Halloween Hangover

But in a good way, not in a “I ate too many mini Snickers and now I have to go off and hibernate for the next three weeks” kind of way. Although I did eat A LOT of mini chocolate bars this weekend, and given the time change, a nap sounds pretty good right about now…

In all weird actuality, we wound up having a very nice Halloween, COVID mandates notwithstanding.  Trick-or-treating wasn’t banned in my city outright, just discouraged – that should really be the City of Ottawa’s motto: “It’s Not Banned, Simply Discouraged!” – and so we stayed close to home, stocking up on what seemed like a reasonable amount of candy should any trick-or-treaters actually grace our Jack-o-Lantern-adorned doorstep.

And they did!  We had 22 kids and one highly amused delivery driver pop by, much to our delight.  We had a nice little socially distanced setup going, with pre-wrapped bags of candy laid out on the front steps, Haunted Mansion music blasting through the open windows, and a gentle, low-lying fog drifting through the garden, courtesy of Mr. Finger Candy’s intense new love of the fog machine (the phrase, “This might be the best thing we’ve ever bought!” was uttered more than once.)

We even threw together a couple of last minute costumes, transforming ourselves into a maid and butler of the Haunted Mansion.

And I went real big with my eye makeup look, simply because when else in 2020 have I had a time or place to wear six different shades of blue, green and purple eyeshadow?

In the days leading up to Halloween (okay, so for the entire month of October) we also put out a lot of Halloween decorations, really got in touch with our inner Clark Griswolds!

So it’s little wonder our house saw a bit of action, given that we were seemingly the only gig in (this) town.  I overheard a few kids that had already passed by grumble, “Oh man, I wish we could go to that house again” and I nearly chased them down the street with armfuls of Sour Patch Kids before I remembered that now – and always! – luring children to your house with candy is generally frowned upon.  There’s entire fairy tales written about it! 😉

Near-forays into Hansel and Gretel-dom aside, however, we had a really excellent Halloween.  And did you know it was our wedding anniversary?  Of course you did, I never shut up about it!  It was our 16th, and our first as homeowners.  It definitely wasn’t the usual kind of anniversary celebration we like to enjoy – that would involve a week-and-a-half-long trip to Disney – but given the circumstances of 2020, we’ll gladly take it.  Nothing wrong with throwing together a couple of very last minute costumes and spending the night crouched over a fog machine drinking Swedish Fish-o-ritas (actually, they were orange creamsicle margaritas – Screamsicles – with a chocolate salt rim from the Lone Star in Ottawa, and not only were they very festive, but they were also incredibly delicious.  Hmm, they might have been the reason we got that food delivery – tacos! – once the trick-or-treaters cleared out.)

All in all, I’m super pleased with how our first homebound Halloween went, and I’m hearing similar things from friends and family.  I think the general circumstances of this year – shitty ones, not to put too fine a point on it – have forced a lot of us to think outside the box on events like holidays, and in a lot of unique respects, we seem to be all the better for it.  Friends with kids have reported that they took part in local scavenger hunts, neighbourhood candy drives, costumed movie nights and other cautious, but no less creative, approaches to the Halloween season, and everyone seems to have had an unusually great time.  Going forward, I really hope the city takes note of the ways people are trying to responsibly and safely move forward with “living with” COVID, and maybe cuts us all a little slack.  Most of us are really trying.  Without a doubt, though, THIS is the Halloween these kids will always remember.  I know I certainly will.  Hope you had a good one, too, friends.

Beat the Heat

Wow, is there ever zero heat to be beat around Eastern Ontario come this time of year. It’s currently two measly degrees above zero, on its way down to minus 6. Yesterday it snowed. Why do we live here again?! Ah yes, because Canada is wonderful. But that wonderfulness also comes with about six months of shit weather from coast to coast, and the fleeting heat rarely factors!

Know what else doesn’t factor? I thought this gorgeous, colour-changing polish, Heather’s Hues’ Beat the Heat, was a thermal polish, meaning it would change from a vibrant neon orange to a cool, deep plum depending on the temperature of my hands and fingers. Think of it as mood polish.

So when I sat down to test out Beat the Heat for the first time, I was pleased with the consistency and application – so smooth in three light coats – but disappointed in the thermal effect, as it was completely non-existent. “Drat, looks like I got a bummer,” I thought as I went outside to take pictures of my decidedly non-colour-changing manicure.

Then I stepped into the sun, and to my amazement, Beat the Heat came alive, morphing quickly from a lush, neon pumpkin, to a warm, coral-y pink, and finally on to a rich, plummy purple. So pretty! And clearly totally unexpected.

Lesson learned here? Open your eyes and definitely DO judge a book by its cover – stamped right on the bottom of the bottle was the word “Solar.” Duh. 😉

I nabbed Beat the Heat during Polish Pickup‘s September release. They typically feature at least one Heather’s Hues polish per monthly release, and they’ve got another one coming up at the beginning of November. So if you like Beat the Heat – and I certainly do; for a polish that morphs through this many colours, it’s incredibly flattering – you may want to check out one of their other offerings.

Smurf Genome

Wuh oh, now we’re into the chromosomal make-up of a Smurf, and apparently they glow in the dark! Can’t say I remember that from the Smurfs’ adventures with Gargamel and Azrael (“adventures” being the most politically correct way of saying their entire lives were devoted to not being genocidally wiped out by a bi-polar, misshapen baldy and his raggedy cat.)

But I digress!  This is Polish Molish’s Smurf Genome, another lacquer I nabbed during Polish Pickup‘s September release.  And it would seem that much like the polish I highlighted yesterday – Nailed It’s magnetic Neural Network – and then the one the day before that – Different Dimension’s likewise magnetic It’s Electrifying – Smurf Genome is what I call a gimmick polish, or something beyond the standard, be it magnetic, thermal (one of those coming in a day or two), fluid art (ditto) or glow-in-the-dark.

And boy howdy, do these Smurfs ever glow in the dark!  The glow power, if you will, in this polish is STRONG – just the kickback off your phone screen will be enough to fire up your falanges. 😉  And the polish au naturel is darn pretty too, featuring a vibrant, blue jelly base positively stuffed with red hex and iridescent shard glitter.  Beautiful, and a fun polish to add to my collection.

Neural Network

To all those about to go “Whu…?” – I salute you!  Because there’s lots to whu…? about here, as in two different blog posts on two different days, and featuring two different polishes, no less!  It’s almost like I’m a semi-functioning nail blogger again (although, barely – WordPress’s not-remotely-new block editor is an exercise in extreme frustration.  Every time I’ve walked away from a post lately, it’s because I’ve just spent the past 45 minutes sifting through online tutorials, trying to find the answer to a question that used to be easily, readily apparent.  Life’s not crappy enough, WP?!)

This pretty polish is Nailed It!’s Neural Network, another magnetic polish I grabbed during Polish Pickup‘s September release.  Like the magnetic polish I featured yesterday, Different Dimension’s It’s Electrifying, Neural Network is packed with glittery metallic flakies.  Can’t speak to the hue of snapping synapses, but I imagine this burst of jagged metallic rainbows is a pretty good mimic for a neural network’s mimicry.

This polish is so gorgeous, but the flakies, just like It’s Electrifying, obscure the intended magnetic effect.  I didn’t see much difference between Neural Network in the bottle and then magnetized on my nails.  Perhaps there was a tiny deepening of the base colour, a peacocky, bluey-purple-green, but nothing that made me stand back and go, “Yup, Nailed It.” 😉

Still, it wore like the dickens and made my nails look pretty for a week.  Who’s going to argue with themselves – or a computer trying to mimic themselves – over that?!

It’s Electrifying

WHAT is this, an actual blog post about – *gasp!* – nail polish?! How could it be?

Okay, so quick bit of real talk to not remotely explain away my months’ long absence, and that is that the world has me way down. I probably don’t need to elaborate; life is difficult on about 87 different fronts, and I know I’m far, far from the only one feeling the pinch.

So I regrettably haven’t felt much like blogging. Moreover, I haven’t had much to blog about from a nail art perspective – the only manicure I’ve sported this spring, summer and fall is a dirt-encrusted gardening mani, and the last time I bought nail polish was…oh wow, last year.

So I recently rectified that very serious error and snapped up a few treats for myself during Polish Pickup‘s September release, because the fun doesn’t totally need to stop, does it?

Here’s the first polish I, uh, picked up, Different Dimension’s flakie-loaded It’s Electrifying. This is a magnetic polish, one of two I purchased, and pretty though it is, I’m not totally sold. Not actually sure I’m totally sold on magnetic polishes, period, though I’ve had better luck running a magnet over solid colour polishes, as opposed to these more glitter-laden lacquers.  Magnetic polishes (are supposed to) work thusly: Paint on a coat or two of a dark, solid colour creme such as black.  Brush on one thin coat of the magnetic polish and let dry.  Then, working one finger at a time, brush on another coat of the polish, before holding a small magnet just off the surface of your nail for about 25 to 30 seconds.

Nail art magnets are available in different strengths, and produce a wide variety of looks, from hash marks, to chevrons, to cats’ eye.  But the cool effects tend to get lost when there’s this much stuff in the polish.  Still, It’s Electrifying is so, so pretty and nicely colour-shifty, and I won’t pretend that it hasn’t been nice to finally treat myself to a little bit of frivolous fun. 🙂

Go With the Flow

Marble Collage

I was recently the lucky recipient of these lovely Zoya polishes – pink Kristie, blue Maren, turquoise Harbor, and purple Jessica – thanks to the kind folks at Nail Polish Canada.  I swatched them all, of course – see my previous post for those details – but I also wanted to do a bit of nail art with my new, candy-coloured polishes.

Problem: I’m SO out of practice these days, both in terms of nail art ability and actual nail care, that a good mani for me is one in which my nails are not encrusted with a solid quarter-inch of gardening grit.  I figured at best I’d come up with something ultra easy, like a simple dotticure.

Instead I decided to shoot for the moon and do a water marble manicure, perhaps THE most difficult nail art technique, one that requires you to float polish on the surface of water.  Because that just sounds SUPER easy (spoiler alert: it’s usually not, and it’s always hella messy!)

Except….this time, with these polishes, it wasn’t.  Even after my extended absence from the nail art realm.  I think it’s because these four lacquers – rich cremes, all – are brand new, and at the peak of their polish power, having not picked up months’ and years’ worth of oil and grime.  All four are of a completely identical consistency as well, making it ultra easy to float the polish on the surface of water AND toothpick-out a swirled design.  TL;DR?  These Zoya polishes make water marbling EASY, even for the woefully out of practice.

Marble 5 - Fingers

Speaking of, I realize that without photos of the water marbling process, this must all sound like utter gibberish.  So might anyone be interested in a little tutorial?  Because I’d like to give this technique another try, see if I could come up with a slightly more consistent design finger-to-finger (much as I like the every-digit-for-itself approach.) 😉  Please do come back soon to see how I work out with that!

Splash Into Summer With Zoya

Zoya Collage 1

Throughout this pandemic period, I have been losing things – sunglasses, car keys, paperwork, and, if the above is any indication, occasionally my own dang marbles.

Perhaps the thing that’s irked me the most about all of this forgetfulness is that I seem to have lost the ability to paint my nails!  Pandemic concerns aside, I’ve been busy for pretty well half a year now settling us into our new home, and I’m finding the property – a single family home with a lot of landscaping – to be quite demanding of my time.  As such, I’ve barely done a lick of nail art, and the thought of giving myself a manicure just for fun has been incomprehensible (mostly because for the majority of the spring and summer, I’ve been sporting a gungy gardening mani – cracked, breaking and caked in a whole lotta dirt.)  I am woefully out of practice, and boy howdy, do my nails look it, too.

So I was thrilled when Nail Polish Canada recently asked me to use and review one of Zoya‘s new six-piece summer collections.  Gave me a wonderful excuse to get back to the nail art and blogging that I love so very much, and the even better excuse to get my nails in shape and give myself a number of pretty manicures.  So thank you for the timely reminder to do something nice for myself – and my nails – Nail Polish Canada and Zoya!

Zoya is a long-standing polish manufacturer whose name, in my experience, is synonymous with quality, consistency and a leading edge approach to animal and human welfare.  Their polishes are Big 10-free (that would be free of all of those toxic ingredients you can hardly pronounce), cruelty-free and VEGAN, which delights Mr. Finger Candy, who is vegetarian but leaning vegan, to no end.

Moreover, Zoya’s polishes are uniformly great, with a nice self-leveling formulation that you will fall in love with if you’re not great at painting your nails, or if you, like me, have nearly completely forgotten how!  I’ve yet to use one that hasn’t applied well and worn like the dickens.  Zoya’s creme polishes also come in about a bajillion beautiful colours, making them perfect for nail art.

This is Zoya’s six-piece summer Splash collection.  I had my choice of two Splash collections, and I chose B because of its lush, vibrant cremes, and those two perfect beachy shimmers.  Let’s jump in the pool and take a closer look at these lovely polishes, shall we?

Kristie 2

First up is Barbie pink Kristie, the perfect summertime hue.  This would look fantastic on toes dangling off the edge of a diving board.

Fisher 2

Next we have the first of two shimmers in the collection, Fisher.  This is a lovely Cinderella blue shot through with silvery-purple microshimmer.  I used a top coat with Fisher and the other shimmer because they were both just the tiniest bit dull, and I wanted to bring out every ounce of that beautiful shine.  This colour reminds me of beach glass.

Jessica 2

Jessica is next on (the pool) deck with this deep, glossy raisin.  Tons of shine in this one, even without the benefit of topcoat.

Maren 2

Next up we have Maren, a gorgeous ocean blue that is the very definition of “Splash”!  I own a number of these cobalt blue polishes, but Maren stands apart from the others with its warm, barest-of-green-leaning hues.  Beautiful.

Corrina 2

In the penultimate spot we have Corrina, the perfect shimmery shell pink.  This is such a flattering hue, and while I think it looks beautiful on my freckled Celtic hide, it would be absolutely gorgeous on people with darker skin tones.

Harbor 2

Finally, we have the one true blue(-green) polish of the collection, Harbor.  Small word of warning, though, when it comes to Harbor, and indeed, nearly all turquoise or green-leaning hues – they will stain, so use a base coat.

TL;DR;JCOTP (too long; didn’t read; just checked out the photos): Zoya’s vegan, cruelty-free, non-toxic polishes are some of the best ones out there, and this Splash collection is a gorgeous slice of summery fun.  Get yours at Nail Polish Canada by clicking the embedded links above, and please come back later on this week when I’ll have some cute, Zoya-ful nail art to share with you.

The Best of Days: A Gratitude Post

Halloween Collage

Show of hands if this pandemic has left you, too, feeling wildly imbalanced.  I know that over here in Sandraville, I have spent the past six months vacillating between frantic highs (back-busting stretches of gardening, mad cleaning, and a fun new obsession with keeping my lawn watered) and why-effin-bother lows (silly crying jags, disinterest in seemingly everything, and boredom that probably borders on clinical.)  Most days I get along just fine, going about my life like most of us are – cautiously, probably a bit timidly, but trying.  Sometimes showing up is 90 percent of the battle.

But the temptation to slide into pandemic pity has been, on occasion, overwhelmingly tempting.  I want to wallow, even when I know – especially when I know – that wallowing is unproductive, and just plain makes me feel bad.

So with the desire to banish those bad feelings for a little bit, Mr. Finger Candy and I recently sat down and talked about all of the things we were fortunate enough to experience pre-pandemic – our year and a half of indulgent Disney vacations chief among them – and how very, very lucky we were to have been given that time.  It was a wonderful lesson in a gratitude, and a timely reminder to count our many blessings.

It’s in that spirit that I now present to you THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!  No, really, with zero disrespect to the many important dates and events in my life (high school and university graduations, first date with my husband, our wedding…) this day – October 31st, 2018 – ranks as the absolute best. 🙂

It starts with an obsession with twenty one pilots, Halloween and Disney vacations, as all good stories do.  We were – and still are – mad as Hatters for our favourite band, twenty one pilots.  We were also going to be celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary – yup, we were married on October 31st – with a trip to Disney World.  So when we found ourselves with Halloween tickets to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, an after hours event held at the Magic Kingdom, we decided to dress up like two different video versions of TOP’s enigmatic frontman and maestro, Tyler Joseph.

Twenty One Pilots Collage 2

At the time I proposed attending the party en costume, Mr. Finger Candy lamented that no one was going to know who we were.  “Husband of little faith!” I admonished.  “Okay, so not everyone is going to know who we are.  But the RIGHT people are going to know.”  Sure enough, we were in the park maybe 10 minutes before I began hearing delighted cries of, “Hey look, twenty one pilots!”  Rock star cosplay – it’s what’s for breakfast.

Twenty One Backpack Collage

Actually, what was for breakfast was this obscenely rich – TOO RICH – Poison Apple Cupcake, an $8 item from the Main Street Starbucks (“Home of the Half-Hour Lineup”) that was all Instagram and no taste.  It was a real one-and-done, as in take one bite and you’re done.  Cute, but way, WAY too much.  I generally prefer far less Red Food Dye No. 4 in my baked goods.

Poison Apple Cupcake Collage

We then skipped up Main Street to the hub, where we took the requisite photo in front of Cinderella Castle.

Tyler Two Pilots 12

Actually, we snapped photos all over the place.  When in Disney!

Tyler Two Pilots 9

We got stuck on It’s a Small World – you have no idea how small that world truly is when you’re creeping through it at .3 nautical miles an hour – and nearly missed our lunch reservations at Be Our Guest, the Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant in New Fantasyland.  As a reward for our stress, anxiety and patience (what are we going to do, bail out in the middle of Equatorial Africa and wade our way to the exit?) we were blessed with a total sweep of the It’s a Small World goodbye boards.  Ciao, Belle-a!

523

Speaking of, lunch at Be Our Guest – a first for us; we’re normally breakfast people at this amazing themed restaurant – was the very definition of scrum-diddily-yum.  My husband continues to rhapsodize about the vegetarian French onion soup two years on, and I think I once had a sexy dream about the beef dip. 😉

Be Our Guest Collage 2

This restaurant has special meaning for us.  It’s where we like to go for our most romantic and special meals – an anniversary breakfast, now an anniversary lunch, and one very lovely (and very late) Christmas Day dinner.  We normally like to grab a table in the West Wing, where thunder and lightning flash throughout the room and the Beast’s shredded portrait morphs from human to monster and back again, but for this meal we snuggled up for the first time in the library, where a gigantic music box of Belle and the Beast twirled gently in the center of the room, tinkling softly.

Be Our Guest Collage 2

Between our late lunch and the start of the party, we hit up some rides – nothing that would muss up our costumes too much (sorry, Space, Splash and Big Thunder Mountains.)  Instead we kicked back with multiple stately rides on the PeopleMover, a surprisingly zippy, magnet-powered Walt original.  Whilst in Tomorrowland, we also tried out our fun new identities as Tyler Two Space Pilots on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, a black-lit, neon-splattered shoot-the-target ride.  And we concluded our time in Tomorrowland with a showing of the Carousel of Progress, a moving, animatronic stage show depicting one American family’s relationship to innovation and progress across the last 100 years.  Sounds like a total snooze, but I assure you, it’s a delightful hoot.  Also, 22 minutes of seated air conditioning.

TOP Ride Collage

It was also in the Tomorrowland bathrooms where I bemusedly overheard a little girl and her mom discussing my costume, with the mom furiously trying to shush her daughter as she, in her best approximation of sotto voce, LOUDLY grilled her mother as to whether she, too, had seen the funny, dirty girl with the crud on her neck.  Heh.

Once the sun began to set, we picked up our party wristbands, grabbed a couple of sacks and hit up the innumerable trick-or-treat trails.  And we CLEANED UP, because we were SUPER INTO IT.  You can’t help but throw candy at the costumed adults shouting “Trick-or-Treat!” and excitedly swapping goodies as they hustle off to the next candy stop.  By the end of the evening we had amassed two bulging sacks of candy (PB Snickers, Mars, Skittles, M&Ms and enough Starburst to power an 11-year-old’s birthday party) – or about five pounds of miniature sized sweets that I had to declare and explain to an amused TSA agent on our journey back home.  No ragrets!

I Want Candy Collage

In between ducking down dimly lit treat trails (or very brightly lit treat trails, in the case of the ones set up inside an attraction) we hit up Pirates of the Caribbean, which featured live actors dotted throughout the ride.  I didn’t find that they really added a whole lot to the experience (you want scary, try getting stuck on Pirates for 45 minutes!) but Mr. Finger Candy always loves an excuse to “YEE-AAAARRRGGHH!” with impunity.  We also ambled back over to the Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square for the first of the evening’s three rides, which is 10 fewer rides than we took the Halloween previous, when we rode the Mansion 13 times in one day for our 13th wedding anniversary.

Haunted Mansion on Halloween

Back in Fantasyland, we met Pooh and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood gang, likewise resplendent in their Halloween costumes.  I think Tigger was a big TOP fan, because he kept gesturing excitedly to his neck.

Tyler Two Pilots 11

In between riding rides, meeting cool characters, amassing a ridiculous amount of candy and fielding a ton of questions about our costumes, we nabbed an amazing spot in Frontierland for the 11 pm parade, and spent our wait time goofing around with one of the Disney PhotoPass photographers.

Halloween PhotoPass Collage

Mickey’s Boo to You Parade was so much fun!  Here, see for yourself in this video I made of the first Not So Scary we attended earlier in the season (though in this case I failed to record the very best part of the parade – literally dropped my phone – which my husband refers to as Jafar making f**k-eyes at his wife.  What can I say, the baddies like me.)

We closed out the night with the midnight showing of the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, a mildly raunchy stage show featuring the Sanderson Sisters, as well as a whole host of other Disney baddies, including Mr. Oogie Boogie Man, Cruella DeVil, Dr. Facilier, Hades and, once again, Jafar (boy, that guy gets around.)  My favourite part of the show were the lights and images that they projected onto Cinderella Castle.  Gorgeous.

Halloween Castle Collage

At that point it was about one o’clock in the morning, so with the tenderest of tootsies, arms laden with bulging sacks of candy, and completely jacked on high fructose corn syrup, we boarded a bus back to our resort…and then began the whole thing all over again five hours later!  We are nothing if not committed Disney travelers.

So what made this day the very best?  Well, not-so-simply because I was doing something so special, with the most beloved person in my life, on our most important day, dressed like my favourite musician, on my very favourite holiday, in the most magical place on earth.  And a Disney villain tried to make me his snake bride.  How could that not be the best day of my life? 😉  And one that I have very much enjoyed sharing with you.  Thanks for coming along on this gratitude-affirming look back on one of those days that makes life worth living.

Keeping it Small, Safe and Sudsy

Soap 1

Well, aren’t I just all over this hand washing thing!  Welcome to the new Finger Candy, friends – expanding my reach to the whole dang hand now!  Maybe even both of them, if you’re feeling so bold.

It’s funny, because growing up, I was not a big time hand-washer.  Cleanliness and hygiene were important, of course, but we weren’t a “wash up before supper” kind of family.  I grew up on a hobby farm, and probably the best you could have asked for is that I brushed my hands off on the seat of my pants after I yanked that carrot out of the ground (and before I shoved that carrot, completely unwashed, but sort of dusted off, into my mouth!  That one never failed to both delight and horrify my grandfather, the owner of the hobby farm.)

But before we purchased this single family home late last year, Mr. Finger Candy and I lived, for nearly 15 years, in a gigantic condominium apartment building with a seemingly infinitesimal number of high touch surfaces – elevator buttons, keypads, door handles, electronic fobs, counters, shelves and the like.  We were both also taking public transit to our jobs, which from a public health perspective is pretty well akin to just straight up licking your neighbour’s eyeballs.

So hand-washing really became a thing around our place.  I also liked the excuse of purchasing fun Bath and Body Works soaps.  Who doesn’t want their hands to smell like frosted donuts?

Then the pandemic struck and hand-washing became a life-saving necessity.  And suds, much like toilet paper and disinfectant wipes, became scarce.  For much of the spring there was no stock to be had at BBW, which is maybe not the negative I’m making it out to be – BBW soaps, particularly the foaming ones, can be harsh, and after a few weeks of manic hand-washing, our mitts were chapped and raw.

Soap 3

I have, throughout the entirety of this pandemic, attempted to purchase small and local as much as possible.  These are the community businesses that need – and quite frankly, deserve – our help and our purchasing power in these unprecedented times.  And it suddenly dawned on me that I knew of a local soap connection – Heart & Home Soaps, run by Jennifer Dlugokinski, a woman I’ve known since grade 6!  (P.S. Shout-out to your seventh grade birthday party, Jenn, when we listened to the Barenaked Ladies’ “If I Had a Million Dollars” about 25 times in a row!)

Heart & Home typically sells its wares out of the Carp Fair, which has been unfortunately shuttered since the beginning of the pandemic.  But Jenn is still selling her products on Heart and Home’s website, so I placed an order, nixed the shipping option – why pay for that which you can drive 25 minutes and pick up yourself? – and drove out to her place to pick up my suds.  She had packaged them all up and left them in her mailbox, and that was that.  Simple.

Soap 2

And you know what?  They are fantastic soaps, lush and rich and full of happy hand-making ingredients like seed butters, Vitamin E, and fruit and nut oils.  They’re pretty, too, swirled with vibrant colours and, in a few cases, shimmery mica.  They smell great, also, particularly Peppermint Rush, which is getting a major workout in my kitchen (nothing feels like it gets your filthy post-gardening hands properly clean like mint) and Satsuma & Mandarin.  I’m also pleased to note that two, three weeks on, our frequently-washed hands are soft and smooth.  Maybe a bit tight after washing – that’s just using soap, I fear – but nothing like the BBW soaps, which had actually stripped our hands.  This feels so much better!

Soap 4

All in all, I feel good about shopping small and local, supporting a friend and getting my mitts clean!  And if you’d like to check out Heart & Home’s products for yourself, please click here (or the link above) for some lovingly crafted soaps.

Enter the Hand Sanitizer

Wu 1

“I’d like to thank the Wu-Tang Clan for this hand sanitizer” – truly, words I NEVER thought I’d utter in this lifetime.

But here we are, in the midst of a raging global pandemic – another state I never really thought I’d find myself in – and the Wu has stepped up in a major way, teaming up with Canadian home and body care company Jusu to produce Jusu x 36 Chambers, an all natural, plant-based, vegan hand sanitizer, the proceeds of which benefit three local Ottawa charities, The Ottawa Mission Foundation, the Ottawa Food Bank, and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.  It’s good – if not slightly out of left field – work that has brought together the collaborative talents of some of my city’s most creative and civic-minded souls, and I’m unbelievably impressed by the hustle.  Ottawa done us real proud with this one.

Wu 4

Apart from what I hear was a pretty fantastic show at the Ottawa Blues Fest some years ago, I’ve no clue what the Wu’s connection is to my (typically) pretty boring and bureaucratic city.  I guess there’s something (or someone) here that speaks to them (though I will never stop questioning what might be attractive in this city of endless suburbs and RioCan strip malls to a bunch of badass New York rappers with names like RZA, Ghostface Killah and Ol’ Dirty Bastard.)

Right, so the hand sanitizer itself – it’s awesome, and I wish I had purchased more than two bottles.  Isopropyl alcohol is, of course, the main medicinal ingredient, so it’s going to disinfect your mitts just as well as any of the other ohol-based products on the market.  But after that initial blast of ALCOHOL!!!, 36 Chambers (in the spicy citrus, Chilling Chilling scent) mellows out into a mild, utterly dee-licious blend of aloe, cinnamon, citrus, eucalyptus and rosemary that will have you surreptitiously sniffing your hands like Mary Katherine Gallagher on a major bender.  Best of all, 36 Chambers is a light and easily absorbable liquid that leaves your formerly chapped and irritated hands soft and residue-free (“Ooh, baby, I like it raw” – so sayeth ODB.)

Wu 5

That way you can pull on your new Wu-Tang x Ottawa tee without getting it all gunged up! 😉

Wu 2

If you’re interested in nabbing your own bottle of 36 Chambers, hit up Jusulife.ca – for every bottle sold, one is donated to a local homeless shelter, where I’ve no doubt these kind of products are in great demand and use.  Because every stinkin’ little bit of thoughtfulness and protection protects us all, and if the Wu is doing their part, well, then so can we.  Good job, Ottawa.

Wu 3