Sunday, May 31, 2020

Ebb & Flow: May 2020

The highs and lows of the month.

Chanel Coromandel

Perfume Oil:
Nocturne Alchemy 1922

The Bathing Garden Frolic (salt scrub)

Andy Taur Majestic Tuberose

Body Oil:
Wildroots Winter Ritual

Forest & Fjord Sea Silk Face Cream

Balefire Apothecary Poppy Tincture

Bath and Body Works Twisted Peppermint

Rosegirls Florida Key Lime Pie

Sumo oranges, Rainier cherries, homemade guacamole (avocado, minced garlic, one whole lime squeezed, cilantro, salt)

Water, kombucha, coffee.

The Poet of Loch Ness by Brian Jay Corrigan
I forgot how lyrical writing can pour like a syrup to sweeten and coat the time spent reading. The most recent sentence I read that I enjoyed rubbing between the fingers of my heart and mind: (speaking of an old widow)- "She had been a beauty as a child, and the beauty had now slipped under the skin to perfume her soul." 

Finished all the Outlander episodes on Netflix. They did the books justice.

Irish tin whistle on record and John Denver's greatest hits on record.

Scarlette's birthday. Some exploring and swimming now that it is summertime. 

The summer going by too fast.

My 2020 Tudor planner for daily doodles, good old fashioned wooden stick matches, coleus and impatiens under the oak tree.

Spearmint essential oil that smells like dill pickles, Apple charging cords (always weak willed splitting creatures), my New Zealand Tea Tree (I killed it somehow, not enough sun I suppose).

My grandmother, Ma, passed very recently. She has been missing Pa for almost two decades now and her passing was a peaceful event but I will miss her terribly. Next Saturday we will honor her at an outdoor graveside service to maintain social distancing.

The school year is over and summer has begun. I was blessed with two wonderful co-workers despite it easily being the most challenging year in my 12 years of teaching. I have learned the importance of taking my life and my career one month at a time, sometimes one week at a time and in desperate moments, one day at a time. This may seem simple and silly but I was always a 5-year plan kind of person in my youth. I am slowly learning to take smaller bites. My life is not always going to unfold in a predicted manner. Also had highs of getting to see my sisters again this month. I have missed them so. And rain. Finally got some rain.

How has your May been? Anything on your summer wish list?

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Forest and Fjord: Skin Care

I have recently become enamored with the hand crafted goods from Sarah based out of Alaska and within her brand, Forest & Fjord. I found her through another maker on Instagram that was showcasing some talented herbalists, I am thinking Britton from Blood Moon might have featured her. Either way, I hopped over to Sarah's site and picked up two skin care products, as I had run out of my Aftelier Face Elixir. I also joined her Patreon. 

Sarah offers a plethora of skin care options, for aged skin, dry skin, oily skin and in creams and serums. I chose two.

Winter Moon Serum- $50 For rejuvenating, repairing, deeply moisturizing.
I found I do enjoy oils for night time hydration. I was looking for one that pampers the aging skin, not to necessarily turn back the clock (I embrace my grays) but to take care of this element exposed skin of mine. Camelina oil is infused with chaga and combined with fireweed and dandelion. This serum is high in antioxidants and can be used as an oil-based cleanser as well. The oil smells warm and inviting and applies like a dream. It leaves my skin feeling dewy and lush.

Sea Silk Face Cream $52 - For soothing, healing, cooling.
This one has a base of meadowfoam oil infused with yarrow, elderflower, wild chamomile and emulsified with wild harvest yarrow hydrosol that was distilled under a summer solar eclipse. Being outdoors in the garden so much lately under the radiant sun has me looking for something that can be deemed soothing for my face. I love the silken texture of this cream. I made the mistake of slathering when this dense cream calls for only a thin slip of application. 

It is soothing and nourishing. It gives my face a soft glow. 

I appreciate the wealth of information Sarah shares about her products and ingredients. She has an eye for detail and ensures you have a high quality experience. She chose special UV-resistant heavy weight violet glass containers for her items to prolong shelf life, which is about 1-2 years. 

I have been alternating these two products for a couple weeks now. I am happy to say my skin does appear to like them. So much so that I did pick up the Deep Forest serum, which is a "dry" oil that helps with balancing the skin and aiding any breakouts. I do still have some hormonal acne issues I struggle with so I think between these three I will be able to cover all my bases. 

I ordered my mom and myself (a Mother's Day treat for both of us) a bottle of her Balm of Gilead too for pain relief of our gardening weary muscles. Can you tell I am enjoying my Forest & Fjord experience? Check Sarah's stuff out. You will be impressed.  

Monday, May 18, 2020

Vapid Wax: Scent Shots

Here are some scent shots I ordered for $2 a pop at Vapid Wax a while back. I do see that she is currently having a spring sale for 30% all her RTS. There seems to be a good amount available. 

Luna is a soft and familiar blend of sandalwood, amber, berries, jasmine and freesia. It either reminds me of the Scentsy Luna fragrance or the Bath & Body Works Moonlight Path. Either way it is a lovely smooth scent with cushiony pale woods, sweet vanilla amber and sweet fruits and florals.

Vanilla Frost is an indulgent vanilla scent full of marshmallow sweetness and a nod to vanilla bean noel with its hint of sugar cookie. This though is really an ultimate vanilla. And I love it for that.

Clear Headed is a bracing eucalyptus, mint and camphor blend. It smells just like Vicks Vapo Rub. Which is exactly what I wanted. It is nice to have a mix like this on hand for those sickie days.

La La Lavenderland is a classic pairing of sweet lavender and lush vanilla. Vapid Wax has some of the best vanilla I have laid nose on in a while. This one melted strong in my bedroom.

I went for some staples: vanilla, lavender, mint. But I was also in the mood for some unique summery scents.

Tonic and Orange Blossoms fit that bill. It is sweet and creamy, a summery blend of a vanilla orange iced treat with a hint of bubbly effervescence. Definitely not an orange blossom but still a nice scent to lift the spirits.

Hunter is a gorgeous scent that entwines oud wood, sandalwood and amber. It is described as a sexy man scent, and it does give a hint of the vibe but it does have some amazing woodsy tones that keeps it from smelling of just cologne. 

Suntan is a wonderful Coppertone dupe. That burst of jasmine is dreamy. Utterly dreamy.

I think I must have been pining for fall as well.

Warm Apple Pie makes my mouth water simply sniffing it. Warm sliced apples, sautéed with sugar and dusted with fine cinnamon. Perfection really.

Autumn Harvest is a refined take on the classic cornucopia of apples, oranges and spice. A touch of vanilla and musk is buried within those notes and it rounds it all out into a velvety texture. I will probably melt this before fall.

Let's Summon Demons took me aback! It smells like a soft smoky blend of leaves and serendipity. The creamy coconut cherry treat is given a dark side with woods, leaves and woodsmoke. I love it. Absolutely love it. 

Cardigan was the only dud in the group. I think something was wrong with the wax though. It was all lumpy and creased and very faintly scented. All the others were vibrant on cold sniff and strong when melted. This was supposed to be a cardamom and rose scent.

Ouija Board is an earthy woodsy blend that has watery notes from herbs and and a misty ozonic tang to it. Like inhaling during a deep fog in the woods with a dash of clean. 

I am very happy with my Vapid Wax order and I will be back. Some of these will be upgraded to the clamshell size. :-)

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Melting Basket 151 and some Flowers

Hello friends, how have you been these past couple weeks? I have melted up a full basket that I didn't feature a week or so ago, but I felt the urge to share this one since it is newly filled.

Bohemienne Life Go Tell The Bees
Glitterati Peppermint Pralines
Glitterati Cucumber Melon Apple Mango Tango
Handmade in Florida Yacht Club
The Bathing Garden Starlight Soda Pop
The Bathing Garden Summer Melon and Mint
Beezy Salty Dog and Lime
Beezy Lavender Sugar Cookie
Beezy Harvest Gathering
CFTKR Merlin's Forest
CFTKR Rosy Strawberry
CFTKR Strawberry Martini
CFTKR Country Home
CFTKR Tropical Cocktail
CFTKR Pumpkin Chamomile

These are some hot and dry summery days down here in Florida. I keep waiting for those summer afternoon thunderstorms to begin. My plants are thirsty. 

We have a few small magnolia trees growing on the side of the house and their big blowsy flowers are scenting the air nicely. There are much larger and older magnolias in the neighborhood and they carry their perfume far for us to enjoy on our evening walks. 

I am trying to grow some zinnias around the yard here and there willy nilly. I found the ones I scatter as seed stay teeny tiny like these here, but if I plant the seed in pots and tend to them more they get bigger. I have been transplanting those around the yard now too. But seed scattering is so much fun I will probably still indulge in that.

It has been nice waking up and greeting the morning glories of the day. 

I finally saw my very first hummingbird two days ago. I was sitting on the front step and garden gazing when he stopped by to sample the firecracker bush and the Mexican fire bush. I put out a hummingbird feeder yesterday. I hope he finds it.

The front yard is almost completed, I think I need a few stepping stones for some areas and perhaps a handful of shade plants for under the oak tree. I will be moving on to getting the sides of the yard done next. The backyard will be last. Baby steps. 

How are you doing? Are you melting? Burning? I have a good old Bath and Body Works Twisted Peppermint in the bedroom. I forgot how good it can be when it is done right.

Friday, May 1, 2020

2020 Reading Challenge: Spring Check In

Reading has been my self-medication of choice this year. At this point I don't even care if I am actively using it as a form of escapism. I must admit I have been on some rather interesting adventures in my book journeys. Here are the books I have read so far along with a quick blurb of my thoughts along with my rating:
*= meh       **= good/decent        ***= go read it

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

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

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

4. Memory lane- a book you missed out on from childhood.

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

6. Magical realism

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

11. A book you'd turn to when feeling blue.

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

13. Stay Golden with gilded pages or shimmering cover accents.

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!
Sphere by Michael Crichton was one I borrowed from my daughter. We love reading Crichton. This one was decent. An alien (?) craft is discovered at the bottom of the sea and a team of experts is called in by the government to explore. What is tangible morphs into the intellectually abstract. The movie was a painful hoot to watch after too. Some great actors in it! **

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

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

18. A centenarian book, one that is 100 years or older. 

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

22. Generation Z- A teen or young adult author.

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

24. Reading rebel- a controversial book, or featuring a literary rebel.

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

28. The White Whale- book on your tbr forever, a weighty book, or one you couldn't bring yourself to read before [or that you think will be the end of you].

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

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

I think I have gotten off to a great start!! Not many of the books have sucked and I have read quite a bit. I foresee this trend continuing given our present circumstances and the fast approach of summer, my halcyon reading days. Are you reading? Do you recommend anything?