Monday, February 29, 2016

Ebb & Flow: February

The highs and lows of the month.

Malle En Passant

Edward Bess eyeshadows in Intimate and Mystery

Lush Coalface soap

FuturePrimitive Jilted & Crushed

Candles From the Keeping Room Fresh Picked Strawberry


Anna Karenina, until I die. Enjoying it but good grief is it forever long or what?!

Perrier, because more bubbles.

Dried pineapple. Call me Slughorn. 

Cardigans, jeans, and Toms. My official teacher uniform.

Spring Break and our IKEA couches. I am so stinking excited. 

Lovebug season. Those pesky critters are coming out of the ground soon to splatter on the windshields in legion.

Having dreams. Even if they never come to fruition. The current dream: a cabin in North Carolina.

Pumpkin Juice and Frozen Butterbeer. Can't pick just one.

Lush Ultra Balm. I have been using it on my cuticles for weeks and it is not helping a lick.

Depression. Hormone swings. Periods with cramping so intense that pain reliever and heating pads barely keep me from being curled in a fetal position all night and day. Work woes. Tears. Insecurities and doubts. It was a month with some heavy lows but soon I will be out of the trough of the wave and a arise to a crest again. 

A long weekend where I napped, lazed about, wrote, read, drank as much coffee as I wanted and hardly wore a bra or shoes.

How was your February? Highs, lows? Hits or misses? Freezing or spring ready?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Valhalla: Clamshell Order

This will be a short and sweet showcase of the clamshell order I placed with Valhalla following on the heels of my single scent order. The ones I fell in love with the most got ordered in clams. 

The clamshells cost $3.75 each. The scents I ordered include: Oak, Ash & Thorne, Norseman, Vnailla Luxe, Elf Cakes, Pendragon's Passion, Hedonistic and Masala Chai. 

I was sent a sample of Valkyrie wax and body whip (which is heavy on the cocoa butter which I love but left in the sunlight and it broke down... oops), and a soap sliver in HomeKoming that smells deep and calming of earth, fresh air, woods and ocean. 

Deb talked me into watching Vikings on the History Channel and I am loving it. Adam and I are actually watching it together which is a rarity. I love that I can geek out and melt these Viking scents while we watch it on the TV as well. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Travel: Tampa Bay Area Renaissance Festival

100 Things Bucket List for 2016, I thought I would update as things get checked off. One of those things just happened to be attending a Ren Fair. It so happens that our local Renaissance Festival is in Tampa near the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI for the locals) and runs every weekend from February until April I believe. It cost about $20 for adults and $10 for kids. A big tip: don't wear flip flops. Old tennis shoes are best.

Magic and colors and shiny things abound. As soon as we walked in we were serenaded, bombarded with delicious scents from the food stands and strange sights everywhere.

The people really made this event as magical as it came to be. From fair maidens trying to find a cool spot of shade, to the bae faes sitting in the trees and knights who engaged us in conversation. 

The mermaid regaled us with squeaks and chirps, communicating that for a mere $1 she would dive and retrieve blue sea glass gemstones for a gift.

And then there is this guy who had a funny story about how he earned his tiara...

... maybe you'll run into him and he will tell it to you.

We passed by this place three or four times just so I could smell the nag champa burning away. 


We went during the Scottish and Irish themed weekend and saw some Highland Games. And maybe a bit more. #thosethighstho

And my personal favorite and spirit animal....

.... the Scottish elf. I just wanted to squeeze him. 

I count the Ren Fair a success and will certainly return (in costume) and buy some incense and take in the sights. And another curried vegetable pasty. 

Some other things I have checked off my 100 Things Bucket List: 
- watched Breakfast at Tiffany's and sobbed and laughed
- visited Diagon Alley, but you know that
- explored a National Park (Cherokee National Park in North Carolina)
- played in snow
- sent a care package
- tried Indian cuisine
- brought someone dinner
- Bungalow 360 bag (for Christmas from my girls)
- took a writing risk, which you can read here
- started the girls an ornament box
- got Savanna's hair layered
- ordered fish at a restaurant (got blackened red fish and actually liked it)

Twelve down, not bad. Have you been to a Ren Fair? Checked any goals or dreams off? 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

FuturePrimitive: Valentine's Release

Ever since last year's Valentine's release, I waited with anticipation for Tiggy to restock Jilted & Crushed. It is quite easily my favorite scent in body care. Although, she did send me a sample of something that also pushed all the right olfactory buttons, but more on that later. 

FuturePrimitive's Jilted & Crushed scent description: A keepsake box of loves lost. Chunks of Copal resin, Indian Attar's filled with Oudh, Flakes of Amber resin, Black Tonk Beans and offerings of Dragonsblood, finished with a lick of Vetiver.

As always, my love for FuturePrimitive's Conditioning Hair Rinse remains true. The product did get a new face-lift in the form of a new bottle and label. I quite like the rounded amber plastic bottle over the tall, thin angular bottle of the past. Jilted & Crushed smells slightly different depending on the product, but I love that it provides a unique twist on a favorite scent with each layer added. In the conditioner, the oudh and amber come forth in dark sweetness. Conditioning Hair Rinse runs 9.25 pounds ($13). 

There are two lotion formulas on the site right now, the traditional Body Whip and a lighter Whipped Body Butter. I have not yet tried the Whipped Body Butter, but I do enjoy the Body Whip. I do notice a difference between last year's and this year's consistency. This year it is less waxy and more of a custard texture and very nourishing still. It imparts a nice healthy sheen to the skin without feeling greasy. The body whip brings out creamy sweet tonka notes in the scent Jilted & Crushed. It runs 6.95 pounds ($9.70).

Don't let the light as air feeling of this Three In One concern you. A little bit goes a long way and it feels much more dense that it looks, very much like well whipped stiff egg whites. I only use this for shampoo or shaving, as I enjoy bar soap for body washing. It leaves my hair clean but soft and smelling lovely. I always use it in conjunction with the Conditioning Hair Rinse. The Three In One Whipped Cream Soap costs 6.95 pounds.

I ordered one ml samples of the Jilted & Crushed Aromatic Perfume Oil and White Witch Aromatic Perfume Oil for 2 pounds each. I find that in the oil, Jilted & Crushed gives more of the vetiver grassy smoothness. And White Witch is one I have absolutely come to adore. I forsee more White Witch products coming across to pond to me. It has a calming herbal patchouli flavor that fills me with tender clarity. 

Jilted & Crushed bar soap is on sale right now in the clearance section for 3.57 pounds. Now I can finally use that last sliver I was hoarding for the last year.

Opium Den is one a appreciated from the Vanishing Bath Powders that I purchased during the fall. When I saw it came out in bar soap I grabbed it involuntarily. My instincts took over. It is 4.95 pounds and worth every quid. The incense and nag champa make this a dreamy experience. If you love nag champa you need this. 

My sample was Body Whip in Dark Plum Tea and I am dying. It smells incredible. I keep looking to see if it is offered in other products, but I am not seeing anything yet. The plum is indeed dark and juicy and dripping sweet with richness. There is the faintest hint of spice and evergreen and the tea smells like a slightly floral white tea. Purely decadent and festive. One I will use with joy. 

Have you tried FuturePrimitive yet? What scent favorites do you have? Are you looking forward to any spring releases?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Diptyque: Jonquille Candle

My very first Diptyque candle. 

This came about in a random way. I hadn't lurked on Hautelook in a few years and I got the itch to check it out in boredom one day and an alert said that Diptyque would be featured the very next day. Well, hello nurse! Of course I made it a point to check in as soon as they were released and Jonquille was the only standard sized candle scent offered. So I scooped it up (for $30, normally $60), along with a set of two mini candles and a set of pine scented wax air fresheners (those were duds as general closet sachets, but worked well in my car until they melted in the FL heat- gross).

Jonquille is daffodil. It scented the living room beautifully for this springy time of year. It threw at about a medium-strong and brought to mind daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and a motley collection of bulb flowers, all in a riotous bloom. A veritable nosegay of spring. My cold sniff thoughts were not very favorable as it had a strong lilac tone but as it burned, it unfolded into a far more complex and lovely scent. 

I am happy with this discounted purchase and will scope out Hautelook for these candles again. Do you have a favorite Diptyque? 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Melting Basket 60: And a Potter painting bug...

Wax tarts from the last basket I would purchase again involve: PFOP Avobath, CFTKR Juniper Berry and Cedar, Zeep Avo All Over, SMT Rose Jam/Pink/Mallow Noel,  RG Rosegirls Garden/Raspberry/VBN, Valhalla Vanilla Luxe, Nag Champa.

CandyPanda- Uluru
Pocket Full of Peonies- Karma
Pocket Full of Peonies- Dirty
Pocket Full of Peonies- Porridge
Vintage Chic Scents- Mamma Mia!
The Bathing Garden- Alice Dressed in Gold
Zeep- Olive Tree
TSTWB- Pink Sugar (not sure if this vendor is still open)
Country Lane Keepsakes- Warm Winter Vanilla Sugar <3 gift
Lasting Scent Candles- Pink Petit Fours
Lasting Scent Candles- Island Relaxation <3 gift
Sniff My Tarts- Sweet Lavender Marshmallow Cake/Marshmallow Noel/Pink Coconut
Rosegirls- Rose Jam
Up The Creek- Rose Jam/American Cream/Marshmallow Bean Noel
CFTKR- Pomelo Sage
CFTKR- Fresh Picked Strawberry
CFTKR- Jill's Strawberry Cream Filled Jelly Roll
CFTKR- Summer Strawberry Taffy
CFTKR- Amish Quilt <3 gift

I must be ready for fruity, sweet and floral. I wanted strawberries and Lush dupes. If you would like me to review any of these in depth please let me know!

I have had a rough past couple of weeks. If you are a regular reader, you might have noticed a few skipped days. I lost my mojo and have been desperately trying to climb back out of a funk. I had a bout of wanting to leave social media, the blog, work, everything. Not a fleeting, "I am discontent" but a very strong, very real and lasting urge. I knew in the back of my mind not to make any decisions in this state of mind but I did go ahead and leave Twitter, many wax groups and stopped blogging for a couple weeks and ran on previously written or hastily prepared posts for the most part. I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel again and I am going to try to keep limping along until I get my groove back. 

In the meantime, I have been painting again and that helped me immensely to pull my heart back from the blue place. My dear friend Ashley is having her second boy and I offered to paint her the Hogwarts house crests for his nursery. It had been so long since my paint brushes had been wet that I forgot the meditative quality of this act. I now have two more larger canvases ready for paintings for the girls. Savanna requested Mew in space and Scarlette wants sealife with candy. Those sound slightly Dali-esque but shall be fun to undertake. 

While the paint supplies were out, my two year old Hogwarts Tom's needed a facelift. I painted Ashley some Maurader's Map Tom's years ago and decided I needed some Harry Potter ones for myself. I chose a mishmash of things to illustrate on them. 

The acrylic paint holds up pretty well but does need a touch-up about once a year to remain vibrant. They get dirty from frequent wear but I hand-wash them to increase longevity. 

Nothing says nerd alert like Harry Potter shoes. I kind of want to paint some Sherlock or London ones next. If you could have Tom's painted in any theme what would you choose? Leave a comment below!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cooking Cove: New York Style Bagels

This is NOT a recipe I created on my own or even altered like I am prone to do. This recipe came straight from The Sophisticated Gourmet blog. This is a review of my experience using Kam's recipe. His blog makes my foodie soul shiver in imagined gastric ecstasy. I have printed many of his recipes to try. 

Back to the bagels. This recipe calls for a few simple ingredients, the only thing I had to buy was bread flour... make sure to use bread flour. I had to double this recipe as it makes 8 fat bagels but I knew I would need at least 16 to feed everyone for Savanna's 9th birthday party that day (her food request was bacon, egg and cheese bagels). Doubling was not an issue and it worked just fine.

I should have consulted my Farmer's Almanac, but it must have been a good yeast day as it came to life perfectly. Kneading the dough for 10 minutes provided some much "needed" metabolic stimulation pre-nosh. (You see what I did there).

After letting the simple dough rise, Adam and I divided it between ourselves then formed the rings by making spheres then stinking our finger down the center. Next time I won't be so afraid of making the hole too small. After letting these uncooked bagels rest some more they get boiled in a pot of water. I could only do about 3 at a time and would probably narrow it down to two in order to keep them more circular instead of getting pushed into ovals. My bagels never sank as it mentioned in the recipe but floated the whole while.

After boiling, they immediately baked for about 20 minutes and turned out perfectly. 

The outside was chewy and crisp with a softer inside. They are not flashy, but they are rustic and delicious and I already made them again since I only got to eat one. They are so yummy hot out of the over with butter and honey.

Have you ever made bagels? It wasn't too bad. It takes a solid couple of hours but the effort was well worth it. Though my mother-in-law did say something to the effect of "and this is why we just buy bagels" when I was kneading with sweat popping out on my forehead. I just hummed and kept pummeling. 

Do you have any foodie goals? Homemade pasta, madelines, and French macarons are up next in my not too distant future.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Warmed Wax: SMT, LSC and Valhalla

Sniff My Tarts Rose Jam/Pink Sugar/Marshmallow Noel frosted cookie shape threw strong and beautifully all day long. This was about 1/3 portion. I cut it up into thirds and spread them throughout the house. Rose Jam's sometimes bellicose jammy citrus and rose throw was calmed by the added musk in Pink Sugar and creaminess of the Marshmallow Noel. I would re-blend this and repurchase it in a New York minute.

Lasting Scent Candles Strawberry Pine Cones threw a scented curve-ball. The sweet candy like berry that dominated on cold sniff fell behind the soft hazy wood notes when warmed. The throw was medium-light. A nice idea but not a repurchase, there are so many more that LSC knocks out of the park. 

Valhalla Vanilla Luxe created a calming vanilla heavy atmosphere in the bedroom. The throw was medium to medium-strong and lasted several hours. As it warmed the plethora of notes that compose this vanilla could begin to be detected, sometimes the florals pulled through, then woods would peek out, all of a sudden tobacco would come to mind. A complex vanilla that I would repurchase, and did in fact repurchase.

Valhalla Nag Champa might be the best Nag Champa I have experienced. The scent threw strong but not overbearing and lasted a full day and into two. That is virtually unheard of in my home. I melted it one morning in my bedroom them the next day I could still catch whiffs of it as I walked around, getting ready for work. Soothing, blissful, down-to-earth hippy gorgeousness in a wax tart. Will repurchase. No doubt. 

Valhalla Shieldmaiden melted wonderfully at a medium throw but I found it just a smidge too clean for my tastes. Fresh, clean laundry type scents have to be calibrated just so for my enjoyment as home fragrance, but I did love it in soap form. Not a repurchase, but would be excellent for fresh lovers. 

Valhalla White Witch I found to be in the same category as Shieldmaiden. This one leaned more herbal than detergent but still not one I would reach for often. The throw was a medium as well. 

My melting has resumed after a brief bout of indolence. I was burning that gorgeous Laudano Nero candle though... it hypnotized me. Have you had any stellar melts lately? Any duds? Melting binge or melting drought? 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Sonoma Scent Studio: Yin & Ylang

Sonoma Scent Studio Yin & Ylang

Notes Include: Bergamot, blood orange, soft aldehydes, beeswax absolute, ylang oil, jasmine sambac absolute, tuberose absolute, rose damascones, ginger CO2, mysore sandalwood oil, oakmoss absolute, amber, patchouli, vanilla, musk.

The elegance with an edge quality of the 1920's lends a lovely platform from which to view this fragrance. Lady Mary Crawley defiantly flaunting her boyish haircut with a bow-tie at her throat in the Downton drawing room must smell of this perfume. It manages beautifully the juxtaposition of modern vintage. Golden bergamot and aged citrus possess a lightness and clarity buoyed by the most delicate aldehydes. Seductive ylang, jasmine and tuberose portray themselves as a Venus de Milo in their statuesque beauty, never turning lurid or naughty.  The lingering drydown maintains the bygone era of luxury with a gorgeous melding of creamy sandalwood, haunting oakmoss and subtle amber musk. The modernity can be found in Yin & Ylang's simplistic clarity. There are no distracting powdery notes, harsh lines or opaque heaviness; it floats off the wrist in transparent reflections of candle light. 

Laurie has done it again. I am in love. This particular scent was made in conjunction with the editor-in-chief of Cafleurebon, Michelyn. This scent can easily be worn in all seasons, but I believe spring and summer would fit this beauty sublimely. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Beezy: The Apple Clove Butter Order

You know. Just in case you want to see more Apple Clove Butter. Just look at John's fill level perfection. 

His tarts run $1.85 each and usually have a great throw and wonderful clear, true to life scents. The freebie in Pumpkin Cupcake does have a banana bread and caramel vibe, but smells amazing all the same. He has been open for RTS recently, but you would need to pop on and check as it can change at the drop of a hat. Did you order during Beezy's latest pre-order a few months ago? What did you get?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Travel: Universal Studios Diagon Alley

Extreme Harry Potter geekiness ahead. You have been warned. 

About 5 or 6 years ago I visited Hogwarts/Hogsmeade at Universal's Islands of Adventure and it was truly magical. When Savanna's 9th birthday approached she mentioned wanting to check out Diagon Alley so it was a no-brainer for me. We would have ideally loved to have done the two park pass but it was $155/person while a regular one park pass was about $100. So we stuck around Diagon Alley most of the day. 

Outside of Diagon Alley is London with King's Cross Station, the Knight Bus, the telephone booth that takes you to the Ministry of Magic (make sure to dial MAGIC and listen) and Grimmauld Place. The musical score from the movies takes you right into the scene.

The talking head and the bus attendant conduct a jocular back and forth for passer-by's amusement.

Kreature peeks out of the curtains from Number 12 if you wait long enough.

Between a record store and Grimmauld place lies the entrance to Diagon Alley where the sound of bricks grind against each other to reveal the magic that lies behind the wall. As I walked through and gazed down the road I teared up. Literally. 

Immediately to your left is The Leaky Cauldron, where the inside looks exactly like the film. I wanted to run behind the stone pillars to spy Mr. Weasley giving Harry the down-low about Sirius. 

Peering in the Potage's window, self-stirring cauldrons could be found.

The signage, weathered buildings, and window displays left me furiously trying to take it all in. My husband and in-laws were bemused at my intense excitement and frequent photo snapping. We went through Diagon Alley three times that day and I know I still did not see everything.

The wand shop (Ollivander's and Gregorovich's were both there) carried towers upon towers of wands. The wand choosing ceremony was touching (tears again).

You could buy several characters' wands that were either plain or interactive. Prices were not on the boxes that I could see and in my excitement I mentioned letting the girls pick out interactive wands. Adam grabbed McGonagall's for me too since I drooled over it a bit. But when we got to check out and I saw how much they were I pleaded for him to put mine back. But he insisted and I was thankful. They were $50 each. So be prepared. 

The wands have an infrared beam that shines out the tip and can be detected on cameras throughout both Diagon Alley and Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. There are brass markers that show a spell and how to perform it in order to make magic happen. If you don't perform it just right it won't work. Trust me, sometimes it would take 2, 5, 8 tries to get it right while other more experienced wizards got it in just one. See the four purple lights in the photo above? That is one of the cameras that you would point your wand towards. 

Knockturn Alley was featured as well and was very dark with some blacklight action. 

These shrunken heads sing a chorus if you do the right wand work.

The frozen version of Butterbeer was my favorite. I crave another one. 

Next time I would like to get some ice cream at Florean Fortescue's, they have quite an interesting selection of flavors. But we did quite enough splurging with the wands.And pretzels. And churros. And Butterbeers. And Pumpkin Juice (Very good! Tastes like apple juice and pumpkin pie mixed).

The dragon blows real fire every 10 minutes or so. The Gringott's ride blew my mind. I cried on that too. Seeing Harry, Ron, Hermione and the gang in new material was emotional overload for me. I undoubtedly looked like a nut being a mid-30's lady bawling like a baby on a roller-coaster ride. At least it was dark. And I could hide behind my 3-D glasses.

Wax. Just keeping it wax related.

Weasley's Wizard Wheezes caused a lot of ooohs and ahhhhhs. It was multi-leveled though you could only walk on the first floor. Through the skylight in the ceiling you would watch their fireworks explode. I wish I would have taken more time to really see what they sold. 

It was a beautiful day full of great memories. It pumped me up for the new book/play script release and renewed my fervor. Not that it waned but I do want to re-read the series.... yet again. Dreams of my future visit to the Warner Bros Studio Lot in London swim in my imagination. Only about 5 more years or so. Have you visited either of the parks? Are you a Potter fan? Have you tried Butterbeer? I think I need to brew some soon.