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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Ebb & Flow: December 2019

The highs and lows of the month.


Perfume:
Olympic Orchids Woodcut

Perfume Oil:
Nocturne Alchemy Holiday Spiced Crystalline Cake and the Santalum Cake version layered together

Body Oil:
Kings Road Apothecary Deep Woods

Lotion:
Witch Baby Secret Society

Soap:
Handmade in Florida Pumpkin

Scrub:
B. Perry Studios Mother of Pearl

Candle:
Nest Birchwood Pine

Wax:
Sniff My Tarts Lord of Misrule and Peppermint blend

Eating:
Fried eggs with Everything But The Bagel seasoning from Trader Joe's

Drinking:
GTS Kombucha Living in Gratitude Fall Edition with apple, turmeric, carrot and spices

Watching:
You've Got Mail, Schitt's Creek, and our fireplace

Listening:
Carpenter's Christmas, The Nutcracker, and Bobby Helm's Christmas album

Reading:

Awaiting:
Just awaiting cold days for more fires in the hearth. Awaiting the book pages I am going to be diving into. Anticipating a new year. New paths. New experiences.

Dreading:
Getting report cards done. I am a little behind.

Hit:
Wildroots deodorants, loving them hard.

Miss:
Bath and Body Works Candy Cane candle. Smelled like lighter fluid.
Also. Cheap tape. Only getting Scotch from now on.

Low:
Uterine pains. Work 

High:
A fun birthday with my sisters and Giffe' thanks to Adam. Dinner at Morimoto and a hotel for the night with some thrift shopping the next day. A peaceful and enjoyable Christmas with the family. I loved spending the winter break with Adam and the girls. And getting my tooth fixed. That is good.

How was your December? Looking forward to 2020?

Monday, December 30, 2019

Best of 2019


Though 2019 was a bit of a hellion in some ways, she was also the harbinger of travel, the giver of a new nest to fluff with the family feathers and the herald that brought about adventure. She pissed me off and filled me with passion all at the same time.


This time is when I traditionally turn and look back at the year that has passed to see what favorites have remained true and which ones have been replaced with others. And most things have been replaced with houseplants and old lady embroidery crewl when ever I can find it. Or vintage book finds.


Potters:
I continued to purchase some pottery here and there this year. Some potters I still collected from this year include:

CBe Ceramics- a couple mugs and a tumbler
Dirtworks Ceramics- a mug
Grumpy Dwarf Pottery- small pots
Hand to Earth- luminaries and mugs
Little Garden Pottery- mug
Lori Phillips Ceramics- mug and incense stick holder
Murava Ceramics- spoon
One Eleven Pottery- cauldron mug
Red Hot Pottery- owl mug
Silver Run Ceramics- curio mug
Xeno Jean- a handful of stein mugs


Candles: My favorite candles of 2019

Ember Mallow from Sihaya and Company
Birchwood and Pine from NEST
Rowan by Wick and Fable
Vanilla Patchouli Comfort from Bath and Body Works
Quoth the Raven from Sea Witch Botanicals


Favorite Wax Scents 2019:
Candles From the Keeping Room- Strawberry Pine
Candles From the Keeping Room- Lumberjack
Candles From the Keeping Room- Winter Flannel
Handmade in Florida- Enchanted Woods
Ten Digit Creations- Palo Santo/Bourbon Tobacco/Wood Spice
Bohemienne Life- The Green Faerie 
Bohemienne Life- Haystacks and Bonfires
Sea Witch Botanicals- Wolf Night
Vintage Chic Scents- Carnival of Souls


Favorite Soap Scents 2019:
Handmade in Florida- Fresh Pumpkin
Andy Tauer- Mandarines Ambrees
B. Perry Studios- Rose Gold
Arcana Wildcraft- Haint
Bohemienne Life- Monet
Future Primitive- The Wand Chooses The Wizard


Indie Bath and Body Favorites 2019:
Future Primitive- Conditioning Shampoo Bar
Future Primitive- Conditioning Hair Rinse in White Witch
Wildroots- Natural Deodorants
B. Perry Studios- sugar scrubs
Blood Moon Botanica- Moon Dew facial serum
Aftelier- body oils
Kings Road Apothecary- body oils


Full Bottles of Perfume Purchased (EDP) 2019:
Solstice Scents- Hidden Lodge
Solstice Scents- Wold Spirit


Favorite Perfume Oils 2019:
Arcana Wildcraft- The Bone Mother
Arcana Wildcraft- Merrywidow
Arcana Wildcraft- Witches Trace Sigils in the Dirt
Arcana Wildcraft- Haint
Arcana Wildcraft- Tinderbox
Arcana Wildcraft- Anodyne
Arcana Wildcraft- Oberon
Arcana Wildcraft- Moth
Blood Moon Botanica- Lavender Amber
Nocturne Alchemy- The High Priestess
Nocturne Alchemy- Incense Chai
Nocturne Alchemy- Sandalwood Chai
Nocturne Alchemy- Private Universe
Sixteen92- The Witching Hour
Sixteen92- Liber Officiorum Spirituum
Whisper Sisters- Banchouli
Wylde Ivy- Green Lady (EDP technically)


Favorite Wax Vendors of 2019:

This was a strange wax year. I left a ton of Facebook wax groups and pretty much only ordered from a handful of makers. By now I have my favorites and I pretty much stick to them. I am not into trying too many new vendors on my own druthers at this time. Plus I am still trying to melt rather than collect.

Bohemienne Life- Kyme at Bohemienne Life really pulled me in this year. I have always loved and appreciated her soaps and wax and body care but I just couldn't stop buying from her wax crack pre-orders this year. She makes it easy to order and the bags of wax are priced well for a nice amount. Her blends always reel me in though and the throw is consistently strong. I will be ordering from Kyme for a good long while.

Candles From The Keeping Room- Carol still will pull an order from me any chance I get. Her wax throws well, smells great and comes in a ton of scent options. The ordering process can be tricky if one isn't on Facebook often. Some of my very favorite wax scents are from CFTKR so I try to pop-in when I can to see what all is happening. 

Wax vendors I will still order from that aren't listed: Beezy, The Bathing Garden, Dessa's Homespun Scents and Vintage Chic Scents. And Glitterati if I get called up.



I will thank 2019 for all the amazing opportunities it gave me. A new home. Unexpected places to travel. The most delicious paper bowl of clam chowder. New friends. Old friends. Plants galore and a Bob Ross-style painting or two. Time spent cuddling with Toddles. Dates with my husband. Adventures with my girls.


2019 Bucket List Items Completed:
-Swam in a new spring~ Wekiva
-Visited new independent book store~ Inkwood, Ocoee Used Books, Idle Time Books, heck... a TON
- Painted some Toms~ started on my Hobbit Toms
- I.D. 7 Floridian wild plants
- Explore a new museum~ National Gallery of Art in D.C.
- Surprise someone with a plant
- Leave a book for a stranger to find ~ several times
- Purchase something off beat in an oddity store~ cypress knee lamp
- Overnight girlfriend trip
- Buy a fig tree~ Fiddle Leaf Fig and it is still alive WOOT!
- Go vegetarian twice a week

Bucket List Fails:
- Brew fire cider tonic (might still try)
- Learn to knit (shelving this for a few years)
- Bake cinnamon rolls with yeast (never gonna give you up)
- Take girls to Kennedy Space Center (next summer)
- Drink 1/2 my tea stash (made a small dent)
- Get an ear piercing (maybe next year)
- Visit a kava bar (maybe that trend passed?)
- Surprise day date with Adam (he gave me one- does that count?)



I hope 2020 takes us somewhere exciting.

How was your 2019? What were some of your favorites?

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Candles From The Keeping Room: Fall Order


Oh hey! Lookee here. Another seasonally late review. Thankfully, Carol is pretty great about being consistent with the scents she offers through the years unless they are discontinued. So hopefully you won't mind seeing my most recent (but months ago) Candles From The Keeping Room order.

Thankfully her wax is very forgiving and can sit for years and still be good as gold. I think I was picking up mostly some fall and a little Christmas with some old favorites tossed in. I tried to keep it tidy and not go as overboard as I usually do. Honestly, I am always thrilled with my CFTKR orders so let's dive into this one. 

These first two are constant repurchases as often as I can:

Amish Quilt is a classic creamy sweet cinnamon sugar scent that makes me feel comfy cozy. 

Apple Dumpling is one of my favorite apple cinnamon scents, but beware, it is only for the spice lovers out there. It is a fiery red hot cinnamon married to stewed apples with their peels on for extra depth. Mmmmmmm.

Apple Cider and Cookies is a new-to-me aroma. The cookies are the foundation with some apple chunks and caramel bits blended in. I don't get a strong cider or spice but more of a Cider Lane type of suggestion with the cookies. It is one I look forward to trying out soon.


Rosy Strawberry is a blend of Carol's Fresh Picked Strawberry and Rose Jam that I requested a year or so back. I love this blend so much and have not had it in ages. It is sweet and jammy and bursting with berries and sugar and rose petals. 

Strawberry Pine is one I have not had yet, but I love Strawberry Sugared Spruce so I figured I would like this too. The pine is more camphorous than the spruce and there is a touch less sweetness to it and I think I like it all the more for it. My mom and I were cooing over it on Christmas day. 

Cranberry Balsam is an oldie but goodie, however, I have not had it in way too long. I am happy to have this for next Christmas. This year I melted Balsam and Citrus but I think I will melt this one next year on Christmas Day. Cranberry Balsam is a sweet fruity cranberry with plummy tones that marries easily to aromatic evergreens that only lend a breath of the outdoors without overpowering the fragrance.


Patchouli Oud Wood is a first for me and I am excited about it. It is a musky and perfumed version of patchouli and oud. There is a touch of earthiness alongside the woods. It is a lovely fresh blend that will be elegant in the home.

Bogeyman was the reason I placed this order. I tried it many years ago and then it was discontinued. I forget if Carol found more oil stashed away somewhere or if it was reformulated and brought back. Either way I saw it and leapt. It is a lovely and mild fall scent with sweet and serene spice and well blended fruits.

Country Home is robust with citrus. Oranges and cloves, similar to pomanders strung along cabin windows. This is my first time with this scent and I cannot wait to melt one.


Smoked Vanilla is a favorite of mine. It is a sweetly smoked sugared vanilla. The smoke flickers in the distance from a dying backyard bonfire. It is smooth and warm. 

Oud D Pumpkin is one I had not tried yet. I have had Carol's other pumpkin oud but this one is slightly different, more caramel laden. It is pumpkin woods and caramel. I am going to love it.

Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte is incredibly delicious. I don't think I have tried this one either. The latte is exactly that. No bitterness, no puppy toes. Just milky, creamy coffee with loads of sugar, a pump of vanilla and a pump of caramel and topped with toasted sugar foam. 


Free samples, because Carol is abundantly generous:

Lingonberry Wreath is tart and juicy, like a cross between rhubarb and currants with a side of cranberries with lemon zest. Lovely and bright.


Pumpkin Peanut Brittle is strong! Salted and toasty caramel and pumpkin greet the senses. Not overly sweet but certainly intense with flavor.

Pumpkin Chamomile is a surprisingly lovely combination. The pumpkin does have a slight bakery thickness combined with perfumed chamomile that is velvety and plush.

Autumn in the Park brims with honeyed apples and a breath of fall air. I simply love this one.


Mandarin Plum is a juicy candied plum with a grape vibes and brightness from the oranges. Lovely.

Spiced Orange smells just like its namesake. A sugar coated pomander.

Candy Corn Birthday Cake is a creamy vanilla cake. Simple but wonderful. 


Corn Husk is a new favorite. It is mildly sweet with a breath of fresh corn and dried silks and hay-like vanilla. Difficult to explain but very comforting.

Pomegranate Apple is also brilliant. It has the aroma of fruit wine, like a sangria. 

I am over the moon to have these staples and some new ones too. I will be melting happily for a little while now. I did pick up some more Bohemienne Life but hey. I promise I am slowing down on the wax. :-)

What wax purchases have you made lately? What vendors are you loving?

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Bookish Jay and the Reading Mermaid: 2020 Reading Challenge


Thank you for joining The Scented Library and The Redolent Mermaid for our third reading challenge! Jay and I enjoy reading and even better, reading with friends. Below are the prompts Jay and I created as a guide to reading outside the box. Feel free to join us in challenging ourselves to read them all or simply join us for one or two!

1. Quickie- 200 pages or less.
2. On the briny- a saltwater reading experience.
3. Ready set read- Finish a series, or start a new one.
4. Memory lane- a book you missed out on from childhood.
5. Name dropper- get proper with a titular character [named after the book's subject].
6. Magical realism
7. Make it the year of the lycan-read a wolfish book.
8. Eye candy cover
9. A tear jerker- I'm not crying, you're crying!
10. Get lost in time- book set in the future or past, or both.
11. A book you'd turn to when feeling blue.
12.  Cover Text Intertwined With Images: big 2019 novel trend.
13. Stay Golden with gilded pages or shimmering cover accents.
14. Do you have a nightlight? Read something spooky if you do.
15. Borrowed book- library, lil’ free library, or friend, don't forget to return it!
16. Seek the throne-heraldry or castle on the cover.
17. New-to-you author
18. A centenarian book, one that is 100 years or older. 
19. Our pets are the best of us. Read a story with a dear dog or cherished cat companion.
20. Colorless- a stark cover with only black/white/gray.
21. Forest Bathing- trees on the cover, in the title or as subject matter.
22. Generation Z- A teen or young adult author.
23. Book based on a real event- true story based fiction, or non-fiction. 
24. Reading rebel- a controversial book, or featuring a literary rebel.
25. Illuminated Illustrations: a book with photographs or art within.
26. 20/20 Vision. A book that helped you to see something clearer. 
27. Gold Star. You get one just for reading a book. Your choice.
28. The White Whale- book on your tbr forever, a weighty book, or one you couldn't bring yourself to read before [or that you think will be the end of you].
29. Home is where the heart is. A house on the cover. 
30. Old Fashioned: A book with a table of contents.


If you join us for even one prompt please share your book and rating, mini-review, or simply a “what I am currently reading photo” on social media by adding the tag #bookishjayandthereadingmermaid. We hope that 2020 brings us all health, happiness, great opportunities and wonderful stories to read.

What are you most looking forward to reading? I am finally going to dive into The Name of the Wind series, I have been holding on to it for years now.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Bookish Jay and the Reading Mermaid: 2019 Reading Challenge Results


This year was chaotic in many ways but I will say it was a helluva year for books in my life. I visited bookstores all over the place: Grand Cayman bookstores where I got Euros for change, several amazing bookstores in Washington D.C., some cool used bookstores in Asheville, Salem and Boston and a local bookstore in downtown Ocoee, Florida.


Brattle Books in Boston was my favorite bookstore of the year with their outdoor alley of insanely cheap vintage finds, though Wicked Good Books in Salem sported a ton of cool local authors and autographed books. I also appreciated the kitschy neighborhood and colorful feel of Idle Time Books in D.C. The only not-so-great bookstore experience was Raven books in Cambridge, near Harvard. The owner was not exactly pleasant. Honestly, I simply love a good indie book store. The cats. The smells. The crammed-in aisles and aisles of worded treasures. 


I am thankful to have had the opportunities to explore so many cool book shops and hope I can keep it up in the years to come. 

The books I reviewed in the previous update are in blue. The new reviews are in green. I think I was able to get almost all the prompts this year. I didn't meet my GoodReads goal of 45 books but I came close at 38, so 84% of the way there which is a solid "B."

I use a short star system to rate the books I have read:
* = meh, save your time and skip it   ** = good, might be worth reading   *** = great, do yourself a favor and try it

1. A book set in your home state, or province for our Canadian buddies.
Beyond Risk by Connie Mann was a book I got at a multi-author meet-and-greet held through the Orange County Public Library system. She was a very nice lady but the book wasn't really for me. It was a fluffy romance but without many laughs. Granted it was a murder-mystery, who is stalking me? But I didn't get much build up or excitement. It took place near my college town of Gainesville, Florida. *



2. You saw the movie but didn’t read the book…. now read the book.
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. I adore Alice Hoffman books. I have no idea what took me so long to read this. Two sisters. Lots of magic and lots of love. Reading it in Salem was the best decision I could have ever made. Great writing. Read it. ***

3. Carpe read ‘em- a title on your TBR for 1+ years.
Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews. Now, don't get me wrong. Fluffy romance can be fun. But I do like it heavily doused with humor and thrills. Ilona does that for me. I enjoyed this series that involved female wizard bounty hunters and male wizard mercenaries. I went on to read the rest of the series too. ***

4. Flora: flower on the cover.
The Witches of New York by Ami McKay almost fit into the 1890 category. It is a Victorian novel that tells the tale of three young ladies and how they find their strength both in themselves and as a unit of friends when an evil presence tries to eliminate them. I enjoyed the writing and setting though it was a touch shallow as far as depth of story. It was a fast and easy read. **



5. Fauna: beastly book.
Nightbirds by Thomas Mattman is not a fluffy book at all. Or even a fantastical book. But rather a heart wrenching look at life in the midwest as people began to colonize North America and how their interactions among the Native Americans at that time was a poignant poisonous affair. It is based on the true event of the Dakota Uprising and written from both the settlers' and the Native Americans' points of view as best as possible. ***

6. Scandinavian setting- create your own Jolabokaflod, or Yule Book Flood.
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is a deeply moving and beautifully written story. It is based on the true events surrounding the last woman in Iceland to be hanged as punishment for a crime. The author did justice to the young lady's tale. The pages turned and turned of their own volition. ***




7. Flavor- a book built around food.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver was one I was excited to spy in a thrift store. I enjoy Kingsolver's work and I knew she had her thumb on the environmental pulse so this book made sense to read from an agriculture major background. Buying local, gardening and farmer's markets have always been a joy to me but now I see that they are vital as well. An excellent read that is educating but by no means dry. Barbara's year of eating only things grown within a stone's throw from her Appalachian home is eye opening and humorous, scary and real. ***

8. Passport required… set in a country you have never been to. 
A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman is set in Sweden, a place I would love to visit one day. More than the setting itself, the man Ove is compelling, bittersweet, hilarious and heartbreaking. I cried and laughed, many times within the same chapter. It reminds me that everyone has a story and sometimes effort should be made to break down walls. ***

9. Yellow/Gold is the color of novelty, so read a yellow novel. 
The yellow novel was easy once my eyes landed on this collection of short stories at the library for sale, Vampires in the Garden by Karen Russell. I wasn't sure what to expect but these were great reads! Some were funny, morose, horrifying and others just plain weird. I liked them very much. **

10. Something witchy this way comes. Witches, man, read a witch-centered tome. 
I easily could put about a dozen books in this category but instead I read the All Souls Trilogy  by Deborah Harkness. I loved the first book, A Dicovery of Witches and reading the next two books, Shadow of Night and The Book of Life were easy to continue but perhaps not as gripping as the first. I am happy I read them. It follows an Oxford professor who tries to bury the fact that she is descended from a long line of witches in order to deny her powers and rely on reason. She encounters a magical tome one day while researching in the library and a chain of events unfolds and a vampire comes into her life. 1st book ***, 2nd and 3rd **

11. A novel that is now a Netflix series or adaptation.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint. Not sure if it technically counts as a strictly Netflix adaptation but I watched the claymation movie of this book on Netflix a year or so ago and realized I had not actually read the book. So I did. I read it all in a couple hours while on a field trip to Kennedy Space Center and loved every minute of it. Even with 9-12 year olds singing Jingle Bells at the top of their lungs in a crammed in bus. A magical yet sorrowful telling of one man's encounter with an alien that changed his life. ***

12. Shallowness: pick a book based on its spine appearance alone. 
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund made for a definite change of pace. I almost put this one in the gothic tale and then in the bildungsroman prompts but I had others I wanted to place there. A young girl grows up in a commune that disbands leaving her to fumble about in life with a laissez-faire mom and a father who is uncommunicative. She ends up taking solace among a new neighbor who moved across the lake and the neighbor's younger son. Trouble ensues and the results follow the girl the rest of her life. Well written. Disturbing at times. Sometimes disjointed. **



13. Nature Lover: non-fiction about the environment.
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. I mean, with a prompt like this, if you haven't read Silent Spring yet then it is time. And I had not. As an agriculture major there was a little push-back and derision towards this book and now I know why. It makes corporation farms and chemical companies accountable for the damage they are doing. I shake my head at all the 2-4 D and Roundup and funigicides and nematocides I had sprayed in my teens as I worked on a golf course managing turf grass. I am amazed I was even able to have kids. Now I am kind of paranoid to lose weight though and have those chemicals in my adipose cells metabolize. Ugh. Read it. I should have years ago. ***

14. How old are you now? Read a book from your birth decade. 
I kind of wanted to read a book published in 1980 on the nose as that is my birth year but I ended up reading this gem instead, The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King. I have never read a fantasy piece by Stephen King but it proved to be entertaining. It is the story of a prince wronged by the king's power-hungry magician and his battle to reclaim his throne and people. It was published in 1987. Not an epic piece but still tickled it my fancy, greatly. ***

15. A book written by an author with your same initials.
The Cat by Jean Johnson. I mean how close was that for initials? And great title. A book about 8 warlock brothers who all have a prophesy regarding their future wives and their powers climaxing into their favor to bring them out of a curse. Sounds like my kind of book right? Wrong. It was awful. *

16. Gothic read.
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe straddled the distant past relations of a present day Ivy League budding professor. The matrilineal past contained a little known Salem witch who was actually witchy. Her powers bled down the line and now the modern day professor must come to terms with it and the destruction it must be accompanied by. **

17. A retelling.
Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev was another meet-and-greet author I got to know and listen to speak. This book was written along the same plot lines of the nod in the title but reversed roles where the man was a chef trying to make ends meet with his sister who is losing her sight and the bills that come with surgery while the female counterpoint is the neurosurgeon herself and her uppity upbringing. They meet and clash and meet and clash until they finally see that the other is who they have always looked for. **



18. A guide. 
The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal and Hysteria in 1692 Salem by Stacy Schiff. A guide you say? If you ever needed or wanted someone to take you by the hand and literally guide you through every nuance and utterance that occurred to man's knowledge during the Salem witch trials then Stacy is your gal. She goes over the events with a nit lice comb and you will either be howling with the minutia or tingling with the details. I was somewhere in the middle. **

19. BINGO Free Space- pick your own.
As I previously mentioned, I am going to visit Salem and my friend Jay recommended this book for me to read to brush up on the history of the Salem witchcraft trials. This is a great non-fiction accounting of the trials in an easy to read format. In fact I finished it in about two hours. I, in turn, highly recommend it too. ***

20. A book discovered by scrolling #bookstagram.
The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden, because I had no idea that The Bear and the Nightingale was a trilogy until my friend Doreen posted about this book. I will talk more about this farther down. ***

21. Bildungsroman: a coming of age tale.
Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood is powerful. I am technically currently still reading it but I only have a few pages left. This story is built around a girl growing up with her brother and parents: an unconventional mom and an entomologist dad with a brainy but unreachable brother. The girl-child, Elaine, begins to suffer issues with bullying from her "best" friends that goes on to affect her relationships with others in her life. The play between growing into a woman in mid-century Canada into the late century and maintaining male and female relationships is painted in brilliant colors and vivid words. Atwood is a master story teller. ***



22. Turn and face the strange- an out of your comfort zone read.
House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski fits this bill. I am not one to think that much is out of my comfort zone when it comes to reading but this one made me pause, think, backtrack, fast forward, turn the book upside down and inside out before I felt semi-comfortable even digesting what I had read. It is a strange mixture of love story and Lovecraftian horror told from multiple viewpoints, all far removed (?) from each other. It was... interesting. ***

23. A last book written by your favorite author. 
Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews. At the time it was her most recent release and it was also the last of her Katie Daniels series. I ate it up like pudding. A nice ending to the witchy, shapeshifter, vampire, druid filled post apocalyptic Atlanta story that I love. ***

24. Hygge: a book for comfort.
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen read like a knock-off of Practical Magic. Sisters with magic. One afraid to love, one runs away for bad love only to be haunted by that very same man. Magical home. Magical plants. Small town shenanigans. Good for the comfort but not out of this world. **



25. A happy little accident… or a book that has a title Bob Ross would appreciate.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. Because how could Bob not appreciate that snow capped Russian mountain and forest imagery??? Simply put it is a magical Russian folkloric tale of a brave young woman coming into herself, making mistakes, loving her family and her heritage with all her heart and craving adventure despite it being forbidden to her. I fell under the spell of this story and continued to read the rest immediately following (yes, I buy all books in a series even before I know I will like them). By the end of all three books I firmly held these characters in my heart. Baba Yaga too. ***

26. A numeric title.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury was the perfect book for this one. I have been wanting to read this book for ages and what better prompt for it? I loved it. I will be reading this again one day. Not going to describe it since I am pretty sure I am one of the few people remaining who have not read this book yet. Bradbury is incredible. If you are one of the last others, please read it. ***

27. Crossover- a book written by a beloved artist, musician or figure.
The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus. Though technically del Toro isn't much of a crossover (he has a ton of co-authored books) I counted it. And it was pretty good. I had not watched the movie but the book adaptation of the movie was a fast, intense read. I then watched the movie and was underwhelmed. Strange. ***



28. A tale where the main character loves to read. 
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. You might be scratching your head but hey. John The Savage loved to read his William Shakespeare. That counts right? I needed to read this book. I am not sure how I got to be 39 and had not read it. You should read it too. ***

29. 1890’s- a great Victorian vintage.
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly. A young adult thriller set in Victorian New York. An affluent young lady's dad is murdered and she sets out to uncover "who done it" with a street rat reporter, Nellie Bly style. Formulaic and silly. *

30. Celestial object on the cover or in the title. 
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury is one I have been meaning to read and this was the perfect chance. A timeline telling of man's attempt to colonize Mars much like he has done through out history- heavy handed and bumbling. ***

I had a great year reading. Really, it was the year of the witch. I enjoyed my witchy books. They were fun and enlightening at times. Jay and I have a new challenge for 2020 coming up tomorrow for you guys! Please consider joining us!!! I must say, The Cat's Eye and The Bear and the Nightingale series were my favorites this year. What were some of yours?

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Handmade In Florida: Fall Order


Good morning! Sorry about the posting lag once again. Let me just tell you, the last week of school before a break is always... intense. Energy and emotions are running high with the kiddos. But I found a small slice of downtime this morning so I wanted to share my latest Handmade in Florida order. This was a quickie fall RTS order. I didn't make it to the winter pre-order but there is always another time. I picked up some soaps and wax.


Crisp Apple Pie- Notes: Apples, cinnamon and homemade pie crust.

This one and the pumpkin bar below are currently in our shower rotation. I am loving the Crisp Apple Pie. Of course the lather is exceptional. It bubbles into a silky frothy lather that cleans beautifully and rinses cleanly, leaving some nourishing moisture behind. It smells of apples, soft warm spice and apple wood. There is an undertone of rich woods and a subtle dustiness, like well worn and well used cupboards. It is a joy to bathe with.


Spiced Chai- Notes: Black tea, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and sweet creamy vanilla. 

I have not used this bar yet because I am saving it for late winter but it smells delicious. A very creamy black tea with dreamy yet mellow spice. The vanilla seems to drive this scent, making it milky and dulcet. I cannot wait to use it.


Fresh Pumpkin- Notes: Essential oils, fresh organic pumpkin puree and Australian red clay.

This pumpkin delight is bright and zesty, yet creamy and rich. There appears to be sunny citrus oils and some creamy vanilla in this pumpkin blend. I love how vibrant and summery this soap is for a pumpkin scent. It bucks the typical heavy and hotly spiced pumpkin to make it more of a late summer treat. This one lathers just as wonderfully and it the one I have been using the most. 



I picked up a fall scent wax sampler and it was bursting with amazing smells. Most of the shapes were the breakaway bars with a scent shots and Mickey heads tossed in.

Fallen Leaves- Notes: Apples, berries, orange, cinnamon, clove, freshly fallen leaves and sweet musk. 
This breakaway wax bar smells delightfully like warm spiced apples, hay chaff and chopped wood. The apples and cinnamon feature strongest but with the leaves as a backdrop it go from craft store to cabin and I simply adore it. 

Pumpkin Pecan Pie- Notes: A comforting blend of sweet pumpkin, creamy butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a flakey pie crust.
A thick and luscious blend that is a dupe of Bath and Body Works' Pumpkin Pecan Waffles. Buttery, creamy and cozy.


Harvest- Notes: Seasonal berries, spruce, fir, cedarwood and musk.
Musky evergreens and woods with a pinch of depth from the berries. There is a soft chilled freshness that reminds me of incoming winter, ozonic but subtle. The berries are very subtle, quietly keeping this from being a sexy mountain man scent.

Crisp Honey Apple- Notes: Fresh apples, light florals, honey, vanilla and warm musk. 
A delicately blended fragrance that is beautiful enough to wear. Pink nectar apples thinly sliced and floating in a shallow pool of cream and dappled with honeyed blossoms wafts off the bar. Creamy apple blossoms.

Pumpkin Souffle- Notes: A blend of creamy pumpkin, warm spices, butter, brown sugar and vanilla.
Dense pumpkin cake, heavy with cinnamon and sugar, just the way I like it. A classic.


Apple Cider- Notes: A classic blend of apples, orange peel, cloves and cinnamon.
Juicy Valencia oranges paired with apple cider and cinnamon sticks to brew up a fall punch worth sipping. 

Warm Welcome- Notes: Vanilla bean, sugar cookies, marshmallow and musk.
Vanilla lace cookies. Extra vanilla. Extra delicious. It straddles that gourmand line. I would wear this as a perfume but I also want to lick my skin. Either way it will provide a warm welcome when melted for company.


Enchanted Woods- Notes: Patchouli, vanilla, musk, sandalwood and myrrh.
I had this in a soap before (and a wax too I think??) and I simply adore this scent. The vanilla and musk in this one lend some sweetness to the patchouli, woods and myrrh. It is a creamy sweet incense that curls my toes.

Caramel Apple- Notes: Ripe, juicy apples dipped in an extra coating of buttery caramel.
Robust Macintosh apples with their honeyed flowery perfume are coated in rivers of sticky toffee colored caramel. As yummy as the day is long.

I am so happy with my Handmade in Florida quickie order! Zahida always outdoes herself with her blending and creativity and quality. I am looking forward to her next pre-order so I can grab hubby some more of his soaps. I will probably save these tarts for next fall since I melted so many of my older scents this year. 

Have you melted much this year? How is your stash looking?

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas, dear friends! I wish you a warm and loving end to this year and may 2020 be your best year yet. 

Blogging will resume tomorrow. I do have a reading challenge, some wax hauls and a Best of 2019 to share among some other goodies. 

Fireplace crackles are currently warming my heart. What is giving you a glow right now?