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.

Best & Worst-March

Best:

Month to attend the thea-tah, is March, apparently. From Playhouse Square to the school play, every weekend involved an aspect of attending some performance.

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During the state Speech tournament, I saw some exceptional performances. Judging a state quality competitive Humor round was a highlight. Marveling at the level of talent achieved by these speechies, it was awe-inspiring and fall-out-my-chair funny.

A suspenseful live show of Wait Until Dark was cool and creepy, it’s based off of my mom’s favorite Audrey Hepburn film. My mom enjoys thrillers, who knew? Then there was the Harry Potter CineConcert which was unique and beautiful.

Lastly, we finally saw Beauty & the Beast! Actually, about two weeks after a release is usually when I catch a film. I enjoyed it. Belle was radiant, the Beast could have been beastlier, but there was still a decent transformation of character. I was surprised by the heartfelt and emotional portrayal of Maurice by Kevin Kline, Gaston was the perfectly preening arrogant foil and Lefou, while not my favorite performance (I have a one-sided love/hate with Josh Gad) was well played, if a bit forced.

My only hesitation stopping a full on love fest for it was the CGI in some scenes. During the ballroom scene, the CGI was magical. I don’t think it worked as well in the supporting character transformations and the castle crumbling climax. Still, I’ve been singing the songs ever since.

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The best is yet to come

Best:

Reason to binge watch everything on my DVR- It seems the Mister and I are the last two people of my generation to finally cut the cable cords. From April 1st, it’s the tv streaming life for me. Any favorable recommendations Netflixters and Huluers? I checked out the top 50 currently playing Netflix series and think I’m only interested in a few I haven’t seen. Older series, Firefly and Bloodlines, and original content such as Stranger Things have intrigued me enough to commit, but there has to be more out there.

Melts of note:

While hurriedly binging on the tv seasons stored on our exiting DVR, I subconsciously at first, then purposely paired the shows with fitting fragrances to enhance the occasion.

“Turn:Washington’s Spies” (season 3)

Bonfire Bliss-Candles from the Keeping Room This mysterious melt grew on me with a much improved warm throw. Smoky, woody and dense; a perfect aroma for meeting in the woods to discuss treacherous plots, which the characters are constantly up to.

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Bright Copper Kettles from Yankee also suited the period drama, Paul Revere was a blacksmith and a patriot. It’s my most treasured cinnamon scent.

“The Big Bang Theory” (season I’ve lost count) There were tons of episodes stored up and I got through several but will miss the remaining dozen till I can grab a library copy.

Candied Blackberry Cookie Bread– K’s Kreations A lovely melt, gifted from a lovely person. Tangy, sugar infused blackberry with a crunchy bit of magic that must be the cookie bread. Fruity/bakery goodness in a feel-good scent for watching a feel-good show.

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Key Lime Cupcake w/Mountain Dew overpourSouthern Sisters Wax

This precious piggy mini-loaf was gifted by the Southern Sisters for correctly guessing their next wax sampler theme. (Dirty Dancing!) They are pop culture nuts and amazingly generous.

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I can’t believe how much I love this scent. Some fragrances work with fizzy, some don’t; the effervescence compliments the sweetness without adding to it. The key lime cupcake isn’t even needed but adds a creamy note that takes the edge off the lemon-lime. I don’t drink Mountain Dew but I will require more of this scent, it’s luscious.

“Outlander” (season 2)

Rose Jam SerendipitySniff My Tarts Nothing more serendipitous than Outlander’s plot-lines. Another generously gifted scent, I wasn’t taken with the Rose Jam because I found it watery and not rosy enough. However, the Serendipity note is fruity, creamy and yummy. I’m so smitten that I plan to order it in single scent form when Sniff My Tarts opens.

ClaireL3 Waxy Wonders

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I love an herbal scent that smells of garden herbs! The bergamot is soft, not harsh and the vanilla is tinged with a woody tone. As strong, bright and outdoorsy as it’s namesake.

Worst:

Not following through on my work wellness challenge. I got a few runs in and just restarted my yoga practice, but it was too little, too late for the challenge. On the bright side, nothing gets a butt in healthy gear more than a looming birthday. Mine’s two months away, yikes! Time to recommit to wellness.

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Johnny and I were literally dodging falling trees on this windy trail run in early March.

Worst:

A disappointing wax haul. It’s trivial in the larger picture of life, but still a downer. After a nine week TAT for my Lasting Scent Candles wax order, I was disappointed in much of it and received an incorrect fragrance. Of course mistakes happen and I’m reserving final judgment for when I’ve melted a few, and after hearing back from customer service.

Worst: 

Saying goodbye to the special group of seniors on our Speech team. The final performance fundraiser night is next week and at the thought of those last moments …words fail me.

Was everyone’s March as up and down as the crazy weather? Have you tried any melts that surprised and beguiled lately? More tv series and scent recommendations are appreciated.

Spring scents & suds

The irony of posting about spring scents today is not lost on me as my area sits blanketed under a half foot of snow that’s been falling since Monday night. It looks more like winter around here than all of January and February put together. Still, what better time to daydream of throwing the windows open and letting in the scents of spring?

I had a request to review recent Bath and Body Works‘ soap purchases that I may or may not have needed. This is my first gentle foaming hand soap review, here goes:

Beautiful Blue Skies– Dewy blossoms, a kiss of citrus & sheer driftwood. Most unique of the bunch that smells sweeter when opening the bottle than it does in use. A pleasing mix of citrus is the forward scent softened by a rain-kissed floral, my kind of bouquet. I detect lemony notes and possibly orange blossom.

While not alcohol fumed, or soapy smelling at all, this scent doesn’t linger on the hands after use except for the gentlest citrus kiss.

French Lavender– a soothing blend of fresh lavender with hints of amber. B&BW’s does lavender well and this is no exception. Smells as realistic as if you’ve crushed lavender buds in your hands. Slightly woody but not overly so, I enjoy the powdery finish from the amber. The longest lasting afterward, it was nice to smell the lavender when lifting my hands to my face 30 minutes later.

Pretty Pink Peony– Blushing peony, jasmine petals & sandalwood. I prefer sweeter peony to headier rose fragrance. This scent carries a strong sugar note in the bottle but has an elegance to it. The most fragrant blooms are present as the lather hits warm water, however, the scent dissipates before the bubbles are down the drain. Wish it lingered a little on the skin.

Cool Coconut Colada– Creamy coconut, lime granita & spun sugar. Yummy! Reminiscent of a frozen Pina Colada, substituting lime rind instead of pineapple. I would love to have this scent in wax, and in a cocktail. Similar to, but not the same as the popsicle label version from last year, due to the addition of lime; perfect for summer. CCC lasted 2nd longest on my skin, with a touch of coconut present a few minutes after.

There was another soap sale this weekend, but I have a little stash going already, so I didn’t partake. I’m still working my way through my Winter bottles, tucking these away for warmer months. My favorite of the festive season scents is hands down VMM:

Very Merry Meringue– Whipped lemon meringue, glazed sugar & a hint of vanilla. Not usually a fan of lemon sugar scents, this one is a perfect balance of sweet cream, tangy crystal citrus and decadent vanilla. It brings me back to a lemon dessert I had in childhood, that I just can’t place. Gorgeous and long lasting fragrance.

 

Spring first edition scents by Yankee Candle:

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Emerald Isle– Top:Fresh Meadow, Mid:Green Tea, Wood Anemone, Base:Musk. For me, these notes don’t represent Emerald Isle’s warmed fragrance well. It’s bursting with juicy grapefruit and a reedy green leaf, the likes found around marshes more than meadows. There is a crispness from the green tea and a complexity to it. Much more than just a fresh, or fruity scent. I’m happy YC broke away from the grassy Lucky Shamrock they’ve done forever, it gave me a headache.

These melt cups have a fragrance life of approximately 24 hours. This throws medium, with alternating notes present.

Honey Lavender Gelato– Top:Blackberry,   Mid:Lavender, Base:Vanilla Cream, Honey. On first impression, a toothy gelato; on second, sweet lavender; but warmed, very, very berry. Like many, I was freaking over this scent when previewed, but it didn’t deliver anything special.

Essentially, it’s berries and cream. At least blackberry is my jam, of the jammy scents. My tart threw medium-strong. A nice berry variant but I wished for so much more.

(Let me know if anyone wants a review of any of the rest.)

Yankee released a second spring edition a month ago which I haven’t yet purchased from, but I’m excited for one that I sniffed, Black Sand Beach. Now I’m waiting for just the right sale.

Which new spring scents are you falling for? Have you tried the new Paradise soaps collection? Hope you’re all well and warm if in this snow storm.

Book challenge update/scent pairings

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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.

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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.

21. Paranormal or supernatural-
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, published 2013.
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For the purpose of the reading challenge, I put the G+J into the supernatural phenomenon category. Cataloged as Fantasy, a more appropriate description is Folklore, or a sort of Historical/ Fantasy hybrid. Unlike anything I’ve read before, I predict it will be the best book I’ll pick up this year. I dare say the best I’ve read in a decade, but while still feeling the post-read pull on the heartstrings it’s too early to say.
Told through seamless multiple narratives, The Golem and the Jinni is a story about legends, good versus evil, the nature of humanity, whose main characters don’t qualify as human. Set in late 19th century New York City, a tale of lost souls seeking friendship, love, community, freedom and acceptance while navigating two different cultures, Jewish and Syrian.
Reviewer William Schwab said, “a good book answers questions you didn’t know you should ask.” Reading this brought forth so many questions: Can people rise above their nature, or are they destined to fulfill it? Which has greater value, one’s duty or self-determination, safety or freedom? What does it mean to be truly free? What is a purposeful life? Who is worth one’s faith and devotion and at what cost? My personal favorite dilemma these characters struggled with; should great knowledge be sacrificed for happiness? 
Never have I read a story containing so many unforeseen and unpredictable developments that I nonetheless knew was barreling toward it’s inevitable conclusion. This is Wecker’s debut novel, researched and written over 7 years and I hope that she carries on. No encounter was wasted, no character or detail superfluous, not a single word. With visceral imagery and impeccable pacing, even at 484 pages I felt I was leaving the Golem and Jinni’s world too soon. I perceive I’ll continue to live with the memorable Chava and Ahmad, the thoughtful rabbi, solitary Arbeely, good Michael Levy, caring Maryam and the fateful Ice cream Saleh a little while longer though, I’m not ready to give them up.
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 At the suggestion of my buddy Sandra, who’s been pairing her challenge reads with nail art, I will tie in fragrances inspired by a few of mine.
The Jinni – a character both “dazzling and dangerous”, fiery and impulsive, is represented by Bright Copper Kettles from Yankee’s My Favorite Things collection. Jinni’s skill at metalsmithing was an integral part of the story and a fitting choice. Cinnamon bark, and spicy clove cast an inviting spell while patchouli and cedarwood radiate the warmth of home.
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The Golem -tougher to choose, I rejected a baked bread scent for one elemental and earthy. Silver Birch, with ozone, Siberian pine, clove, eucalyptus and patchouli fit nicely. Leaning masculine, it represents the strong, stoic Golem, with a steady even throw to it as well. The beautiful birch tree label symbolizes all of the nights wandering the parks.
11. A book with an animal on the cover or in the title.
Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase published 2016 (audio book)
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 A dual narrative flipping between 1960s and present-day Cornwall and the happenings and mishaps occurring at the Alton family’s stately title home. Though a rabbit graces the intriguing book cover, the animals play a minor indirect and unlucky role.
Both premise and character introductions were promising, but the story became disappointing fairly early on. The audio narrator didn’t help as I found myself rolling my eyes at the developing melodrama. Our modern heroine Lorna, initially likeable, came across quite selfish and petulant by the conclusion. The tragic Amber’s flashbacks, though a more stimulating story, began to read like teenage diary entries. There was also a Flowers-In-The-Attic undercurrent happening and if you’ve read it and that’s your thing, then BRH may be for you. I read it as a pre-teen and am not looking for V.C. Andrews read-alikes at this point in life. The revelations and predictable subsequent revelations weren’t worthwhile enough for the rest of the plot. I recommend any of Kate Morton’s novels instead, far better at untangling old family secrets.
Happy Reading friends, send any thoughts and recommendations, I vow to read better in 2017.

Best & Worst/January

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. 

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The Best:

  • 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 

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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!

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  • 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…”

The Worst:

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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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?

 

A Year in Wax

Time to reflect on the past year, in life and on the blog…this happens to be my 60th post and a good way to wrap up the year highlighting a clearly documented wax addiction.

Candles:

There’s been a shake-up in my best and worst candles since July’s mid-year recap post.

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Best tried and true candle remains Storm Watch. A misty, spa-like experience that uplifted my spirits all spring.

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2016’s Best candle discovery, albeit four years late, as it’s been around since at least 2012; Cranberry Woods by Bath and Body Works. It’s megawatt throw is impressive for a mason jar candle and the scent is akin to a deep woodland hike while munching on a snack of tangy dried berries on the forest trail.

Best candle performance goes to another B&BW’s classic-Flannel. It’s no surprise that once I began regularly burning Bath and Body Works, no Yankee Candle was going to retain the best throw title. Though Juicy Grapefruit was powerful, Flannel boasts the kind of strength that allows one to throw open the windows and let the neighborhood enjoy it. I do recommend letting a little fresh air in to diffuse some of its potency.

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Worst performing in all of 2016 was much anticipated Mountain Lake. The decent cold throw gave no indication of the waste of wax that this would become. A burned return would be completely justified.

Highs and lows:

20161003_082949-12016 held modest peaks and plummeting valleys. An entire year spent in mourning and grief, made it a long one. At times, the grief felt immediate and others, endless. I can honestly say that I haven’t taken a day for granted. But I learned that I need diversions and small pleasures to provide a way to cope and escape the stress. 

Relying on good friends helped. A handful of short trips and visits with some of our best friends were much needed. Through the turmoil, relying on each other helped my family somehow make it through this year, too.

One highlight was joining several other bloggers in the Fall Fun series blog share. The best part of participating, besides immersing myself in autumnal everything, was getting to know a sweet and sassy group of kindred blogging spirits. You can locate many of their sites on my Favorites page.

Chicago trip:

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The architecture, the museums, the shopping, the food, the baseball, the bean! My generous sister treated me to a lovely hotel stay in Chi-town back in May and we enjoyed it so heartily that we can’t wait to go back soon.

20160514_113731-collageThe Driehaus Museum’s Downton Abbey costume exhibition granted a special fandom opportunity and the Art Institute of Chicago offered treasures beyond measure.

screenshot_2016-09-25-13-14-14This fall, the Cleveland Indians didn’t win the World Series. However, I’m grateful to have seen them in action several times this season, they were something special. It’s not often that a Cleveland sports fan has reason to cheer in October.

Vendor Wax:

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Being a Yankee Candle connoisseur kept me from entering the vendor wax world until this spring, but once I tried it, I jumped in with both feet. An unofficial count puts my total number of vendors purchased around 28. With several others gifted or giveaway prize winnings. I’m a fan of variety and would absolutely love to try all the wax!

20161126_133238-1Best performing wax melt goes to Radiant Red Maple made by the first vendor that I tried this year, Wild Vine Soapery. Part of the recent fall collection, the only word I’ve found to adequately describe this ultra-sweet marshmallow is-wow. It has lasted for weeks in my electric warmer. 

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I’ve received a few poor throwers from vendor purchases, from some of my first clams of The Bathing Garden to one Zeep Bath more recently, but the title of most disappointing melt has to belong to Vintage Chic Scents. Woodstock comes to mind as a dud in fragrance and throw, but I’ve had some that barely performed, were inconsistent, or didn’t last. Admittedly, the intensity of hovering over the refresh button during restock day adds to the letdown of a subpar melt, compared to an always open vendor.

Best non-reviewed vendor wax fragrance also belongs to Vintage Chic Scents. This rather proves the inconsistency, but means I’ll still attempt to get in on a restock now and again. Beehive was a rich, and spicy lemon combo that threw beautifully. The scent notes, Lemon Coconut Cream Butter Cake Zucchini Bread blended into a blissful concoction in which a little went a long, solid way.

20161228_133442-collageExperiencing a large quantity of vendors in a relatively short time frame allowed me to determine my scent preferences and aversions. I’ve delighted in fragrant combinations that I could never have dreamt into existence. With countless winning scents and excellent vendors of whom I’ve become a happy repeat customer.

Narrowing it down to one is seemingly impossible, however, wax patronage is a personal affair. A recent discovery of Pour Girl’s wax, whose products I particularly love, deserves a mention. Pour Girl’s next restock is planned for January 22nd at 8 pm, central.

Even with many notable hauls, it was surprisingly easy to choose a favorite: House of Phoebe Wax appeals to my senses more than any other vendor, thus far. The melts, sold in 1.5 oz cups, are affordably luxurious. There’s an indefinable quality to each scent that piques my interest and keeps me returning for more. A few favorites are shown above; including Asha, Better Call Saul, Brienne, Melisandre and Shadow. The vendor is reopening her shop in January, look for more in-depth scent reviews to come.

As 2016 winds to a close, I’m reminded of the departing words from the series finale of beloved Downton Abbey. “It makes me smile, the way we drink every year to what the future may bring.”  –Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess

The future is always uncertain, but hope springs eternal, and it makes me smile too. Here’s to a Happy and hopeful, New Year!

Gingerbread throw down

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The iconic man-shaped cookie, spicy cousin to the beloved sugar cookie (which you can have anytime) gets its due for one brief month of the year. Though I may not enjoy cake and cookie bakery blends most of the time, I do crave the richer, more exotic sweetness of ginger spice around the holidays. I don’t know why it’s as if, only in December, my palate can handle the pungent character of this festive scent, I just go with it. I may have gotten carried away…

Of course, I didn’t bake any little ginger boys and girls, because of my sorely limited baking skills. If I did, I’d be tempted to create no ordinary gingerbread men- but these incredible Ninjabread men! Honestly, how cool are these dudes? I was gifted a set of yoga posture cookie cutters from a friend awhile ago, but they lack the same butt-kicking panache.

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Find ’em at Spilsbury.com

Gingerbread Melts:

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Gingerbread – Medium jar candle, Christmas in July outlet find for $6! My first holiday love from Yankee Candle. Their description: “A delicious childhood memory, spicy warm gingerbread, rich with nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar.”

Fragrance: This is gingerbread with a kick! The spiciest of the gingerbread scents I’ve tried; the aroma is mostly ginger and not much bread. Cinnamon and sugar help mellow the ginger’s grittiness, making it a very satisfying scent. A warming essence with just a dash of bakery blended in means this is a yearly candle tradition in my home.

Performance: Generous throw, I’ve had non-foodie scent lovers comment on the impressive performance of this candle. Fills up my kitchen nicely and has stamina. Pick one up in store and online now, or grab one during the semi-sale that starts the day after Christmas.

20161207_212339Iced Gingerbread– Scenterpiece easy melt cup, from Yankee Candle’s 2016 Limited Edition “Cookie Swap” Collection.

Fragrance: A different character than the above scent. Iced Gingerbread is lighter, and fluffier. The icing note sweetens the pot with, dare I say, marshmallows? Powdery confectioner’s sugar, thinned with cream, flavored with vanilla and drizzled over savory spiced cookies fresh from the oven. The fragrance does conjure up the real deal.

Performance: On the lighter end of the spectrum for a Scenterpiece melt cup. They are known for their powerful throws, but the Gingerbread candle outperformed the melt cup in this case. It wasn’t unnoticeable, just mild for a cookie or spicy scent.

I appreciate the idea of a toned down, creamy g-bread fragrance, especially for a cookie lover. Iced Gingerbread just didn’t deliver the piquant punch that I desire in my seasonal quest for spiced goods.

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The Bathing Garden snowflake left, The Scented Squirrel scent shot, rt.

Gingerbread House- The Bathing Garden, winter collection, large sample shape. This was a surprise sample melt with my winter order, that feels like a 1.5 oz. weight. It doesn’t seem to be part of Shannon’s winter collection, so I couldn’t find any precise fragrance notes.

Fragrance: I adore this take on gingerbread! Not only is the design of this wax elegant and elevated (all of TBG’s melts are), but so is the blend. My take on Shannon’s take: there is more than gingerbread at play here. The buttery bread provides the fragrant backbone, but it’s been laced with fondant frosting, ginger sugar syrup glaze, with subtle hints of plummy gum drops and luscious licorice finish. Truly, the entire house of gingerbread was recreated, the only flavor profile missing is the peppermint candies which line the roof.

Performance: One of the best throws I’ve gotten from The Bathing Garden, thus far. Though I cringed to cut into it, only half a melt wafted through my main floor beautifully. I’m not sure when my sample was created, but I received it about three weeks ago.

Oh, how I wish this scent was released as part of the collection. On second thought, maybe I don’t, because I’m attempting to allocate my pennies for Christmas presents rather than wax splurges. If only I didn’t love winter fragrances so much!

Sierra– The Scented Squirrel 2 oz.scent shot. Named for the owner of Wax Junkie melts. Pumpkin Spice and gingersnaps.

Fragrance: Okay, I believe gingerbread can show up before the Christmas season. One may find a gingerbread pie crust, latte, or Dairy Queen blizzard during the fall too, yum. I think that’s what The Scented Squirrel is going for by mixing it with pumpkin spice.

On cold throw, I detected a hint of pumpkin pie spices, but upon warming, ginger dominated the blend. Jess, the creator, achieved a realistic gingersnap cookie aroma. I challenge anyone to a blind sniff test between this melt and a box of gingersnaps. Sierra smells just like the crisp cookie.

With an enjoyable rustic, homemade quality to it, this scent delivers the spice. There is something missing to my nose, I can’t quite figure it out though. Sierra could be enhanced with more pumpkin spice or some other variant to balance the ginger.

Performance: To be fair, I also used only half of this 2 oz shot. It melted into a lovely coppery wax pool, but was the first Scented Squirrel melt I’ve tried with less than stellar throw. I had to hover a bit to experience the gingersnap, but if increased to the entire cup, it should perform well.

Battle Royale:

Which ginger reigned supreme? Whether bold, creamy, layered or rustic, I enjoyed all of the variations. But, the one that provided the best gingerbread fix had to be The Bathing Garden’s Gingerbread House. It is sublime.

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Heightening the festive factor, I indulged in the ginger beer I’d been craving since my Fall Fun series drink recipe. I’m saving some for a Moscow Mule cocktail this weekend. Another delicious indulgence are the Spekulatins Schokolade cookies I found. World Market has an entire gingerbread section and I was weak. Not too much remorse over sampling some gingery fare, for the sake of the blog.

Besides gingerbread sampling, I’ve been plugging away at my holiday to-do list. This week I focused on Christmas cards, endeavoring to compose personal messages for each one.

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How is your holiday list faring? Any Christmas scent or cuisine cravings that you fulfilled lately? I hope to hear about it.

-jaybird