Thursday, December 25, 2008

Organic Alba Rose Hydrosol

Rosa damascena var. Alba is a descendant of the ancient apothecary rose, Rosa gallica. Used for centuries for skin care, it is lovely just sprayed on the face and body after a shower, or sniffed to be enjoyed anytime to refresh and lighten your spirit. It blends beautifuly into lotions and creams during the "water phase". Mix with some clay for a facial mask, and spritz some hydrosol on after you remove the mask because it's a wonderful toner for your skin, balancing the sebum production.

I love to spray it on my face and pillows before bedtime because it is so soothing and relaxing. I also put a teaspoon in some water for a delicate rose-scented drink. You may add it to coffee or tea, also. Cooking with rosewater is common in the Middle East, and delicious sweets incorporate this natural hydrosol. I just mix some in vanilla cake icing for the lovely flavor it imparts, or sprinkle some over cut orange or melon slices. Yum!

In perfumery, it can be used in place of water when you are creating Eaux de parfums, Eaux de toilettes or colognes. It's a thrifty way to add some rose scent to the fragrance. Some who wish to avoid alcohol use it as a "water perfume" either by itself, or in a blend with neroli, frankincense or other hydrosols. It can be sprayed on the skin or clothing. It will last longer on clothing, up to a few hours.

Organic Rose Alba Hydrosol - 白玫瑰水 - Intense, spicy, vibrant yet with an innocent and pure fragrance like no other rose - this hydrosol is an indulgence and a necessity if you like pure and natural fragrance materials. Strong enough to be used as a raw material in perfumery, this certified Bulgarian hydrosol provides a true rose scent often found to be elusive in perfume. Limited quantity, fresh from the 2008 distillation.

Click here to place your order.

Monday, December 1, 2008

CZ Luxe New Web Site - Free Shipping!

Today I am officially unveiling the new web site for my CZ Luxe product line!

To celebrate the new site and Cyber Monday we are offering the following shipping specials this week only:

Free domestic shipping on all orders of $45 or more placed on the CZ Luxe web site!

$5.00 off international shipping on all overseas orders of $45 or more placed on the CZ Luxe web site!

Domestic customers - simply enter the coupon code: believe in the voucher space during checkout to apply the discount.

Overseas customers - simply enter the coupon code believe-intl in the voucher space during checkout to apply the discount.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Perfume of the Gods

Last night I decided to pull out some of my most precious aromatic materials to make special little incense balls.

The formula included Baieido's Sandalwood & Excellent Jinko (very high grade woods from Japan), Powdered Cinnamon, Ground Ambrette Seed, a few other aromatics and some Makko for binding.

To that was added a bit of honey, Orange Blossom Hydrosol, chants of a Gardnerian High Priestess and enough water to stir it up into into a clay like consistency.

From there all I had to do was roll it into little balls, let them dry overnight and now I have yummy incense that is very easy to burn on the little Japanese bamboo charcoals.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Soufflé of Life

It came to me today that life is a lot like baking a soufflé (I feel like Forrest Gump's mom ;). I have been graced with (or attracted if you will) all of the ingredients that I need in my life to make something fabulous, but received no recipe. It is up to me to figure out how to organize these ingredients, prepare them, combine them, add the proper amount of heat, get the timing all right and enjoy a divine experience as the result.

Soufflés can be tricky. The blended ingredients that are placed into the oven are not yet a soufflé. Trust has to be placed in the oven that it will work its magic on the mix. Having patience to not peek in the oven before it is ready is one of the most essential actions (or lack of actions) to not sink a soufflé! This is true for life as well. Taoists call it Wu Wei ( 无为 - wúwéi ).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's a Keeper!

I love my Keeper! It is a reusable menstrual cup. I've used it for over 15 years now. In all that time, between it and my Glad Rags, I've not had to buy disposable "feminine protection" (needing specifically "protection" is a throwback concept from the days when menstrual blood was deemed as powerful and dangerous ;).

The average woman will dispose of about 12,000 pads and/or tampons over the course of her childbearing years. Disposable menstrual products take up a larger volume in landfill than disposable diapers (which BTW I also cloth diapered both of my children). Also their manufacture uses many trees and releases toxic chemicals into rivers and oceans. Disposable tampons and pads are by far the most common menstrual management items. The majority of women believe they are the only choices available, but there are other alternatives, closely matched in convenience level to disposables, which and are far more healthy for the ladies themselves and Mother Nature as well.

The Keeper, The Keeper Mooncup and The Diva Cup are all reusable menstrual cups with similar designs. They have all the convenience of a tampon without the paper/fiber waste and issues that tampons can have - such as being overly absorbent. In sharp contrast, some may remember the disposable cup called "Instead", which was a horrible product and in no way compares to the other 3 cups I mentioned!

I encourage every woman to look into the alternatives to disposable products for her "lady's time" needs. I also recommend the book Her Blood Is Gold by Lara Owen and The Museum of Menstruation web site.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Salt, pepper, rosemary, ginger .. soothing muscles or seasoning chicken ?

I've been stretching a lot and practicing some new "stuff" in Kung Fu (I am training in Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong). It has me rather sore in several places.

A few arnica tablets, a good soak in a rosemary and eucalyptus salt bath, followed by a rub made from an essential oil blend of black pepper, fresh ginger and rosemary diluted to 2% in a base of arnicated oil, and of course, proper rest, should do the trick.

Incidentally, that same EO blend, diluted to 2-5% in olive oil instead of arnicated oil (which is NOT edible) makes a great seasoning for chicken!

Rosemary can be a bit too stimulating for some at night, so that should be taken into consideration when making a muscle rub blend for evening use. For me, it is not usually an issue. I have no doubts that rosemary oil or not, I shall sleep well tonight and have dreams filled with symbols and insights :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Jewelweed .. not bleach

I know that for folks reading this in many parts of the US, poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) isn't something they are necessarily thinking about, as the leaves have fallen and the gardening work has trickled to a minimum. But in my part of the country (gulf coast Texas), the growing season is still going strong, so its on my mind. Also, don't let Autumn and Winter lull you into a sense of security when it comes to poison ivy. The presence of urushiol (a chemical irritant present in the sap) is not limited to fresh ivy leaves. It is found in the dried leaves, and throughout the plant, even during the dormant season. It also sticks to clothes and pet fut, so a romp in the woods, or late season clean ups of the yard can end with a rash.

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensisis) is Mama Nature's soothing answer to Poison Ivy's vicious wrath. Chlorine bleach is NOT! I bring this up because apparently the "home remedy" of dousing one's already ivy irritated skin with a toxic chemical and known dermal irritant is very common, and not just limited to experimentation by total dumbasses either. Even one of the smartest cookies I know was masochistic enough to do that to his poor skin (names have been removed to protect the goofy ;). Words to the wise .. never put salt in your eyes (or was it always put salt in your eyes? ;) and never put chlorine bleach on your skin, especially irritated and/or broken skin {grinz}. (Yeah, I'm going to give him a bit of grief here and there about that one for the rest of this lifetime - tee hee)

Easy Wildflowers sells jewelweed transplants in springtime to grow in the garden.

The Wildman Steve Brill has a great site for information on wild foraging for jewelweed (and other plants).

Herbs Etc of New Mexico carries a great spray called Ivy Releaf. Do a Google search to find other resources for already made jewelweed soaps, salves and sprays.

It is really something worth having in the home if there is any chance of exposure to poison ivy, any time of the year.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Saliva and aromatic chemicals

I remember in elementary school learning about Helen Keller. Someone posed the question to the class "which one of your senses would you give up if you had to?". Unlike everyone else, my answer was NOT taste or smell, and I suppose it is not coincidental that in my adult life I use my nose professionally and I almost chose a career as a chef.

This morning I was reading about how bacteria in saliva can turn odourless sulphur-containing compounds from fruit and vegetables into aromatic chemicals called thiols and how they plan on using this bacterial action to flavor foods.

See the NewScientist article: For tastier food, just add bacteria

Have a gastronomical weekend!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Camphorous incense for the Full Moon

I so very much enjoy making incense. Grinding the herbs, blending the oils .. it brings me back to the days of working at Enchantments in NYC's East Village/Lower East Side.

Today is the Full Moon, and I have a been smoldering a variety I call Luna Piena (that means Full Moon in Italian). It is a particularly camphorous concoction, laden with high cineol rosemary, borneo camphor crystals, sandalwood, juniper berries and oil, etc.

Enjoy the full moon tonight! I absolutely will be, with a vase full of fresh flowers from my subtropical garden.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Ok, so when last I blogged I mentioned that I was making Echinacea and Goldenseal tinctures, and then proceeded to only discuss the Echinacea, so today its Goldenseal's turn!

Along with Echinacea, Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) root tincture is another staple in my medicine cabinet. As with synthetic anti-biotics, this is not one to be used frivolously, both for health reasons, but also because it is in many cases being over harvested and in a non sustainable manner, which is leading to potential problems for the future of the species. Also, overuse is waste and waste is unnecessary! Never does it do any good (there's my lecture for the day ;) .

Goldenseal roots have traditionally been used for used by Native Americans to wash the local areas of wound as well to improve appetite and digestive problems including diarrhea, mucous membrane inflammation of the digestive tract and liver disorders. Additionally it has historical use in treatment of skin and eye inflammations (combined with marshmallow root for the latter).

I personally use it externally in salve for wounds and for internal infections. Unlike its synthetic counterparts, it does not kill all of your friendly bacterial flora and tear apart your gut.

In my humble opinion it is certainly a botanical worth researching and deciding if it is something that could be beneficial in your own medicine cabinet! I warn you though, it is very bitter tasting. Capsules are preferred by some.

Goldenseal - Grieve's Modern Herbal

Goldenseal Cultivation

University of Maryland - Goldenseal

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Echinacea and Goldenseal Tinctures

'Tis the season to make medicinal tinctures. Today I started fresh batches of Echinacea (E. angustifolia) root and Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) root tinctures. They will be ready in several weeks.

Long known to herbalists, Echinacea has in modern times been shown in scientific studies to boost immunity, help the body fight colds, infection, and many other things that may ail ye. It is a staple in my home.

I find it very comforting to be able to simply grow this lovely plant species (that makes for great cut flowers too) in my garden, powder the root, and steep it in Everclear (grain alcohol) to produce a powerful medicine with a long shelf life for myself and my family.

Next blog - Goldenseal.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Recycling is an art - Part II

The family of creatures made from 100% trash and hot glue has grown considerably in the past week. I had several pipettes with a few residual drops of aromatic oils in them and scented the garden scrap portions of these miniature sculptures, so they are wonderful smelling too! All are going to new homes for Samhain!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Aloe Vera - Flora From Eden

Last night I was reminded of two things;
one - hot glue is called hot for a good reason &
two - Aloe Vera is indispensable to have in every home. Obviously they were related thoughts!

I burnt my thumb with hot glue. After cooling it under cold water I broke off a piece of my Aloe Vera plant, sliced it legthwise, wrapped it around the already forming blister and lightly secured the leaf to my finger. I changed the dressing before bed, making a poultice of fresh Aloe Vera Gel, German Chamomile essential oil and High Altitude Lavender Essential oil. Today I do still have a blister, but it doesn't hurt one little bit even.

Ancient Lore says that the Aloe Vera plant grew in the Garden of Eden. I don't doubt it one bit!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Of petrified feces and ancient jellied urine

I'm sure that for more than a few of you my title conjures some interesting sensations, visually and olfactorily. What I am referring to there is a natural aromatic material known as Africa Stone or Hyraceum.

It is, quite frankly, crystallized and petrified fecal and urine pellets (and it smells like it) from the Hyrax, or Dassie - a very interesting small mammal that resides in Africa and apparently happens to be the closest living relative to elephants, even though they are only the size of overgrown guinea pigs.

It takes centuries for a colony of Hyrax using the same "community outhouse" per se to produce a large mound of hyraceum. It is recorded that some hyraceum dates back well over 10,000 yrs, but that it can also be produced in a shorter time (centuries rather than millennium) due to the very dry climate of that region.

This petrified and even fossilized material is used in perfumery as a substitute for other musky animal notes such as civet or deer musk, which are obtained in manners that are ethically questionable and/or unacceptable to many modern perfumers and consumers.

"Why would anyone want to use this kind of material in perfumery?" one may ask. First off let me say that this is the type of aromatic that is used highly diluted to begin with and then only in small amounts in the total blend.

Secondly, as with cooking, there are times that an ingredient may not be something you want to eat concentrated, in quantity, or stand alone (i.e. anchovies) but in a small amount adds wonderful flavor and depth to the dish (i.e. Ceasar salad dressing, which contains anchovies).

Then we can sum it up in more "primal" terms - including words like pheromones and instinctual biological olfactory affinities hardwired into our brains from the beginning of time to promote sexual attraction and species reproduction.

A little dab'll do ya (but not straight up .. then you'll just smell like a NYC subway restroom ;)

My Happy Little Global Blog! :)

Wow! I am humbled looking at my October blog stats and seeing that just in this month alone I have readers throughout the US and in over 30 countries including:

Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chez Republic, China, Columbia, Croatia, Cyprus, Dominica, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jamaica, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Senegal, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom, etc ...

Thanks for reading, everyone! :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ginger and Rebellious Stomach Qi

The other day I awoke feeling nauseated (and before anyone asks, no, I am not currently with child ;).

My many years of exposure to, and training with, herbs has taught me that fresh ginger (生姜 sheng jiang) is absolutely one of the best remedies for such matters.

Sniffing fresh ginger essential oil, sipping warm fresh ginger tea and getting some extra rest greatly improved how I was feeling.

Let's hear it for ginger and its ability to, in the stomach, sink what Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to as rebellious Qi (he wei jiang ni) a.k.a. vomiting!


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Nocturnal Olfactory Stimulation Influences Dreams

Carl Gustav Jung said "The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach."

Dreams fascinate me. I have found that burning certain incense can influence the intensity and general theme of my dreams, so I was quite interested to read about the research below.

German researchers have used specific volatile odorants with a negative or a positive smell ("rotten eggs" versus "roses") to stimulate subjects during sleep ... this is the first valid study that documents the impact of olfactory function on dreams ...

The outcome, not too surprisingly, was that people tend to have more pleasant dreams when smelling the more pleasant odor.

Read the full story here: Science Daily

I look forward to diffusing a variety of oils in my sleeping quarters and see what I dream up! I personally, at times, experience very vivid dreams with all my senses involved, including scent. It'll be neat to observe whether or not the scents I diffuse will affect the scents I perceive in my dreams.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Recycling is an art

The creatures in the pictures are sculptures that I recently created. They remind my roommate of Skeksis from the Dark Crystal. I concur, finding them to be a more of a sparrow like relative of the Skeksis. I've made these two so far. They were each made from recycled materials including mussel shells (kitchen scraps), dried canna flower parts (garden scraps), copper trimmings and pieces of silk (scraps from other art projects).

With a little imagination, recycling can be not only good for the environment, but it can also be fun and artistic, which is good for the psyche and soul! These are great little trinkets to make and give to my friends for Halloween!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sniffing the Rosemary

I've been suffering a "hay fever" attack since Saturday afternoon, which I spent outdoors at a kid's birthday party in the burbs. It was a breezy day, tree and grass pollen is particularly high right now and mold is doing its happy thing as well .. all of which is making me unhappy.

I'm currently sniffing Morroccan high cineol rosemary essential oil and its a wonderful thing. A little sniff helps clear and soothe my aching, stuffed sinuses and it restores my olfactory perception too. It is torture for me not having the ability to smell properly!

Another reason to love rosemary!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Vanilla Amber Base

While looking for something in my art studio, I stumbled upon a perfumery experiment that I began back in May of 2006! 2 bottles of Vanilla Amber Base, one with a base of jojoba and the other a base of grain alcohol.

It has mellowed so nicely over time! While I've not searched out the recipe in my notebook, I know the blend contains macerated vanilla beans, benzoin, styrax and a host of other delicious aromatics.

I look forward to playing with this now that it is back on my aromatic paint pallet :)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Scent and Studying

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I've recently taken up a new challenge and that is learning Mandarin Chinese. I have been using scent to help me study and recall what I have been studying.

It has been long known that our olfactory sense has powerful ties to memory. For example, I have a bottle of Guerlain's Samsara perfume that I purchased while on one of my trips to Turkey. Whenever I smell it I am immediately transported, very vividly, to a moment in time where I'm eating kesari and mezes while overlooking the Bosphorus. I can even recall what I was wearing and feel the warmth of the sunshine on my face.

I have found this works for studying as well with Rosemary being a particularly good scent, as it stimulates circulation, which brings oxygen to the brain, hence improving its function. But this isn't limited to Rosemary. The big part of the trick is less the scent chosen (Samsara is a far cry from Rosemary ;) , and more sniffing the scent not only when studying, but also when recalling!

'What if you can't carry it in a bottle to your tests?' you ask. Scent your pen or pencil, wear a dab on your shirt sleeve, scent your hair, wear it well diluted as a perfume, etc ...

The nose knows and can help us remember what we know!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Choosing a Chinese name

I'm writing this blog while burning a candle scented with lovely 木薑子 Litsea cubeba (May Chang). Not only am I setting atmosphere, but I'm cleaning the air, literally!

I have been taking Mandarin Chinese classes for several weeks now and I have decided to choose a Chinese name. That isn't as easy as it sounds. While there are relatively few surnames in Chinese compared to English, given names are usually quite unique and carefully chosen in Chinese culture.

For the most part, names are chosen to correspond with things like astrology as well as characteristics a parent hopes for their child to have (such as beauty in a girl or strength in a boy). But (and this is a big but) it is rather important to ask a Chinese speaking person if the name you are choosing works properly in Chinese! For example, you may not want to name your daughter a fox as fox spirits in Chinese are synonymous with beautiful women who suck men dry of life energy and money! LOL

There is a pretty good squiddo article on choosing a Chinese name:

At first I was considering some names that would apply to characteristics I have, but after chatting with an old friend about this, I decided to take a name with personal characteristics I am working on developing and bringing into my life.

Hence, I have chosen the name 水静心 Shuǐ Jìng Xīn

再见 Zàijiàn

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Today the newsletter I received from Larry over at Vermont Soap works and The Green Products Alliance, of which I am a member, was about anti-bacterial ingredient triclosan and its dangers. This got me too thinking about all those unnecessary anti-bacterial soaps, and other triclosan containing products on the market.

As if issues such as how nasty theses products are for your skin over time and how potentially damaging they are for your general health (terms such as neurotoxin and carcinogen come to mind) aren't bad enough, I would think the fact that the growing popularity and widespread (over)use of commercial anti-bacterial soaps/detergents, which contain triclosan, is adding to the growing, deadly epidemic of drug resistant bacteria would be incentive for the consumer masses to steer clear! Click here to read more about the issue.

Natural soap and water is an effective germ removing tool for the average person (basically unless you're a surgeon, its good enough ;) , and if the soap contains an essential oil such as tea tree, which has natural bactericidal properties (that due to enough natural variance per batch, do not promote the existence of superbugs), even the most squeamish germaphobe can cleanse themselves confidently.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thai Lime Revisited

Right now I'm SO into the green citrus scents. I was walking home from
the pool earlier and given several leaves off of my neighbor's Thai
tree. Boy was I in heaven while sniffing them for the
remainder of that stroll home!

I'm inspired to make a marinade by chopping and blending with green onion, garlic, lemongrass, grated ginger, vinegar, nam pla (fish sauce), and a bit of honey.

I have found that when out of fresh Thai Lime leaves - a drop, or even a diluted drop of Thai Lime (a.k.a. Kaffir Lime) leaf essential oil works fantastically!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Thai Lime

After my lemongrass experience in the garden last week, I found myself longing for one of my favorite citrusy scents .. Thai Lime a.k.a Kaffir Lime or Ma Krut (Citrus hystrix).

Imbued with its sweet tart spirit, I was inspired to prepare a fresh batch of Thai Lime Leaf Liquid Olive Castile Soap .It is on special through the month of August in honor of the season of Late Summer. Click here to order!

Thursday, July 31, 2008


This morning I made a division from my lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) plant. Crushing a blade between my fingers released into my immediate vicinity a most pleasant, sunny, refreshing aroma. It was a lovely garden moment, captured and preserved in my olfactory memory.

I have found that lemongrass essential oil truly captures the aromatic character of the actual plant.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shea Butter Muscle Rub

With summer here I've been spending more time being physically active. Between swimming at the pool, taking Chen Taijiquan classes and hiking in Colorado, at times I've been left sore, stiff and in need of some caring for my body.

One of my favorite therapeutic pleasures is also one of the most simple .. a shea butter muscle rub. Not only is this creamy African treasure a nourishing moisturizer for the skin, but it melts easily on contact and has great slip and aids the process of achieving a deep muscle rub. Can be blended with a drop of essential oil, such as black pepper or rosemary, to provide additional aromatherapeutic benefits.

We feel good in many ways about the shea butter we offer! It is tested to exceed Grade A standards and is sourced from a Fair Trade Co-op in Togo Africa. Read more about it by clicking here.

* Note, shea butter is not recommended for use by people with tree nut allergies *

Monday, March 31, 2008


As we bid farewell to the month of March and all of the dynamic transitions it brings with it, the blossoms of spring are already unveiling themselves here at A Little Ol'Factory. We are evolving, growing and expanding our horizons. Today, we very graciously thank Celia Lyttelton, author of The Scent Trail, for her contribution towards this quantum leap!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Capturing the blossoms' perfume

This morning, I picked a fresh batch of sweetly scented blossoms. They have gone into a mason jar, been covered with grape alcohol, and left to sit and infuse the liquid with olfactory bliss.

Those of you who don't have fresh citrus blossoms to infuse, can still enjoy this subtropical fun! I've found that Neroli hydrosol blended with alcohol (such as grain or grape), and other essential oils, if desired, makes for a nice light body spritz.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The sweet scent of citrus blossoms

As I took a stroll through the garden this morning, the air was humid and heavy with the luscious scent of citrus blossoms.

The sweet orange and myer lemon trees are just coming into bloom and delightfully perfuming the breeze. A lovely way to begin any day!

I've discovered first hand that if you don't have citrus trees in your garden, the fragrance of these fresh blossoms is amazingly true with that of the Bitter Orange Neroli Blossom Hydrosol that I've been importing from Spain the last several years and a fantastic substitute!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pure Olive Oil Liquid Castile Soap - Now In Stylish Pump Bottles!

A Little Ol'Factory is happy to feature C.Z.'s pure 100% Olive Oil Liquid Castile Soap - now in stylish 16 fl oz pump top bottles!

Money saving Gallon Refill sizes are also available!

Click here for scent options and to place an order