Monday, December 31, 2018

Ebb & Flow: December 2018

The highs and lows of the month.

Dasein Winter

Perfume Oil:
Arcana Wildcraft Trees Layering Note

Body Oil:
Witch Baby Sacred Woods

Handmade in Florida Spa Time

Sihaya & Company Courage, Comfort and Joy

Ten Digit Creations Patchouli Mint

Lip Balm:
Lumina Noctis Hygge

Skin Care:
Ghoulish Delights Apparition Toner

Healing Balm:
Blood Moon Botanica Pine Pitch Salve

Way too many soft peppermint candies.

Not enough water.

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer Smith

Mystery Science Theater 3000, Hemlock Grove, Big Dreams: Small Spaces and the birbs.

A visit to the Mayan ruins in Chichen Itza.

Lots of things come to mind but not sure I want to vocalize them. 

Nocturne Alchemy incense resins. I enjoyed burning them.

Jason Purifying Tea Tree Natural Deodorant

My Pop-Pop passing.

A celebratory dinner out with my friends, spending Christmas with family and a day at Universal for my birthday. Finishing the reading challenge, not buying wax this month, planting more wildflowers in the garden and seeing a goldfinch for the first time. 

How was your December? Did 2018 end on a high or low? Were you gifted any amazing goodies? Small pleasures? Small disappointments?

Wishing you and yours many blessings, good health and the forging of happy memories for 2019.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Melting Basket 134

Wax from the last basket that I loved: CFTKR Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Noels of Christmas Past and Plumberry Spice, VCS Christmas Time Is Here, SMT Enchanted Forest/Fraser Fir/Vanilla Snowflakes.

Beezy- Amish Quilt
Vintage Chic Scents- Central Park Snowglobe
Sniff My Tarts- Marshmallow Fireside/Fireside/Camp Fire Marshmallows/Vanilla Sandalwood
Dessa's Homespun Scents- Smoky Mountain Berries/Cinnamon Pine Cones
Dessa's Homespun Scents- Peppermint/Winter Solstice
CFTKR- Warm & Cozy
CFTKR- Winter Flannel
CFTKR- Sugar and Spice Noel 
Zeep- Fall Naps
Bohemienne Life- Grimoire
Three Ravens- Covenstead

Still craving some cozy scents since the weather will be getting cold on and off as rainy cold fronts blow in. Let me know if you are curious about any of these.

I have been going through my wax stash and making up two medium flat rate boxes to give away here in a couple days. I am using up my perfume samples and burning my candles. A little bit of packing has commenced since mom dropped off some Rubbermaids and I picked up some Sterilites at Target. 

Just packing away my fabrics and crafting supplies was eye opening. We are going to need a whole lotta boxes. Yikes. I am trying to use this time to toss things out and re-home items too. On the list of things to do is to read some of the shorter books on my shelves so that I can give them away. I am on my third one already. 

Speaking of books, from the ones on my shelves that I hope to read in 2019:
- The All Souls Trilogy (Deborah Harkness)
- The Name of the Wind books (Patrick Rothfuss)
- The Inkheart books (Cornelia Funke)
- The Century Trilogy (Ken Follett)

Wish me luck! And be on the lookout for the 2019 reading challenge on January 2nd. 

Have you been able to use up some of your smell goods/make up/perfume/candles/whatnot this year?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Best of 2018

2018 held some magic and sweet adventures for my family and me. We visited new places, soaked in some time at Aquatica and Universal Studios, watched many a birb in the backyard and made the most of our weekends and summer break. I struggled to make my health a priority. I took on teaching a new subject with a passion. My desire to blog waxed and waned. I learned more about Montessori and other teaching methods. I bit my nails. I wore my hair natural. I burned incense resins. I collected pottery. I pawed through old cards and notes from friends, family and vendors. I read a ton. 

I also continued to enjoy many small pleasures in 2018. These were some of my very favorite...

10. Dasein Winter (EDP)
9. Serge Lutens L'Orpheline (EDP) 
8. Solstice Scents Night Watcher (EDP)
7. Blood Moon Botanica Dark Winter Amber
6. Nocturne Alchemy Vampire Cardamom Bat
5. Olympic Orchids Woodcut (EDP)
4. Solstice Scents Hidden Lodge (EDP)
3. Arcana Wildcraft Her Forest
2. Nocturne Alchemy Oud Ombre #3
1. Arcana Wildcraft Her Coal-Black Hair

These are some of my favorites from purchases made this year. I have enjoyed many, many more but I would need to do a top 25 to begin to scratch the surface. I mostly purchased from Arcana Wildcraft and Nocturne Alchemy with some random Solstice Scents and Sixteen92 purchases. It was a very good year for perfume. I actually drained several bottles too.

My very favorite perfume is still Arcana Wildcrafts' Filthy Viking. I drained my 5ml this year and started working on my 10ml.

5. Sawdust & Ember Texas Cedar
4. Sihaya & Company Arcana
3. Wick & Fable Narnia Palace
2. Sawdust & Ember Rosewood
1. Sihaya & Company The Thinning of the Veil

I did enjoy several Bath & Body Works candle but I mostly wanted to focus on the small business, artisan candles. I plan on revisiting Sihaya & Company and Sawdust & Ember again next year. I would like to branch out in my candle experiences next year. It just can be kind of daunting as finding a good throwing candle is difficult.

Wax Tarts:
10. Glitterati Blood Orange Blonde Moment
9. Ten Digit Creations St. James Place
8. Dessa's Homespun Scents Harvest Cauldron Cider
7. Beezy Apple Clove Butter
6. The Bathing Garden Cardamom Apple Pie
5. Sniff My Tarts Marshmallow Fireside/Fireside/Camp Fire Marshmallow/Vanilla Sandalwood
4. Vintage Chic Scents Cozy Jackie O
3. Bohemienne Life Heart and Crown
2. Handmade in Florida San Marcos
1. Candles From the Keeping Room Warm & Cozy

My top wax vendors this year are: Candles From the Keeping Room and Bohemienne Life. I have ordered from both Carol and Kyme a few times this year and enjoyed my items tremendously. It was a slower wax year and I plan on continuing a no-buy into 2019 for the most part. I want to melt and use up my wax in order to make a good dent before we move this coming summer. 

10. Handmade in Florida Matcha Green Tea Smoothie
9. Tauer Perfumes Solar Engineer
8. Fatty's Soap Unmentionable
7. Mianra Amber & Plum
6. Painbox Soap Works Sisterhood of the Moon
5. B. Perry Studios Haint
4. Paintbox Soap Works Waking the Witch
3. Bohemienne Life Folktale
2. B. Perry Studios Vatican Archives
1. Handmade in Florida Spa Time

Body Care:
Obscurus Purge Potion (body scrub) in Rota Fortunae
Blooddrop Bath Froth
Firebird Viking Bath Salt
Life Flower Care bath bombs (Satvia, Flowerchild, Limonene, pretty much all of them)
Cosmic Cleanse ScentSations Miracle Budder in No 3rd Wheel
Witch Baby Bath Potions 
Moonalisa 4 in 1 Fine Bubble Wash (I love it as a luxe bubble bath)

Dida Metals
Gather & Flow
House of Epicurius
Laurel & Lime
LSD (Little Sister Designs)
Marta Oms
Sam Ryde
Stone Sparrow

These are the jewelry makers I have purchased from this year.  Earring studs, rings and necklaces are always my favorite things to wear to work each day. They bring a little bit of magic to my routine. I love supporting talented ladysmiths. 

Callahan Ceramics (mugs)
CBe Ceramics (planters and mug)
EarthErra (mug)
Elan Pottery (Mug Club and a crystal skull mug)
Grumpy Dwarf (tiny jar)
Hand to Earth (planters and mugs)
Kelsey's Star Stuff (mugs)
Made at Newton (lidded container)
OneEleven Pottery (mug)
Pitch Pine Pottery (planter , ornament and mugs)
Scrimshaw Pottery (mugs and planter)
Scumugs (planters)
Silver Run Ceramics (incense burner, trinket dish, mugs, matchstick holder)
Tthomas Arts (mug)
Wild Beast (planter)

These are the pieces that have come into my collection this year. I have finally cleared out enough room in my cupboard to fit my coffee mugs. I am thrilled to have gained so many great functional art pieces. I am a little bummed EarthErra has decided to stop making pottery but that will make the ones I managed to snag that much more special. I would love to add a few more planters and another mug from Tthomas one day. Hand to Earth will be dabbling in luminaries and that would be lovely to bring home. Also the Pitch Pine wax tart warmers are stunning. Maybe next year. 

Ultimately I would like to chill my wax spending in the new year and set some perfume buying goals (like maybe no more than three oils a month?) and explore candles and incense little more. I want to spend less and use more. Get my health back in line. Continue reading more books. Be outdoors as much as I can. Paint more. Take more photos of my girls. Travel. 

Some of my favorite things this year were bird watching (I now log them in a book I picked up), exploring the Wizarding World as often as possible, quilting again, gardening and dreaming of travel.

My 2018 Bucket List:

- Planted a raised bed garden (it was successful and I will do it again one day).
- Mailed a card.
- Did the Whole 30 again (April with my friend Nancy).
- Visited a State Park (Ichetucknee)
- Visited a National Park (Acadia National Park in Maine).
- One lazy day a month.
- Obtain a Rabbit's Foot fern (and it is thriving!).
- Thrifted for vintage ornaments (ended up with a glass strawberry).
- Take the girls to a concert or play (Mannheim Steamroller and Trans Siberian Orchestra).
- Bake Adam a treat once every two months. 
- Plant lavender (it didn't grow).
- Attend a festival (Strawberry Festival).

Bucket List Fails:
- Didn't take the girls cane pole fishing.
- No top off Jeep ride (so ashamed).
- Finish a quilt.
- Visit a succulent farm. 
- Play with the girls in a summer rain.
- Buy a German Christmas pyramid.
- Weekend beach getaway.
- Save for a Disney Cruise.
- Cook a prime rib dinner.
- Bake cinnamon rolls with yeast.

Checking off a little more than half of my bucket list is decent. I will probably carry a few over to 2019 and abandon others for different goals. I swear 2019 will be the year of the cinnamon roll, dagnabbit.

What were some of your favorite things or experiences from 2018? How was the year for you? Did you discover any new small businesses or beautiful art? Do we have any overlapping favorites?

Friday, December 28, 2018

Mermaid Treasure: Freyja Jewelry

The mandrake necklace I featured this fall came from Freyja and this lovely mushroom antlered deer did as well. He is touted as a forest guardian. I love the details on it. There is a wee snail and some fungus and turkey tail 'shrooms living on this fella. The stone is a phantom quartz and quite spellbinding.

The leaf prongs and adorable muzzle on this guy only add to its enchantment.

I am on the hunt for a longer chain for him but I try to wear him now and again on the shorter chain I have. Freyja also crafts these as deer skulls and jackalopes. I am quite in love with many of the creations in their Etsy store.

I have some heartache I am dealing with at the moment. I had this post ready to go in the queue so I left it up. I will try to post here and there over the winter break, perhaps just to take my mind off things. Hope you have a good day.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Nocturne Alchemy: Holiday Release

Good Morning. I spent the past two days in my pajamas, reading, relaxing, hanging with my girls and husband and also cleaning out my closet and trying to throw out or donate items here and there. I also spent some quality time with these babies. Nocturne Alchemy is closed right now and these perfumes from their holiday release are no longer available for purchase on their website but they can be found here in there in the NAVA Marketplace on Facebook. Some folks are destashing a few holiday fragrances as they figure out what works on their skin or not. I also wanted to have these archived for anyone who may want to know more about the scents. Let's see what all I picked up from the Holiday Release this year...

Santalum & Cardamom- Notes: Santalum, Santalum White, Austrian Sandalwood, cardamom EO and sifted in light skin musk and amber. 
This one I actually purchased last year and loved it enough to buy a backup bottle. I have not opened the new bottle yet so my thoughts are based off of my year-old purchase. On the skin this is a powerhouse sandalwood and cardamom scent. Santalum is one of my very favorite sandalwood experiences. It is plush and velvety, golden and warm but with a hint of salt and pale ash. The sandalwood seasoned with cardamom pulls almost into the direction of white pepper and woods. I love this on its own but it is divine with vanillas too. I wear it on my skin and in my hair. I often get complimented on it.  It has a great longevity and sillage and lasts my whole work day.

Crystalline Holiday Spice Cake- Notes: Buttery holiday coffee cake accord, rounded white cinnamon, a touch of nutmeg and a heavy dousing of Crystalline and buttercream. 
This was also a backup purchase. I loved last year's so much that I dabbed it on days when I knew I needed a snug hug, but was afraid to apply with reckless abandon when I knew there wasn't much left. I can now use this a little more freely. I will say that this is a sweet sugared cinnamon and vanilla scent, and if spice is not your style this won't be for you. But this is exactly my style. There is a wax tart scent I love called Celtic Moonspice and this reminds me of that but refined and intense and more creamy. This is a homemade vanilla drenched marshmallow rolled in cinnamon sugar crystals. This is the pile of vanilla bean whipped cream with generous pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg folded into its heart. This makes my mouth water every time I wear it. Crystalline vanilla remains one of my favorite vanilla centric perfumes and it blends beautifully with just about anything. Here with a hint of cake and frosting and spice it simply shines. By the way, this is a true coffee crumb cake, no actual coffee notes. 

Santalum Holiday Spice Cake- Notes: Buttery coffee cake accord, rounded white cinnamon, a touch of nutmeg and a heavy dousing of Santalum sandalwood.
Not sure why I failed to pick this up last year, however, I quickly remedied that this year. I kept my fingers crossed all year it would return and happily it did! The same moist cinnamon crumb cake that exists in the perfume above is also baked into this treat but with that smooth and golden sandalwood added. I can pick out some echoes of Santalum & Cardamom in this perfume but the added gourmand quality makes it shift into something more softly sweet. I should truly just layer all three of these and be done with trying to decide which one to wear. I freely admit I am a sucker for spicy sweet sandalwood scents and will pick up sandalwood with any kitchen cupboard spice. It is so very comforting to me.

Vanilla Copal- Notes: Peruvian copal EO, coapl resin, Crystalline, Kobalt, NA Studio Snow Musk, vanilla bean extract.
Sweet vanilla pulls from the bottle, and fresh on the skin it breaks apart into airy vanilla and that sweet candied woods that NA crafts, reminding me of the redwoods in Diamond. It veers from a clear crystalline vanilla into an opaque and chewy copal resin. Darkening a little into dusky vanilla milk chewy candy. This is a deeper, richer version of Crystalline with the copal and musk present, at least to my nose. It pairs beautifully well with the perfume below.

Sandalwood Copal- Notes: Venezuelan copal EO, copal resin, sandalwood, Tibetan sandalwood, SL Crystal absolute, skin musk, N8 musk and Crimson musk. 
In the vial lifts slivers of expensive sandalwood soap. Once dabbed onto the skin it fluffs up with the Tibetan incense of nag champa that mingles with the sandalwood chips in the censor. Both have a creamy roundness. A vein of mineral tinged copal runs though the scent as it is cushioned by an elegant and russet musk. I can see why Bastet compared this to Tibetan Crystalline now, this is the Tibetan portion amped up with sandalwood. Vanilla Copal and Sandalwood Copal live almost like luxe deconstructed versions of Tibetan Crystalline. Layering them is almost natural, though they certainly stand on their own merits.  

Warm Amber, Sandalwood & Vanilla- Notes: Sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla bean extract, tonk, white cinnamon, clove, Kobalt Vanilla, amber resin, Bastet amber, labdanum, benzoin, rockrose and Egyptian sugar. 
Subtle spice and sweet sandalwood float up from the glass bottle. Draped on the skin the spice disappears into a sea of pale creamy sandalwood and pliant amber. I hate to make this analogy due to the obscene associations with it, but this wears like a pearl necklace. Once cool and aloof, but then it magically melts into the skin and warms with body heat. It possesses a classic perfume profile that is timeless and elegant. The amber and sandalwood dominate but the vanilla and tonka blend out the edges into a haze of wearable art. 

Bastet's Ice Cream: Cardamom and Tahitian Vanilla Creme- Notes: Tahitian vanilla bean absolute, Honduran cardamom essential oil and pods, vanilla Crystalline cream, butter accord, caramel accord and aged Tahitian vanilla bean whole.
A generous bowl of melty French vanilla ice cream with a thin curling ribbon of caramel materializes from the bottle, there is a pinch of cardamom on top. Dolloped onto the skin the cardamom lingers for a brief while before dissolving into the pool of vanilla ice cream. This ice cream is thick and rich with a caramel custard lean rather than a cool vanilla iced treat. The cardamom dwells like a faint mirage around the edges of the dessert rather than as the dominate flavor. I have a feeling I will be layering this with some of my dinos since they do so well with vanilla centric scents.

Vampire Cardamom Bat- Notes: Organic Sri Lankan cardamom, cardamom pods aged in oak and sifted, Kobalt, Crystalline, Tahitian Vanilla, French and Bourbon Vanille infused into organic steam-distilled patchouli essential oil. 
A delightfully wicked patchouli with a teasing of vanilla pours from the amber bottle. As the dark red perfume is graced upon the skin a billowing spiced patchouli enfolds the senses. This is incredible. I am an ardent fan of a beautifully crafted patchouli and this is indeed one. The cardamom is warmer than some versions I have encountered from Nocturne Alchemy and it braids perfectly with the earthy herbal patchouli. I find the patchouli to be so vivid and full of life that it almost takes on a dark effervescence. The vanillas add highlights that give dimension and contour to the dark shadowy perfume. They only add a beautiful element and do not feature prominently. This dries down into a lush patchouli. I will be hoarding this and crossing my fingers this comes back next year.

Pink Sugar, Patchouli, Cotton Candy Sweater- Notes: Red sandalwood, pink sugar accord, gold patchouli essential oil, cotton candy accord, Egyptian sugar, spun vanilla infused sugar, Bastet amber and Santalum White. 
From the glass a sticky anise spiced patchouli slithers up into my senses. It is topped with rock candy crystals. Swirled onto the flesh the patchouli hums deliciously under the ropey sweetness of black licorice strands. The intense flavor of inky crisp Icelandic licorice tumbles back onto my tongue. No anise is listed in the notes but the sum of the notes creates that accord for my nose. Tufts of pink and blue cotton candy tuck into the corners of the scent. As it dries the patchouli takes on a cushy wooden tone but the breath of sugar remains to haunt the perfume. I love this one. It possesses a structure similar to Under The Big Top with the dark cotton candy tones. I think I will layer these together one day so they can meet properly.

Holiday Rex- Notes: Resinous amber accord, limestone amber, Australian sandalwood, Santalum, amber resin, vanilla absolute, myrrh, pink pepper, benzoin, palo santo wood, aged Bastet amber, blue sugar and a tiny drop of peppermint candy cane. 
A complex scent, this one smells like watery palo santo in the glass but changes each time I wear it. I will try my best to capture what I experience. Once on the skin the palo santo loses some of its aloe and gains the warm velvety texture I am used to inhaling when I burn palo santo slivers. A touch of coconut husk and minty coolness from the palo santo lurks around the perfume and then that crisp bite of candy cane snaps into focus. Gosh I love that moment. However, the candy cane sublimates into the ether and the palo santo returns with the merest scrapings of the anise tinged blue sugar. Myrrh incense and amber resins begin to ground the palo santo and bring it back to terra firma. This remains a changling of a scent. It fluctuates between sleet and snow, air and land, cool and warm. I love experiencing it on its own but it also layers well with Vanilla Copal and Sandalwood Copal.

I am very pleased with my Holiday choices. I will be keeping them all and wearing them with much joy. Did you pick up any Nocturne Alchemy holiday perfumes? How about the Bazaar? I did pick up their incense sampler and a sun-catcher again along with the Bastet's Ice Cream. I am working on my Best of 2018 right now and a reading challenge with Jay once again for next year. What are you doing these last few days of 2018?

Friday, December 21, 2018

Bookish Jay and the Reading Mermaid: Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

It has been a great year for reading. I met this reading challenge and my GoodReads challenge of 40 books. Previous reviews are included here. Those are the book reviews done in green. The newer books I have not reviewed yet and have read since then are in red.

*= meh           **= good          ***= please go read

1. A classic, defined loosely or found on either of these sources: Modern Library 100 Best Novels or Radcliffe's 100 Best Novels.
Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy fit the bill as a classic. I found an old battered brittle copy in a used book store and began the slog. Of course it is beautifully written but perhaps a bit melodramatic. Love triangles, passion, tragedy and English moors and heath all provided a moody and verbose backdrop. There were times I skimmed and times I read deeply. It was a love-hate relationship. **

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. ***

3. The next one in a series, there is always another on to get to...
Speaking of Cynthia Voigt's amazing Kingdom series, I present The Wings of a Falcon (which has since been renamed The Tale of Oriel). I have gone on to read all the books in this series and am quite happy I did. They all loosely tie into one another, spanning generations in an ever widening landscape where"The Kingdom" almost takes on an unbelievable fairytale quality from the people who unknowingly reside around its perimeters due to the more tranquil and enjoyable way of life that is reported to occur there. There is no magic in this series. All the magic lies in the stories weaved by Cynthia. ***

4. A purple hued tome, be it lilac, lavender or deep royal purple.
Chasing the Moon by A. Lee Martinez was an impulse purchase at the library but it had such an eyebrow raising teaser I couldn't pass it up. And I am glad I didn't as it was a chuckling page turner that somehow merged aliens, gods, tears in the fabric of the universe and living a humdrum life in the city. ***

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. ***

8. A collection of short stories.
Ghostly Tales and Eerie Poems of Edgar Allan Poe was a find in a vintage thrift shop in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I loved the mixture of gothic tales, horror, poetry and tragedy. The artwork in the book is dark and antique feeling. ***

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? **

10. A story set in the Middle East or Asia.
The Incense Game by Laura Joh Rowland is actually several books deep into a samurai detective series set in imperial Japan. I had not realized that until after I had picked it up. Thankfully it worked as a stand alone. It was a murder mystery that read almost like an Agatha Christie novel. **

11. Be extra naughty.... no... not that kind of book (well, unless you want)... read a banned book!
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton was my choice for this topic. A former co-worker told me how much she enjoyed this book and I felt bad I had never actually read it. It is considered a cult classic and I can see why. The raucous and often heartbreaking life of teenagers as viewed from their eyes and hearts took me on a journey to my own past. Not that I was involved in gangs or often carried weapons around with me, but just in the sheer magnitude of the teenage ability to FEEL things. I almost forgot that. ***

12. Art and literature, whether just a gorgeous cover or actual art is in the storyline.
The Graveyard Boy by Neil Gaiman has an electric blue cover with mournful art and very interesting artwork spread throughout the book itself. The artwork reminds me of surrealist sketches. Something always looks just slightly off. I loved the actual story where a baby is raised by ghosts in a graveyard after a baddie eliminates his whole family. He grows to a young man who will eventually emerge into the real world and confront his family's killer. ***

13. A heart pounding thriller!
I admit, I read a few of those this year. Jay generously sent me several Stephen King books and I have been absorbing them as I have time to (I forgot just how verbose King was in his writing!). I have been passing them on to my sister Lindsey too and she is enjoying them now. I read The Dark Half and Needful Things which both take place in Castle Rock. I enjoyed Needful Things a touch more I think, as it had more of a creepy element with the shop keeper and how he was an evil puppet master of the darker side of the town residents' hearts. Dark Half was a good book too though, although a little more difficult for me to entirely dive into as the evil twin did not reel me in as much as the shop keeper as far as baddies go and the sheriff was more likable for me than the author. I still loved both though. ***

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. *** Side note, watched the movie and hated it. Couldn't even finish it.

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. ***

16. Historical fiction.
Alexander and Tatiana by Paullina Simons carries on from The Bronze Horseman which I read a couple years ago. I found and picked up the third in the series but finally got around to getting this one, the second. I am not quite done reading it but it expands on the past and present of both of these main characters and is just as good as the first. ***

17. Get your microscope and pocket protector ready... a book dealing with some aspect of science.
I used to read Michael Crichton all the time from my step-dad's bookshelf. I took Savanna to a used bookstore a few months ago and we picked up Jurassic Park and Lost World for her and I grabbed a few of his myself. Terminal Man was a fast paced read about a criminal man who was subjected to a brain rewiring that intended to take his violence away. Things did not go well as one of the doctors predicted and it spins out of control. ***

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. **

19. A book with a child protagonist.
This is my current read and I am almost done with it. Greenglass House by Kate Milford has been sitting on Savanna's bookshelf for years. She never seems to want to read it, so I decided to put it to good use and I am glad I did. It is an upper elementary level book about an adopted Chinese boy who lives in an old house turned smugglers' inn. He has a mystery to solve with his friend around Christmas time when half a dozen people descend upon the home under false pretenses. Unless the last few chapters are duds I will enjoy this one. **

20. It's about time this one happened: a book dealing with scent, fragrance or perfume.
Coming To My Senses by Alyssa Harad is a memoir that recounts how Alyssa's life was enhanced by discovering perfume as a hobby. It was neat to read about her discovery of perfume blogs (many of which she mention that also lead me along my own path of perfume bliss). Although well written, it didn't quite strike a chord with me. *

21. Travelogue, a book taking place on a journey.
Another Michael Crichton book lands on the list with Eaters of the Dead which chronicles an Arabian man who journeys with vikings to strange lands. In the beginning he views them as uncouth barbarians but by the end of the tale his tune changes somewhat. Worth the read if mythologies interest you. **

22. Re-trying that Hemingway, Steinbeck, or John D. MacDonald authored book.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck came into my hands while on vacation and I loved diving into it. An epic tale of two families and how their barriers to love and the sins they nurture follow from father to son. I am so very glad I read it. *** 

23. An epic tale.
For the epic tale I chose Bard by Morgan Llywelyn. This book follows the ancient Celtic peoples of Gaul on their voyage to seek new lands and as a result, Ireland. Here they come in contact with Tuatha De Danann. I loved this story and found it to be enthralling. ***

24. A sensual read.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern probably doesn't really fit sensual but the love story was poetic enough that I am putting it here. Magic and a deadly game combine to provide tension set within beautiful tents and lavish description. I love that the author is a BPAL fan and draws inspiration from fragrance. ***

25. A candle on the cover.
Ok, so not technically candles, but can two gas lamps count? The candles of the Victorian streets? Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman snapped into my hands like a magnet while I was shopping at The Strand in New York last fall. The cover alone had me picking it up while the synopsis sealed the deal. It is a darker adult version of Alice in Wonderland but taking place in modern London where the Underground houses a surreal parallel universe. ***

26. A book title that sounds like a cool name for a band.
Watership Down. Totally could be the name of a band right? Maybe too close to System Of A Down but still within reach I think. At any rate, this Richard Adams tale of a warren, or two or three, of rabbits was quite wonderful to experience. I love reading creation stories and the rabbit version along with the characters swept me into the fable whole heartedly. This also happens to be my sister Darby's favorite book. ***

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. *** 

29. A story based on mythology: Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian... any.
This book has popped up in my IG and GoodReads feeds for a while now. I ended up buying it while in Maine at an indie bookstore. Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology was built to be easy to read tales that could be read around campfires or as entertaining family ghost stories and are based off of historical poems and traditional Norse mythology. I read through this pretty fast while on vacation in Savannah. I then went on to read the Norse creation story to my students while giving a lesson on the universe. They loved it. I will be keeping this one on my bookshelf for years and years to come. ***

30. Second-hand stories, a book picked up in a thrift shop.
On a random trip to Ocala I ended up in a used bookstore where I picked up the first two in the All Souls Trilogy and Savanna picked up Holes by Louis Sachar. I had never read this book or watched the movie so Savanna and I decided to do it together. We ended up enjoying the book and then the movie too. A rough-around-the-edges teenage boy is wrongly accused of theft and then has to serve unfair time under a pecking order of boys in the hot desert sun digging holes, seemingly randomly. The holes turn out to be a hunt for treasure led by an evil warden. ***

Other books I read this year: Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Aolnit, Wings of a Falcon and Elske by Cynthia Voigt, Dorothy Must Die and Wicked Will Rise Danielle Paige, and Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. Oh and Madly by Amy Alward.

It was a great year for reading books. I found many hidden gems at a local used bookstore and I scored some at as well as the library on the cheap. I hope you were able to join in on the fun for even just a portion of the challenge. Jay and I are already brainstorming up a new challenge for next year to be published on January 2nd. What were a few of your favorite stories this year? I am really happy I read the Kingdom series by Cynthia Voigt. I also enjoyed downing some more Stephen King and exploring Neil Gaiman. Who are some of your favorite authors?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Whisper Sister Perfume

Whisper Sisters is a perfume house run by Darla. The brand name kept blinking in and out on my social media via fragrance friends so I went ahead and placed a small order. All these perfumes were in the clearance section and only $6 each. I was not looking for hand distilled, rare ingredients or wildcrafted botanicals from a $6 perfume but I was looking for a little fun and I came away more than happy.

The rollerball fragrances arrived wrapped in pages from a book and taped snuggly with washi. Savanna made mewling noises over the metal bat trinket. I can't say as I blame her.

I enjoy the simple and clear labels. One side has the scent name and perfume house name and the other has an evocative black and white image.

Black Lung mixes clove, tobacco and sugar. With notes like that I had to have it. When slathered onto the skin it releases an almost herbal and medicinal clove that is pungent and rich with nuances of anise and birch. I quite like it. The sugar helps to mold those scented traits into a dulcet experience. The tobacco plays second fiddle to the cloves, reading like a mild pipe tobacco. The cloves remain steadfast and lovely throughout the majority of the life of the scent, about 4 or so hours before fading into a soft vanillic sugar tinted with ghostly clove. I love this one for when I need a true clove fix. It is semi-retired, so if you want it, keep an eye out for it.

Frankincense Dark Cedar plays like an arid desert wind on the skin. The dry cedar kindling and sharp frankincense resin make a powerful pair. If the almost turpentine leaning aroma of cedar shavings curls your toes, consider them curled. This is the type of fragrance I love to wear to bed after slathering myself in woodsy body oils. This one is semi-retired as well.

Brigid- Notes: Galbanum, black pine, cinnamon, black opium, tonka bean and patchouli. 
 Brigid is a beauty. She bubbles up with a spiced cola fizz that brings to mind The Bathing Garden's Faded Opulence. Once the effervescent sweet resins calm, a green herbal patchouli and cinnamon bark remain. Bridig has a lighter sillage and a touch shorter longevity than the others I tried but I don't mind slathering on to make up for it. This one is a semi-retired scent so it comes and goes in availability.

Patchouli Clove is a simple yet haunting treat for a patchouli lover like me. The patch is potent and lingers with a blissful longevity of several hours. The clove initially emerges with woody sweetness but quickly gives way to the dried brown patchouli leaves only to return later in the dry down to accent the brown wooden qualities of the patchouli. This is one I wear when I don't want to think too much about my perfume but just want to enjoy it. This one is discontinued but I believe there are other scents that may be similar in her line up.

I am thrilled with my Whisper Sisters experience. These have quickly become bedtime staples and scents I reach for when I want unfettered simplicity.

Have you ever tried Whisper Sisters? Do you have any favorites? Do you wear single note scents?