Awesome Blossom

awesome-blossom

Cherry blossoms, to be specific, although again, unseasonably warm temperatures notwithstanding, we’re still a long way off from the trees even beginning to think about blossoming.

Seriously, though, WHAT is up with the weather lately?  It’s so beautiful! And now I’m afraid that the more I call attention to it, the sooner it will end and we’ll be back to snow, so shutting up right the heck now!

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Who’s a Naughty Girl Then?

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This polish, that’s who, Different Dimension’s holographic Naughty.  Or should I say “Differen Dimensio”? That’s how my bottle is labelled, owing to what looks like a printing error.  I kind of like it; it sounds like a spell from Harry Potter.  Accio manicuris!

Nomenclature notwithstanding, Naughty is actually a very nice polish, applying smoothly, if a touch thickly, in two coats.  This one requires a fast, steady hand.  But oh my, that colour, and the gorgeous holographic flare (technical term that, flare, meaning the deeply saturated, shimmery bit running down the middle of the bottle.)  I nabbed my bottle at Harlow & Co., who has recently begun dealing in Different Dimension’s beautiful polishes.  It was $17.50 Canadian a bottle and worth every Loonie.

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A Springtime Pick-Me-Up

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It is of course no such thing as The Spring.  Where I live (eastern Ontario) it’s still firmly winter, and will remain that way until my birthday, which is in the middle of April.  Any snowfall after that date sends me into a rage spiral, but until then, I can and will deal.

But my city has also been enjoying a rare break in the chill, with temperatures soaring to and remaining well above the freezing mark for most of the last week.  What a sad benchmark for acceptable weather – above freezing!  I was joking with a friend who lives down south that this is exactly the kind of weather that prompts some of the city’s, uh, heartier types to don their bikinis and then have the local paper take glamour shots of them on the beach surrounded by freezing cold sand and half-thawed chunks of shore ice. Like clockwork, every year!

Also like clockwork?  That I’ll use these adorable little floral nail charms in a manicure at least every few months.  I love how adorably unwieldy they are – I really can’t see them working in everyday use, even if you Krazy Glue-d them to your fingernails.  But in an of-the-moment mani?  So cute, especially when they’re paired with a soft and springy glitter polish like KB Shimmer’s To Peach His Own.

springtime-bottle

Customs Crazy: A Sniff My Tarts Custom Wax Haul

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Apart from nabbing items from one or two nearly-impossible-to-get-your-hands-on indie brands, the holy grail of the wax world is landing on your favourite vendor’s customs list.  Getting a chance to play amateur candle maker is always so much fun, while providing a great opportunity to indulge in the creative side of the process.  Plus, who doesn’t like saying, “Yeah, that amazing smelling thing?  My idea.”  With all humility, of course!

But as you can imagine, creating thousands of custom wax creations for hundreds of customers can be a rather daunting task, and so these kinds of openings don’t happen very often.  So when a vendor does open for custom orders, you jump on it, because who knows when and if it will ever happen again.

Which is the reasoning that led me to place a customs order with Sniff My Tarts, an entirely new-to-me vendor popular with some wise blogger friends.  Sniff My Tarts actually operates on a mostly-customs model, opening up just a couple of times a year for orders before closing down to then fulfill those orders.  In between, they offer up the occasional sampler or mystery box, and they’ve somewhat recently begun offering ready-to-ship items on their website from the customs over-pours.

I placed my order within five minutes of opening on December 1st, 2016.  The specific time is actually somewhat important, as placement on the production list is determined on a first come, first serve basis.  So if you got your order in quickly, it would be made and you would receive it well before the person who placed their order after, say, 45 minutes (who may receive theirs months later; further impetus to order fast, order early.)

Unless of course your order is being shipped internationally, in which case, get ready for it to take a three-week odyssey through the (Canadian) postal system, landing on your doorstep, cold and a little bit damaged, nearly three months after you placed it.  And that’s despite being quite high up the customs list.  And paying an absolutely ridiculous sum in shipping that I will not disclose to you, because if I did, you’d correctly assume I was a complete fool.  All I’ll say about that is if you’re an international customer (and this applies to any product, not just scented wax) pay very close attention to the shipping details.  As always, that’s where you’ll find the devil, and man, oh man, does he like his postal tariffs.

Anyhow, I really jumped in the deep end on this one, friends, and I’m pleased to report that for the most part, outrageous shipping shenanigans notwithstanding (and I’ll take most of the blame on that one for not seeking clarification on the exact details) my first customs order with Sniff My Tarts was a deliciously-scented leap worth making.  Let’s take a closer look at some of my creations.

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Starting off with the big guns, this is a decorated sheet cake in Mango Sorbet, Vanilla Waffle Cone and Coconut Cream Pie.  Apart from being just absolutely gorgeous (how am I supposed to ever cut into that adorable little glazed cone?) this cake smells incredible – as good as I had hoped (and I had pretty high hopes) or maybe even better.  I’d purchase this exact blend again in a heartbeat.  It actually smells just like the inside of a Baskin Robbins ice cream shop, all tart, fruity creams and sugary waffle cones.  Yummy!

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The second of my decorated sheet cakes, a blend of Mango, Fresh Strawberry and Twinkies, is equally beautiful, but less successful in terms of execution.  My choice of Mango here, as opposed to Mango Sorbet, lends a floral note to the already quite flowery Fresh Strawberry, which is then amplified by the powdery Twinkies.  A real shame of a misfire, as this cake is so pretty and I now have so much of it (each cake is about one pound, eight ounces.)  But it regrettably smells like cheap little girl perfume – Strawberry Love’s Baby Soft?

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The smallest blending option available were these large frosted cookies.  Each cookie weighs between four and four and a half ounces and spans my palm.  Available with the same number of blending options as the cakes (up to three), these substantial cookies are a popular choice if you’re looking to try out some unconventional blends on a smaller scale than the large pies and cakes on offer.  Let’s take a closer look at these adorable blended cookies, which also happen to smell pretty darn terrific.

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Starting with the top row and going from left to right, we have Blueberry Grunt Cake and Vanilla Marshmallow Smoothie (purple), a sweet and juicy confection that smells exactly like Strawberry Shortcake’s buddy, Blueberry Muffin.  I’ve only heard great things about Sniff My Tart’s blueberry, and this little cookie bears out the praise.  Incredibly delicious.

Next up is Pink Sands and Salt Water Taffy (pink), a soft, beachy floral roughened up with salty, rip-out-your-fillings taffy.  A pretty scent totally unlike my usual.

After that we have Danish Butter Cookie, Creme Brulee and Vanilla Butter Fudge (yellow), or as I like to call it, “Diabetes in a Wax Melt.”  So this one sounds a bit repulsive – I even thought as much myself when creating it for Mr. Finger Candy, who likes his scents far more cloying than I – but in reality, it’s a comforting delight of creamy vanilla bakery, sweet and buttery without being butter-oid.  A splendid blend.

Moving down a row, we have Pomegranate, Mango Sorbet and Celtic Moon Spice (brown), a sweet and slightly spicy blend that has me going back and forth on the “I Love It/I Hate It”-o-meter.  I was attempting to recreate a favourite cocktail with this one, forgetting that the drink itself contains a hefty dose of super sour raspberry to balance out all the SWEET!  As blended, I think this cookie is not quite tart enough, with a powdered sugar kind of lean to it that just doesn’t agree with my nose.  Thankfully, I think I have a way of literally tarting this up a bit, so all is not lost with this conflicting blend.

Finally, we come to Sweet Lavender Marshmallow Cake and Lemon Cake Pops (also purple), a beautiful, bright and fresh blend that smells like springtime.  Lavender and lemon are scents I like in the smallest of doses only, but they’re wonderful together in this pairing, with the light gourmand notes softening the steely, almost soapy astringency of both.  A decorated sheet cake in this would have been so lovely!

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Continuing on with my custom picks, I also chose three bags of no-fuss chunks, tiny little petit four-shaped wax melts that remind me of the “Eat Me” cakes Alice scarfs down on her journey through Wonderland. Available with the same number of options as all the other blendables (up to three), these little no-fuss melts really live up to their moniker – just drop one in your melter and you’re good to go.

Starting at the top, we have a blend of Pizzelle, Blackberry and Vanilla Marshmallow Smoothie.  I was a little hesitant about the Blackberry in this one, confusing it initially for Blackberry Jam Butter Cookies, a popular fragrance oil that I really, really dislike.  But Sniff My Tart’s Blackberry is straight-up fruit and juice, and in combination with the crisp, waffle cone-like notes of the Pizzelle and the creamy Marshmallow Smoothie, the whole thing comes off smelling like fruity tea and cakes.  It’s really not at all what I was expecting – it’s better.

Moving down, we have another Blackberry blend, this time Blackberry, Mango and Twinkies.  This is another unexpectedly delicious blend – fresh, fruity and a tiny bit floral – that works in spite of its components, which simply don’t mesh very well.  Going forward, I think both the Mango and Twinkies scents will be off my customs menu.  But I like this blend very much – in combination, the Blackberry and Mango notes remind me of an old school Party Lite fragrance.

Finally, we have the blend I thought was going to be a total slam dunk, a combination of Strawberry, Vanilla Waffle Cone and Cream Cheese Frosting. These chunks actually don’t smell like anything at all, an effect I’m chalking up to the fact that this bag was savaged at Customs – sliced open and then left to freely rattle around the bottom of the box.  Never stop taking pride in the service you provide, Canada Post. 😦 I’ve since rebagged them, in the hopes that they somehow reconstitute themselves.  Fingers crossed.

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Moving away from my custom blends, I also chose four piped hearts in single scents (or scent blends) in Marshmallow Noel & Candy (white), a crisp, nose-tinglingly yummy vanilla-mint, Apricot Vanilla (yellow), a close recreation of Sally Hansen’s ultra sweet and fruity apricot cuticle cream, Blueberry Grunt Cake (purple), a luscious blueberry tinged with the barest hint of crunchy bakery, and Carrot Cake (brown), which I actually don’t care for at all.  Nutty, so nutty.  Carrots and nuts.  My wedding cake?  Yes!  But as a home fragrance?  Not so much.

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Finally, for my husband, who loves coffee scents, I purchased three bags of small frosted cookies (four cookies per bag), one in Sprinkled Sugar Cookie Latte (light brown) and two in Starbucks Vanilla Latte (darker brown.) Coffee scents are not really my thing, but Mr. Finger Candy assures me that these two scents are legit, and who am I to argue with that?

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These are the samples I received with my order, a small grubby tart (love that term, “grubby tart”) in Sticky Pink Marshmallow, a popular, Pink Sugar-based blend, a small frosted cookie in the improbably delicious combination of Blackberry Latte (fruit and coffee, whaaaaa?) and two cubes of Red Macintosh Apple, a super strong apple that, despite being securely wrapped, permeated the entire package and most of my condo’s mail room.

Finally, a quick word on Sniff My Tart’s customer service, of which providing tantalizing samples is indeed a nice part – it was wicked prompt and super friendly.  Upon learning that my package had gone MIA (an event well beyond their control by that point) they assured me that virtually none of their shipments had ever gone missing for good, but that if it didn’t show itself soon, they wouldn’t leave me hanging.  It was a deeply considerate gesture – one that turned out to be rather unnecessary given that my order finally showed itself a couple of days later, but appreciated all the same.  My order was also nicely packed, with each item wrapped snugly and securely in bubble wrap.  Or at least it was before it hit Customs. You can’t tell from these pictures, but my strawberry sheet cake is in four jagged pieces.  I think it, too, may have been savaged by the same handsy agent that worked over my strawberry no-fuss chunks.  Why the berry bias, Canada Post?!

Most importantly, though, my order smells bloody fantastic, and absent one or two scent choice SNAFUs and some stupid postal tomfoolery, I’m overwhelmingly pleased with my order.  I’ll definitely be back for a second round of customs (only next time I’ll try to find a way to maximize that shipping charge.)

Literary Inspiration: The Virgin Suicides

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At the end of last year as part of my annual assessment of greatness (doesn’t that sound like something George’s dad would come up with on Seinfeld?) it came to my attention that despite quantitatively reading more than I ever have before, I read just two novels in 2016.  Otherwise, the bulk of my reading was online – my blog, other people’s blogs, and so much infuriating on-the-fly political news, my blood pressure practically demands that I return to the comforting paper (or electronic) embrace of a real novel.

And so I’ve been following along with a casual reading challenge created by my friend Julie of The Redolent Mermaid in an effort to not only read more, but read better.  Also grammar gooder. 😉 And because there’s nothing I love more than making life difficult for myself, I’ve added two sub-challenges to the main thread:

1. Where possible, all selections will be made from my own bookcase.  Despite being an avid lifelong reader, I actually fell out of favour with reading as a pastime some years back – that’s not a recent development.  As such, I have a serious backlog of gifts, loaners and hopeful recommendations that require my attention, if only to finally be able to say, “I read that!”

2. To keep it relevant to my blog, I have to do a manicure inspired by whatever I’m reading at the time.

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Which presents a bit of a challenge (within the challenge’s challenge) when the first book you pick to fulfill the theme of a beloved or favourite novel is The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides.  The entire depressing story is right there in the title – how exactly do I draw nail art inspiration from that?  Carefully, very carefully, and respectfully, being mindful of the overall feeling the book inspires in me as opposed to a strict adherence to its events. Which, absent any context or enjoyment derived from Eugenides paying out the story, are just so, so bleak.

If you watched the 1999 Sofia Coppola movie starring Kirsten Dunst, you’re already familiar with the story and tone of The Virgin Suicides.  The film is faithful to both, chronicling the year in 1970s Grosse Pointe, Michigan over which all five teenage Lisbon girls – Cecilia, Mary, Therese, Bonnie and Lux – take their lives.  The story is told from the perspective of a group of neighbourhood boys whose trainwreck-like obsession with the girls stretches into adulthood, upon which they reconvene one last time for a final forensic analysis of a shattered family, a decaying neighbourhood, the girls’ inexplicable deaths and, indeed, their own passing lives.  Really lightweight stuff!

I think Sofia Coppola’s adaptation of the novel is about as perfect as one can be, particularly that feeling of floating about inside a hazy, pastel-hued cloud.  But in both the film and the novel, there’s nasty little moldy bits creeping in along the edges of all that cotton candy fluff – cracks in the rose-coloured glasses that have let in the rot.  In the book more so than the movie, this is represented by the Lisbon family home, a staid suburban structure whose internal and external disrepair mirrors its residents’ rapidly decaying mental states.  And as the Lisbons incrementally retreat from their friends, their neighbours, the world, the family home, once a bustling hub of shimmery teenage girl activity, becomes a stale, airless crypt housing little more than living ghosts and their moss-covered memories of what can never again be.

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Super uplifting. 😉  And I can’t really explain why it’s my favourite book 20 years running, except that it just is. The weird heart wants what the weird heart wants, I suppose.  I just hope I did it right with my interpretation of the book’s tone, that feeling of life’s bright spark being born under by decay.  Let’s leave it on that cheery note!

Pretty Glittery

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Yes to both!  Because sometimes between nail art seasons – here the just-passed Valentine’s Day and the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day – you need a bit of a glittery palette cleanser, here Essie’s glittery pink topcoat, A Cut Above, over Glam Polish’s Second Star to the Right, a shimmery blue, and Ladies Choice, a pale aqua blue.

I *Heart* Baths!

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Actually, I like baths at best.  I don’t have a bathtub large enough to accommodate love.  I think if I had one of those Jacuzzi monstrosities, I’d be all over bath time, but as it is, I just kind of sit there like a large frog in a small, rainbow-coloured puddle.

But I DO *heart* trying out fun bath products, like this assortment of loved-up goodies that made my Valentine’s extra bubbly and sweet.  Solo, however.  Valentine’s Day or no, if there’s not enough space for me in the tub, there definitely ain’t space enough for both Mr. Finger Candy and I!  The comedic possibilities are actually pretty outstanding. 🙂

But back to bath time!  Which included some cute soap petal roses I always bust out for my romantically-themed baths, the last of a bottle of Lush’s Prince Charming shower cream, my favourite candle from Bath & Body Works, Pink Apple Punch, a sweet, Pink Sands-infused apple fragrance that smells like heaven in a three-wick, and two new bath bombs from Lush’s Valentine’s Day collection, heart-shaped Cupid, and heart-studded Lover Lamp.

I have no cool photos of bath art to share with you, though, because neither one of these bath bombs produced anything other than creamy white bubbles.  Even Cupid, the pale pink heart pierced with a hot pink arrow, produced nothing but white fizzy after the hot pink bits broke off.  But speaking of, the one remaining heart clinging to the edge of the Lover Lamp bath bomb was so super cool – definitely not edible, but it looked exactly like a perfect little heart-shaped gumdrop.  I probably wouldn’t purchase either again, because both were really kind of boring!  And I like a lot of pizzazz in my bath bombs.  But as a fun Valentine’s Day treat, these were nice.

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