Friday, July 31, 2009

Vespertina Giveaway Winner!

Thank you to all those who stopped by this Illuminated Perfume journal to enter the opportunity to win a 1 gram bottle of the liquid botanical perfume and a mini of the new solid natural perfume of Vespertina.

I have meticulously gone through each entry and assigned a card from the red and blue decks.
The winner of the Vespertina Perfume Giveaway is the Queen of Clubs from the red deck. That card was assigned to Chelsey, whose favorite perfume family is Oriental. Congratulations Chelsey!!!

It was so interesting to read through all of the comments that mentioned your favorite perfume categories. I have made a list below of those categories and which Illuminated perfume would fit the category based on my opinion, those of critics, customers and friends. Please note some perfumes cross categories.

CITRUS: Blossom Cologne (New batch will be available soon!)
FLORAL: Rosa, Aurora Liquid+Solid, Lyra Liquid+Solid, Vespertina Liquid+Solid, Cimbalom
WOODY: Q Liquid and Solid, Chaparral
EARTHY: Terrestre Solid, Chaparral Liquid and Solid
SPICE: Sierra Solid
FRUITY: Sierra Solid
CHYPRE: Q liquid, GreenWitch (New batch will be available soon!)

I don't feel that I have any perfumes I could place in the Powder category, although GreenWitch and Q liquid have a Powder aspect to them. Some of the floral may move into Oriental, but, they are more Floriental than true Oriental.

Did I miss one or do you feel something could be different here? Please chime in, I love your feedback.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


On the tenth day of our visit in Ecuador our host Eduardo and his friend Daniel took us to the Hacienda St. Agustin just under the strato volcano Cotopaxi. We took so many photos on this day that I am going to publish this excursion in a few parts.

Like many of our excursions in Ecuador the directions our drivers had were not the kind of directions we, as Americans with Mapquest, are use to. The trend was to ask a pedestrian or a service station attendant for help if the going got tough. (Which it usually did.) The trip to the hacienda was one such trip, complicated by the fact that everyone seemed to have rather vague and somewhat conflicting directions.

We finally did arrive at the Hacienda, via a very bumpy road off the main highway. We all gleefully piled out of the car to crisp, fresh mountain air. I was immediately transported to my childhood trips snow skiing in the Andes. Indeed, here we were in the Andes, albeit a different area within the vast, continuous range that extends into seven countries within South America.

Rising 19,347 ft above sea level, Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. The volcano was featured in a painting by American Artist Federic Edwin Church. (Pictured below)

The Heart of the Andes, (above) painted by Church in 1859, currently hangs at the Tenth Street Studio of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Here is a paragraph from Wikipedia describing the unveiling of the painting:

"Church unveiled the painting to an astonished public in New York City in 1859. The painting's frame had drawn curtains fitted to it, creating the illusion of a view out a window. The audience sat on benches to view the piece and Church strategically darkened the room, but spotlighted the landscape painting. Church also brought plants from a past trip to South America to heighten the viewers' experience. The public were charged admission and provided with opera glasses to examine the painting's details. The work was an instant success. Church eventually sold it for $10,000, at that time the highest price ever paid for a work by a living American artist."

Regrettably, during our visit in the Quito region, Cotopaxi was veiled by clouds whenever we had our cameras ready to photograph the massive giant.

All photographs are ©Villa-Spalenka. Paintings by Federic Edwin Church are in the public domain.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Equus caballus

The most Equine, horse-like, fragrance note in my palette as a natural, botanical perfume artist is Amberi Attar. Other notes that impart an overall impression of horse are those found in the following groups: leather, agrestic, grassy, coumarin, balsamic and animalic.

The perfume I am developing with Michelyn Camen based on my birthplace of Buenos Aires, has an Equine accord. I created the accord to weave in the hay notes of the Pampas and an important part of Argentina's rich history and culture.

Originally when I began this perfume several years ago I was focused on incorporating the rich, earthy aspect of the Pampas. As I teamed up with Michelyn and thought about the concept being focused on Buenos Aires and A Tale of Two Cities I expanded the idea. The Equine accord extends the reach a bit more and incorporates the game of polo, which Argentina dominates as the World Champion since 1949.

The history of polo stems from the same region as that of perfume. The excerpt below is from a the Argentina Polo website: (Originally published in, from: The Vancouver Sun)

"The King of Games"
Let other people play at other things.

The King of Games is still the Game of Kings.

This verse, inscribed on a stone tablet beside a polo ground
South of the fabled silk route from China to the West, sums up the ancient history
of what is believed to be the oldest organized sport in the world

The name for this accord is Equus caballus. The notes of this accord will appear predominantly in the base with the notes from the Fruit accord making an appearance more in the heart and top notes of the fragrance.

Read more about the upcoming perfume with the theme of Buenos Aires here at these links:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Vespertina Giveaway

In honor of this new expression of Vespertina™ we are doing a Perfume Giveaway! Enter for your chance to win your very own 1 gram liquid perfume with a solid mini.

How to enter:
1) Leave a comment on this Illuminated Perfume journal with your name, e-mail address and favorite perfume category: floral, spice, oriental, etc.

For extra entries:
2) Follow this Illuminated Perfume blog. (1 extra)
3) Tweet the giveaway on Twitter. (1 extra)
4) Blog or post on Facebook about this giveaway. (1 extra)
5) Post a link to this giveaway on your blog. (1 extra)
6) Go over to my Illuminated Perfume shop at Etsy and tell me what your favorite item is or what you'd like to see added. (1 extra)
7) Buy something from my Etsy shop (each $25 purchase counts for 2 extra entries)
8) If you purchase Vespertina solid and mention what you liked most about it on a blog, forum (Basenotes, MakeUpAlley, Perfume of Life, etc.) you get 2 extra entries.
9) Join the fan page on Facebook (1 extra)

If you do 2-9, please let me know so I can count each of your entries separately. Also provide me with the links to your activities. One comment with all your activities is sufficient.

More fine print, learned along the way
1. If we cannot contact you we will give your prize away to someone else.
2. Each entry is assigned a card from a red and blue deck, I then have a handy family member pick a card a winner and a runner up if the winner cannot be located.
4. If you have won the Artist Feature and Giveaway in the past you may enter again.

The deadline for entering is Wednesday, July 29 at 10pm (PST)
The winner will be contacted privately and announced via Twitter and the Blog on Thursday, July 30th.

Ready, set, GO!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vespertina Solid Perfume

"Knowest thou the land, where the lemon trees bloom,
Where the gold orange glows in the deep thickets gloom,
Where a wind ever soft, from the blue heaven blows,
And the groves are of laurel and myrtle and rose."
~ Goethe

The summer of 2007 marked the release of Vespertina™ Perfume in a liquid format. Two years later, on a very auspicious July 22nd, I introduce to you Vespertina™ as a solid perfume. On July 22nd there will be a total eclipse of the Sun with a length of duration of six minutes. July 22nd is also the day the Sun moves into Leo and the feast day of Mary Magdalene. All this provides a nice energetic blueprint for debuting Vespertina in her new attire.

The composition of the perfume is very similar to that of the liquid, containing essences associated with heightened consciousness like sandalwood and frankincense. The floral bouquet at the heart which bridges from base to middle is created with roses, jasmines and lotus. For the head notes spice is melded with citrus producing an opening similar to the liquid version yet with some differences as well. The solid perfume layers beautifully over the liquid perfume.

The aromatic synergy is completely plant based including: barks, flowers, fruits, leaves, resins, roots, seeds and woods. There are twenty botanical essences total in this formula. The base ingredients for the solid perfume are organic golden jojoba oil and pure beeswax. The beeswax is the only item in this fragrance that is non botanical.

Since the epic tale of Vespertina has a back story of her romance with the young knight Dante I added essences that have been c-distilled and attars. These components bring one essence that is the marriage of two separate parts, like Vespertina and Dante.

Vespertina is categorized as a floral perfume moving into the terrain of wood and oriental. Thus the dominant theme is romantic floral, with woody and oriental aspects peeking through.

Read reviews of Vespertina in the liquid format by following these links:
Scent Hive & Sniffapalooza
Fragrance Bouquet

To read where the inspiration for this perfume came from, please follow this link here at the our illuminated perfume journal.

Vespertina is available as a solid mini or within an antique finished compact clothed in her signature burgundy, heirloom pouch, available exclusively at my E-shop which can be easily found by entering Vespertina into the search with "This Shop" selected.

Stay tuned for a giveaway beginning Wednesday, July 22nd here at this journal.

The artwork for Vespertina has been created by Greg Spalenka:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Indigenous: Part Two

After our visit of the Cochasqui pyramid site we headed North toward Otavalo, set in a valley surrounded by three volcanoes Imbabura, Cotacachi and Mojanda. On Saturday is the infamous outdoor market with the indigenous OtavaleƱos, famed for their textiles.

From seventy surrounding villages nearby native people come to this market and sell their beautiful handmade wears. Besides the large central square titled "Plaza de Ponchos" artisans have set up their booths on all the side streets radiating out from the square. It was one of these little side streets that Maria dropped Eduardo, Greg and myself off, to our regret in the midst of a downpour. We ignored the rain as best we could and began walking the labyrinth.

Exquisite tapestries, woolens, table clothes and clothing in brightly colored hues vied for your attention. Eventually we hooked up with our other clan, Eve, Ivan and his savvy sister.

Thank goodness that most of the items were not in my color palette, or else I would have spent a fortune! I made out with a gorgeous, alpaca poncho and a detailed embroidered teal purse for myself. Most of the time I was assisting Eve and Greg with finding items in their colors and patterns. Eve was the most fortunate since items in her brightly hued palette were there in abundance.

At one point Greg brought me over the the "food" area where vendors sold an array of items including spices, herbs, ice cream and a host of local food. Eve was a little freaked from one booth with a hanging pigs head, so we moved on.

We ate a late lunch/early dinner at a little cafe called Buena Vista, meaning Good View, indeed the view of the market below was terrific. While Greg and Eduardo made inquiries over some supposed "pre-Columbian" artifacts, Eve and I ordered a vegetable lasagna, salad and fresh lemonade. By the way, the lemonade in Ecuador is spectacular.

Something about the town and the market reminded me of San Telmo in Buenos Aires. Perhaps because San Telmo has a large antique market in an old central square lined with cafes? That must be it, because the color, architecture and items for sale have nothing in common with the antique marketplace in San Telmo.

We all piled back into the cars and headed toward Quito, where another adventure awaited us in the morrow.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Indigenous: Part One

The sun, the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago
... had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands.

~Havelock Ellis, The Dance of Life, 1923

The number nine in Hinduism is revered and considered divine because it denotes completion. Three times three equals nine. On the ninth day of our extra-ordinary adventure in Ecuador we we were awaiting Eduardo and Maria who were taking us to visit some ancient pyramids (Part One) and the renown marketplace at Otavalo (Part Two). Greg was looking forward to the pyramids while Eve and I were anxiously awaiting the treasures to be found at the Saturday market. Ivan, a fellow instructor at the University arrived first with his pretty sister.

Soon we were all assembled out front of the hotel and piled into the two small SUV's for our adventure. The North-east journey featured diversity as we left behind the city and entered in dry, arid mountainscapes. After a dusty and very bumpy ride we arrived at Cochasqui, a pre-Columbian and pre-Incan site of fifteen pyramids and twenty one burial tombs. Our guide was an elderly gentleman who was part of the original archaeological excavation of the site in the 1960's and seemed to have a deep connection to this sacred place. The pyramids are now covered by earth mounds with only a few segments visible to the eye.

Controversy exists as to whether Cochasqui was a strategic military site, an astronomical center of observation, a ceremonial-ritual center or a home compound center for native elites. Most likely it may have been a bit of all of these. The ruins date back to 950AD with the Quitus Cara tribe. According to our guide the civilization was matriarchal. Indigenous people tell the story of a white woman by the name of Quilago, the White Warrior Woman, who led the Cara (Caranqui) Indians against attacks by Incan warriors.

The site is located at the equator, a powerful point of energy, where every summer solstice shamans gather for Cochasqui Wilka Kuti. A ceremony more ancient than the pyramids themselves.

Llamas joined us as we walked with our guide to the first pyramid he selected to begin the formal discourse of our tour. The view of valley and far off volcanoes is breathtaking, although a bit disheartening to hear that at one time this dry arid land was a thriving rain forest. What's up with humans turning the rain forest into deserts, will we never learn? To make matters worse, non-native Eucalyptus trees have been planted. Although pretty in the landscape the Eucalyptus trees add to the drying of the land and make the soil un-hospitable to other plants, especially natives.

As mentioned above there are fifteen pyramids and twenty one burial tombs. One of the burial tombs contains over 500 skulls where another contains a full skeleton. One report claims that the skeleton was of a 6ft tall human.

Covered excavations sites show that the pyramids were stepped. The archaeological dig begun in the 60's barely scratched the surface of the history buried here in Cochasqui. Although the Ecuadorian government is not funding more excavation, perhaps a group of students from the UCLA archeology department will come and take on the task.

At the top of one pyramid are two observation sites that were utilized to track the stars using a huge sun dial. The sun dial originally was one solid piece, roughly 25 feet in diameter and one foot thick. The archaeologists have determined that this type of clay has to be cooked at 2300 degrees to set in one large piece as the one here at the site. Above you can see a photo of the excavated sun dial, a rectangular well for water was utilized as a reflecting pool. Just beyond the sun dial is a lunar dial. These dials were constructed in perfect alignment, like Stonehenge, for tracking the Summer Solstice and Winter Equinox. The area is covered to protect the water sensitive clay from erosion due to heavy rainfall.

As we meandered toward the trail that would take us to the Museum, our guide decided that Greg needed a cleansing to clear some negative energy. Thus three different herbs were selected and Greg was swatted with these in sequence. In the end he was given a cluster of a yellow flowered herbs to place under his bed in the shape of a pyramid.

The energetics of the place is truly magnificent, an underlying peace and clarity was quite palatable to both Greg and I.

"There is a mystical aura to this place located high in a barren Andean plateau and directly under the equatorial path of the sun. This mysticism comes from the ancient history of a peoples whose past is represented in the form of the pyramids whose shapes eerily penetrate the collective conscious of the observer. In addition, the vast and unrelenting passage of time, is represented here by the surrounding and watchful Andes and the vegetation coverage of the pyramids. The pyramids hint at our own individual and cultural transience and the immortality of natural history, of which human history is just a part." ~ Quote from Pyramids of Ecuador

All the photos were taken by myslef and my daughter Eve ©RoxanaVilla.

Friday, July 17, 2009


On the eighth day of our Ecuadorian adventure Eduardo took us over to the Botanical Gardens of Quito. This had been suggested to us by the Botany teacher at the University while we conversed on the subject of perfume and the Amazon.

The Jardin Botanico de Quito offers a stunning display of plants encompassing all the varied eco-systems of Ecuador as well as plants from other parts of the globe. A very informed and patient guide took us around the large 18,600 meter area including three greenhouses. The main attraction is the "orchidarium" of approximately 1,500 square meters. Ecuador contains more than 3,500 orchid species and is growing steadily. The highlight for me was seeing a very special vine, one of the most ancient members of the flowering family of orchid plants, Vanilla.

Pictured above is the Vanilla Orchid, below is a plant that, judging by the visual aspect, appears to be connected with film maker Tim Burton.

Here are some photos from the Medicinal Herb and Native Food Gardens.

Mint above and Artemisia below,

Amaranth, below

Tomato Tree Fruit, below

and the Lantern plant in the two photos below.

Although Roses are not native to America they grow extremely well in Ecuador
and have become one of the major commodities.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Oaky Scent of Philanthropy

"Immediately upon entering her house, your nose is filled with an indulgent spectrum of aromas. Verdant, musky, sweet smells enter your senses, encouraging you to breathe deeply. This is the home of Roxana Villa..."

Read the rest of this article written by an expert word smith and a fellow devotee of the flora and fauna of Planet Earth, Megan Walla-Murphy in the Topanga Messenger.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Peace Perfume: Packaging

I have a few samples of the pouch for the Peace Perfume that I'd like to share with you all. We decided to choose a color from the beautiful image that Greg created with Romio Shrestha. It was important that the color was also part of the palette utilized for the branding of Roxana Illuminated Perfume. In the end we choose a burgundy tone that is a bit brighter than the one we use for Vespertina.

Besides the color we needed to consider the top edging on the pouch and the design elements. Below you will see two variations we are considering. The first is a simple pouch with a ruffle top utilizing a small copper Buddha head for the closer. The second is a bit more elaborate pouch with ruffles and a bronze peace sign. We also have an Aum sign as a potential alternate.

Which do you like the best? I've created a poll to get some feedback, please respond so that we can get a sense of what the general favorite is. If you have other suggestions feel free to leave your remarks in the comment section of this post. Read more about the botanical perfume I am creating for Project Peace on Earth here.

Thank you, your feedback is really valuable. I will post the results from the poll next week, for now they will remain hidden so as not to influence your vote. The debut date for this botanical perfume devoted to Peace is set for sometime in August.


One of our favorite foods discovered in Ecuador is their Locro. Locro is a soup made with Ecuadorian potatoes which are yellow, cheese and fresh avocado. In Argentina we have a version of Locro but it is more like a stew, made with corn and meat instead of the Ecuadorian vegetarian version.

Here is a recipe which I adapted from

  • Oil or butter - 1/4 cup
  • Onion, minced - 1/2
  • Garlic, minced - 3-4 cloves
  • Potatoes, peeled and diced - 1 1/2 to 2 pounds
  • Water or stock - 4 cups
  • Milk - 1 cup
  • Salt and pepper - to taste
  • Muenster, queso fresco or mozzarella cheese, cut into pieces or shredded - 1 cup
  • Fresh avocado, peeled and sliced length-wise- 1 to 2
Begin by adding your butter or oil to a large soup pan and warmly it slightly, add the minced onion until translucent and then the minced garlic. After just a minute or so add the water or stock and the potatoes. Once the potatoes have softened add the milk followed by salt and pepper to taste. At this stage you can mash up the potatoes or not. I had it both ways while visiting Ecuador, it really comes down to personal taste.

In the soup bowl place some of the cheese in the bottom of the bowl and ladle the soup on top.
Then arrange fresh cut slices of avocado on top.


Monday, July 13, 2009

The Night Watchman

While in the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle I picked up some Guayusa leaf tea, among other treasures. I became intrigued by the plant while visiting with a Kichwa Indian woman who had rolled the leaves and strung them her herbal shop.

The main property of Guayusa, Ilex guayusa, is as a mental and physical stimulant like Mate, Ilex paraguariensis, in Argentina. Other benefits of the tea include fat burning and metabolim boosting properties. The tea may bring facilitate the recall of dreams as well as produce about lucid dreams. I can personally attest to these properties. If drank in high quantities it may bring on hallucinations and is often mixed with Ayahuasca.

The guayusa I obtained was from a small, organic farm where a variety of plants are grown for medicinal preparations. I had a very special bound with the Kichwa Indian woman who shared her wisdom with me and look forward to one day seeing her again.

Guayusa is referred to as the Night Watchman or Watchman because of it's stimulating affect as well as it's ability to make us conscious while dreaming.