Fall Fun Fridays: Autumn Dreamer

Another Mansion Collage

Today’s prompt in the blogging series I’m doing with my friends Jay of The Scented Library and Julie of The Redolent Mermaid is to discuss how we’d  put together our perfect Fall event or vacation.  For our dreamer purposes, the real fun in this hypothetical planning process comes from the fact that we are unencumbered by any real world concerns – money (or a lack thereof), professional and personal schedules, ANY of the usual obligations.  So please do check out both Jay and Julie’s blogs to see what sort of autumn shenanigans they’d get up to completely off the chain!

As for me, come on, you know it all begins and ends with Disney’s Haunted Mansion!  A wedding – hmm, a Halloween vow renewal for two Disney nerds coming up on their 14th? –  the actual ceremony of which takes place in the lobby, in front of the fireplace, beneath the changing portrait of Master Gracey.  Afterwards, guests (and did I mention I have a team of makeup artists and costumers on hand to garb our guests in the finest of the Mansion’s moldering fashions?) will pass through the Stretching Room before boarding Doom Buggies draped in swags of jet black roses.  Upon reaching the diningroom reception, guests will disembark (please don’t ask me how they’re going to climb down, particularly encumbered by dusty, gothic fashions; this is my crazy, impractical dream!) and enjoy a sumptuous feast of, well, this (this being a strip loin steak topped with balsamic shallot butter on a bed of four cheese pancetta and arugula pasta from Mama Melrose’s in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.)

1134

And for my husband and our other vegetarian guests, there will be a plant-based option that tastes EXACTLY like a steak.  Actually, come to think of it, if that were an option, the entire meal would be veggie.  I ultimately kind of hope that if such a thing actually existed, the entire world would be veggie, but I digress.  No one will drop even a crumb of food down their fronts, and everyone will remain on the responsible, pleasant side of intoxication.  Because there be margaritas a-plenty!

Tequila!

After dessert (my mom’s homemade apple pie, 13 tiers of it and miraculously calorie-free) my new-old husband will waltz me around the dance floor, weaving in and out among the ghosts, to the strains of twenty one pilots, who are there because we’re personal friends and I can just call them up like that.  Josh will NOT be wearing a shirt with sleeves.

This actually reminds me of the ever-so-hopeful exploratory phone call Mr. Finger Candy placed to Disney event services when we were planning our wedding nearly 14 years ago.  He had asked me at one point shortly after we got engaged what my dream wedding looked like, and I gave him pretty well all of the details I laid out above (minus the twenty one pilots stuff, although then – and now – I’d also accept Green Day.  Mike Dirnt’s got nice arms for a bassist.)  So one day he rang them up and asked real casual-like how much it would cost to actually rent out the Mansion, or a portion thereof, for a private event.

Later on that evening we both nearly laughed ourselves into asthma attacks as he recounted the very pleasant and also very delusional Disney rep who quoted him a figure just north of 50K, including a whole host of guarantees we had to make regarding room, food and alcohol sales.  And that was for a two or three-hour event, at best, held in the dead of night after park close, and without any access to the actual ride itself.  I suppose if you had REAL money, you could close the entire ride down just for yourself (hell, close the entire park down just for yourself) but for us regular plebs “just” looking to shut down a small portion of a beloved ride in the most popular theme park in the world (!!) we were looking at a solid $75,000 investment.

So it might have taken 13 years to get there, but I’m feeling really quite positive about our decision last year, on our Halloween anniversary, to ride the Haunted Mansion 13 times in one day.  It’s the most fun we’ve ever had on our anniversary, a total bucket list item, and it didn’t cost us 75 grand!

Grim Grinning Ghosts

Finally, just to keep it wax-relevant, here’s a bit of the Melting Duck’s Foolish Mortal, a Haunted Mansion-inspired blend I picked up some weeks back.  It smells like peppermint-vanilla gum, herbal and a little bit tingly, and the shapes and colours are perfection!  Love everything about this ghostly lovely.

Foolish Mortals Collage

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Fall Fun Fridays: Dropping the Blogging Ball

Leaf Collage

Good morning, friends!  If you’ve followed along with my last couple of posts, you know I started off the week with a power outage, and am now ending it with a cold.  In between I sneezed a lot, and re-bought the entire contents of my refrigerator.  Every part of my body aches today, but my heart aches the most for Ottawa’s small business owners and restaurateurs – anyone who deals in perishable goods, really – who lost tens of thousands of dollars in spoiled stock over the weekend.  Food waste makes me feel punchy; that we were all, to various degrees, subjected to this little (or not so little) indecency is just compounding my poor, sickly mood.  It’s been a weird week.

Today’s Fall Fun Friday prompt – that’s the little blogging collective I’m part of – was to discuss the books, movies and television programs you’re anticipating this Fall.  I’m pretty well ride-or-die for only one show, and that’s The Good Place, which premiered last night (no spoilers, please, it’s sitting on Apple TV waiting for one sneeze-free hour!)  Aside from that, I’m looking forward to Brooklyn 9-9’s move to NBC (their Halloween episodes are wonderful, and build off the previous seasons’ episodes, if you’re into that kind of tightly knit continuity, which I am.)  I’ve got one more episode of Castle Rock to tackle, if I can just get over the “WHAT IN SWEET, FROSTING-COVERED HELL IS GOING ON HERE?” of it all (what’s going on is I could stare at Bill Skarsgard’s cut glass cheekbones and giant, wounded eyes all. day. long, and yes, I’m totally that pervy old lady; my favourite headline about the guy is from a Mashable article titled “It’s not Bill Skarsgard’s fault that he looks like hot Satan,” heh.)

On the cinema side of things, I’m quite pumped for Wreck-It Ralph 2; Vanellope Von Schweetz is a mouthy little heroine of mine.  Hmm, that’s about it for movies, or at least new movies.  If we’re talking the things I watch every Fall and Halloween, we could be here for a while (The Nightmare Before Christmas, of course, Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, a weird new obsession with Hocus Pocus because I can’t get away from it at Disney.)

As for books, get back to me when I’ve finished Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin, a dense (in terms of writing and subject matter) examination of the collapse and subsequent bailout of the American banking industry in 2008.  I won’t be enjoying anything until I have that craven lot of greedy ghouls out of my head.  It’s been an incredibly frustrating and eye-opening read.

My blogging friends Jay of The Scented Library and Julie of The Redolent Mermaid are sure to have some great recommendations of their own, so I’d implore – implore! – you to pop on over and check out their autumn picks.

And now I’m going back to bed with a box of tissues.

Fall Fun Fridays: Something’s Smelling Good

Fall Wax Dregs

My favourite scene in Ghostbusters is an early one in the library in which Dan Aykroyd’s Dr. Raymond Stantz furiously shushes his partners-in-busting, and then cries out, “Listen!” before excitedly asking, “Do you smell that?!”  It’s a weird (and very funny) sensory disconnect, and one I always think of when I’m trying to describe in words how something smells.  It’s a writing skill – make no mistake, it is a skill – I do not possess.

But my blogging friends Jay of The Scented Library and Julie of The Redolent Mermaid do possess that skill (come to me when you need 2,500 words on a cat’s toe tufts) which is why we’ve partnered up to bring you a few fun Fall posts, starting with our favourite Fall scents.  Both Jay and Julie have impeccable taste in home and personal fragrance, and a real flair for describing scents in rich, evocative terms without ever once invoking the word “cupcakey.”  So I would direct you over to their wonderful blogs to see what sort of festive Fall scents are sweetly perfuming their lives as we kick off what I hope will be a lovely autumn.

Jay at The Scented Library

Julie at The Redolent Mermaid

As for me, I’m down to the utter dregs of my once-grand wax collection (balsam, hot chocolate and kiwi are totally compatible scent notes, right?!) with virtually nothing remaining but for this small handful of scents I held back in the event of just such an autumnal blogging eventuality.  This tiny bounty actually represents a solid third of my remaining wax collection – I have been nothing this year but utterly dedicated to reining in my discretionary spending, and this is where my efforts have really come home to roost.  It’s kind of one of those good-for-life, bad-for-blogging sort of situations!

Ah, but all is not completely lost; I still have a few Fall favourites, and here they are:

Moving from left to right, we have a rather shabby looking Demented Duck from The Melting Duck in Heads Will Roll, a pumpkin cupcake and candy corn blend.  You would not know that this dingy little duck started out life in lush, vibrant shades of jungle green, tomato red and marigold yellow, would you?  Well, he did!  But thankfully, colourfastness (or a lack thereof) does not typically impact a wax melt’s scent, and this one still smells great – very much like carnival snacks, all unidentifiably yummy glazes and crunchy, sugary sweets.

Fresh Duck

Beside my sole remaining Demented Duck we have a Rosegirls Scoopable in Paul Bunyan’s French Toast.  At three years old, this half-finished jar of wax is the oldest in my collection and smells not one bit different than it did the very first day I cracked it open – like brown-sugar dusted sweets and wood shavings.  I swear it’s a nicer scent than I’m implying; it just doesn’t see a lot of action because no matter the scent, the Scoopable formulations give my husband terrible headaches and a frantic case of the sneezes.

To the right of the Scoopable we have my one remaining chunk of a custom Sniff My Tarts blend I like to call Miss Apple Fritter after Cars 3’s derby-racing school bus, Miss Fritter.  Also because I think this blend of Apple Cider Latte, Ice Cream Scoop Bread and Vanilla Waffle Cone – perhaps the best blend I have ever created – smells just like a warm, cakey apple fritter.  Sometimes the naming thing is really just that simple, folks. 😉

Sniff My Tarts Custom 2 - Apple Cider Latte Pie 1

Finally, dotted along the bottom we have the final five pieces of The Melting Duck’s All Hallow’s Eve, another sugar smackery blend of candy corn, pumpkin cupcakes, buttercream crunch cake and caramel corn.  These shapes are so stinkin’ cute, and I just adore The Melting Duck’s heavy-handed approach to mica – it always creates the most amazingly beautiful, shimmery pools of wax.  I’ll freely admit that that’s a weird thing to derive enjoyment from, but whatever floats your boat on the first Friday of the Fall, right?!  To an excellent autumn, and more fun blogging adventures. 🙂

Sugar Skulls

Wax Pool

SMT Scent Summit

SMT - Scent Summit Main Photo

Good morning, friends, and welcome, here in Ontario, to another swelteringly hot summer day.  We’re deep in the heat right now and just coming off a long weekend marred by inconsiderate, unpleasant weather, so everyone should be in a super great mood today!  So what better time to plan out a big scented wax order with Sniff My Tarts, who are opening for customs this coming Saturday?  I’d actually say it’s the perfect time for such an activity (anything that keeps you quiet, seated and three inches off the air conditioner, right?) especially with a couple of cool blogger friends and I guiding you through the madness.

I’ve posted about Sniff My Tarts before; I’ve placed two custom orders with them in the past, and shipping SNAFUs aside, I have always been very pleased with my products.  But jumping into the deep end of the custom wax world, creating scent blends when you’ve no idea what the individual notes even smell like in the first place, can be a confusing, daunting prospect.  Which is why a couple of blogging buddies and I have teamed up to share our custom ordering experiences, including our successful scent blends, in the hopes that you, too, can join in on the fun and mayhem this coming Saturday.

First, the pertinent details.  Sniff My Tarts will open for custom orders twice on Saturday, August 11th, once in the morning between 9 am and 10 am EST, and again in the evening between 7 pm and 8 pm EST.  Custom orders are taken on a first come, first served basis, and turnaround times for this popular ordering event (which SMT only holds twice a year) can be substantial – my last custom order took six months to finally make its way to my doorstep.  An order with SMT is very much a set-it-and-forget-it kind of proposition, as in make your choices, place your order, pay your money and then be utterly surprised and delighted when a gigantic box of wax that you had somehow forgotten about materializes on your doorstep in some months’ time.

If you go over to Sniff My Tart’s website and click on the “Custom” button on the left-hand side of the page, you’ll see the many formats that SMT is making available for customs – everything from multi-scent chunks, loaves and those incredible decorated sheet cakes, to chunky frosted sugar cookies, mini muffins and dainty macaroons.  Note that some forms are only available in individual scents (the macaroons), while others can accommodate blends of up to four different scents (pretty well everything else.)

After choosing the type of wax you’d like (I’m quite partial to those lovely decorated sheet cakes), begin to compose your scent blends.  You can find a comprehensive list (actually two lists) of SMT’s offered scents and their descriptions at the top of their homepage.  Keep in mind that the order in which you choose your scents does affect the outcome of your scent blends – the first scent you choose (sometimes called the overpour) will be the most dominant scent, with the second and third scents pulling up the rear.  So if you’re looking at a blend – say, this Mango Sorbet/Vanilla Waffle Cone/Coconut Cream Pie beaut I created some orders back – and thinking to yourself, “That sounds great, but I’m not sure I want that much Mango Sorbet,” move the scent notes around so the Mango Sorbet is in the third scent slot.  These are your custom creations – do with them what you will!

Birthday Sheet Cake

Having said all that, I’m also all too aware that creating your own delicious-smelling blends is a daunting, somehow needlessly complicated prospect, particularly if you’ve never done it before.  Which is precisely why I’ve composed this handy dandy list of some of my favourite SMT scents to help guide you through the seemingly endless blending possibilities.  Some of these creations are tried and true favourites – the Mango Sorbet blend, the Apple Cider Latte/Ice Cream Scoop Bread/Vanilla Waffle Cone blend, anything involving Marshmallow Noel and Candy – while others are hopeful shots in the dark.  What I do know for certain is if we weren’t talking about wax here, I’d want to eat every single thing on this list!

SMT - Sandra's Picks

If you don’t care for my BAKERY ALL THE THINGS approach to home fragrance, I’d invite you to peruse the infinitely more diversified scent lists of my blogging buddies Jay of The Scented Library and Julie of The Redolent Mermaid.  Over on both blogs you’ll find similar charts laying out Jay’s blends (fresh, airy, herbal blends shot through with fresh fruit and the barest bit of bakery) and Julie’s (natural, earthy, herbal scents heaped with mounts of mint and sweet Pink Sugar.)  Both have excellent, deeply varied tastes in fragrance, and they both like to experiment and blend outside the box (whereas seemingly the only requirement to me liking a scent blend is whether it could also possibly be mistaken for some sort of delicious dessert.)  And not for nothing, but they’re both pretty cool people with awesome blogs!  So please do check out Jay and Julie’s blogs for awesome additional scent blends, as well as their thoughts on the SMT custom dance.

As always, if you have any questions or would like a bit of guidance as you navigate the choppy waters of a custom wax sale, please do drop any one of us a comment and we’ll be happy to assist.  Who knows, we might even pick up some heretofore undiscovered scent blends.  Happy planning, friends!

On a Sunny Sunday Morn

Arty

The blogging world is such an odd, circuitous little animal sometimes.  Case in point?  This manicure was inspired by a post a blogger friend, Sketchuniverse, posted to his art blog highlighting the beautiful work of another artist and blogger from Lucy’s Coloring Book.  It’s an M.C. Escher staircase of blog post appreciation!

I’m not sure I did Lucy’s design a ton of justice (please do click on the link above to check out her colourful, whimsical work) but I do love the bright, cram-every-surface-with-something approach to art, and indeed nail art.  These are fun and summery, and just a little weird and wacky – the perfect beauty note on which to end this summer weekend.  Hope you’re having a nice one, friends. 🙂

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

Fall Fun Series II: Crazy for Cranberry

Cranberry Collage

Yeah, sometimes the ol’ Alliteration Generator just completely goes on the fritz and starts spitting out the laziest, most common words it can find.  Cranberry Craze?  Sounds like a flavour of Mountain Dew.  Crazed for Cranberry?  Sounds a bit like a mental health concern.  So basically there’s no unique, alliterative way of expressing my love of cranberry except to say I’m – sigh – crazy for it.

Except…am I?  I mean, I like Bath & Body Works’ Frosted Cranberry scent as much as the next person during the holidays, but otherwise, it’s not really my jam.  For that, I actually prefer lingonberry sauce or my mom’s spiced red currant jelly – excellent on all manner of roast beast. 😉 But cranberry scents?  Eh, I guess, for the Fall and Winter months, if you insist.  It’s not a scent I ever gravitate towards outside of the festive season, and even then, not so much.

Which is, I suppose, why I still possess this nearly two-year-old old bag of Cranberry Marmalade-scented Mini Melters from Rosegirls.  Also because – hoo doggy!- she’s STRONG.  Deeply spiced and a whole lot astringent, this cranberry is here to party.  Spice-haters and those with sensitive sniffers need not apply (this includes me; this wax makes my nose itch and tickle quite fiercely.)

But I thought I could turn this scent into something a little more palatable through the judicious use of more Mini Melters, and so that’s precisely what I did, whipping up two yummy blends – one bakery, one fruity-sweet – that let this nice, but bit-too-much, seasonal scent really shine (also, why all the ice and snowflake imagery in this, the Fall Fun Series?  Because late Fall in Canada actually means early Winter; we’ve already had a couple of didn’t-stick snowfalls and many, many mornings of frost.)

Cranberry Vanilla Bean Smoothie Collage

The addition of Rosegirls’ Vanilla Bean Noel and Marshmallow Smoothie scents proved to be the perfect bakery foil for Cranberry Marmalade’s dark spice notes, combining to create a creamy-dreamy, caramel-topped treat studded with tart, lightly spiced dried cranberries.  I basically made a scone without the scone part!  And it’s scrumptious; Vanilla Bean Noel is fast becoming a blending favourite.

Spiced Cran-Apple Punch Collage

As seasonal ciders and punches are my favourite things to see on a holiday party table, I thought it would be nice to create a spiced punch sort of scent.  Except actual punch (or Koolaid) scents and I are no bueno; they provoke headaches and sneezing fits in both my husband and I.  And so I both tempered AND sweetened-up the Cranberry Marmalade scent with a tiny touch of Cotton Candy Frosting, before adding a rather inspired dash of Apple Clove Butter.  I feared the addition of the Apple Clove Butter might push this scent blend into total spice overload, but my worries turned out to be unfounded – Apple Clove Butter is subtly, subtly spiced, with none of the sharpness of Cranberry Marmalade and all of the smoothness of actual apple butter.  It’s a lovely, juicy scent, and paired beautifully with the other two fragrances, creating something that really did smell like a gently wafting crock pot of some festively fruity concoction.  Yum!