Band of Bloggers-April

It’s that time of year again! As the warmer weather soothes stiff joints and brushes off the last vestiges of winter, homes beg for the same fresh start everyone promised themselves at the beginning of the year. Clothes are donated, rooms are scrubbed, and yards are tended. While the fauna leave their winter dens or return from long migrations, the world blooms with new growth in vibrant splashes of color.
 
For April’s Band of Bloggers post, we will answer a few questions about Spring and the ever-loved Spring Cleaning. Feel free to join in and answer these questions in the comments below!
Speaking of fauna, we’ve had a woodpecker visit a tree in our front yard every morning for the last week or two. I don’t mind him too much as the pecking only lasts about 5 minutes and it’s an arousing reminder of spring. I’m looking forward to longer days and getting outside more often. Though, it’s been rather rainy of late, hopefully our weather will cooperate.
Do you decorate for Spring? 
Barely, it’s my least decorated season. However, I grabbed a few more items this year, including the moss bunny below. Love that little woodland creature. I gravitate to
pastel blue-greens and aqua tones during spring. I also love earthy, mossy green tones.
 
Are there any products you find yourself reaching for as the weather warms? This can be anything; food, clothing, bath and body, wax, you name it!
Honestly, without a blog record of what home fragrance I melted last year, I’d have no recollection of the spring scents that I’ve reached for in the past. I can’t remember any before then either, but I know I’ve really only gotten into lavender scents through vendor wax. Citrus fragrance always seems to brighten things up around springtime.
This year, I’ve reached for numerous pink sugar blends, and will continue to do so as I’m expecting more. Two new-to-me categories I recently enjoyed melting are fizzy and laundry scents. I’m interested if anyone has a nice laundry type recommendation, nothing too starchy. I’ve also received some florals I will review soon. The Yankee jar candle is a gift from a friend in the retired scent Water Garden. An absolute pleasure to burn, as cool and soothing as an actual water garden.
I’ll be reaching for my Rose scented natural deodorant from The Dirty Goat, my festive one seemed to last much longer than the drug store brands. The antiperspirant property is holding up well so far. We’ll see if I enjoy smelling of roses.
Food-wise, it’s bring on the spring bounty! I crave nearly every type of salad one can imagine. I always use more herbs in the warmer months when they’re more readily available.
 
Do you participate in the Spring Cleaning craze?
Hahaha! (That’s the sound of my dust bunnies laughing).
I’m more of a summer cleaner, I need longer days and my husband’s help to tackle larger projects. This summer it will be cleaning the garage, but he doesn’t know that yet;) The only spring-oriented cleaning I have on the horizon is switching over my closets this weekend.
Don’t forget to visit these fellow participants in the Band of Bloggers and help support the blogging community!
Liz at Furianne
Sandra at Finger Candy
If you are a blogger and would like to join the Band of Bloggers for our monthly posts, please contact us.

Seeking Comfort

For those times when things don’t go as planned, when life twists and turns unexpectedly, your week feels too long and your to-do list longer, when you’re in pain, or as in the words of singer Daniel Powter back in 2005, you’ve had a bad day; what do you turn to for comfort?

Family, caring friends, cuddling pets, escape through reading, binge-watching and gaming can be sources of comfort. When my personal stress level is too high, I seek solace in solitude. In the past, I’ve dabbled with meditation, even taking some classes which I found helpful. Maybe I’ll pursue it again this year, as it’s a skill that requires practice to call upon in times of stress.

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SAS haul from Bath and Body Works. Relax is my only full-sized candle purchase from after Christmas sales.

I’m sure it’s no surprise that home fragrance is a wellspring of comfort for me. It’s also one of the easiest methods I have to de-stress. Sense of smell can be a powerful force. Though I’m no student of aromatherapy, I believe that mental and emotional moods can be influenced by the senses.

I witnessed a fascinating example of this as I was waiting to take my dog into a veterinary exam. A cat with a broken leg was brought in, it expressed a lot of aggression and understandable anxiety in it’s crate. The vet tech sprayed a cloth with a pheromone spray, draped it over the crate and that cat was instantly calmed down. I thought, I’ll take a gallon of that to go!

Lacking access to a spray bottle of instant calm, these are the comforting fragrances that I’ve had on repeat the last few weeks:

Yankee Candles in retired scents, Do-re-mi (vanilla musk) and Sleigh Bells Ring (soft rose). Both are light but worthy examples of calming scents. Yankee used to have an aromatherapy line and I still have some of the single-scent oils. The cardamom oil adds warmth and spice when used as a mix-in with baking soda for carpet powder and is so inviting in an oil warmer.

I’ve tried two of the B&BW‘s wax melts purchased for 50 and 75% off during SAS. At $4.50 for 0.97 oz, I wouldn’t buy any at regular price, but I was happy to try them in some scents I haven’t had in their candles.

Pure White Cotton– extremely relaxing on cold throw, I started with one wedge, but added a second for the best result.

Walking past my warmer felt as if I was greeted by the sweetest spring breeze. There’s no laundry or starch to this. Just a hint of newly cleansed linen that’s been dried in the sunshine, folded into a basket still warm, filled with freshly-picked bouquets of Freesia and notes of white cotton blossom, anjou pear and soft gardenia petals.

Sweet, simple, natural smelling comfort of warm cloth.

Wine Cellar– as sophisticated as Pure White Cotton is simple. Wine Cellar is comprised of warm cedarwood, sugared clementine, red berry, and dark vanilla bean. To me, these four notes form a nearly perfect blend.

The rustic hewn timbers of the wine barrel, the full-bodied plummy fruit, juicy round flavor of citrus, the richness of vanilla bean skimmed from the fleshy pod. This wine has legs too, a beautiful abundant throw. Nearly as much of a creature comfort as an actual glass of red wine and zero calories.

The Relax candle from the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it aromatherapy line is saved for February, but I can tell you the black chamomile is a delicious essence of herbal tea refreshment. So spa-like I’ve almost forgotten the stress of wading through the store to get it the day after Christmas.

Which scents provide a comforting boon to your senses? Is it homey cinnamon or sugar cookie? Possibly lavender or mint soothes your savage beasts? Smoky patchouli send you off to a calm place? Do tell.

 

 

 

 

The Nutcracker

Ba-ba-da-da-da-da-da-da-dah. I’ve been waxing nostalgic on the blog this month and hearing those first few notes of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker March brings back all of the childhood feels. I remember attending my first local ballet production with my mom and sister, as a middle schooler. By my excitement and awe one might have guessed I’d been watching a Broadway musical. Any hopes of performing the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy myself were dashed by my two left feet, but in the audience, I could dream. Even though we saw the performance several times, on into my high school years, the Nutcracker never failed to enchant me.

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When I noticed that this treasure candle returned to the stores in early fall, I fell in love with the label and knew that I wanted it, even before smelling it. I added it to my Yankee Candle employee shop (50% friends and family) order, which my friend gathered up for me in September. Giving it a quick sniff when I picked up my packages, I thought it smelled familiar, and I liked it’s Christmas-y notes. It wasn’t until I unpacked my haul a few weeks later that I realized it was the same scent as my festive favorite, Red Berry & Cedar! I didn’t know RB&C had been repackaged and though not necessary, as a customer fave that returns every holiday season, I’m still happy that I got one because the label is extremely jolly.

The notes are bright currant, juicy rasperry, and sweet mandarin with cedarwood, sugar and musk. Boasting one of the most vibrant throws of any Yankee, whether in tarts or candles, it’s a tried and true holiday scent. My original review, from January can be found here.

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Though E.T.A. Hoffman’s Nutcracker fairy tale is most powerfully told through music and dance, several charming storybook versions exist as well. The book on the left is a more modern retelling based on the ballet, by Susan Jeffers published in 2007. On the right is a delightful folk art version retold by Jean Richarson, illustrated by Francesca Crespi published in 1990.

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Jeffers’ work has spare prose, interesting angled page spreads, and lush pastel colors showcasing the graceful dances.

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Richardson’s and Crespi’s work is the more traditional storyline. Awash in monochromatic tones with pops of primary red, blue and gold, the artwork has a fanciful, dream-like quality.

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Both capture and enhance the timeless magic of The Nutcracker tale. Yankee’s Nutcracker candle version enhances my enjoyment, even more, of one of my beloved festive scents.

Operation Christmas slowdown

Pulling back on the flurry of activity this year is going better than I thought it would. There have been a few wobbly moments. Some of thinking “oh no! It’s just x number of days away, and I’ll never be ready” creeping into my consciousness, other times I was overwhelmed with emotion brought on by Christmas carols linked to memories. Enlisting others for help, delegating tasks and reconfiguring plans calmed me through those brief panicked moments. My usual escape routes of keeping busy throughout the day and unwinding in nostalgic feel-good shows and reads (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) also helped at night. One area that has fallen completely by the holiday wayside has been any meal planning or baking. I don’t do that much of it anyway and my heart’s not into recipe searching/ shopping or anything of the sort. My contribution to the holiday meal is shaping up to be a veggie tray. Sorry about that fam, maybe last minute inspiration will strike.

Happily, spending time with loved ones was a fulfilled wish this weekend. My husband and I got an unexpected Saturday off from speech and devoted the day to tackling some holiday errands. Sunday was whiled away visiting my niece, so I thought I’d share the craft that I devised for us to do.

We made mason jar snow globe scenes. I didn’t follow any particular craft instructions, but there are many elaborate examples, both handmade creations and ones produced for retail, found online.

The coolest item for our jar scenes was the can of instant snow that I got at Michael’s craft store for $1.50 on sale. It’s a powdered polymer which, when mixed with water, forms a realistic foamy fake snow.

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My niece has loads more crafting experience than I, and was an expert with the low-temp glue gun. We glued our woodland baubles onto the galvanized lids, added some fake snow, screwed on the 5 inch tall smooth jars and finished with some ribbon. Voila! A simple and heavily glittered bit of holiday whimsy.

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We already have plans for expanding our mason jar village next year.

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        I adore the finished products!

After the peak of the hustle and bustle dies down, my hope is to find that this Christmas was a time well spent. Whatever your holiday plans entail, I wish the same for you and your celebrations this season, my waxie friends. Merry Christmas!

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Granny Smith/ Crockpot apples

It seems that Macintosh is the apple scent du jour lately as it has shown up in all types of blends and crazy combos in the wax melt world. From mac apple and lavender, to mac apple with anything from bacon, to lollipops to chlorine! In my experience, mac apple tends to dominate nearly anything else no matter what it’s blended with, so I prefer a classic Granny Smith apple fragrance instead. This is opposed to the actual fruit, in which case I’ll take a red gala or honey crisp over a green apple any day.

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Green apple melts from Moonbeams Wax, Sonoma (Kohl’s), Southern Sisters Wax & Yankee Candle

I have a surprising amount of green apple scents in my collection right now from one of my timeless faves, Granny Smith, to the trendy blend of Green Apple and Kale from Sonoma brand, which I found on clearance at Kohl’s. So I guess green apple isn’t immune to off-the-wall blends, either.

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You know I’m ready for some football with this illumilid by Yankee

I’ve been hoarding this retired Granny Smith candle since last November, and now our Fall Fun theme provides a perfect excuse to light it and finally discover the answer to the question: how bout them apples?

Fragrance: All the characteristics of a real granny smith apple. Notes of tart green apple with a lesser note of sweetness from juicy pear. A light touch of apple blossom softens the scent so it isn’t overly tart. It’s fruity of course, but contains a refreshing clean aroma, too.

Performance: My first use of this candle, I’ve previously only found the scent in tarts, didn’t get off to a stellar start.

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Thanks for lending me your wreath, Mom! I took it right off the back door.

3 hour initial burn resulted in an incomplete liquid wax pool and not much throw to speak of. The wick looked slightly off-center causing the forming wax pool to be deeper at one end and shallower in the other. I didn’t notice this unevenness until I snuffed it out. However, I did notice that I could only smell it when the central air kicked on, so I thought it was going to be an extremely temperamental candle.

Second day, second burn*, better result. Moved Granny Smith into the kitchen and let it go for several hours. A beautifully fragrant apple aroma filled the room. Tangy but never too tart, I actually experienced a mouthwatering sensation with this scent that I have to say might be a first!

Recommendation: If you can pick this retired gem up, most likely from a Yankee outlet, I certainly recommend doing so. It may not make it back into the stores/website soon since it was a treasure released last year, in wax tarts too! Forbidden Apple is the new limited Halloween version, but it has mahogany cologne notes added.

*I have a theory about the reason Yankee’s seem to perform better on the second burn. It might be that the oils are mixed in most of the way up the jar, but the wax is topped off without fragrance to get the jars to a level above the neck. Just a theory, but it would explain why I routinely get better performance from the small tumblers on first burn, but the jars on second and third burns. Hmm…

Crock-pot Baked Apples

The weather has finally broken to the upper 70s round these parts, football season has started, I’ve busted out both of my crock-pots, and I’m just now getting into a fall mood. Why is this great news? Because the fourth post in this fall blog series calls for an apple recipe, there’s no turning back the seasons now.

*Disclaimer* I love to cook, but I am no baker by any stretch of the definition. If you’ve come looking for a homemade apple pie or cake recipe, I’m sorry, you won’t find it here, but I’m sure one of the other Fall Fun bloggers will come through with a legit dessert. Meanwhile, I’ve always wanted to try this baked apple recipe and when I found a crock-pot version I knew it was the way to go.

Recipe adapted from The Frugal Girls

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The recipe that I used lists almost all of these ingredients plus a 1/2 stick of butter which I forgot to include in the photo until after I peeled the apples. I’m such a blog recipe noob! I added the walnuts, dried cranberries and nutmeg because I like them and use them in my granola, so I know they add excellent flavor.

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The coring process

 

The recipe called for gala apples, but the galas my grocery store carried were too tiny to stuff. The biggest and best were these pink lady apples.

An apple corer would have been helpful here, but all I had was a peeler. I scooped out more apple flesh and widened the tunnel after coring because, room for more filling, of course. By the third apple I had perfected my technique. You can use a sharp knife instead, just watch those fingers everybody.

Then, mix up the sugar/spices mixture with a generous pinch of nutmeg. Pour water into the crock-pot, add the apples and fil20160911_152345-1l em up. These held more filling than I thought they would, at first. The water around the bottom keeps them from burning and results in apples baked in a fruity juice marinade.

 

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There’s the butter, see I remembered.

Apples are in, filled with the sugar/spice/oats and given extra goodies with a tablespoon of dried cranberries and walnuts on top. Don’t forget to pat with butter.

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Almost 4 hours later and my house smells divine. A yummy mix of tart, sweet, baked, fresh, red and green apples. Much thanks to Julie at The Redolent Mermaid for this blog series prompt, I enjoyed it so much!

Ingredients:

  • 5 – 7 Gala Apples {depending on the size of your Crockpot}
  • ½ cup Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
  • ½ cup Brown Sugar
  • 3 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Allspice
  • ½ stick Butter
Recipe Instructions:
  1. Gather ingredients.
  2. Carefully core apples using a sharp knife or apple corer.
  3. Then using the edge of knife, peel off approx. ½ inch of peel around the top.
  4. Mix together Oats, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, and Allspice.
  5. Pour ¼ cup water in bottom of Crockpot.
  6. Arrange cored apples in Crockpot.
  7. Fill each apple with Oats/Sugar/Spice mixture. Pushing extra filling down inside using a spoon.
  8. Top each apple with optional toppings and a pat of butter.
  9. Cook on HIGH 3 – 4 hours, or until done. ENJOY!
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Who wouldn’t drizzle salted caramel sauce on top?

Alternate versions: Dress these up with caramel sauce, toasted pecans, or vanilla ice cream if you’re so inclined. I recently saw an oven-baked apple recipe on The Today Show (link below) that was topped with little rounds of pie dough, resulting in adorable individual apple pies. Maybe I’ll try that version next time, because I WILL be making these again.

Fall food hacks from The Today Show

Next up for the Fall Fun series bloggers will be a fall music highlight, what could that be about? Join us next weekend, *Sunday for the Candle Enthusiast* to find out!

-jaybird

 

 

 

Mountain Lake

Small confession time- A couple of months ago, I posted here that I only had approximately 48 candles, in which case I didn’t consider myself to be a hoarder.  I determined this number by figuring I had 2 candle crates for each season with 6 candles in each crate, so 12 candles times 4 seasons is….apparently a gross underestimate of the candles that I actually own! Neglecting the 10 or so around my upstairs level alone and completely forgetting about a basket of 16 small tumblers I had nestled away, a few more here and there, oh, and counting the bathroom, it’s: 103.  I own a combination of small, medium, large, holiday and everyday candles totaling 103!  So now that we’re all aware of this appalling number, let’s move on!

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Loving that pristine lake photo label and serene periwinkle blue wax pool

The hardest piece for a candle hoard- ahem…collector to resist, is a long sought after candle that is re-released from retirement, or found while searching the secondary market.  I try to stay away from the price-gouged retired candles listed on ebay, the shipping cost alone can be ridiculous.  I will indulge in some hard-to-find wax tarts occasionally, though.

My fellow Yankee Candle collectors and I are always on the lookout for these retired gems to be brought back into the store rotation.  These former scents, previously known as “treasures” but for some reason are now being called, “returning favorites-limited time,” were yanked from the lineup for one reason or another.  Those deemed popular enough are given a brief, albeit glorious, limited seasonal run in the large jar format, only.  One never knows how long they will last in store, or if they will ever be seen again.  And a bonus is that they continue to feature the larger labels, prior to the updated version.  Collector’s gold, right?

How I wish that was true for the Mountain Lake treasure that I was so excited to try.  After ogling this retired candle on scent lists for years, and recently experiencing it, I’m not sure why they bothered to bring it back.

Fragrance: Sniffing the lid, one gets a smooth, masculine acqua di gio type scent.  Although I like the cologne, it can be overwhelming in wax, this smells more like an acqua di gio soap rather than the powerful cologne aroma.  Fresh and sensual; so far, so good.

Top notes are: ozone (a favorite) and bergamot; middle notes contain some strong florals: violets, lily of the valley, pine, lavender, sage; bottom notes of: amber, musk, sandalwood and cedar; again, pretty good stuff.

Performance: First burn of 3 hours and…nothing.  I like to burn/melt twice before reviewing, so a second burn of 3.5 hours=nada, zip, zero.  I’ve had a few experiences with the large jars when I couldn’t get a throw until the third time, then wham!, there it is.  Unfortunately, not the case for Mountain Lake.

Third burn of 5 hours in my small bathroom and the only way I got anything was to wave my hands from the flame to my nose in constant motion, while hovering directly above the jar opening and burning myself.  Not ideal.  How is it a candle with such a great cold throw can provide no scent on warm, I’ll never know!

Recommendation: I’ve gotten more scent throw from an UNSCENTED candle, so nope.  I can’t recommend this one.  I just wish I hadn’t given it so many chances, or else I would exchange it at the store (I’ve only returned a used candle once and it was because the scent was too strong, also, it was Sage and Citrus, yuck).

Ah well, when you have 103 candles one of them is bound to be a dud.  Or does this make number 104, I’m not sure??  One more manly scent coming up in my monthly wrap-up and it’s a surprising favorite…

Goodbye garden theme, hello semi-sale!

It’s been a busy wax month around the candle enthusiast blog.  I’ve purchased no less than three small vendor wax restocks in May, and I’m looking forward to plenty of wax melting and reviewing soon!  It’s also an exciting time of year for Yankee Candle fans (aka Yankee fandles) because Memorial Day weekend in the states kicks off the summer semi-annual sale.  See below for scent retirement lists and SAS info.

Moonlit Garden melt cup

20160528_165320Wrapping up the garden fresh theme with a new summer fragrance, Moonlit Garden.  Yankee just released this fragrance in April and it’s already on the retirement chopping block in May!  That’s one of the quickest fragrance turnaround times that I’ve seen.  Is it worth picking up at the Yankee Candle semi-annual sale?

Fragrance: Freesia, lilac and citrus are listed on the website scent description. There is a trace of a powdery note, but not perfumey.  It is a sweet floral, which does provide an intoxicating feeling of a garden at night.  However, the lilac becomes dominant, turning it into a more generic floral scent.

Performance: Rather light for a melt cup, but so important for a floral scent.  A floral fragrance paired with an intense throw=a guaranteed headache for me.  Other headache producers are too strong berry or orange scents.  I’ve only experienced one fresh scent that I had to dispose of due to nausea, that was Yankee’s Treehouse Memories.

Considering fragrance intensity can be relative, I can see how this one probably didn’t overwhelm anyone with a great performance.  It reached its peak power about 1.5 hours after turning on the timer and went downhill from there.

Recommendation: Oh, Moonlit Garden, I hardly knew ye.  It was a pleasant melt, but I won’t be buying this one in candle format, even at 50-60% off.  I haven’t tried the new Midnight Lilac but I’m assuming it’s close enough that they didn’t need two similar scents on the market.

Without further ado, the Summer 2016 retiring scent list:*

For good:                        Seasonal:

Beachwood                  Bahama Breeze

Lavender                      Berrylicious

Lavender/Vanilla       Blue summer sky

Margarita Time          Choc layer cake 

Moonlit Garden         Juicy Watermelon

Ocean Star                   Line-dried cotton

Peach Cobbler             Meadow showers

Summer Wish             Pink peony

Summer Scoop           Turquoise sky

Sunset Breeze             Vanilla lime

Collegiate candles     White gardenia

                                        7 Pure Radiance 

*This list was provided by friends at my Yankee store.  I will update if I learn of more retirements.

I know many people who will be bummed about Lavender Vanilla going away.  I will certainly miss Margarita Time, it’s especially great in the melts and room sprays.  I have already grabbed a few Collegiate candles for my family when they went 50% off recently.

I received an in-store coupon which stated SAS wasn’t starting until June 6th, but YC has been known to change the sales plan for the weekends.  My guess is that they wanted to compete for Memorial Day shoppers and couldn’t stick to the later start date.

 

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Returning favorites for SAS. I’ve featured 3 of these scents in previous posts:)

Up next:

Some all-time favorites coming up in June, including some non-Yankee fragrances!  A shout-out goes to the meltdown 15’s blog for including me in her #followfriday on Instagram yesterday.  It was very sweet and unexpected.  Check out the meltdownblog.wordpress.com for a wealth of waxy information.

-jaybird

Fresh Cut Herbs

May is flying by, the days are growing longer and summer is just around the corner.  I continue to light a lot of candles late into the summer evenings, more for the glow than the fragrance.  When it comes to summer fragrance people might imagine beachy, suntan lotion-inspired scents, and they’re okay.  But to me, nothing says summer more than the smell of fresh vegetables and herbs abundant in the farmer’s markets.

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Love the rich olive green wax.

Maybe its because of the slower, more relaxed pace to the days, but I’m more inspired to try new recipes during the summer months than any other time of year.  Using fresh herbs in dishes makes such a difference to the taste, that I try to have at least a few around for the summer.  Fortunately, I seem to have the ability to keep herb plants alive; however, that’s about where my gardening prowess ends.  Although, I prefer the aroma of live herbs, I must admit that Yankee Candle has done a nice job recreating that essence with their Fresh Cut Herbs candle.

Fragrance: Starts with a vibrant medley of basil, parsley, and cilantro oils.  What could be better?  After burning awhile, an earthiness comes out, with mossy and leafy notes.  It might be my imagination, but I get a hint of sweet licorice, too.  Possibly anise or tarragon.

Performance: Consistently strong.  If staying near it, the basil is the sharpest note.  I light mine in the kitchen and can smell it waft through the living room and downstairs to the family room.  It’s not really a layering fragrance, because it dominates other scents I’ve used at the same time.

Recommendation: It’s unlike any other US Yankee scent.  Yankee lovers clamored for its return for several years.  Although they did release the Fresh Mint candle, it just wasn’t close to FCH, at all.

If you enjoy an intense mix of herbs, this scent comes pretty close.  I might even try this during the winter if I’m craving a refreshing, summery scent.  It’s a limited re-release that will probably be found at stores throughout the summer in jar form. I’ve gotten a few already, just in case it takes a while to come back.

Olive & Thyme

Another herb scent that is likely to be a fan favorite is this lovely, Mediterranean-inspired one.  My sister picked up this unique little tart for me at a Yankee outlet. Olive & Thyme is a 2016 UK exclusive scent from the Riviera Escape line.

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I haven’t melted it yet, but it’s truly one of the freshest and most unique scents on cold sniff.  I wish I had my sis’s restraint because when I find a rare scent, I usually buy ten!  Maybe I’ll make an outlet trip to see if I can get just a few more…The good news is that I’ve seen a sneak preview of the Yankee holiday line-up, and there’ll be a (hopefully) similar scent released in the US around Chrismas[thyme]!

-jaybird