Easter Weekend

Easter Header Photo

Loveliest of Easter weekends to you, friends.  Being not so religious, as well as hailing from the kind of small, WASP-y family that does things like vacations in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, my Easter weekends typically involve travel and a whole lot of outlet shopping.  Or they did when I was a kid; my mom and dad and I – “us is the flamily” – passing horse-drawn Amish buggies on the road, catching fireflies in the parking lot of the motel, buying ultra preppy oxblood penny loafers at the Bass outlet and scarfing endless plates of incredible fried chicken at the restaurant where the waitress didn’t even blink when I said I wanted mashed potatoes and gravy as all FOUR of my sides. Those were really great vacations. 🙂

But this Easter weekend I’m home, simply enjoying a few days off from what has so far been a rather busy April.  Quite a few social events and a new-ish exercise regimen that keeps me hoppin’ like a bunny.

Speaking of, here are a few items guaranteed to put a spring – and THE Spring – into the Easter Bunny’s bounce.  Remarkably, these are all things I pulled from around my apartment.  I didn’t have to go rummaging in seasonal storage for anything.  So when I was joking a month or so ago that it’s always Easter in my apartment, I guess I really wasn’t joking?!

My favourite speckled egg wreath makes another appearance here, alongside, on the left, some very cute little cracked egg votive candles, a neat stack of Peeps-scented wax tarts from Yankee Candle, an actual Peeps-shaped wax tart from The Bathing Garden in Keep Your Temper, and KB Shimmer’s Where My Peeps At, which is pure Easter in a bottle.

Easter Photo Left Side

Then over on the right we have a gigantic, three-part Chick ‘N’ Mix bath bomb from Lush (there’s a cute little bicarbonate bunny inside the huge chick), a speckled wax robin’s egg from The Bathing Garden in Blackberry Fudge, a clutch of pastel Reflections markers, a wee little ceramic cupcake perfect for hiding tiny treasures, another Peeps-shaped wax tart from The Bathing Garden in Looking Glass, two frosted sugar cookies from London, Ontario bakery A Couple of Squares and a large glass jar filled with a half dozen hand-painted cardboard eggs.  Hoppy Easter!

Easter Photo Right Side

Queen of Hearts

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So I always thought I was the Queen of Halloween.  I’ve always loved dressing up in costumes, decorating my home and hosting terrible parties (my bad Halloween parties – yes, parties, plural – are legendary in their awkwardness, although I can’t say I loved them.  Nobody did!)  I was married on October 31st, for pity’s sake! But this gorgeous, lush pile of beautiful Valentine’s Day goodies suggests that my affections may lie with the 14th of February, and all its confusing, commercial connotations (riddle me this: Why do we give hand OR Hallmark-written sentiments to loved ones in the name of Saint Valentine, who was blind?  Also a martyr and a political prisoner, but how unsexy is that?)

It also took me next to no time to pull together this collection of items, from cute wax tarts, to the absolutely stunning silk floral wreath my mom and dad gave me in a fit of post-Christmas spoilage.  It, along with all of the other silk flower arrangements dotted about my apartment, lead me to think I may have a heretofore unacknowledged romantic streak!  Also a lot of pink, red and white things, most glittery, and right at hand, no less, living amongst me as decorative items, not just seasonal decorative items.

And so let’s see what sorts of beautiful things I’m loving on in the days leading up to Valentine’s, shall we?  On the left we have, from left to right, a Sex Bomb bath ballistic from Lush, berry-shaped wax melts from Rosegirls in Strawberry Jam, a blossom-shaped wax melt from Vintage Chic Scents in Jackie O (a delicious, creamy vanilla), a pink piped heart from Rosegirls in Cotton Candy Frosting, a gorgeous pair of wax lips (the actual non-edible kind) from The Bathing Garden in The Sweetest Thing, a green-berry kind of scent, and my magnetic, kissing kitties salt and pepper shakers.  I purchased the salt and pepper shakers at the same place my parents bought this gorgeous wreath, a store in my city by the name of Marie Antoinette.  It might be the most beautiful shop I’ve ever been in in my life, packed to the rafters (literally; lush bouquets and other decorative baubles hang from every available surface) with a gorgeous collection of carefully curated items. When I shop there (about once a month, following a delicious donut breakfast with my mom at Suzy Q Donuts across the street) I’m hard pressed not to walk away with the entire store.

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And over on the right we have, from left to right, a Sparkling Red Slippers bubble bar from Lush, a Lover Lamp bath bomb from Lush (it smells like citrus cinnamon hearts), my favourite candle, Voluspa’s French Bourbon Vanille, nestled in a glittery stand from Bath & Body Works, a couple of loved-up iced sugar cookies from A Couple of Squares (shoutout to London, Ontario now), a neat stack of soap rosebuds, another faux floral arrangement, and finally, a wee ceramic gateau, hinged to conceal a small space for hiding tiny treasures, another darling find from Marie Antoinette.  I’m in love with it all!

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Making Christmas

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With one week to go until the big day and a gargantuan snowstorm due to blow through the area tomorrow, it’s really beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Living in a condo apartment, we don’t have a ton of available space in which to decorate (to say nothing of the storage situation, which is tight) but I always see to setting out my favourites, including my (nearly) all-food ornament tree, a 14-year-old artificial beast that has claimed my sanity on more than one occasion, and very nearly my life the year I loaded it with 2,100 mini twinkle lights, one of which broke and electrocuted me.  For a couple of hours afterwards I swore I could taste the colour purple.  Ah, holiday memories!

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This is also the second year I’m setting out the holiday menagerie, including Fritz the Mouse Doorstop, a Christmastime critter that has been making the rounds in my family for the past 25 years.  In this photo you can also see my first planned renovation project of 2017 – painting those stairs (also ripping out the bathroom, but one step – wah-waaaahhhhhh – at a time, yeah?)

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The diningroom chandelier, a gigantic wrought iron thing that would not look entirely out of place on Game of Thrones (maybe without the twee shades), gets hung with sparkly baubles.

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Speaking of sparkle in the diningroom, in the centre of the table I always place my snowflake tealight holders, this year up on one of my ubiquitous cake trays alongside a super glittery three-wick candle holder from Bath and Body Works.  Candle options vary, but at the moment I’m burning White Barn’s Peppermint Marshmallow, and it smells amazing!

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And finally, for the first time in too many years, I set up my Christmas Town, a much smaller affair than my Halloween Town that my husband and I have dubbed Electric Gay Discoville on account of all the swirling rainbow fiber optics, and the fact that the only female figurine in town had no head straight out of the box. No, seriously, look at this over on the right of the tree – this is how she came, factory direct, and she’s the only lady in town!  You know, we never did find her head…

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Yup, RGDVille is a total sausage fest, and that’s just how the residents (and I) like it!

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So there we have it, friends, some of the festive decorating that’s lighting up my life.  I hope however you’ve decorated your homes (or not; Festivus is totally a thing) it’s added tons of sparkle and joy to your holidays. 🙂

It’s Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas

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I’ve never been much of a seasonal melter when it comes to candles and other scented homestuffs; if I feel like scenting my home like a sunny citrus cupcake in the screaming depths of winter, then that’s precisely what I’m going to do!  And no one’s going to tell me I can’t melt peppermint in the middle of the summer (pro tip: peppermint scents are great for clearing up stuffed-up sinuses, as are any fragrances containing eucalyptus or rosemary or camphor.)

But this year, in an effort to melt through my not-inconsiderable wax collection, and perhaps make room for one or two *quite* large pending orders, I pulled all of the candles and wax from my stash that even remotely remind me of the holidays – lots of chocolates and peppermints and spicy cranberries to be melted this season.  And a few honest-to-goodness candles, too, which I don’t actually burn very often, but is there a season more suited to the gorgeous warm glow of gently flickering candlelight?  I suppose perhaps Arbor Day.

So how yummy will my home smell this Christmas?  Very!  Very yummy – and here’s some of the great scents I’ll be melting.

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Rosegirls’ pie slice in Eggnog Caramel Ice Cream.  I have a real love-hate relationship with eggnog, the beverage, in that it seems like something I should love (sweet n’ spicy, creamy and alcoholic?  Sounds like breakfast!) and yet I hate it with the fire of 1,000 suns (homemade or commercial, it all tastes like bubblegum to me.)  High hopes for this sweet and creamy confection.

ScentSationals clamshells in, top to bottom, Cranapple Poundcake, Perfectly Pine, Cashmere Cream (I normally shy away from linen-type scents, but this one smells like a lighter version of one of my very favourite fragrances, French Bourbon Vanille from Voluspa) and Spice it Up.

K’s Kreations’ tarts in Minty Fluff Cookies (cream) and Who Flakes (green), a cocoa, cookies and pine blend that should not work, but somehow does.  Wax is funny that way.  Then you get a blend that should be a slam dunk, and suddenly you’re wondering how it is that vanilla mocha could wind up smelling like beef jerky.  No, just me?

Most of a Rosegirls’ pie slice in Go Tell It on DK Mountain, a selection from last year’s Super Mario sampler.  This super strong scent is a blend of Pine, Sweater Weather (a cologne-y fragrance from Bath and Body Works) and Vanilla Bean Noel (another BBW fan favourite.)

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Rosegirls’ ice cream scoop in Marshmallow Spearmint (green) and Frosted Graham Crackers (cream.)

A small scent shot from Sassy Girl Aroma in Sparkling Berry Punch, a bright, fruity fragrance perfect for the New Years Eve countdown.

Rosegirls’ chunks in Peppermint Noel (cream) and Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes and Rice Krispie Treats (green.)

Bath and Body Works’ wax melts in, top to bottom, Spiced Apple Toddy, Vanilla Bean Noel and Frosted Cranberry.  Despite the fact that I really love all three of these fragrances, I wouldn’t recommend Bath and Body Works’ sectional wax melts.  The wax is incredibly soft and very difficult to handle, and all but the Frosted Cranberry shattered to bits when I popped them out of their round clamshells.  Look for the candle or body care variations on these fragrances if you really love them, because the wax melts are a messy miss.

One tiny little chunk of Rosegirls’ Have Yourself a Very Merry Mario Christmas, another holdover from last year’s holiday sampler.  This blend smells like Peppermint Mocha Cookies and Dunk My Donut, a sugared cinnamon donut scent.

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K’s Kreations’ tarts in Gram’s Maple Fluff, a custom blend I made for my husband inspired by the peanut butter, maple syrup and marshmallow fluff sandwiches his late grandmother used to make him as a kid.  Christmas is nothing if not a time for family, and invoking these kind of scent memories can be its own sweet holiday gift.

Rosegirls’ Mini Melters in Serendipity.  Serendipity is a super popular blend combining coconut, cherries, almond and confectioners sugar.  To me, it smells exactly like my late aunt’s outstanding Christmas fruitcake, a buttery slab of rich, dense poundcake studded with coconut, glace cherries, almonds and only-the-good dried fruit (mangoes, cranberries and pineapple; get the hell out of here, vile peel, you disgust me.)

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A trio of candles from Bath and Body Works (and a sparkly new stand in which to display them) in Twisted Peppermint, Peppermint Marshmallow and Hot Cocoa & Cream, which is the least objectionable chocolate fragrance I’ve ever smelled.  It’s very mild and creamy – none of that Tootsie Roll scent from this guy.  And such pretty labels and jars this year, too.

Group shot!

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Fall Fun Series: The End

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Well, here we are, friends, right at the finish line of the Fall Fun Series, the casual blogging collective I joined up with at the beginning of September.  For the final prompt, we’ve been tasked with wrapping up our experience, and not just the series, but the Fall as a whole.

And mine?  Pretty darn fantastic, actually, because for the first time in many years, I felt compelled to engage with my favourite season.  In years past, I’d look around somewhere about the end of October and realize that without intending to, I had missed it all – the changing leaves, the beautiful, crisp temperatures, the spooky movies and cider and farmers’ markets. The past few years I haven’t even bothered putting up my much-loved Halloween Town, such has been my seasonal malaise (although truly, that’s more a function of the fact that it’s a total pain in the arse to store, assemble and display.)

But that all changed this year (not the Halloween Town thing; it’s still a total pain in my arse.)  And if that’s because of the series, then I’m so glad it happened, because I had a wonderful Fall, engaged in some very enjoyable activities and made a bunch of cool new blogger friends.  So what were some of the neat discoveries I made this Fall, the fun things I took part in?

For one, I apparently really like arranging my wax on cake plates.  I can’t help it; the cute little shapes look like wee pastries!

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Then, for the first time in years, I pulled my beloved – but incredibly delicate – Nightmare Before Christmas musical snow globe off the shelf where it normally lives and cleaned it to within an inch of its life (a bit of maintenance I really need to attend to more often.)  The residents of Halloween Town now positively gleam!

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Speaking of, I put out MY Halloween Town for the first time in two or three years. Then at the end of the season, thanks to some lovely weather that made puttering around on my balcony not quite the windswept nightmare it normally is, I was able to very carefully box up my little lighted buildings and pack them snugly away for the winter where they won’t get dirty or damaged or worse.  Having the town out, blinking away creepily from the diningroom table, was such a pleasure this year, but I think I’m enjoying the sense of satisfaction that comes from an organizing job well done even more.

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In the midst of the Fall Fun Series I also decided to participate in the annual 31 Day Nail Art Challenge, which turned out…totally fine.  I was expecting just complete blogging lunacy, but things worked out rather well, another little feat of organization I’m quite proud of. These Beetlejuice nails were my favourites of the challenge – actually, one of my favourite manicures, period.

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Outside of my nail art activities, I got a little crafty with it this Fall, mixing together a super easy – and very popular – pumpkin spice sugar scrub, and then a decidedly less popular take on Disney’s LeFou’s Brew, a frozen apple juice beverage topped with marshmallow foam so it looks like a sudsy flagon of ale (it was disgusting, full stop.  Turns out cold marshmallow is a big culinary no-no!)

Then, inspired by the enthusiasm of my Floridian blogging friends who never get to experience the beauty of a cold climate Fall, I made an effort to really appreciate the ever-changing riot of colour going off around me every day, including a stunning blue sky day trip to the Gatineau Hills for a little drive with my parents.

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I also melted an absolute ton of wax.  Apple wax, pumpkin wax, apple-pumpkin wax…and these are just the blends I thought to take a photo of!  On the plus side, my apartment smells divine.

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Then in between the wax and the leaves and the undrinkable marshmallow beverages, I celebrated my 12th wedding anniversary, enjoyed a delicious seasonal bath and spent a fantastic morning out in the country with my husband visiting the little town I grew up in. It was a very good day.

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And a very good challenge!  If the Fall Fun Series could be called a challenge, which in some respects, it very much was.  Abiding by a set blogging schedule is actually quite challenging, a delicate balancing act between generating content (also known as “living life”) and then writing about it.  It’s not for everybody, but I had a great time, and I’m thankful for the little motivational kick in the pants the series gave me to get out there and enjoy my city during my very favourite time of the year.  To next year’s series (except next time, maybe let’s try winter.  If I smell another apple or pumpkin-scented wax product, I’m gonna keel over!)

Sandra’s Fabrics

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Sod that old Jo-Ann; if a fabric like this one actually exists – it does, and it will set you back approximately $80 a yard, and you will have to treat it with the reverence and maintenance schedule of, say, baby blonde highlights on a brunette – I’m taking all the credit for it.

Want to hear something kind of funny?  I love perusing fabric sample books.  Have since I was a kid and my mom used to take me downtown to the Laura Ashley boutique for the every-two-years Redecorating of the Room (holla, pink cabbage roses!)  When I was 11 we also ventured into some of the sketchier areas of 1988 New York City to hit up the Fabric District, where you can purchase more luxury bedspreads and linens than your arms can comfortably carry (it was a heck of a subway ride back to the hotel.)  Then a few years ago my mom and I spent five hours (that’s not an exaggeration; we were there for five hours) in a gigantic fabric store in downtown Toronto, pulling swatches, co-ordinating prints, fingering the rows of ribbon.  I mean, it IS rather porny sounding, when you really get down to it!

And for years now I’ve had my eye on this gorgeous Robert Allen dragonfly print in a sumptuous raspberry red silk that I will never own because I have a cat that I love more than anything, even more than designer fabrics, and what SHE loves more than anything is getting sick on designer fabrics.  So best to keep beautiful temptation out of harm’s way, and confine those sorts of little luxuries to my nails, hmm?

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Fall Fun Series: Light My Fire

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I’m combining this week’s two Fall Fun Series prompts – Monday’s to highlight a new or little known vendor and today’s to talk about good, old fashioned candles – into one with this post featuring my favourite wicked wonder, Volupsa’s French Bourbon Vanille.  Made with crushed, distilled vanilla beans, this gorgeous fragrance satisfies the side of me that prefers her scents to be a little less cotton candy cupcake and a lot more gourmand.  If you’ve ever used vanilla bean paste in baking, you’re familiar with the heady, floral, slightly boozy scent of pure vanilla – it’s one of life’s most beautiful fragrances, and this candle captures it perfectly. French Bourbon Vanille is also one of those universal fragrances that bridges seasons – I think this scent would be just as pretty in the spring, with its light floral undertones, as it would be in the fall and winter, with its rich, more complex vanilla notes.

Voluspa, being on the higher end of both the price and availability spectrums, is not a name I ever see being bandied about the wax world.  Available via a number of independent perfumeries, but for a Canadian like me, primarily through the Chapters/Indigo chain of bookstores, Voluspa’s products – lidded glass candles, tiny, travel-size tins, reed diffusers and more – are not easy to come by, nor are they inexpensive.  This two-wick glass jar candle, an annual Christmas gift from my parents, retails for $38 Canadian.

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Fortunately, French Bourbon Vanille has the pedigree befitting a $38 candle – 60 hours of burn time, silky smooth, clean-burning coconut wax, cotton wicks and a gorgeous glass container with an embossed lid that, if you’re very careful in cleaning, you can reuse as a beautiful box for tiny treasures.  This candle feels like a Very Special Item, and I look forward to receiving one every year (my parents always mock-protest the price, but I can tell they’re secretly kind of thrilled in a mildly illicit way to be buying a $40 candle!)

If this gorgeous French Bourbon Vanille candle sounds like something you might be interested in, you can peruse it and other Voluspa products at Indigo.com, Canadian home to all sorts of fun ways to part with your money, and of course, through Voluspa itself.

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