Lifestyles of the Rich and the Sudsy

Soap Collage

Some weekends back my mom and I went out for one of our doughnut ‘n’ decorating dates, which involves a trip to a favourite local doughnut joint (Suzy Q’s in Ottawa, Ontario) followed by a bit of retail therapy at a favourite home decor shop across the street (Marie Antoionette’s.)  I’ve spoken about both before – and actually, hang on a tick, I’ve vlogged about both before as well!  I actually vlogged this doughnut date, much to my mother’s eternal embarrassment/amusement.  Here, ch-check (it out for) yourself, if you’d like:

Anyhow, it was during this Saturday morning shopping excursion that my mom, as is her sweet custom, asked me if I’d like a little treat from Marie Antoinette.  The answer to that question is always a delighted YESand I quickly snapped up a beautiful bar of soap from Juniper Tree, a soap supply company out of Berkeley, California.  I’ve actually purchased three or four bars of Juniper Tree’s gorgeously detailed glycerin soaps in the past, and all from Marie Antoinette, who display them on tantalizingly tiered trays like precious little petit fours.  This beautiful bar, with its crown of dried flowers, is in a fresh and sweet scent called Tiki Taffy.

But I clearly spaced on how much these little bars of soapy goodness actually cost, because there was a moment of sticker shock when the cashier read out our total.  “Sorry, how much was the bar of soap?” my mother casually asked in a not-remotely-casual tone of voice.  And when the answer came back as a shade over $10, we had a good, guffawing laugh (once we were outside, we’re not complete animals.)  My mom was positively in stitches over the thought that this one wee bar of soap cost more than her entire suds “budget” for the year.  What can I say, her daughter’s got tastes in high places.  This is really all her fault, wretched enabler. 😉

But seeing as I was now in possession of a very expensive bar of “company soap,” I thought I should do something impressive to best display its elevated status among the other suds-stuffs in my collection.  And that’s how I found myself carrying out a lifestyle photo shoot with a bar of soap, a bottle of Prosecco and my thoroughly annoyed cat at three in the afternoon on a Wednesday in the middle of May.  As you do.  Or as I assume wealthy people do, because what else would a $10 bar of soap be up to other than…

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…drinking sparkling stuff out of fluted champagne glasses?  Or…

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…hunting big, deeply disinterested game?  Or my personal favourite…

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…perusing yacht listings.  I’ll take the $74 mil guy at the top – he comes with a villa!  Mr. Finger Candy, grab my cheque book, we got a yacht to buy!  Quick question: Do you think they accept Canadian Tire money?

Really, though, I was just feeling exceedingly goofy.  This bar of Tiki Taffy will go into a soap dish and I will use it with relish.  Until the next trip to Marie Antoinette’s when we’re amusingly sticker-shocked anew!

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Literary Inspiration: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I Open at the Close Collage

Look who finally motivated herself enough to finish a book series the rest of the world put to bed over 10 years ago!  Yay, I’m (still not remotely) current!  Really, though, I’m thrilled beyond belief to have finally crossed the final book in the Harry Potter series, the Deathly Hallows, off my to-be-read list in service of the third prompt in my friends’ 2018 reading challenge.

I will please virtually no one with this statement, but like all of the Harry Potter novels, I found the Deathly Hallows to be a deathly slow slog.  If you ARE one of the 86 bajillion people who read the novel over a decade ago when it was first published (or watched the films, as they’re really quite close in terms of both tone and structure) you know that the final book in the series details Harry’s efforts to stop an increasingly desperate Voldemort from forcing his violent nationalist tendencies on a terrified, unwilling populace.  Sound like anyone we know?  Along the way Harry and his friends are tasked with locating, and then destroying, Voldemort’s Horcruxes, physical objects tagged with bits of the Dark Lord’s murderous, fractured soul.  Once they’re disposed of, he’s nothing more than a mortal man, vulnerable and open to attack.

I Open at the Close 2

It’s in the hunt for and subsequent eradication of the Horcruxes that the Deathly Hallows gets terribly bogged down, lingering for 300 some-odd pages on a locket already in Harry’s possession that defies all attempts at destruction.  This passage goes on forever – it is an interminable slog of Apparating and wind-swept moors and Apparating ONTO wind-swept moors.  In a 607-page book with multiple major character deaths (spoiler: arguably THE major character’s (temporary) death) as well as three big battle sequences and a satisfying peek into the future, it’s a puzzling bit of pacing.  We’re in more than 450 pages before Harry, Ron and Hermione return to Hogwarts to kick off the final, epic showdown between the Dark Lord and the Boy Who Lived.  The long, lackadaisical tease of those first 450 pages followed by just 150 pages of frantic fighting and exposition makes for a jarring contrast.  It’s also why it took me four months to read the Deathly Hallows – because I was deathly unmotivated to continue.

In hindsight, some days removed from finishing the book, I can see that the seemingly endless literary slog had a purpose.  Had Harry, Ron and Hermione’s six-month search played out with seamless ease – say, flashing by in a series of condensed vignettes – we may not have gotten a true sense of just how taxing, frustrating and arduous their journey really was.  As it stands, we were with them for every false start, every near miss, every fake lead, every betrayal and every heartbreak.  I don’t know if there was a better way of conveying the sort of despair that results from a long, protracted fight in which you must carry on despite enjoying no victories, but I do wish it hadn’t taken up quite so much of the book.

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Things I did like?  Voldemort proving once and for all what a toothless wussy he really is.  Voldemort suffers from the same problem in my mind as Darth Vader – both are more legend and reputation than actual threat.  And I positively loved that his ultimate undoing was thinking himself beyond the need to do his research and double check every facet of his plan.  You’d think if you were a hideously malformed megalomaniac making a vicious grab for ultimate power you’d at least take the time to educate yourself, do your research and get your friggin’ ducks in order.  Still sound like anybody we know?

Other things I liked?  A naughty little “It’s not the size of the wand” joke Ron makes towards the beginning of the book.  Ron and Hermione finally acting on their sweet, slow burn of a romance.  The epilogue.  Neville, Defender of the Meek.  Everyone finally realizing just how awesome Luna really is.  A longer explanation – actually, any explanation – of Dumbledore’s tragic past.  Always.

Things I didn’t like: Dobby’s death.  And not because he died – I’m glad he did, I friggin’ hated that shrieky house elf.  I just thought given how touching his death is in the film (I cried, and well…see above) the source material might grant his passing more than a handful of paragraphs, and none of that “dying with his friends” tear-bait business either.  Fred’s death (one-half of the delightful twin duo, Rowling, are you freaking kidding me with this crap?  That’s the suckiest move you pulled in seven books.)  The fact that the Dursleys never got their comeuppance.  Don’t know about you, but I generally like to see child abusers get their virulent (and in this case occasionally levitating) just desserts.

Another thing I don’t particularly like?  This nail art, depicting the hidden message and final puzzle piece inscribed on Harry’s bequeathed Snitch, “I open at the close.”  My cursive writing is not great here.  I was going for elegant and refined, and it came off more big ‘n’ bubbly, my everyday writing style.  Although this manicure does look so pretty glittering almost magically under the midday sun.

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But by gosh am I glad to be done the Deathly Hallows, and indeed the entire Harry Potter series.  I never latched onto the novels, actually found Harry to be a snotty little know-it-all.  I far prefer Daniel Radcliffe’s film version of Harry – he’s a kinder, more thoughtful and reasoned young man than his literary counterpart.  But the world J.K. Rowling created, as reflected in the films and now various exhibits and attractions around the globe, is vivid, detailed and fully realized right from the very first page.  I think her knack for world-building is unparalleled, and I’ve always loved the Dickensian flair she takes in naming her characters.  I enjoyed the books, and particularly the Deathly Hallows, so much in that regard.  Ultimately, they were really enjoyable reads, and I’m glad to have finally finished the series so I can fully join the Harry Potter cultural zeitgeist.  All was well.

Skull-Free Sugar Skulls

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Cinco de Mayo-inspired nails, just cinco or so days late. 😉 All of the beautiful design work, none of my pesky inability to draw skulls, even skulls with candy hearts for eyes.

Parenthetically, it’s been an absolute eternity since I’ve sat down with a random bunch of polishes and just gone to town on a super detailed design; I’ve missed it.  I mean, Mickey nails are great and all, but sometimes you want a bit more than three dots in the shape of a mouse head.  Why you’d want more than that I truly don’t know, but I think it’s pretty well established that I’ve got a wicked case of Disney Brain and can see nothing but three dots in the shape of a mouse head anyways.  I think that’s why I like this manicure so much – a decided lack of Disney, will wonders never cease!  Enjoy it while it lasts, folks.

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May the Froth Be With You!

No, wait, that can’t be right.  May the Firth be with you?  Ooh, as in Colin?  I loved him in Kingsman!  Hmm, well, what else could it be?  May the Frick be with you?  That’s an art gallery I once went to in Manhattan.  May the Fort(nite) be with you?  I bet there’s a lot of kids who would agree with that sentiment (my old ass is not so old that I don’t know what’s the hot, crazy-makin’ video game of the moment.)  Truly, I’m stumped.  Oh, wait, it’s that Star Wars thing, isn’t it?  Yeah, I had heard that it was going to be kind of a big deal today.  Never heard of the movies myself – are they popular? 😉

All facetiousness aside, I made another video for our YouTube channel, Park or Perish!, all about our galactic adventures at Disney’s Hollywood Studios this past Christmas.  Please click on the link below to share in a little bit of the fun, and as always, may the Force (ahh, got it that time) be with you.

Rainbow Blaster

Rainbow Holo Collage 1

Kicking off the penultimate day of the work week with this colourful assortment of holographic polishes culled from my collection of “Why don’t I wear this more often?” lacquers.  Okay, sure, fun, but why?  Well, because the end of the week is dawning overcast and grumpy and I think we could all use something to cheer us up as we head into the weekend.  Also, do I not own all of these beautiful polishes precisely so I can actually wear them?  Fat load of good they do sitting in storage, waiting for that perfect nail art inspiration – why not simply because it’s a day ending in Y?  Yes, why not indeed!  So let’s take a closer look at some of my favourite holographic polishes across the entire rainbow spectrum, shall we?

Rainbow Collage 3 Red

Starting off with my favourite, we have Different Dimension’s luscious red Naughty.  Most red lacquers – particularly holos, of which there are actually precious few – tend to err toward the vampy side of the beauty spectrum.  But Naughty is the most perfect shade of clear, candy apple red.  It’s polish perfection.

Rainbow Holo Collage 4 Orange

Next up we have KB Shimmer’s orange Rust No One.  This polish is a real chameleon, flashing between a deep, rusty peach, a warm pumpkin and a vibrant tangerine with each shift of your hand.  And apparently I might be in the mood for a a big old lunchtime fruit plate? 😉

Rainbow Holo Collage 5 Yellow

Following orange we have Enchanted Polish’s yellow House of the Rising Sun.  I actually wouldn’t call House one of my favourite polishes; it’s here because it’s the only yellow holo I own!  I don’t care for this polish in the shade – it contains a weird silvery shimmer that tints the entire bottle a sickly shade of yellow-green urine.  Yeah, I know, super attractive!  But under direct light, it’s a lot closer to its namesake – like the first warm rays of light to burn across the sky on a hot summer day.  I’d even call it beautiful.  But heaven help you if the sun goes behind a cloud, it’s just Pee City.

Rainbow Holo Collage 6 Green

Next up we have another favourite of the favourites, Enchanted Polish’s grass green Lost Boy.  This lacquer is so, so beautiful – look at that bonkers holo effect! – but oof, she STAINS.  Vibrant, dark green polishes nearly always do, and Lost Boy is no exception.  Always brush on a layer or two of a high quality base coat when painting your nails with a green polish, lest you spend the next four months running around with talons tinted the exact same shade as that aforementioned urine. 😦

Rainbow Holo Collage 7 Turquoise

This polish, A England’s turquoise Whispering Waves, feels like an addition I made to the already well-established rainbow structure, but I just couldn’t leave it out.  It may be caught somewhere between blue and green (and a little bit of purple as well, I see) but there’s space enough for it between the two.  This polish is such a stunner and, again, with its blue-green hue, quite the stainer.  Base coat ‘er up.

Rainbow Holo Collage 8 Blue

Next we have my splashiest, most rainbow-throwin’ polish, Color Club’s blue Crystal Baller.  I always want to call this polish Blue Baller, but that’s just me – kind of perverted that way.

Rainbow Holo Collage 10 Purple

In the second-to-last spot we have Enchanted Polish’s purple mystery lacquer from April 2017.  Holos often don’t present very well as against a pastel base, but April 2017 is the sweet exception – I think it looks like sparkly clouds of cotton candy.

Rainbow Holo Collage 11 Pink

And finally, we have Cirque’s popsicle-hued, freesia-scented pink, Powwow.  I had actually forgotten that this polish (all of Cirque’s polishes, actually) smells like freesia.  Fresh freesias are one of my favourite flowers – I just want to devour that scent, it’s so friggin’ intoxicating!  But huffing your nails all day long is just plain weird, so I’ll content myself with staring at them instead.  Like its scent, I forgot how pretty Powwow is.  It reminds me of a melty cherry popsicle (what thing doesn’t remind me of food in some way?!)

Rainbow Holo Collage 2

And so there we have it, a pleasant passel of polishes to perk up your precipitation-filled, uh, day (sorry, no P words to denote the concept of a day, my linguistics bad.) 🙂

All Tangled Up

All Tangled Up

This manicure started out life as an allover floral design in celebration of the first glorious days of May (5 Days in May, perhaps?  That’s a Blue Rodeo joke, and I don’t think I could possibly be more Canadian than I am right now.)  Anyhow, after I had pulled out an assortment of polishes in the exact same hues as Rapunzel’s dress in the animated movie Tangled, I decided to go with that instead.  I always think the scene where Rapunzel and Flynn Rider go to the lantern festival in the kingdom is very May Day in its depiction, so this fits.

And because it’s my blog and I’ll talk about Disney if I want to, here’s a photo of Mr. Finger Candy posing in front of the Tangled bathrooms (yes, bathrooms, and they are the loveliest lavatories on property) during our Halloween 2017 trip.  Turns out both he AND Vladamir enjoy collecting ceramic unicorns, who knew?!

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Breaking the Financial Fast

VCS Melted Wax

Last month, during my casual, end-of-month assessment of my formerly getting-to-be-concerning financial habits, I noted that after three solid months of abstaining from any purchases that don’t qualify as the necessities of this (good and kind of spoiled) life, I was actually starting to have difficulties parting with my hard-earned funds.  As in I really didn’t want to, even for the necessities.  Becoming unnecessarily tightfisted, I was!

And so for April, my birthday month, I vowed to loosen the purse strings a little, not just in the procurement of some fun birthday gifts, but also to remind myself that so long as you keep a critical eye trained to your spending habits (like Mad Eye Moody’s, only it susses out boneheaded money mistakes) you can occasionally treat yourself, even while pursuing other financial goals.

Of course, this almost zen-like approach to finances has been made all the easier this month by a major influx of parentally-provided birthday funds – hard to be bitchy about the things I’d like to buy when I’ve been given the means to do just that.  And do that I most certainly have, nabbing a pile of new clothes from a favourite online retailer during a well-timed sale, as well as some nice new nail polish and two streamed seasons of a favourite show (Misfits seasons 1 and 2, and I’m actually kind of miffed about it because in the version I purchased, at least half of the original songs have been swapped out for what I’m assuming are less copyright-protected tunes.  Misfits is a show with a very strong, very specific (mostly electronic and Brit Pop) musical presence, and these amendments change the entire tone of the program.  In hindsight, that’s money I very much wish I had not parted with.)

Gift from Jay

This month I continued making good progress towards melting down my scented wax stash, although there were some top-up additions courtesy of a lovely gift from my blogging buddy Jay of The Scented Library.  It was in this scrumptious-smelling and completely unexpected package that I found April’s pick for favourite melted wax, an entire freaking loaf of one of Vintage Chic Scents’ marshmallowy Jackie O-based blends!  VCS, an insanely popular indie vendor, has some of the hardest wax to get your hands on.  They also don’t ship to Canada.  As such, I have always been quite lacking in the VCS department – but not any more!  My house is gonna smell like cake for days.  Plus it’s just so stinkin’ pretty with those delicate little rose inlays that shatter apart when you slice into it.  Thanks again and again, Jay – you’s good people. 🙂

VCS Loaf 1