Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Reading Challenge: 2020 Final Book Choices and Thoughts

 I set a GoodReads goal of 45 books for 2020, a few more than I had last year. It was a terrible year for many different reasons and in many different ways, however, it was not a terrible year for reading. After getting home from work and cooking dinner, I more often than not found myself laying in bed in my pjs reading. I may not have blogged a whole lot but many mornings found me reading some Robert Frost or Walt Whitman little by little, alternating prose and coffee. It was needed. I hope the reading continues but the insanity abates. The books I reviewed previously are in teal and the new books listed are in purple with a quick blurb of my thoughts along with my rating:

*= meh       **= good/decent        ***= go read it

1. Quickie- 200 pages or less.
Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles by Taisa Kitaiskaia is a pocket-sized Dear Abby but written by a much darker, mysterious, yet wizened soul. Baba Yaga's pithy advice is wrapped in layers of moss and slippery wordsmithing but holds the bare mouse bones of truth. My daughters and I enjoyed reading them out loud and guessing what she meant by her advice. I already pre-ordered her next volume. ***

2. On the briny- a saltwater reading experience.
House of Salt and Sorrow by Erin Craig was an autographed book I picked up on a whim while browsing the OwlCrate webstore. I also picked up a Hagrid umbrella and count that the better of the two purchases. While I liked the atmospheric elements of this salt water encrusted island kingdom, the characters lacked depth. I liked it as a light fluffy semi-thriller where the maids are all empty headed lasses. **

3. Ready set read- Finish a series, or start a new one.
Fifth Wave/Infinite Sea/Last Star by Rick Yancey was a book series my youngest started reading. She encouraged me to read it too so I did, then we watched the movie. The book is a dystopian alien doomsday thriller where in the end you are not sure if you are truly the alien or not. Who do you trust? A decent YA series. I liked it enough to finish it. **

4. Memory lane- a book you missed out on from childhood.
Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving seemed like a classic children's story that I should have read by now. I enjoyed the animated Disney rendition and the far-from-the-storyline version by Tim Burton. I also quite enjoyed the original from which these were born. It was a quaint tale with an intriguing ending. The other short stories within were a pleasure as well, especially the one about the Bridegroom. ***

5. Name dropper- get proper with a titular character [named after the book's subject].
Circe by Madeline Miller was just as amazing as I had heard it was. A moving myth about the origins of Circe and how she often showed more humanity than her turning-men-into-pigs rap gives her credit for. I fell in love with her. I think you will too. ***

6. Magical realism
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is a trilogy that features the coming of age story a young assassin with goals of revenge set in a fantasy world where there is no moon, only three staring suns that lap each other creating seemingly endless never nights and a brief true dark. It is a series to read for fun. The footnotes were either humorous or annoying depending on my mood. It was smutty, cussy and angsty. I read all three and did not regret it but I also did not hold on to them. **

7. Make it the year of the lycan- read a wolfish book.
Moon Called by Patricia Biggs is better known as the Mercy Thompson series. My reading buddy gifted me the first one and I went out and bought a few more. This is an urban paranormal fantasy about a female mechanic who happens to be a shapeshifter (she is not a wolf but yes, there are wolves involved) and the shenanigans that she gets pulled into. I rather enjoyed it as a shameless adventure that made me laugh and smirk and turn the page. I look forward to reading the rest. ***

8. Eye candy cover
The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski is the first book in the Witcher series. This is my idea of eye candy, white haired mutant humanoids with gruff demeanors and soft hearts out to save mankind. Kind of. I mean, once I saw Henry Cavill cast on Netflix I knew I had better start collecting. I know the show is short lived but these books are awesome in and of themselves. You have to search up the reading order as they were not written/published in chronological reading order. I am finishing up the second book as I type this and will finish them all by the end of the year I am thinking. I love the Russian take on folklore that brings to mind Bear and the Nightingale from earlier in the year. If you like fantasy, give this a whirl. ***

9. A tear jerker- I'm not crying, you're crying!
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens was recommended to me by my sister, Darby, ages ago. I knew I wanted to get to it but then my Aunt Chris literally dropped it in my lap. As soon as I finished up whatever I was reading at the time, I dove right in. It is a bittersweet story of an orphaned girl child growing up in the lowcountry marshes of the Carolinas where herons are silent mothers and raccoons are boisterous brothers. She grows to become a self made scientist with no formal education and soon becomes entangled with some boys from in town. I was crying at the end. But they were good tears. ***

10. Get lost in time- book set in the future or past, or both.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders had comic question marks floating above my head for the first few pages but then when I caught on I had realized I sped through 1/3 of the book in one sitting! A comical, blithe, heart rending tale about some ghosts who keep President Lincoln's newly departed son company overnight and the turmoil and tenderness that ensues. ***

11. A book you'd turn to when feeling blue.
The Poet of Loch Ness by Brian Jay Corrigan was bought purely for the melancholy painting of a foggy Scottish morning and the book jacket teaser of a star crossed love. It was beautiful to read and poignant as well. I cannot really say much without spoiling it but it is about loves of old meeting loves of present and how a woman can hold both in her heart at the same time. ***

12.  Cover Text Intertwined With Images: big 2019 novel trend.
The Binding by Bridget Collins was an unexpected breath-taker. I had a feeling I would enjoy the narrative of a young man who is taken from the farm and called to the often maligned task of binding books, which carries a connotation of witchcraft. But the twists and turns that evolve had me gasping and flipping pages backward and trying to unwind the tangled threads of love and loss. I will be reading this one again. ***

13. Stay Golden with gilded pages or shimmering cover accents.
Labyrinth by Kate Mosse looked promising. It was touted as a medieval French tale of the holy grail and the modern race to find it. It takes two story lines of the (same?) woman (or else her eerily exact descendant), one in the past and one in the present, and their perils to protect the holy grail secret from their evil sister. It runs parallel but instead of building the suspense it falls flat. Like I said, promising. But I hated it. I finished the first book but then gave it away with the rest in the set very quickly. Poor writing. Poor characters. Poor time spent reading dreck. *

14. Do you have a nightlight? Read something spooky if you do.
Carrie by Stephen King has always come across by eyes. Usually when Stephen talks about his own writing. I think it was his first true hit so it held a special place for him. Although I think I read that he considered Pet Semetary to be the creepiest. Anyway. Carrie was scary. I felt so bad for her. I could feel the religious fervor pouring from the pages from those scenes with her mom. Gave me the shivers. Enjoyed reading it. Now I need to see the movie. ***

15. Borrowed book- library, lil’ free library, or friend, don't forget to return it!
Sphere by Michael Crichton was one I borrowed from my daughter. We love reading Crichton. This one was decent. An alien (?) craft is discovered at the bottom of the sea and a team of experts is called in by the government to explore. What is tangible morphs into the intellectually abstract. The movie was a painful hoot to watch after too. Some great actors in it! **

16. Seek the throne-heraldry or castle on the cover.
The Half-Drowned King/Sea Queen/Golden Wolf by Linnea Hartsuyker was a bracing Viking trilogy that spanned all the chilly seas and isles along Scandinavia and beyond. It follows the young Ragnvald and his sister Svanhild as they fight for their lands, lives and loves. Enemies often become allies and brothers of the heart can be found to be traitorous. A thrilling saga. ***

17. New-to-you author
The Vine Witch by Luanne Smith was fast and enchanting read about a legacy of witches who tend to vineyards, one in particular is cursed and comes back to find the world changed. This reads as a quick morsel without too much thinking needed but fun nonetheless. **

18. A centenarian book, one that is 100 years or older. 
The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens was published in 1840, so well over 100 years old. It was a tender yet heart breaking read that had oddly funny moments. It was about an elderly uncle who ran a curiosity shop and the young niece he was raising. A rather unscrupulous conniver seeks to disrupt the old man's life and all those who love his niece as they run to escape the pugnacious devil who pursues them. ***

19. Our pets are the best of us. Read a story with a dear dog or cherished cat companion.
A sweet friend gifted me All Things Bright and Beautiful and when I went to read it I discovered it was the second book in a series. So I gently put it down and shopped around until I found its predecessor: All Creature Great and Small by James Herriot. Rather than this story be about one particular beloved dog or cat, it is about many pets that are held in high esteem, along with several cows and horses too. I greatly enjoyed reading this book. It follows a budding veterinarian through the English countryside as he gets his legs under himself through the guidance of his capricious new boss. This is memoir-esque and written really well. Having been around livestock I can appreciate many of Herriot's moments. If you love animals and England and quaint stories of hard workers, you will love this. It has humor and romance to boot. I cannot wait to read the rest. ***

20. Colorless- a stark cover with only black/white/gray.
White Fragility by Robin Diangelo is one I picked up while in the Keys. It was a quick read that outlined why white people are reactive, sensitive and racist. Some of it mirrored ways I had acted in the past, things I still need to work on and it gave me a lens as to why those reactions happen. I needed it. I need more. I have beefed up my bookshelf to grow myself and deal with some of the ugliness I carry around. ***

21. Forest Bathing- trees on the cover, in the title or as subject matter.\
American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation by Eric Rutkow has easily been the most intellectual and fascinating book I have read so far this year. It was an eye opening if not heart shriveling accounting of how America evolved through the lens of her trees and forests. From the liberty tree in Boston to President Washington's gardens, from the Washington D.C. cherry trees to the Dutch Elm Disease and founding of our national park system, this chronicles the impact we have had on our environment and highlights just how much we depend on our trees. ***

22. Generation Z- A teen or young adult author.
Chandler Klang Smith might not be precisely Gen Z but she is often described as one of the best up and coming young authors. So that counts right? At any rate, this book reads like a fresh faced and sharp witted young adult wrote it. The Sky is Yours is nothing like I have read before. It takes place far into the future (301970) to be exact and follows a defunct Kardashian-type playboy who is mostly know for his reality TV show presence. He comes off as an idiot. Hell, he is an idiot. But he also shows promise of rising above his Idiocracy upbringing (have you ever seen that movie?? this book is the better written version). This book was hilarious, raunchy and well written. The characters leap off the page in vibrant hues. I want to read it all over again just for fun. ***

23. Book based on a real event- true story based fiction, or non-fiction. 
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut was a deceptively fast read. Not having had the high school discussions of symbolism or themes, I must say I pulled from this book the horror that men and women have to pocket in their hearts when they are faced with war. How it can warp the soul and mind. It makes me think of all the soldiers with PTSD and how terrifying it must be to try to transition from something as horrendous as death abound to the mundane and benign. This satire on the bombing of Dresden during WWII was interesting to read. ***

24. Reading rebel- a controversial book, or featuring a literary rebel.
Congo by Michael Crichton probably isn't very controversial except for animal rights regarding Amy the chimp being in captivity. Or maybe to folks who don't believe in evolution. Either way I stuck it in this slot and I don't remember why. It was a typical adventurous Crichton read with heavy doses of science and ancient yet somehow advanced primate colonies deep in the Congo. **

25. Illuminated Illustrations: a book with photographs or art within.
I have been on an herbalism journey this past year or so. I have read a handful of herbal books but this one has been my favorite so far: The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman. He provides the holistic approach to health and discusses use of the whole plant for many various aliments and issues. I like his writing style and world view. He is gentle yet grounded. Some of the holistic herbalism authors can be a bit flighty or swing so far into the metaphysical that there isn't much substance to chew on. I found myself highlighting a lot of pages and recipes. This will be a book that gets abundant use. ***

26. 20/20 Vision. A book that helped you to see something clearer. 
I finally got around to read 1984 by George Orwell. I think it was best I read it as an adult rather than a high schooler. I am sure we all know the parallels between this book and the world today so I will spare waxing about it. However, I did enjoy reading as much as anyone could I guess ("joy" being those fleeting and stolen moments I suppose). I do see why it should be required reading. ***

27. Gold Star. You get one just for reading a book. Your choice.
Skink- No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen is a kid's book about an old geezer who happens to be a former governor of Florida who slinks around the Everglades or shoreline or pinelands looking for jerks to set to rights. Wayward kids usually get pulled into his shenanigans. A student of mine pushed this book on me and I couldn't let him down. It turned out to be a rather funny and entertaining read. It was good enough for me to keep reading this kid's recommendations. **

28. The White Whale- book on your tbr forever, a weighty book, or one you couldn't bring yourself to read before [or that you think will be the end of you].
If The Stand isn't a white whale of a paperback I am not sure what is. I am still kind of reeling over the fact that I read this during a pandemic. The opening pages were a bit of surreal fortune telling from the past. I quickly fell into interest following the converging storylines where the ultimate battle of good versus evil plays out. And will continue to play out for all of mankind's time on Earth. I am happy I spent those chunks of hours reading this beast. ***

29. Home is where the heart is. A house on the cover. 
Little Green by Tish Cohen is the first one star of the year. I figured it would come. A horrid telling of an insipid marriage that is falling apart. The wife is self-centered, the husband a martyr, their handicapped daughter is caught in the crosshairs until she is kidnapped. Reading this book at times made my tummy hurt. If I hated the characters any more I would have to up the stars just because the author created something so viscerally repugnant that she deserved it, but she didn't so I won't. *

30. Old Fashioned: A book with a table of contents.
Candlenight by Phil Rickman is a spooky mid-90's mysterious thriller set in a small hamlet in Wales where the magic of Druids may still be alive and... well?? The town rebukes the efforts of Englishmen to settle and it follows the trials of Giles and his wife Claire who recently inherited a home there. I loved the story telling and scene building and language. It was a bit drawn out but I forgive its long windedness and I find I still think about it every now and again. ***

It was a good year for reading. Some other books I read but were not on the list: The Chef's Secret by Crystal King **, Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton***, Sleep No More by Greg Iles*, Frost The Poet and His Poetry by David Sohn ***, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley **, Literary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers by Taisia Kitaiskaia ***, The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury ***, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman ***, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson **, The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra*.

Jay from The Scented Library and I are working on a new reading challenge for next year if you wish to join us. I look forward to further exploring my bookshelf and the many worlds it contains. What were some of your favorite books you read this year? Do you have any recommendations for me for 2021? 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Wylde Ivy Perfume: Jack's Woods Collection

These perfumes were sent free for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

The following perfumes are part of Wylde Ivy's Jack's Woods Collection which may disappear sooner rather than later. These five scents are all components of a magical tale that Ashlee wrote herself and is quite enchanting.

Jack's Woods- Notes: Smashed pumpkin, dry autumn grass, charred wood, black peppercorn, grated ginger, smoked nutmeg, allspice berries, ambered musk, dry tobacco leaves, and a hint of woodsmoke in the cool breeze. $30

Jack's Woods are certainly evocative of a rich and luxurious fall experience. The top notes of warm pumpkin flesh brushed with shades of sweet hay and grass lift immediately from the sprayed wrists. This earthy sweetness is quickly emboldened by smoky and peppery spices in the heart. I could envision this scent working equally well on a guy or a girl. The pepper and ginger soon tumble among cured tobacco leaves, leathery and golden. I love how this scent is woodsy, smoky and earthen with a touch of spice. The dry down really does smell like a chilled fall evening with woodsmoke, hay and something magical lingering in the air. Perhaps even delicious.

Gingerbread Cottage- Notes: Warm gingerbread and weathered wood, toasted clove and nutmeg, dried tonka beans and vanilla pods, black peppercorn and corn husks, and a sprinkle of sugar musk. $30

I have had several variations of gingerbread scents and this one is the most unique. This is not the rustic dry and peppery, yet papery gingerbread of yore, but a true gingerbread cottage with wood carved filigree accents, rose petal pink hues in the garden and on the shutters, but also a secret dwells within. The vanilla, tonka and sugared musk feature first. They slowly allow glimpses of creamy woods and fluffy sweet gingerbread to peer through the mullioned windows. The dried leaves and corn stalks standing sentinel by the doorframe add cheer but there are also furred things lurking under the porch. I love Gingerbread Cottage because it wears like a black vanilla lollipop: dark, sweet, delicious, but also a touch unexpected. It is a great good scent.

Dead Woods Bonfire- Notes: Fire roasted pumpkins dusted with cinnamon and clove, charred oud wood and sandalwood, molten amber, sweet wood ash, and a hint of leather. $30

This is the one I wore first. It sounded like something I needed on my skin right away and I was not wrong. Initially there is a chewy dense blast of pumpkin spiced treats that rest like citrine jewels in the baker's window display, however a touch of smoky woods creeps in rather quickly. This is where things warm up and become extra enticing. I am a sucker for well played fireside scents. Sonoma Scent Studio's Fireside Intense is one of my very favorites. Dead Woods Bonfire plays right along that line but with a touch more sugar and wearability. The smoke is perfection. It doesn't remind me of BBQ, nor is it acrid or bitter. I love how the oud and sandalwood and leather combine to create smooth and sultry smoky perfume. The pumpkin treats and soft spice fade into a memory while the bonfire smolders on. It dries down into a gorgeous vanilla woods amber. 

Stone Circle- Notes: Cold October air on mountain stones. Black amber, aged sandalwood, ozone musk, dried vanilla pods, a touch of moonlight and magic. $30

This one I knew would be special. A vanilla and sandalwood amber with ethereal touches of chilly air, finely ground sugar, and a lone lily petal. This smells like a sweet treat left behind as an offering on a cairn by an icy burbling creek. Or perhaps a fairy lure on the outskirts of a quaint Welsh village shrouded in fog and shadowed by mystery. Either way Ashlee captured the elusive cold magic of standing stones and the sweet memories and altars left there over the ages. Stone, sky, sweet and the ghostly breath of long ago dried irises. I will be wearing this one down to the dregs quickly.

Mist and Moonlight- Notes: Swirling tendrils of sheer vanilla, white amber, benzoin, aged cedarwood, roasted tonka beans, pink peppercorn, and moonlit musk. $30

If Stone Circle is forlornly beautiful then Mist and Moonlight is sweetly haunting. The vanilla and resinous amber are made gauzy through the lifting effects of the pink peppercorn and airy cedarwood. Cottony sweet clouds of vanilla trail along the skin light-footed and sylphlike. This is a brilliant floaty vanilla scent to wear during fall and winter when delicate and gossamer things can be appreciated all the more: snowflakes, chilled breaths, and mist in the moonlight.

This is easily my favorite collection from Wylde Ivy yet. They are all extremely beautiful scents and evocative of that bridge from fall to winter in their own special way. I look forward to wearing them often. 

Are you feeling the pull into winter? I have never decorated for Christmas before Thanksgiving in my life but I have a strange feeling that this year I will. 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Ebb & Flow: October 2020

 The highs and lows of the month.

(Throw back photo from our Salem visit last year.)


Solstice Scents Foxcroft

Perfume Oil:

Nocturne Alchemy BIC: Halloween Spice Cake and Sixteen92 Van Helsing


Black Alchemy Wild Chaga Rootbeer


Bath and Body Works Leaves and Pumpkin Bonfire (love this one tons).


Candles From the Keeping Room pumpkin scents (love Pumpkin Firewood, Butternut Pumpkin and Frost on the Pumpkin).




Apple cider


Gardener's World on the BBC


Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, and Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. All excellent. Currently reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.


Halloween instrumental music on YouTube.


Shirts from Seventh Ink.


Suave Rosemary Mint shampoo doesn't smell or feel nearly as good as the Trader Joe's version. 


Cooler weather, Christmas shopping and the first fire in the fireplace.


The December 18th decision by the governor over school mandates in COVID, the election results, and upcoming cold and flu season.


My sister leaving to go to Belgium. I will miss her. But I it is more of a bittersweet thing because she will be having a blast and I will get to fly out and see her one day in the future when COVID relents. 


My new students are amazing. I love watching them grow, getting to know them and seeing their passion for learning. They are kind to one another, humorous and pretty much just the best ever. 

October has been kind to me. I worked in the yard, the birds are coming back, and the humidity is waning. How was yours? Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Willow Wax Craft: The Urge Struck


I had the wax tart urge. Did I need more wax? No, not really. But I was craving some elusive scents that I just did not have in my collection. I found in my quest for constant comfort that I had amassed plenty of vanilla bakery, apple cinnamon and evergreens. However, I was lacking atmospherics and ambers and scents that really sent me somewhere. 

I knew where to go to get that itch scratched: Willow Wax Craft

Ghoul-Haunted Woodland-Notes: Cool, shadowy conifers, a hint of rain, withering leaves, apples, and lavender. $6
This is a beautifully rendered fresh outdoor aroma. The conifers are brisk and piney while the rain and leaves add to the coolness of the scent. Apples very subtly keep the too fresh edge from creeping in by softening the mountain air robustness. This ghoul-haunted woodland is located in a temperate late autumn coniferous forest and I like it.

Lost on the Moor- Notes: The haunting, chilling scent of the wild Yorkshire moor- heather, lavender, moss, chamomile, ozone, juniper, and elderflower. $6
Flower laden meadows in wide open spaces. The chamomile and elderflower have a lovely mild sweetness that enhances the verdant herbal aspects of the moss and juniper. This will be lovely to melt in the bedroom and once winter fades away.

Primeval Forest- Notes: Cardamom, cedarwood, loam, rose, and decaying foliage scattered on the forest floor. $6
That cardamom and rose is beyond elegant. I love that pairing of spicy warmth and earthy rose. The cedarwood and leaves play perfectly with the rose and cardamom, providing the reminder that this is a forest scent first and foremost. I would wear this as a perfume.

Bonfire Stories- Notes: Caramelized marshmallows, a crackling fire, sweet woodsmoke, and all the tales they weave. $6
Based on the notes I knew I couldn't possibly check-out without this one. This reminds me a touch of Bonfire Bliss but the caramel note is much stronger. The caramel is so dense that it pulls more toffee than marshmallow. It stands up against the flame and smoke. 

Desiderium- Notes: Tuberose, jasmine, vanilla, leather, and honeyed immortelle absolute, with shadowy whispers of incense smoke, musk, and amber. $6
I had to look up what desiderium meant (an ardent feeling of longing, especially accompanied by grief). The scent is nothing short of incredible. I asked for unique and evocative blends and that is certainly what I got. The leather and white intoxicating florals stop short from femme fatale by the addition of the jammy immortelle and velveteen incense. The incense leans a touch nag champa and I love it for that. 

Mechanical Heart- Notes: Sharp frozen metal and clockwork covers a heart of hot carnation and resinous-spicy copal, all surrounded by sudden snowfall. $6
The blending of spiced carnation with it fresh peppery hues and the cool metallic clank of metal is wonderful. They do have a certain symmetry. The copal smells a touch green and fresh, reminding me of the copal a friend brought back from Belize. I am going to enjoy melting this one. 

Victorian Smoking Room- Notes: Dark wood panels, tall shelves of worldly literature, opulent leather armchairs, and velvet. Black pepper, patchouli, vetiver, sweet tobacco, cherry vanilla pipe smoke, rich bourbon, and deep brown sugar. $6
If I could visit any time in the past for future, I would always and forever choose to visit the Victorian era. About 1890 would do it. I love reading historical fiction set in that time and I have a few books published during that time (Harper's Bazaar and some others) and they simply transport me. So of course I had to pick this scent up. Certainly in my wheelhouse of notes as well. It lives right up to its name. The tobacco and pipe smoke are lush and softly sweet. The pepper and patchouli add depth. I would almost venture to say that this combination reminds me of a much deeper and richer version of Lord of Misrule. It has that vanillic and cushiony pepper and patchouli suggestion. 

Aurora- Notes: Fresh citrus, rosemary, eucalyptus, peppermint, vanilla, oakmoss, and vetiver. $6
I am a sucker for minty herbal scents. And I love how this one was poured with the three color layers. The rosemary and vanilla peppermint shine brightest but the other notes give this a sparkle and brightness that makes it unique among my many minty wax tarts. I will be going back for more of this one for sure.

I am so thrilled with my order. I shared several scents with a friend of mine who was looking for some lovely green scents and I think what I sent off fit the bill.

I also picked up some of the elemental fire scent shots. Samantha makes really cool themed elemental bundles for $21 that feature seven scents that are to be used blended together. These four from the fire collection really struck a chord with me. Chai is a wonderful example of a freshly steeped cup of chai tea. Labdanum is one of my personal favorite perfume notes so to sniff its sticky amber sweetness in wax is great fun! Tobacco is rich and almost coffee-like in its toasted molasses twang. Vanilla Smoke heady and so dense I can almost chew the smoke.

I will be back to buy and sniff more of Samatha's wonderful wares. More Aurora for sure and perhaps a few of her Halloween scents if I can snag some fast enough. Do you enjoy atmospheric scents in wax? Where do you like to be transported? What unique notes do you enjoy?

Friday, October 23, 2020

Sawdust & Embers: Winter Woods Candle

 This candle was provided free for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

This candle is on my bedside table and it is slaying it. Sawdust & Embers Winter Woods travel candle is made of a proprietary soy blend in a 7.5 ounce tin with a cotton wick and lasts about 55-60 hours. 

I am happy to hear it lasts that long because I don't want it to end. 

Winter Woods- Notes: Noble fir, balsam, and cedar. $18
This is a splendid sugared spruce type of scent. It is bursting with jammy evergreen notes and has just a touch of sweetness. But that balsam is star. This candle burns evenly and the wick is strong without being alarming. It pools to the edges and throws strong in my bedroom. I love it. 

I am sold on these tins. The woodwicks were nice but they got a little angsty when burning. These cotton wicks are strong but not overwhelming with their flame retention. I will be back for more. Especially in that Rosewood. 

I am on a small nightstand candle kick. I like smaller ones like this and in scents that make me feel serene and relaxed. School is finally settling into a routine and I feel like I am able to make some headway guiding the kiddos in their learning. The girls are doing well and my garden is growing. I don't think I can ask for more than that right now. 

How are you doing?

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Arcana Wildcraft: Layering Note Perfumes


Two very important things had me popping over to Arcana Wildcraft recently: I needed a restock of Filthy Viking and I had to snag Aged Patchouli. 

Filthy Viking is my go-to scent for when I am feeling sick, sad, troubled, stressed or just want to feel comforted in some manner. I have drained two 5ml bottles and my 15ml is almost out. I messaged Julia and asked if I could purchase another 15ml and she posted one for me buy lickety-split. She is the best.

Filthy Viking- Notes: Bracing Norwegian juniper, frigid Icelandic mint, and the hardy wood of a longship. $76 for 15ml or $26 for 5ml

Although I have reviewed this one before (here) I am going to chatter about it a bit here again.

Filthy Viking is a forever favorite because it is a minty fragrance that does something no other mint has done on my skin before... linger. I splashed this on at about 7am yesterday morning as I dressed for work. The cooling effects of peppermint oil and the spiky green bursts of juniper immediately awoke my senses. As the day wore on the mint mellowed in its arctic intensity and the woods slowly came to berth upon the skin, but the crisp essence of the mint remained. The woods of the longboats read like a blending of cedar and sandalwood on my skin, sturdy but not splintering. The freshness of the mint relaxes while the juniper fades into more of a greenery rather than the photorealistic plant that it is in the beginning. There I was sitting in bed, back in my pjs and I could still sniff Filthy Viking on my arm at 6pm, right along the with Icelandic mint. Perfection.

Aged Patchouli- Earthy, spicy, iron-distilled patchouli essential oil in dilution. Very finest quality. Aging since early 2018. $26, on sale for $20

As soon as I sniffed the contents I knew I had made a most excellent choice. I might have to make that choice a few more times as well. This is a top notch patch. It smells smoky and earthen but with nuances of woods and tannins, minerals and cool dark places. On the skin this sings. The cool damp and dark nooks reveal themselves to be warm and inviting. The woods flourish and threads of shimmering minerals abound. I love wearing this patchouli on its own in pure perfection but I know it will be layered with vanillas, mints, lavenders and pretty much anything I can dream up. It is a staple.

Yellow Cake- The scent of a sweet, golden bakery cake. $26, on sale for $20

Speaking of staples, this is one for many Arcana fans. Julia's yellow cake notes is highly favored by gourmand lovers. On the skin it is a buttery vanilla delight. There are tones of bread and perhaps even corn meal at first when sniffed close to the wrist but wafting all about is a fluffy cloud of pillowy yellow cake. Sweet, but not sugary, decadent and vanilla laden. 

Pumpkin Milkshake- Cold vanilla ice cream blended with fresh pumpkin, milk, sugar, and Korintje cinnamon. $26, on sale for $20.

This is a toothsome treat. Pumpkin, vanilla and subtle spice. The vanilla is sugary and sweet and sets itself deliciously against the pumpkin puree. There are hints of caramel within the pumpkin. The cinnamon warms the scent and all in all it is easily one of my favorite pumpkin centric scents, of which I have many. 

Seaweed- A proprietary dilution of seaweed absolute. Briny, oceanic, pungent, and kelp-like. $26, on sale for $20.

Julia was talking about this layering note in the Arcana Addicts group and she mentioned that this was not a perfumer's interpretation of seaweed, but actual seaweed that had been harvested and processed to serve as a truly realistic scent. She suggested layering it with florals and any scent you wanted to add a mermaid flair to. It smells briny and oceanic and all the critters and organisms that go along with that. It is salty, green, a touch fishy and wholly seaweed. Barnacles, wee crabs and all. Once on the skin the dank living bits float up then the scent warms with a tinge of lemony brightness and a whole lot of saltiness. You never forget you are wearing true seaweed and it is a fantastic experience. 

Truffle- A dark chocolate ganache center is dipped in thick, generous layers of milk chocolate and white chocolate. $26, on sale for $20.

This is a lush chocolate scent. A perfect balance between bittersweet and milk chocolate. Melting velvet on your tongue. Hints of coffee, woods and hazelnuts dwell within the chocolate liqueur heart of this scent. I normally don't do chocolate. Julia has made me a believer on more than one occasion and this is another such experience. 

Pollution- Plumes of black smoke rising from coal fires, burnt vetiver, and a slick of motor oil. $26, on sale for $20.

In the vial is it charcoal, liquid smoke and creosote darkness. On the skin is plays out in similar gestures, starting with a raging bonfire where unsuspecting organisms might be roasting. Char, smoke and ash dance in devilish delight. Don't be afraid to try this one out. You may find you will want to layer it with everything you own to give it a kick of bad assery. It is just as effective as a black leather jacket with chains.

Amber Caramel- A dark, sexy blend of blackest amber with Arcana's Caramel (rich toffee, sticky maple, sugar cane, and tonka bean absolute.) $26, on sale for $20.

Amber Caramel pours like liquid resins onto the flesh. Warm, vanillic and with notes of caramelized sugar. I almost get a latte aroma from this blend. Perhaps it is the warmth and sweetness. The toffee really stands out along with the amber. There exists a definite cream aspect. I know this will age beautifully like the rest of Julia's amber accords. I will be keeping this on hand to wear as a whole perfume in and of itself.

Fresh Coconut- A pure, beachy, almost underripe coconut with a light dusting of sugar. $26, on sale for $20. 

This is coconut nirvana. As a child who grew up slathered in tropical sunscreen until adulthood and even now, I can attest to the fact that beachy coconuts reign nostalgic supreme to me. This is a fantastic one. It is lush and slightly sweet, fleshy and not at all dry but does have a hint of the wooden husk. It is the milk, water, flesh and all wrapped into a dulcet bundle. Perfect for beach days, summer evenings, or paired with patchouli, vanilla, seaweed, yellow cake, or more.

Julia has some really lovely layering notes and Halloween releases out right now. Head on over and check it out. Do you do layering notes or do you sometimes enjoy the simplicity of a single scent? It can be quite refreshing.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Sawdust & Embers: Incense

 This incense was sent free for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

Sawdust & Embers is an artisan candle company based out of Texas and run by John and Brett. I have enjoyed wonderful candles from Sawdust & Embers in the past. The house blends have a quality of scent that takes me out of doors and into the woods, which we all know is a place that I love to be.

Coyote Tobacco Incense- Notes: Wild tobacco, conifer needle, lichen. $16

This charcoal based incense comes in a handy tin with 30 incense cones that have a burn time of 20-30 minutes each. These light easily and emit a silken thread of moss covered pine and fresh green tobacco leaves. It gives the impression of bright blue skies ringed by tall strapping pines and optimistic thoughts. It leaves rooms smelling welcoming and open-windows fresh. It burnt into a small pile of ash in about 20 minutes and left a lingering ghost of mountain air.

I have never used charcoal incense but it was wonderful to work with. I look forward to trying the rest of the blends that Sawdust & Embers has to offer in the future.

This has been great since I am on an incense kick. My oldest even requests some when she is sitting at the desk and working on bead bracelets. 

Have you used charcoal incense before? What is scenting your home right now?