Saturday, March 31, 2018

Ebb & Flow: March

The highs and lows of the month.

Wylde Ivy Day of the Sugar Skull

Perfume Oil:
Nocturne Alchemy Eternal Ankh Anniversary, alone and layered with some of the NA dinos and studio limiteds

Hanaka Hyaluronic Acid Sleeping Pack EX

Alchemic Muse Hair Mist, I have been wanting to get away with putting heavy product in my hair. I usually slather my hair in LA Looks gel but I am liking the softer curls I get from simply spritzing some of this mist in my hair when it is wet and letting it air dry overnight. 

Night Time Ritual:
Cosmic Cleanse ScentSations Headache B Gone balm on my temples for relaxation.

Wax Tart:
Handmade in Florida Enchanted Woods, melted for three days straight and smelled amazing.

Jean-Michel Basquat

Bath Time Ritual:
Nocturne Alchemy Bath Oil in Pink Eternal Ankh

Ice cream and radishes, but not at the same time.

Club soda with lime

Various mythology and folklore and fairy shows and documentaries on BBC and Netflix. Myths and Monsters on Netflix has been interesting. Also watching Penny Dreadful. Not sure how I feel about it.


Flitting between Watership Down by Richard Adams and Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit

Scheduling a trip to the dentist. The stress of standardized testing season. 

A day at the beach. I can feel one approaching soon.

Sixteen92 Super Natural Hair Serum in Baker Street and Hellebore

Dr. Brandt Magnetight Magnet Mask, left my skin feeling oily. Too much gimmick. 

A general malaise waxes and wanes.

Harvesting the radishes from the garden. Watching the wild flowers I planted grow in abundance. Reading on the couch with coffee and scampering squirrels and flitting birds moving about just outside the window. Small things but they matter.

How was your March? Anything in particular going on? The good, the bad or the smelly?

Friday, March 30, 2018

Fortune Cookie Soap: OCD Hand Sanitizer

These hand sanitizers were purchased for Savanna's Lord of the Rings birthday party but I had a few left over that I decided to chat about. This was my first ever purchase from Fortune Cookie Soap, which I have perused for many years but never bought from, until now. This particular collection has only a few odds and ends available but I wanted to talk a bit about the hand sanitizer itself and the fragrances. The smaller one ounce travel sizes are $2.89 and the larger 7.4 ounce pump versions are $6.49. The hand sanitizers are called OCD Hand Sanitizers and a portion of the proceeds go to the International OCD Foundation.

Mellon- Notes: Mirkwood myrrh, neroli, burning incense of Moria, elderberry herbal tea, ginger and fresh morning dew on the hills of Hobbiton. 
An easy fragrance to love! The elderberry tea portion speaks the loudest to my senses. It smells sweet, fruity and fresh. The hand sanitizer itself goes on smoothly and leaves no slimy or sticky residue. The hands are left soft and dry after the gel soaks in.

Middle Earth- Notes: Warmed Longbottom leaf, frosted silver birch atop the Misty Mountains, blue juniper bushes of Pelennor fields and subtle hints of citrus. 
Good gobbling Gollums this smells magical. Silky woods, leaves, sweet musk and is that tobacco? Must be the Longbottom weed. I love how beautiful Middle Earth smells, but I fear I will look like Mary Katherine Gallagher sniffing her hands and I will have to explain that it is just my hand sanitizer that take all my attention.

Second Breakfast- Notes: Maple butter, tonka bean, spiced eggnog French toast with berries and cream beneath the party tree of the Shire.
Creamy berries and cakes and a touch of booziness greets the nose and hands. The berries melt away and a vanilla whiskey cake is left behind. This one sits on my husband's nightstand. It is a touch too foodie for my hands but would be a brilliant wax tart.

Kingsfoil- Notes: Lemon zest, iced raspberry blossoms, wild Numenor mint, moss and watered grass.
Sweet and tart fruits and greenery brighten the air, then gently become more aquatic and watery. A wonderfully light and summery scent to grace the hands.

You Shall Not Pass- Notes: Cashmere musk, French pear, tarragon, caramel, Old Toby smoke clinging to an old grey cloak and firewood doused in magic. 
Smooth and silky, this smells like a velvety cleanness. A high end soap. Freshly laundered sheets, sun warmed and light with skin musk. This is actually a brilliant hand sanitizer scent. 

I have been wanting to try Fortune Cookie Soap's wax tarts and bath goodies. Do you have any Fortune Cookie Favorites? Their Polyjuice Potion comes and goes fairly often and I am always tempted by it. Have you tried it?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Aerin Perfume Sampler

This Aerin perfume sampler was gifted to me from my sweet friend Ellisa quite a while back. I am not sure why it took me so long to get to spraying these on, but this spring break has enabled me to paw through my stash more thoughtfully. I re-organized my perfumes and tucked away my winter and fall scents, which left me more room to explore my spring and summer offerings. I laid eyes on this tidy little box set and knew I wanted to dig in.

This set runs about $20 at Sephora. 

Lilac Path- Notes: Lilac, galbanum, jasmine lactones, angelica seed oil and orange flower.

Verdant sparkling top notes of bracing green galbanum and the zest of lime pool into dewy spring meadows and gardens vibrating with life. Bees and other winged creatures flit from bushes heavy with lilac clusters and starry eyed climbing jasmine vines. Lilies and hyacinth and amaryllis open their tender hearts for the whirring and buzzing of life. Their perfumes all meld into a symphony of scent, a bouquet of texture and color that encapsulates spring. As the fragrant spring serenade comes to a close it settles into a lush grassy and very soft earth inspired aroma. This is a gorgeous spring scent that I will happily wear over the next couple of months.

Amber Musk- Notes: Amber, coconut water, rose centifolia absolute, benzoin and musk.

The top notes carry the honeyed and nectar laden fruits of the islands on the breeze, warmed by the sun and diluted by the trade winds. Guava, kumquats, citrus, mango and pineapples all lend the merest sliver of their bounty into the golden air. Cracking open the heart of the perfume reveals the tawny liquid warmth of the amber resin. Tempered by the coconut and floating in the spilled essence of plumeria flowers, the amber retains its plush tropical aura. The amber floats upon the skin and merges with sweet balsamic benzoin as it dries down into a pillowy bed of sand by the shore. A perfectly sunny yet sensual fragrance for the balmy summer days and nights. 

Gardenia Rattan- Notes: Marine notes, gardenia, tuberose, tiare and amber. 

Spry herbaceous top notes dip into an ephemeral creamy, milky bouquet of white florals. The top notes evanesce into a saline heart of aquatic blooms. Seaweed, ambrette and a hint of gardenia swirl about in a sea water potion that is vegetal and a touch salty in its musk. The tide ebbs and it dries down into a driftwood and ambrette woodsy musk. A lovely seaside fragrance for those who enjoy aquatic white florals. 

Ikat Jasmine- Notes: Jasmine Samac, Jasmine Egypt, tuberose, honeysuckle and sandalwood. 

Bubbly bergamot and citrus tickles the nose as soon as it is sprayed. The top notes fade quickly and the jasmine unfurls its pristine buttery petals. A heart of velvety jasmine and indolic tuberose emerges in a narcotic and hypnotizing haze. The heady blossoms are never heavy or opaque but translucent and glowing and gauzy. As it skims into the drydown, the jasmine remains and is warmed by woods. A beautiful fragrance that reminds me that I need to wear jasmine more often. 

Evening Rose- Notes: Rose centifolia, Bulgarian rose, blackberry and cognac.

Lemony sweet top notes gild the edges of peppery yet plummy roses. The heart is a florescence of roses at sunset. Their papery yet darkly sweet perfume lures in the dusk. The faintest deep purple shadows of the blackberry lie under the bellies of the plump roses as the night folds in. The roses quietly blend into the dark and blackberry sweetened woods and amber remain.

These are lovely. Thank you so much Ellisa. I cannot wait to spray these Aerin perfumes with abandon. Amber Musk is my favorite of all of these, though they are all beautiful. Have you found any fragrant treasures lately? How do you feel about florals?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Geek Fire Labs: Wax Tart Melts

I decided back in January to expand my wax horizon by giving Geek Fire Labs a go. I had heard about them for a while but my low buy had me looking at what I wanted to add to my wax stash in a more adventurous manner. Unfortunately the owner, Nikki Ward, and her family fell ill to the flu, like so many other this past flu season. The order was delayed about a month or so, but I didn't mind the wait. I decided to give the "Choose 4" wax bundle a go for $20 plus $4.85 shipping. There are 20 scents to choose from and all give a nod to some pop culture reference. 

Potion's Class- Notes: A pinch of dried lavender, a dash of patchouli, stir clockwise three times after adding amber, violet and nag champa. 

On cold, this blend smells of herb infused nag champa. There is a green astringency to the incense, but it is pleasant and bracing rather than harsh. Once it melts the greenness fades a bit and an earthy blend of nag champa and patchouli fragrants the house at a medium-light throw. I enjoyed this one but did wish for a pinch more throw. 

Weirwood Grove- Notes: Birch bark, pine cone accord, blood-red maple leaves and amber sap.

I love the creamy amber and wood filled fragrance of this scent. It definitely smells familiar but my brain is not sending me the wavelength on which the answer resides. The woods and leaves speak of fall with a rustle of cool breezes through the leaves. Guys. It has been years and years since I have read the last Game of Thrones novel, but smelling this rendition of a weirwood grove makes me want to re-read the whole series again. Until I remember that I may never get to experience the completion of the epic tale of Westeros. Ah well. Back to the Weirwoods. This reminds me of some Bath & Body Works Autumn Day or something along those lines. The throw was a touch light on this one too... about medium-light. 

Memory of Gallifrey- Notes: Gentle dusky desert breezes with notes of dried, wind-blown leaves, charred pine and cedar, amber, smoky sandalwood with light notes of brown sugar and soft vanilla.

The Memory of Gallifrey smells exactly like Bonfire Bliss if you are familiar with that scent. A sweet, smoky campfire type of fragrance. It was nice and threw at about a medium. 

Yubaba's Bathhouse- Notes: Exotic seas salt bath soaks, delicate water lotus and healing aloe, topped with Japanese yuzu and Satsuma orange rinds. 

Brilliant. This smells exactly like I would expect Yubaba's Bathhouse to smell, clean, fresh and full of light refreshing citrus and serene florals. Sparkling river spirits, shining fool's gold and squeaky clean patrons of all shapes and sizes float to the surface of this scent. The lotus possesses an almost lily and freesia lean. Two cubes melted nice and strong in the living room and kitchen. This was perfect for the day I melted it; I was cleaning the house and organizing.

Since the order was delayed Nikki sent out a free lip balm along with the order. I don't see this particular flavor on the website but it is Moon Goddess and is flavored in lavender vanilla ($4). 

 I very much enjoy the branding and pop culture references. I do feel like some of these scents smell a touch light for my tastes but I would still be willing to shop again and try a few other scents. Have you tried Geek Fire Labs? Do you have any favorite scents I should give a whirl?

Monday, March 26, 2018

Mermaid Treasure: Arrok

My love of birds is well documented on this blog. My love of Arrok's jewelry is as well. Nicole's eye for blending nature, Victorian aesthetic, bold tattoo inspired designs and fine craftsmanship and precision all conspire to bring me back to her shop again and again. A few months ago she generously hosted a sale at her Etsy shop and this beautiful bird ring just happened to be sitting there in my size. I scooped it up and now she flies on my hand. 

Nicole is very responsive to messages and will work out payment plans in some cases. I have her hammered sparrow earrings, which Adam bought me for Christmas, and I love wearing them. She has been working on a mermaid piece that have been a joy to watch in progress. She is one smoking hot siren. Have you checked out Nicole's work? Her spider earrings and viking ring are making my eyes twinkle right now. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Arcana Wildcraft: Spring Collection

These perfumes were sent by Julia as a gift. All thoughts on the scents are my own.

Julia at Arcana Wildcraft has released her Spring Collection and many of the perfumes are based upon the "Crazy Jane" poems by William Butler Yeats. Arcana Wildcraft used to sell their items directly via the Arcana Wildcraft eBay store, but Julia has recently changed her business model and will now be selling her perfume oils at stockists such as Nui Cobalt Designs, Sihaya and Company, Femme Fatale and Pretty Indulgent. There has been a small price increase to $26 per bottle. These changes do not bother me whatsoever, and I will still be buying and growing my Arcana collection as I see fit. Heck. I already did. I picked up Tammany Hall from Sihaya and Company this past weekend. 

The grass my bed- Notes: Red rose petals, green grass, spring rain, and a bed of  soft Scots pine needles.

Wounded rose petals fallen onto tender blue blades of grass, plucked and torn by a delicate hand. Bleeding their scent. This is the aroma that lifts from the bottle, pliant and lush and a touch melancholy. Pressed into the skin, the wild rose and sweet grass emerge dew dropped, the fragrant offerings unfolding from Mother Earth's verdant hands. A pure rosebud, fresh and clean as the first inhale at sunrise, it never feels powdery or peppery and not candied at all. The grass weaves the perfect nest for the rose, creating a lovely soft spring scent. Just slightly watery at the edges. As it dries, the rose fades as its youth escapes, the grass mellows and the merest hint of woods lingers. The offering accepted and pressed into the pages of the heart. 

Her coal-black hair- Notes: Blackened oudh, dry sandalwood, a drop of orris and a faint memory of violet perfume. 

Smoky dark oudh, feathered and black like a charcoal sketch, is shadowed with the soft purple hue of aged violets. Smudged. Bruised. Tender as the skin under gleaming eyes. Painted on the wrist, tiny wild violets bloom in a dark hollow of the forest. Their leonine faces are carefully herded into a woven basket and made into a tincture for the glossy blue-black tresses of the hand who gathered them. Fanned across the muslin pillow in her humble cottage, the black vines of her hair fragrant the room with violet water and smoke from the hearth fire, inky as the hollow in a tree. As her eyes drift shut (oh those jet eyes that gleam), the delicate violets fade and the effluvia of smoldering embers, dried wood and tarry night steal in. I have never had a dark violet. This is an exquisite scent I am thrilled to have in my collection.

Cursing the Bishop- Notes: An ominous mix of dragonsblood, black pepper, crimson amber, Tahitian vanilla, brown sugar, bewitched parchment paper, and tiny hints of vetiver and kush.

A brief inhale of the elixir within the glass amber bottle reveals a musty and earthy wintergreen aroma that possesses a subtle dark sweetness. It smells of the breath that offers curses and kisses under the same moon. Anointed onto the skin, the earthy dank vetiver grass smells secretive and salacious. There is a saltiness to it, of skin and musk, but still that touch of wintergreen persists to my nose. Wintergreen obviously is not present in this perfume but the effect remains in my perception, at least for a brief moment. As the scent sinks further into the skin and shifts through its phases, the earthiness wanes and sweet amber melded with dragon's blood incense waxes full. Even more time passes and the vanilla melts off the amber and leaves a beautiful ambered sandalwood in its wake. I will be the first to admit that wintergreen conjures up some strange memories of the past that I don't always enjoy (and yes, there is no wintergreen there but the nose sniffs what the nose sniffs) but the brown sugar and amber infused dragon's blood resin at the heart and the woodsy base of this scent is worth experiencing. I will happily be slathering this on and Cursing the Bishop all the while for the invention of wintergreen Skoal. 

Side note. Just for fun I asked my daughter what she smelled from the bottle and she spun a yarn about sitting around a campfire and eating hotdogs and dessert. I am excited to read other reviews about this perfume because I have a feeling it is a real changeling and will give everyone a run for their money. I love it.

Love is like the lion's tooth- Notes: A bright mix of young honeysuckle blossoms, intense ginger, golden musk and sweet figs. 

How does Julia craft a scent that appears intensely sunny and innocent but leaves a subtle foreshadowing at the edges? Sniffing from the bottle is much like the urge to gaze at the brilliant sun as a thin veil of clouds temporarily mutes it... the brilliance beckons to be witnessed but there is risk involved. Bright can be dangerous. Dangerously beautiful. Lemony tart ginger and the barest heady whiff of honeysuckle dazzle the senses, but behind the golden duo lurks the sultry stickiness of suggestive figs and their womb-like shape. Ripe. Full of sweetness. This same scent briefly makes its appearance on the wrist, then in the blink of an eye the lemon hearted honeysuckle cascades off the skin like a waterfall of scent, the balmy breath of a Floridian summer night. An exhale of humid honeysuckle, at first indolic and creamy and redolent of jasmine but then more mellow with citrus nectar, stimulates the senses like the first flush of love. As the scent ages on the flesh, the ginger's heat adds spice to the honeysuckle's nectar and ripe maroon figs add depth. Much like love, what started as lighthearted shifts into a deeper intimacy and then you are in the mouth of the lion before you realize it. This fragrance is hypnotizing. A beautifully crafted honeysuckle that is perfect for spring and summer. It will bloom in the heat. 

Wild Jack for a lover- Notes: Whiskey, red ale, woodsmoke, worn alder wood and dry, manly musk.

Jack is indeed wild. That man. That man. He is drinking and rambling and the rolling stone that gathers no moss. He enjoys his whisky warm from the flask by the campfire while his horse nickers behind him in the woods. Is this Josey Wales at the fire? His craggy jaw and capable form are silhouetted in the flames, silhouetted in the fumes that rise from the bottle. Amber whiskey, arid woods and musk. Branded onto the wrist, the silhouette morphs into a ghost of peat smoke that is soon imbued with the yeasty sweetness of whiskey that was aged in birch caskets. Wild Jack's kiss tastes of grains and woods, firewater and rebellion. Risk and rye. Sin and spirits. The whiskey is never cloying or overwhelming, but blended smoothly and tempered with oak and birch, woods and musky leather. Gauzy woodsmoke lingers in his beard, his only familiar and constant in his labyrinthine life. Wild Jack smells dead sexy and I am just as content to be called Wild Julie when I wear it.

Eye under eyelids did so gleam- Notes: Lacrima water, ivory tuberose, gardenia, Tiare flowers, blushing narcissus, sea salt and dulse.

Tropical flowers, intoxicating and awash in the scents of the sea, ebb and flow, opening and closing their blossoms under the influence of the seasons like the anemones in a reef. These undulating flowers sway from the lip of the bottle ever so tantalizing under my nose. Washed onto the flesh the perfume froths with a sea foam composed of white florals. Tuberose and gardenias with their thick white petals dripping honeyed beeswax and cream, dripping tears of milk and nectar and their own unique golden perfume fall and float in the eddies of warm tropical waters that lap at the shore. The saline pools on the shore of a fluttering crescent of eye, thickly lashed with coal black shadows. My how those pools did gleam. The dulse, which is a variety of seaweed, lends just a subtle salty greenness to the flowers so their headiness doesn't overflow in exceeding abundance. The base is fragrant with the salty green dulse and perhaps a nod to oakmoss and driftwood. A beautifully rendered white floral fragrance that wears effortlessly, much like plucked flowers adorned in the hair. Natural beauty. 

Vanilla Craves Sugar Cookies- Notes: Warm sugar cookies infused with three gourmand vanillas and a hint of vanilla musk.

The aroma wafting out the vial is mouth watering. Chewy vanilla laden sugar cookies and sweetened condensed milk. Drizzled onto the wrists, the thick sticky dulcet tones of sweetened condensed milk remain. Please don't misinterpret me. This is not a colorless canned scent of milk and sugar. This fragrance swells with nuances of caramel and sugared vanilla, sweet cream and vanilla beans. As the scent mixes and combines and folds into the skin, a whiff more of the cookie aroma arises, but just a whiff of that chewy rich sugar cookie. This is a delectable vanilla scent that falls more into the gourmand territory with its belly full of  caramel and cream and warm thickness.

Strawberries Crave Ice Cream- Notes: Pink strawberries crushed with Mexican vanilla beans and blended into vegan accords of fresh milk, sugar and cream.

A sniff of the perfume in the bottle does remind me of the fresh strawberry milkshakes that my husband, girls and I love to buy at Parksdale Farms while strawberry season is in full swing. Deep red berries suspended in dark pink ice cream that is heavy with cream and sugar and milky wholesomeness. Dabbed onto the skin, the image of heart shaped strawberries swells to fill my senses, the plump ripeness, jammy and bright. The berries are sliced and piled in a small ceramic bowl then drenched in sugared milk. As it settles in its sweetness the milky hues drift on and the strawberries return as preserves freshly set. The longer the fragrance wears on the skin, the ruby berries evanesce into a blissful pale pink strawberry musk. 

I have enjoyed my experiences with all these lovely fragrances. I have to admit that Savanna snuck off with Strawberries Crave Ice Cream. She opened the package when it arrived and immediately was drawn to it. After patiently waiting all week for me to write about it, she is thrilled to finally claim it. Though I did make her promise I could wear it if I had the hankering for it (and I am sure I will). Black hair, Lion's tooth, Eyes gleam and Wild Jack are the stand outs for me. Lion's tooth and Eyes gleaming are just the scents I am craving for spring. If you could have a perfume created from a poem what poem would it be? I have to say mine would be "Goblin Feet" by J. R. R. Tolkien. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Scrimshaw Pottery: Skull Mug

I featured Ben's incredibly detailed artwork and pottery back in November when I ordered a scrimshaw inspired pirate ship and kraken mug from Scrimshaw Pottery. I love that mug. 

Ben recently came out with this tough looking scrimshaw mug design and the first time my eyes laid upon it, they lit up with hearts and this became the booty which my nautical heart desired. 

Since my November order I quickly discovered that knowledge of Ben's talent had spread and ordering was no longer a leisurely stroll about his Etsy shop. I missed his first several skull mug sales, which made me become more determined. I followed him more closely on IG and set my alarm for his next opening and pounced on the first teal skull mug I set eyes on. Ain't she a beaut?! 

I love the drippy back edged in white. Very reminiscent of aqua waves lapping at a black sand shore. 

This mug is a fierce way to start out a morning. 

I have been enjoying watching Ben create his mystical wizard by the sea and raging vikings on the water artworks, both subjects I appreciate. I hope he makes them for sale in the future. What is on your favorite coffee or tea mug?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Urban Mysticism: Mental R&R Sleep Myst

This is the third time I have featured this particular item, Urban Mysticism's Mental R&R Sleep Myst. I am still in love with it. I think this is my third (fourth?) bottle. As part of my night time routine I like to spray this on the back of my neck and on my pillowcase. It cools my body and soothes my mind, it imparts a beautiful scent of sweet lavender and peppermint. It is a blend of sweet pea flower essence, peppermint and lavender essential oil in a base of pure spring water with 20% brandy as a stabilizer along with an infusion of charged stones of Stilbite, Blue Argonite, Scolecite, Blue Smithsonite and Herkimer Diamond. Actual charged Moonstone crystals clink and chime in the bottom of bottle. $20

Do you have a bedtime staple? 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Melting Basket 118

Wax that I melted from the last basket that I would buy again: LSC Insanity, Beezy Vanilla Custard and TDC Pink Candy Canes/Marshmallow Sugar Cookies/Toasted Marshmallows. I think I was being overly picky but I have also not been as focused on what I smell, so it had to really hit a chord for me to notice.

Handmade in Florida- Enchanted Woods
Handmade in Florida- Meditate
Handmade in Florida- Tea for Two
Handmade in Florida- Ritual Lavender
CFTKR- Peppermint & Cypress
CFTKR- Mahogany Coconut
Vintage Chic Scents- All I Do Is Dream Of You
Ten Digit Creations- Blackberry Frankincense
Candy Panda-The Other Woman
Beezy- Peppermint Meringue
The Bathing Garden- Starlight Soda Pop
Sniff My Tarts- Pine Forest/Marshmallow Fireside
FuturePrimitive- Cut Throat Barbershop

If you are curious about any of these scents, let me know and I will review them. 

The girls love their chicken friends. These are my step-dad's chickens and the girls always ask to hold and feed them and gather their eggs. 

We also spent time feeding the cows and checking out the new calves this weekend. 

It was nice to spend time walking slowly about the pasture. Savanna was delighted to watch a group of robins bobbing about the grass. 

How was your weekend? 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Spring Musings

Hey there. So things are getting a little busy for me at work and as this is the first year I have both blogged and taught as a full-time lead teacher, I am a bit stretched. In fact, the last time I was a solid classroom teacher was in 2008. You could say I am re-adjusting. Report cards are being worked on, standardized testing is fast approaching and the constant of lessons and conferences and meetings is ever present. I am eyeing Spring Break with a wistful sigh while I think of all the things at home I need to catch up on: the garden (just picked our first yield- radishes!), a quilt for my sister's wedding, cleaning the house and getting some posts up for the blog. Of course I want to fit in some fun with my girls and read and do about a million other things too. I feel like I am in a chaotic state right now. My body is rebelling, my will power is next to nil and I am just gosh darn tired. Yes. I know how to fix it. Yes, I need to take care of my daily food choices and activity. Yes, I am struggling with it. I am trying to budget better, build up my savings. It is hard. I want to do it all but then all the plates I am trying to spin fall down.

But spring is for growth right? Renewal? Digging in the soil, getting dirty, making sacrifices to nurture something into life. What helps you to refocus? How do you stop a backslide? Or do I just need more grace? 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bookish Jay & The Reading Mermaid: Book Challenge Update

Hello my beauties! I am updating the Bookish Jay and Reading Mermaid Challenge today. Jay from The Scented Library and I created a reading challenge in the beginning of the year and I think it is about time for a check-in. The original challenge can be found here if you still want to join in. Never too late! I am not including all the categories in this post but rather only the ones I have read and checked off. 

My rating system is pretty straightforward * = meh, ** = good, *** = please go read it. 

2. Adventure awaits! Choose a rather adventurous read.
Jackaroo by Cynthia Voigt- I picked this up for sale at the library years ago for a dime. I finally got around to reading it and let me tell you, that was the best way to spend a dime on the planet. I forgot I read a novel by Cynthia Voigt several years ago when Savanna was a baby (A Solitary Blue) and it fled my mind how deep she writes. This novel is that way too. It takes place in the medieval times and revolves around Gwyn, a young Innkeeper's daughter, who bucks the two choices she has in life: get married or be a spinster. This story is steeped in adventure but can also be very meaningful if one chooses to see. I loved it so much I quickly bought the other three in The Kingdom series. ***

5. A memoir.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King- I borrowed this from a co-worker and I am very happy I did. It was insightful reading a bit about King's past and how he approaches writing. I took away some great lessons and even taught a few to my students in the writing class I teach. If you are a Stephen King fan I recommend it. We will be headed to Maine this summer and I am thinking about visiting his hometown. ***

6. A story set in a forest or mountains, or depicting either on the cover.
Gap Creek by Robert Morgan- This story is set in the Appalachian mountains during a time when there is no electricity or running water (other than the creeks of course) and life is very much lived on the land and by the work of the hand. The story follows the life of Julie (nice name!) from the moment she leaves her own family to cleave to that of her husband's. This book is brilliant in the sense that you get a true grasp of how difficult life could be, and at times it made me squirm when she made those naive choices every young adult makes at some point and suffered the consequences. Though at times it was utterly heartbreaking, I still enjoyed it. ***

7. An epistolary novel, told in letters or journal entries.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell- This probably isn't a true epistolary novel in the sense that it is not entirely told via letters or entries but of the two main characters, one is told solely via emails she sends to her BBF while the other character is narrated in a more traditional style. It is a humorous love story and I cackled out loud numerous times. Rainbow Rowell knows how to hit me in the heart and the funny bone. ***

9. Pick up one of those neglected TBR books you have lurking about. I know you do.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber- This book was recommended to me by a Facebook friend ages and ages ago. He desperately wanted me to read it and I had heard that it was good so it was promptly put on my TBR list on GoodReads where it languished. Apparently I let it stew long enough that it turned up on deep discount at Books-A-Million where I snapped it up for less than $5. It is a maze of a YA book that chronicles two sisters and their quest to escape their abusive father and his overbearing reign by attending and participating in a circus that performs once a year. It was a fun read, although predictable at times. I did want a touch more steam between the one sister and her "guide" for the performance but maybe that comes in later books? **

14. Non-fiction to tickle the brain cells.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt- Whoa. Nelly. Where has this book been all my life (other than sitting on my bookshelf for a few years...doh)? My sister and I are taking our family vacation in Savannah, GA this summer and this book is a great gateway to that mysterious and secretive southern town. Darby began reading it in preparation for our vacation and quickly told me to crack open my copy. It is the true tale of a New Yorker's love affair with the town and his experience befriending a fellow who would soon be accused of murder. I cannot wait to watch the movie. ***

15. A book from the library.
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood- Margaret never lets me down. This story follows the life of a young servant who is accused of murder but loses her memory of the event. An up and coming doctor who studies amnesia begins a relationship with Grace, trying to solve the mystery of her missing memory. I immediately watched the series on Netflix after reading the book and it was flipping amazing. It followed along perfectly and I loved it. ***

18. A book with a bird, on the cover or in the plot.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton- The tale of a young Dutch woman who is married off to a virtual stranger who is a rich merchant in Amsterdam that travels the world for the East India Trading Company. There are many mysteries that surround his household, himself and the miniaturist the young lady hired to fill her curio cabinet. Will she be able to make the house her home? I found it interesting enough to keep turning the pages but I am not sure how I felt about it in the end. **

27.  A book that was gifted to you.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr- A heartbreakingly beautiful story of a blind girl and a genius soldier during World War II. Their stories weave and intertwine so poignantly. All I can say is that you won't regret reading it. ***

28. A book by a debuted author.
Sea Change by S. M. Wheeler- A girl forms a bond with a kraken, and once he is captured against his will by pirates, she sets out to find and free him but she must complete various quests in order to unlock his cage. At times brutal and both heart and gut wrenching, this tale does touch upon the value of love and friendship and determining one's own identity. I found it a compelling read. *** 

I am beyond happy with my progress so far. I have read more interesting books than I have in most years. I did pick up a couple and put them down since they were not my cuppas so that may be why most I have read I have truly enjoyed. I am currently reading Holes because my daughter picked it out at a used bookstore and read it in one day and declared I needed to read it as well. I think it will be my "thrift shop find" on the challenge. I also have Outsiders waiting in the wings. 

What have been some of your favorite books of 2018? Have we read any in common? Am I crazy to not have fallen head over heels for Caraval

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Nocturne Alchemy: Pastel Collection

These lovely perfumes are part of Nocturne Alchemy's Valentine's Resurgence collection that will be coming down March 30th. When I took these photos and began jotting down my experiences wearing these scents, all four where in stock. As the days have passed, one after another has gone out of stock. As of this current writing there is only Nag Champa Seahorse left. I have seen a few of these for sale in the NAVA Marketplace on Facebook so a few can be sought out. As usual, I am going to talk about them anyway. There are a few more scents in this particular collection like Buttercream Butterfly and others, they run $24 for each 5ml bottle. 

Nag Champa Seahorse- Notes: Nag Champa incense smoke, patchouli, sandalwood, dragon's blood and Crystalline vanilla.

I actually purchased this scent a while back, maybe last summer? It is one of my favorite nag champa scents. This is a light and airy incense with the clarity of salty sea breezes. On the skin it feels wispy and white, pure incense. The tones are are more dried flowers rather than earthiness. It makes for a stunning spring and summer time fragrance as the sun warms the earth and heats the skin. 

Amber Beetle- Notes: Amber resin, rock rose, sandalwood, patchouli, Vanilla-Myrrh, Crystalline and Egyptian musk.

From the bottle the scent of dark amber and sticky rose rose, otherwise known as cistus, arises resinous and warm. Rock rose is a flower but not a rose in the traditional sense. It actually composes quite a dark aroma and makes the resin from which labdnaum derives. I love labdanum. Once on the skin this scent reminds me quite a bit of Eternal Ankh Anniversary (which is another NA scent I own and have yet to bestow a proper review upon). It has a sweet pink amber fragrance, like vanilla amber and the tender opalescent pastels inside a seashell. Amber Beetle darkens as it settles into the skin, becoming a sepia brew of amber, labdanum and myrrh. The vanilla sweetness of Crystalline offer a candied musk throughout the experience.

Coconut Cockatoo- Notes: Coconut husk, coconut milk, coconut sugar and Crystalline vanilla.

My childhood emerges from the bottle, sweet coconuts, a dash of Hawaiian Tropic lip balm and my mom sipping tropical coladas at the Adam's Mark hotel on Clearwater Beach. On the skin the same beachy vibe laps at the senses. A perfect summer scent for coconut lovers. The coconut it candied with that Crystalline vanilla while toes wriggle in fine sugar white sand and gulls shriek overhead. As it dries down a touch it becomes more woody like the brown rough husk of a coconut bobbing in the teal gulf. Ultimately it settles into a divine vanilla coconut scent that I am thrilled to have for this summer. I am sad to say I don't think this bottle will last me very long. 

Lavender Dolphin- Notes: Lavender, Crystalline, white sandalwood and snow musk. 

Lavender buds on clean white linen floats to the surface of the oil when the lid lifts. Rubbed into the skin, the scent of sappy sticky lavender buds and leaves being rubbed and pressed between the fingertips emerges. Organic and realistic, herbal and freshly picked. Soon a bleached musk washes the lavender to purity. It morphs into lavender sachets that lend freshness to lacy unmentionables and linen closets. Or is it a sandalwood hope chest that the sachets reside within? For the sandalwood chest is faded and pale, dried to white bones. This is a white lavender and woods fragrance that is gauzy and austere.

Nag Champa Seahorse is still around and if you enjoy incense fragrances I think you might enjoy it. What notes do you like to have on hand during the summer time?