Amidst the anxious excitement over plans for upcoming trips, continual vendor haul posts and countless exhilarating store openings, a gentle reminder was needed. A reminder to myself that what feeds the soul, truly feeds my soul, is immaterial. It cannot be bought, nor won, can neither be checked off a list, nor added to a planner agenda. In fact, it’s difficult to capture at all in writing and photos. What fills my soul is connection; to friends, to family, community, and (introvert that I am) even to beloved characters from books and movies held so dear. Perhaps the universe provided the opportunity to reconnect without me even realizing it was needed. However manifested…I am grateful.
Reconnecting with community occurred last weekend at our high school’s musical (which happened to be High School Musical). My husband is a teacher, but outside of Speech and Debate related functions, I’m not in touch with many local families. It was nice to reminisce about how these teenagers have grown and to catch up with a few former coworkers. I tend to forget too easily about the community ties that exist and have sustained through the years, especially in the smallish town where we live. I left feeling somewhat abashed for too often residing in my own world, but also touched, and with a renewed esteem for many fellow community members.
Connecting with a friend and revisiting a beloved fandom came by an invitation, of sorts, to Hogwarts. My good friend got us tickets to the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Film Concert series performance by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.
I hadn’t heard of these CineConcerts before which blend live music and visual media. But if my love for the world of Harry Potter and classical music wasn’t enough reason to attend, then the rare occasion of getting dolled up to enjoy a lovely dinner and night out with a friend certainly was.
The concert format featured the orchestra playing live, all of the music that was recorded in the film, while the movie was projected with dialogue and subtitles onto a gigantic screen. The conductor had a flat screen on his podium which flashed varying lights in conjunction to the climactic movie moments. The music was heart-stirring. I especially enjoyed watching the frenzied Quidditch match performance, and of course had chills during John Williams’ Hedwig’s Theme.
If you’ve ever attended a viewing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show“, in which crowd participation is expected, and raucous, this was, in comparison, a tamer experience. One can’t sing along to instrumentals but there was quite a bit of cheering and a few choice comments from the sold out audience. Most vocal reactions were to the first screen appearances of fan favorites, Hagrid and Snape, with hearty cheering, and some booing as the Hogwarts houses were announced. The crowd in my section was conspicuously hipster, with clouds of patchouli scents wafting all around. It made me smile however, to see many gray-haired fans alongside young ones wrapped in their Hufflepuff scarves.
Speaking of Hogwarts houses, have I ever mentioned that I’m a Slytherin? Of course, my librarian side is Ravenclaw and back when I took the Pottermore beta test, that’s the House I was sorted into. I don’t consider it to be the definitive test since everyone knows that when you answer intelligence to what you value most, you’ll be Ravenclaw.
Many years ago, I took the comprehensive 100 question quiz in which I must have attempted to skew my answers to Ravenclaw, causing my true nature to come out, hence Slytherin. Ah well, if it is so, there are a handful of soulful Slytherins too plus my husband and many friends are Hufflepuff, so they keep me in check.
As much as I would love to indulge in the merry merchandise of all things HP, its just not feasible. I daydream over the International translations of the books, but what I currently own are an incomplete set of library cast-offs. The illustrated editions are exceedingly gorgeous, so I plan to keep requesting those as presents.
Here sits my humble Harry Potter shelf.All of the items were gifted except the darling character bookmarks from Happy Hello Co. I’m too much of a bookmark geek to pass those up. The framed quote was made by a student and the stick-like wand is a real stick, fashioned and painted into a wand presented to me by my nephew when he was nine.
The Funko Pops were stocking stuffers and though I want a few more, I must be selective due to space. My husband knew Harry with Hedwig and Fred Weasley were musts!
The Half-Blood Prince is pulled out because that’s the book I’m currently into from the series. I started it a while ago, but that’s a story for another day.
Any HP collectors out there with beloved items to share? Strong opinions on which Funkos I should get next? Would you attend a CineConcert? Apparently they tackle a wide range, from Star Trek to It’s a Wonderful Life. I’m looking forward to attending another in this series sometime. Until then it’s good to know the fandom continues to change and grow.
The most enjoyable book (audio actually) I read last year was The Serpent King, by Jeff Zentner. Just announced as the winner of the William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens. I recommend it as a modern, if sentimental, coming of age in the south story of friendship.
Unfortunately, The Serpent King was one of two bright spots in a personally horrible literary year. Seeking to reignite my reading fire and elevate my choices this year, I entered the Redolent Mermaid’s reading challenge for 2017.
Off to a shaky start, I juggled 3 books at once, delaying the completion of any of them. You may assume being a library specialist makes me a fast reader, sadly, not so. My powers of concentration aren’t what they used to be, often taking me longer to get through most books than it does many of my patrons. Alas, I waded through a few and am currently on my fourth.
*My reviews are for editorial purposes only, book critic I am obviously not.
20. Female authored-
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson, published 2016. Described as “a fever dream” this brief story features a young African-American girl from Tennessee replanted in Brooklyn in the 1970s.
Woodson writes in memories and memory lapses, so that the reader is spinning, shifting through the storyline on unsure footing. Alternating between a punch to the gut softened by splashes of warmth and humanity, the writing is bare, sparse, and spare. Drifting through the protagonist’s broken memories meant I didn’t really experience or understand the supporting characters. Her best friends, brother and father felt like strangers. Real human beings portrayed in the unreality of snippets of memory, I was never pulled into the story.
The interesting takeaway was that everyone in Woodson’s Brooklyn dreamed of living in better places. If you’re looking for a feel-good read, keep looking. If looking for diverse, LGBT-authored, I lukewarmly recommend it.
This week, I may run across a few mentions of how quickly the past month has flown by; however, shortest month or not, I felt February could not have dragged more. This seemingly endless month might have to do with my shopping ban, nothing can make the calendar flip slower, but I’ve also been so busy planning for and looking toward upcoming months that I feel weeks ahead and catch myself saying, oh it’s only the 2oth…
The wacky warm weather has certainly played a part in thinking it’s mid-spring; short sleeved and barefoot is a rarity for February in Ohio!
Rather than purchasing new wax, I’ve enjoyed gathering lovely themed goodies and ended up with simply gorgeous melts this month.
Of course, shopping bans go by less painfully when dear friends ship you amazing scented packages out of the goodness of their hearts. I received two such generous gifts this month and they are beyond appreciated.
I plan on wearing the Sonoma Scent Studios Equestrian perfume for luck at the upcoming state speech tournament, but I don’t think I can bring myself to melt the gorgeous piped heart from Sniff My Tarts gifted by The Redolent Mermaid. Instead, I’ll use the herbal spiced and incense Dragon’s Blood blend to inspire me to create future SMT custom orders.
Candles from the Keeping Room–
Balsam & Citrus- it should be called Citrus and Balsam because the citrus is the dominant note and most prevalent when melted. I mistakenly gave off the impression I didn’t care for citrus when I picked up on the grapefruit in this. I usually love citrus, especially tart grapefruit, what made me hesitate was mixing it with balsam. Occasionally, balsam is too resinous for my nose. No worries with this scent because its sweet, sweet, sugary juice enhanced by spongy moss and soft woods. It floats through the room rather than throwing it’s presence in your face.
Mugged by an Angel– I’ve found two kinds of powdered musk melts in my experience, those with a stifling “lady of a certain age” perfume quality and those with a reviving softness. Mugged by an Angel is definitely the latter kind. I read somewhere this was reminiscent of Yankee’s Pink Sands and it has the beachy melons and floral femininity but I think it’s so much better.
Mistletoe and Ivy– this comes off more spring feeling than wintry because the ivy gives a wild, fresh grassy aroma to the green tang of the mistletoe. The throw was strong and the fragrance sparkling.
Other beautiful blends this month :
Baby Kisses- Smell Goods Wax (top right above) My favorite version of pink sugar peppermint with lavender chunks is sadly no longer available because the owners closed their shop. I’ll be mining these notes for various custom combos to recreate for a long time to come.
Blush & bashful– Southern Sisters’ Wax. The sisters call this a Pantene dupe and I’ll take their word for it. Fresh, sweet, enticingly familiar; if I could pipe this scent into my house I would. Perfect blend to fall asleep to and wake up with. Even though I still have 1/2 my cuttable wax pig left, I’m gonna need more.
Cotton Oasis– Pour Girl’s Wax previously reviewed
Star Lord–Super Tarts-shaving cream, cream soda and lingonberry jam. A whopping fruity scent that I actually love. Super Tarts has done it again.
Purple sandalwood– Ten Digit Creations Now retired, I think this has light floral violets, amber, musk and of course sandalwood. Very soothing.
Best product discovery:
Stila All Day Matte lipstick in Mon Ami– picked this up with Ulta reward points (there are many ways around a shopping ban) and a 40 % off sale. Judging from the fashionable young women on our speech team, matte lips are in. On me, it means I must pay extra attention to keep them scrubbed and hydrated, but it does have a nice color payoff that lasts when paired with nude liner.
We have our speech and debate team’s second National Qualifier! I mentioned in October that we started the year off successfully and I’m ecstatic to report we’ll be ending the season that way too, at the National tourney in Alabama this June. Only our second kid to achieve it and I can’t overstate what a big deal it is for our little program. A sweet and somewhat surprising victory for the deserving young man and the best part is, he’s only a junior; I couldn’t be happier for him.
*As an aside, if you have no idea what I’m talking about; my husband and I started a Speech and Debate team at the high school where he teaches. For the last 9 years it has been our passion and superheroic ability to work with 18-24 teenagers each year, guiding them as they pursue their performance dreams.
We are members of the Ohio HS speech league (our district is one of the most competitive in the country) and the National Forensics League. Forensics, meaning the use of public speaking skills and reasoned discourse. Some of the individual events we coach include, Humorous or Dramatic Interpretation, US or Foreign extemporaneous speaking, Prose poetry oral interp, and Original Oratory. These teens get up in front of their competitors and judges every Saturday from late October to March, and pull off amazing and humbling feats. Sometimes it’s stressful, always a rollercoaster, but I’m grateful and honored to be a part of it.
Reading– Okay, reading itself is not the worst (what kind of sabotaging librarian would I be?) specifically, my reading habits have been the worst of late. My material can’t be blamed because I’m loving my choices for the Redolent Mermaid’s reading challenge. The fault lies partly in being busy with speech, family obligations, and pre-planning of my New York trip. The overwhelming culprit has been mis-managing time spent on social media, even blogging. Next month, I’m picking up my phone less and reaching for a book more often.
Worst new product: I’ve had a few unlucky hauls from online vendors and disclosed a recent one in my Fresh Picked Scents review. I had to briefly add what the whipped body butter sample I received did to my hand.
That’s not the color of veins in my pale skin and I used no filter. That is green dye imparted from rubbing the butter on one leg. I had to scrub it off with a nail brush. How are these dyes skin safe, or am I assuming too much? Only reputable, well tested body care products from now on.
Worst excuse to break a shopping ban– a Bath and Body Work’s soap sale! Only because there will likely be 6 more this year and because I didn’t really need any. Technically, soap is a household necessity and those aren’t banned, technically, I didn’t have any spring scents. Also between the 2.95 sale, a 20% coupon and free small hand cream included, it hardly felt like the ban was broken, just stretched.
The second of my wax gifts recently arrived out of the blue from Jessica at The Meltdown Blog. Including non wax presents of plaid tape, a wallflower, a colorful notepad and a variety of new to me vendors’ scents I can’t wait to try. I was so touched by her hand painted OSU canvas, Go Buckeyes! ❤
Let me hear if your February was filled with hits, I’ll listen to the misses too. Now I’m headed off to curl up and read.
A scrub down, like a throw down except with shower scrubs, and it sounds nicer than a scrub-off. Why review scrubs from two of the most sought after indie body care vendors you ask? Observing their huge social media fan following has piqued my curiosity. What is at the heart of the intense popularity behind these brands? Is it because their wax is so beloved that it spills over into their respective body care lines? Or are these shower scrubs hoard worthy in their own right? Because judging by the online stash photos, shower scrubs are definitely being hoarded. I don’t know what apocalypse scenario the hoarders are preparing for, but as long as there’s a supply of water, they’re going to have well-exfoliated skin at the ready.
I recently tried both brands, first purchasing wax melts from The Bathing Garden then venturing into bath products. With Candy Panda, I went straight for the scrub, once I could get my hands on it. Is one superior over the other, how do they compare, and most pressing, do they live up to the hype?
The Bathing Garden– Ever Night Shea Butter scrub
Fragrance: “Lavender and lilac are highlighted with a touch of eucalyptus and blended with soft woods, white musk, and sugary vanilla.” Topped off with a smattering of buds and a decorative flower, it’s a classic herbal lavender, very floral and woody smelling. This is a rather sharp scent; straight up lilac petals and lavender buds can be. But it’s also stimulating, romantic and feminine. The scent I’d reach for when readying for a date night or special occasion when I want to feel ladylike.
I do admit that although encouraged by good word-of-mouth, what put this scent choice over the top may have been the elegant label featuring a chandelier and spooky little owl.
Feels: Texture wise, this shea scrub is the coarser of the two. The plumper grains make for a scrubbier experience. Ultra skin-sloughing when applied dry, it lathers smoothly when rubbed in with a few extra swirls upon wet skin.
It rinses off cleanly and truly leaves my skin feeling polished. Due to the coarse grains, I wouldn’t use this every day. Because of its exfoliating capacity for dry skin, however, I wouldn’t need to.
- Special packaging and ingredients provide an elegant product
- Ease of access from The Bathing Garden website because they’re made to order. This means no worrying about trying to catch an opening or a product selling out.
- A hearty exfoliation that leaves my body feeling hydrated, also, a little can go a long way once worked into the skin as a soapy lather.
- Several scrub options are available with each of TBG’s rotating scent line-ups, including; aloe butter, avacado oil, borage oil and coconut oil scrubs and parfaits which are a split product of sugar scrub and whipped soap.
- Only costs $9.00 for 8 oz. and Shannon sends a couple generously sized scrub samples!
- Turn around time of 6 weeks is a deterrent for many people. In this case, made to order can be a major con.
- Wide diameter jar takes a lot of shelf space in a typical shower.
- Though moisturizing, not so much so that I can forego lotion afterwards.
Candy Panda– Comfortably Numb whipped body scrub
Fragrance: The description reads, notes of musk, molasses and vanilla. A pronounced floral tone to the musk keeps this scent from being manly or unisex really. The sugary molasses makes for a unique and inviting creaminess. Opening the jar and inhaling it creates a delicious and sensual showertime ritual. Comfortably Numb is aptly named because the blend provides an instant mellow mood for my morning routine.
It’s not fruity, fizzy or bakery, which could explain why it was still available 2 hours after a restock when I had a chance to check during my lunch break. This is how being an atypical scent lover has its benefits, it was the one scent I wanted to try for and I was tickled it was still there. Very sweet and unique, I think many Candy Panda fans would love the scent if they tried it.
Feels: A smoother, finer grain than the previous scrub, however, still fairly scrubby. When slathered on wet skin, it forms a brightly colorful paste. The thick consistency melted into the rough outer layer of my dry skin, then evaporated quickly after a rinse.
- An extensive fragrance list that can appeal to all scent lovers.
- Smaller, taller jar footprint makes it easier to store in the shower. Candy Panda just announced a switch to flip-up lids which will be more convenient to use.
- Once purchased, shipping is within a week.
- Fun happy colors make a fetching product display, especially for those with stacks of jars.
- Costs $12.00 for 10.5 oz. I did score 2 wax melt cups as a surprise with my order.
- Restocks can be a frustrating shopping frenzy in which you may lose an item in your cart as you attempt to pay, if you aren’t quick enough.
- Also requires lotion after use. Slightly less exfoliating.
The scrubby results:
Both got the scrub job done! I’d recommend either brand because each gave a satisfying amount of exfoliation* and left my skin with a similar feel. I believe I’ll try an avacado oil scrub from The Bathing Garden next, and maybe go fresh rather than floral. The Candy Panda also has whipped shaving soaps to try for and a new line-up of scrub scents each month.
*If you’re looking for a lotion-optional scrub I recommend The Dirty Goat.
Two superior quality scrubs well worth the hype. Hoard worthy? Hmm, I’m more of a buy one as I need one scrubber, but I may indulge in a back-up of a favorite. Would I repurchase? I’d like to see somebody try and stop me:)
Apparently, by surrounding myself with the comforts of home and lit candles, I’ve embraced the practice of Hygge this month without even realizing it. “Hygge represents finding happiness in mundane pleasures, such as drinking a cup of warm tea while under a blanket, reading next to a cozy fire and having dinner at home with your friends.” I had no idea I was so trendy, but if this is the Danish way of life I’m certainly down with it.
- I’ve indulged in much-needed comforting scents all month long and don’t see this trend changing anytime soon…
Baby Powder potion pack by Super Tarts
Fireside by Handmade Prim
Hot Buttered Rum and Season of Peace retired candles by Yankee Candle
Pure White Cotton and Wine Cellar wax melts by Bath and Body Works
White Pumpkin Lilac by Swing and Dream Soap Co. and by Wax Junkie Melts has been my preferred scent this month. I’ve used one after the other in my bedroom and let the spiced floral cream lull me to sleep. I will be in search of more soon.
- The Dirty Goat’s all natural probiotic deodorant is going strong and is a happy change.
- Drinking more tea, thanks to my tea bar. I’ve enjoyed my usual favorites but the winning new addition is Adagio’s Apricot/Peach/Vanilla/Apple Cinnamon from Riddle’s tea shoppe
- Taking time to meet with friends. Be it a special movie night or driving the distance halfway between our homes to celebrate a belated holiday with our good friends. Spending time with my buddies rejuvenates my spirits like nothing else can. Not to mention all the pampering presents I received. Thank you so much Rach, I can’t wait till March!
- La La Land-It’s no secret that I love musicals and I gave in to the charm of this one easily. Universally appealing due to its intimate look at the spirit of human ambition and emotionally uplifting for it’s music, dances, and magical love story. Recommended for dreamers, young and old. But also a reminder to support the dreams of the ones you love, they are counting on you to believe when they falter. Though not everyone’s enamored with the (admittedly not perfect) ending, I respect it for the willingness to look back and then let go. An emotional, yet beautiful feel-good movie that makes ME want to dance doesn’t occur very often. So, “here’s to the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem…”
- Me! For getting off to a slow start with my New Year’s wellness intentions. I’ve exercised here and there, but have attended a total of zero yoga classes and meditated only once. I haven’t made a strong effort to eat healthier either, unless you count the 10 lbs of grapefruits* that we bought on the last grocery trip.
*On a positive note, I have a bounty in case I want to learn to juggle and I did make this grapefruit yogurt cake. Which most definitely belongs in the best list.
- Lots of worries over the health of our little Bostie, Johnny. We made it through a rough post-surgery period to learn 2 out of 3 lumps were mast cell tumors. Fortunately, his doctor tried to cut out as much as possible but one worrisome spot has only a 1 mm clean margin of depth. Meaning, the tumor could have jumped or made its way to muscles and organs. Only time and close monitoring will tell what his future holds. However, our tough pup has beaten and survived cancer before, 6 years ago. If any dog can pull through he can. He’s already rallied back to his normal self and the stitches come out soon.
- Also me, for not burning through the candles that I intended to in January. I want to finish at least 3 seasonal ones to avoid packing them away. With no plans to buy any until I’ve used up 5, it should be a good ratio for clearing out some of my stash.
I enter into a new month with renewed intentions, including my post-holiday shopping ban. February is crunch time for speech and debate season; I’ll be extremely busy, but I’m anxiously awaiting several preorders and am excited for more vendor features.
That’s the long and short of January. How have you fared with your new year’s intentions? Any special plans or purchases to look forward to in February?
It’s about that time of the season when all I want to do is hibernate at home. I love the idea of snuggling up indoors against the keen bite of winter, the snow falling outside as a roaring fire crackles in the fireplace. Ruddy cheeks from the heat of the blaze, toasting my hands and feet, hypnotized as the flickering flames cast dancing shadows upon the glowing hearthstone. The only sounds…the crackle of logs, pop of sparks and perhaps the clink of ice cubes in a glass of warming spirits.
Unfortunately, we don’t use our gas stove fireplace anymore because it’s a soot-churning monster. How does one evoke this fireside feeling without it? Fortunately, the wax world has an answer for that.
Though I no longer strictly adhere to a theme of one scent/one post, I occasionally like to spotlight a single fragrance category and compare a variety of wax from it. Being a natural analyzer and cataloger, I can’t help but comply to my nature.
Today is my one year blogiversary, a perfect time to return to a comparison style post from my early blogging days. With cozy firesides in mind, I gathered up my various hearth melts and got to melting.
The Bathing Garden–Faerie Bonfire A complex bonfire scent with notes of leaves, vanilla, sandalwood, and brown sugar.
This scent sounded too mesmerizing to pass up with my winter order, but upon receipt, I found there to be a strange note that sent it to the bottom of my box, forgotten. Something rotten with a tang to it, maybe the leaves, or bonfire aspect?
Starting with one cube, adding a second and ending up very happy I decided to melt it. Whatever note didn’t jive on cold, melded harmoniously when warmed. A humble fireside scent made hazy by the crystalline sugar. Vanilla adds an almost cooling, creamy touch to the smokiness, before it takes a slight dark twist from the damp leaves.
Even as a lighter performing scent, I could see myself repurchasing. I’ve learned to trust in Shannon and her blending skills.
Handmade Prim–Fireside 3/4 oz. sample size, no scent description available.
Pure burley tobacco leaf combines with wispy smoke and sweet resins to create a lively fireplace scent. A multi-faceted aroma of charred embers, warmed cloth, and plumes of herbaceous woodsmoke mingled with exotic incense.
Consistent and fragrant throw that captured the toasty bonfire that I was after. I will purchase if it reappears in the etsy shop.
Candles from the Keeping Room–Old colonial hearth The aroma of a roaring fire burning old age wood..this is an earthy smokey type aroma.
Put this in an electric warmer before taking our dog on a walk, and returned home to a scent that had completely changed the tone of our house. It was interesting, but started to overwhelm my senses quickly. An exhale of intense bitter smoke, as if from a cast-iron stove curled acridly through the room swallowing up the atmosphere. An authentic aroma to be sure, but that includes the sooty residue and black ash that lingers in the air when the coals have died down. We also got an off-putting note of burnt plastic .
Old Colonial Hearth achieved it’s purpose in recreating a fireplace fragrance, however, I think it would only work in a much larger open space. In my smallish rooms, it was akin to dwelling in an ashtray. Won’t repurchase or use the remaining melts.
Party Lite– By the Fire –The romantic, smoky scents of smoldering wood, warmed by a sweet touch of honey & sugared maple.
Partylite, that candle-selling/networking business has wax melts, who knew? I was gifted these by a friend and intrigued by the cold throw. Two chunky wedges were used in my Scenterpiece.
Once warmed, a floral tone emerged, then it fizzled. A charcoal note, reminiscent of The Bathing Garden’s Bah Humbug settled into the background, but never became more prominent. Smouldering, but not catching fire. If there were honey and maple, I couldn’t tell. Such a shame that the best of the cold throws amounted to so little when warmed. Maybe one needs 3-4 wedges of the softer partylite melts, but I probably won’t be purchasing to find out.
Ten Digit Creations– Santa’s Pipe*
Part of my TDC clearance close-out order, I didn’t have high hopes for this one on cold sniff. Not helping matters was the waxident that occurred with my cute, but poorly designed Yankee tealight warmer. The bowl kept slipping off and spilling wax, before the sticky melt released any scent.
Undaunted, I used the remaining half of my 2 oz. cup in my trusty owl warmer. Twenty minutes went by without much happening and I was ready to write this one off, when I noticed a faint fragrance drifting by. Sweet, almost sugary tobacco smoke wound it’s way through, filling up my living room.
Not really a fireside scent, it had the essence of a mild gentle heat. I enjoyed the soft fruity tobacco character for three days as a morning melt ritual that reassured my senses with comforting warmth. I would repurchase.
*Sandra, this could be the grandpa’s pipe scent you’re after. Let me know if you want me to pick some up:)
The best, and by that I mean smokiest of the smoky melts: Handmade Prim’s Fireside. That little cup held a life-like substitute for the crackling embers and fragrant smoke of a welcoming fire in the hearth, straight out of a tale by Dickens.