audience with an old-fashionedfloral fragrance. Goldleaf has been in the Thymes offering for several decades. It has a loyal fan base and the packaging is lovely. The perfume bottle for Goldleaf is very feminine and the 2-bar soap set makes a perfect hostess gift.

Kimono Rose was created to attract a younger generation of floral fans. It's a flirty and fun floral and the rollerball perfume is great for young girls just getting into perfume or anyone that is looking for a playful scent. While light-hearted, Kimono Rose is highly fragrant in all products including the candle and body creme. I love how the packaging resembles origami.

Thymes Moonflower Rollerball PerfumeMoonflower is a charismatic amber fragrance with cinnamon, clove and sugared quince, myrtle leaves, rich mahogany, dark amber and smooth cognac. This is a great soothing and sensual fragrance. I love how the rollerball perfume and body lotion have a little bit of glitter. Nothing like a little shimmer and a sexy scent to make for a fun night.

Ambersweet Orange is a great gift-giving scent with it's nondescript, natural and light (and yet highly fragrant) scent. The bar soap and the candle have a beautiful pattern that are a perfect compliment to the fragrance - delicate and natural.

Thymes Eucalyptus Bar Soap
Eucalyptus is a highly requested fragrance by both men and women. Eucalyptus is tough to master, though, with most blends coming across too medicinal. Thymes Eucalyptus, however, is a beautiful blend accentuating the fresh eucalyptus without altering it. The bar soap is glycerin and translucent and perfect for the shower. The body lotion is emollient and vibrant.

The Thymes Naia Collection is a refreshing watery blend that works well as both a home fragrance and bath & body scent. Everything about this collection is simple, basic and pure - just like the look of the bar soap.
Thymes Agave Nectar Candle

The newest bath & body collection by Thymes is Agave Nectar. This is my absolute favorite Thymes bath & body fragrance across all product lines. The candle is fresh and clean for the kitchen. The room spray works well in your
vacuum for an instant room revitalizer while cleaning (thanks for the suggestion from our Facebook fan, Annie). I used the cologne frequently in the summer to feel bright and vibrant in the stifling summer heat. The Agave Nectar body lotion is moisturizing without being greasy or heavy and saved my arms from drying out over the summer. The bar soap is long lasting and wakes me up in the morning. I have the hand wash and lotion at my kitchen sink and love the fresh scent while I wash and it keeps my hands moisturized.

Thymes has found a way to master what very few fragrances companies manage to do - excel in both bath and body as well as home fragrance. Every fragrance and product is carefully crafted and pleases in both scent as well as performance.

Thymes Ambersweet Orange

The Thymes Ambersweet Orange fragrance is very curious, because it isn't overly amber, sweet or orange. Infact, the ingredients listed don't even include amber, so I'm not sure what they are referring to with "Ambersweet" in the name. The description reads "Delicate orange blossom, creamy almond milk, Tonka bean and vanilla swirl gently in the zest of nutmeg, sandalwood and cardamom. "

Thymes Ambersweet Orange CandleOrange is always tricky because most people immediately assume juicy orange or zesty orange. Orange blossom, however, is very floral. What I like about this candle is that it isn't overly floral. The creaminess of the almond milk and and sweetness from the vanilla come through to soften and mellow the floral from the orange. The spices are so subtle but add a little character to the scent. Sandalwood adds a nice earthiness to the candle to ground it without getting to heavy.

The Thymes Ambersweet Orange fragrance is a very nice, summertime fragrance. Neutral and soft. The fragrance works well in a lotion for a lighthearted, natural scent and the bar soap would be perfect in guest bath or as a hostess gift.
Thymes Ambersweet Orange Bar Soap
I love the pattern on the glass and on the soap. It is a perfect compliment to the fragrance - natural, feminine and delicate. While this fragrance doesn't stand up and take center stage, it does create a beautiful backdrop.

Fragrance intensity 4/5. Burn quality 4/5

Friday, October 1, 2010

Thymes Malagasy Vanille Candle

"Venture into uncharted territory, a place where the warmth and intensity of silken Madagascar Vanilla embraces notes of creamy sandalwood, cinnamon bark and golden amber, with a lush undercurrent of bergamot, ylang and velvet musk."

Finally, we have a nice, cool, Fall night. Perfect weather for the Thymes Malagasy Vanille candle. It's a yummy blend - soothing and relaxing. The vanilla, amber and musk blend seamlessly and come across like a nice hot toddy, warming me inside. The cinnamon bark adds a hint of spice bringing character to the fragrance and making it dramatically different than your common vanilla or amber candle but in the most subtle way. The bergamot and ylang are quiet but compliment the warmer scents nicely, creating a delicate balance and keeping the whole fragrance from becoming too heavy.

I could live with this scent for hours without growing tired or overwhelmed. It's like my dog, Lucy, at my side. Comforting me but not bothering me. It's just nice to know she's there, keeping me at ease.

Agave Nectar is my favorite spring/summer/bright/energizing scent from Thymes. This is definitely my favorite calming/soothing/fall/winter scent from Thymes. The individual ingredients are so common and yet come together in such a unique, comforting and delicious way.

Malagasy Vanille is part of the Indigenous Collection by Thymes. The Indigenous Collection features fragrances and cultures from around the world. When you can't afford to travel or don't have the time to get away, try and escape with an Indigenous candle by Thymes.

Fragrance intensity 4/5. Burn quality 4/5.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thymes Kimono Rose

"A sheer, sensuous floral heightened with effervescent clementine and voluptuous cassis on a creamy bed of satiny rose, peony and jasmine petals finished with a kiss of vanilla. Thymes Kimono Rose is a modern reflection of who you are, and who you want to be…all wrapped up in one truly lovely fragrance."

Thymes Kimono Rose CandleI really enjoy the Thymes Kimono Rose fragrance. I don't tend to like florals, but this one is fun and flirty. I like the blend of fruit and floral sweetened with a hint of vanilla. The rose blends nicely with peony and the jasmine accents the two well. It's a good balance between the fruit and the floral - neither dominate but rather play nicely together.

Thymes Kimono Rose Rollerball Perfume
The Thymes Kimono Rollerball Perfume is a lot of fun. My little daughter loves it and it smells amazing on her. A perfect, youthful fragrance for her or any woman that wants something uplifting.

Thymes Kimono Rose Body CremeThymes Kimono Rose body creme is wonderful. Very emollient without being greasy. I love the Kimono Rose soap set - 2 adorable round soaps in a box that is ready for gift-giving. Thymes has a way with packaging!

Don't get me wrong, as flirty and playful as the scent is, the fragrance is strong. You will definitely smell the lotion, perfume and candle. Thymes Kimono Rose Bar Soap Gift Set Candle fragrance intensity 4/5. Burn quality 4/5.

Enjoy Thymes Kimono Rose anytime you need to smile!

Meet The Maker - Stephanie Shopa of Thymes

We recently met with Stephanie Shopa, President and Co-Founder of Thymes. Stephanie started Thymes with her best friend when they were both in their 30's. As the company grew, her partner moved on and Stephanie continued to grow the business. Thymes now features candles, body lotion, perfume, hand soap and lotion, diffusers, bar soap, room sprays and more.

Congratulations to Jasmine Parks of Ca. You won a Thymes candle for the question you submitted for our Meet The Maker series.

This is the best article on the history of Thymes:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thymes Moonflower

The Moonflower candle by Thymes is a very comforting, soothing scent. It's a blend of cinnamon, clove and sugared quince with fresh myrtle leaves, rich mahogany, dark amber and smooth cognac. The amber and sugared quince come across the strongest, while the spices offer a soft background. Quince is typically very tart and piquant, as in Seda Japanese Quince and Voluspa White Currant Quince. The sugared quince in the Thymes Moonflower candle is definitely more sugar than quince though, for me, adding a sweetness fragrance. The amber calming and youthful. Also adding to the sweetness is the mahogany. It reminds me more of the sweet Nest Mahogany candle than a true woody scent. The overall effect is a very sensual fragrance that can be appreciated as a home fragrance as well as a personal fragrance.

I love the how the lotion and rollerball perfume have a hint of glitter to add shimmer. A fun surprise to a casual fragrance. Nothing like a little glimmer and sexy scent to make for an entertaining evening. This fragrance works well on a cool, rainy night to warm your soul. It's also perfect for fall or anytime you are looking for a cozy atmosphere or a romantic evening. Enjoy!
Fragrance intensity: 4/5. Burn quality: 4/5.