DIY Jack and Sally

Jack and Sally Bottle Collage

I thought rather suddenly to myself late last night, “I think I’ll make some nail polish.” That’s a thing people do, right, just randomly decide to make their own nail polish at 11 p.m. on a Friday?  I hope so, because that’s certainly what *I* was doing at that late hour, and it seemed pretty normal to me!

And here are the results of my midnight hour machinations, two Nightmare Before Christmas-inspired glitter bombs in the colours of skeleton and ragdoll paramours Jack and Sally.

Of the two, Sally is the far more successful polish in terms of stability and ease of application – these photos show two brushed/dabbed-on coats, and I didn’t have to fish about for the larger heart-shaped glitters one bit. Plus I think the glitter mix in Sally – inspired by her patchwork dress, asphyxiated-looking countenance and poker straight red hair – is just perfection, an unusual combination of bronze, turquoise, rose, purple, red and black hexes dotted with tiny satin hearts.  I layered this lovely new creation here over Enchanted Polish’s mystery lacquer for July 2015, a dusty grey-blue holo that looks like Sally’s…skin?  Does she have skin or fabric?  Hmm, best not linger on that question too long!

Sally Fingers 1

And then there was the vernis terrible, Jack, an infuriatingly unsuccessful venture into the less-is-more approach to do-it-yourself nail polish.  I think the inspiration for this guy is pretty clear – Jack’s black and white pinstripes, with a smattering of the Christmas bric-a-brac whose secrets Jack longs to crack.  You’d just never know that hidden amid the depths of that simple black and white glitter polish is actually quite a lot of bric-a-brac – glittery snowflakes, colourful baubles, candy canes, snowmen and even a few good sized Christmas trees.  The lightweight black and white glitter – made up of a mix of two identically-sized satin matte glitters – simultaneously covers up AND provides little to no support for the larger shapes, which sank to the bottom resolutely, and there they be.  I had to embark on a major fishing expedition to snag these very few glitters.  There was also far, far too much base in this polish – it rained down onto my work area in huge, glittery blobs, even after I had repeatedly wiped off the brush on the rim of the bottle. Jack is languishing at the bottom of my garbage can right now, so annoyed was I with his insolence. 😉  Here I layered Jack over another Enchanted mystery lacquer, this time May 2017, a dark and stormy blue that looks like the skies above both Christmas and Halloween Towns.

Jack Fingers 1

Kiss Me, I’m Delicious!

Lime Sugar Scrub Collage

Also Irish (or part Irish on my mom’s side) and totally kissable, thanks to this seasonally-hued lime sugar lip scrub I whipped up today.  It’s so criminally easy, it feels ridiculous even including a recipe, but a little instruction is always nice.  And so here’s how to make your own delicious, four-ingredient lip scrub this St. Patrick’s Day, or any other day of the week.

Step 1: Round up your ingredients – white granulated sugar, coconut oil, lime juice and food colouring.

Step 2: Gather any utensils you need for mixing – a small bowl, a silicone spatula and a couple of measuring spoons.

Step 3: Add the ingredients to the bowl in the following proportions and stir well:

7 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
One (and I do mean one; otherwise, you’ll wind up with neon green lips) drop of lime green food colouring.

(A couple of teaspoons of finely grated lime zest would be a lovely, zingy addition to this scrub that wouldn’t affect the consistency one bit; I would have added some had I any!)

Step 4: Spoon into a small plastic container with a lid (or small lidded jars if you’re giving them away, as I mostly am) and enjoy!

Lime Sugar Scrub Pic

Ah, but how does one enjoy?  Simply swipe the scrub onto your mug, buff it about for a bit and then wipe (or wash) it off, before sealing in all that lovely moisture with your favourite lip balm.  And if you accidentally ingest it?  So what?  It’s completely edible, and really rather delicious (although I wouldn’t sit down to a bowl of the stuff, you know?)

So there you have it, super kissable lips just in time for getting your Irish smooch on this St. Patrick’s Day.

Fall Fun Series: Thanksgiving Ham

ham-jubilee

Today’s prompt in the Fall Fun Series calls for the participants to share their Thanksgiving plans.  But I have a triple whammy going against my particular Thanksgiving plans in that 1) I’m Canadian, so my Thanksgiving is long since past, 2) I’m Canadian, so my Thanksgivings are more functional than traditional and 3) I’m Canadian, so this morning I woke up to THIS:

stupid-snow

Which means that Fall is now naught but a memory, and we are firmly in the winter of our discontent (oh no, run!)

But to my American blogger friends, I wish you a wonderful week in the lead-up to the big day, and Thanksgivings free of family drama, travel woes and salmonella.

Which is actually NEVER an issue when you limit your Thanksgiving meats to your manicures!  And no, I’m not going the Full Gaga on you here – just making a super awkward transition to talking about this polish, Hawaiian Ham, a homemade creation I widgeted together years ago specifically with those unidentifiable Thanksgiving (or Christmas, or Easter) ham casseroles in mind.  You know the casserole I’m talking about – the one your father’s great-great aunt has been making since the late 1950s, an abomination of a Good Housekeeping throwback containing ham, pineapple, maraschino cherries and three kinds of processed cheese?  Still, it’s gotta beat Aunt Bethany’s lime-and-cat food Jello mold!

And so on this Thanksgiving, American friends, this Ham (manicure) is for you.  I hope you have wonderful holidays, all.

ham-jubilee-bottle

Fall Fun Series: Pumpkin Spice Sugar Scrub

good-pumpkin-spice-collage

Sugar scrubs are typically the secret weapon behind any super soft, sweetly scented hands and feet, but the actual secret behind the secret weapon is that they’re ridiculously easy and inexpensive to make at home, using nothing more than completely edible ingredients mixed together and stuffed into a sealed container.  It really doesn’t get any easier than that, with the nice little bonus being total customization; the basic proportions of the sugar “recipe” stay the same, while allowing you lots of wiggle room to scent your sweet concoction exactly as you wish. Heck, you can even tinker with the proportions of the sugar/oil recipe should you prefer a grainier scrub to a more oily one.  This is one very forgiving DIY beauty product, so feel free to play around!

I typically make my sugar scrubs with white, fine grain sugar, but I thought brown sugar, with its extra hit of rich molasses, would make a nice – and definitely more traditional – base for the pumpkin pie spices.   So would you like to make some of your own?  Here’s how!

In a large mixing bowl, mix together 2 cups of brown sugar, 1/2 a cup of white sugar1 teaspoon of cinnamon (or to personal taste, should you prefer your scrub spi-cay), 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and 1/2 a teaspoon of nutmeg.  Add 1/3 a cup of coconut oil and mix well.  You want the finished product to look like damp sand.  And that’s seriously all there is to it!

pumpkin-spice-collage

Lidded plastic containers are the best method for storing your DIY sugar scrubs, because you can lug them into the shower or the bath with you without the fear of too much water damage, but should you be unable to stop yourself from crafting together a cute little Halloween-hued label and stuffing the whole works into a mostly decorative rubber-mouthed glass container, well, who am I to stop you (or myself)? 🙂

pumpkin-spice-sugar-scrub

With all of the other participants in the Fall Fun Series similarly up to their (now well-buffed) elbows in craft projects, there’s lots of that fun DIY spirit kicking around the collective today.  Should you wish to check out the projects that are either delighting them or driving them absolutely mad (that’s sort of the nature of homemade craft goods, though, right?) you can find a list of their blogs below.

Amanda at Thrifty Polished
Ashley at The Bohemian Sassenach
Hayley at Polished At Heart
Jessica at The Meltdown Blog
Julie at The Redolent Mermaid
Lauren at LoloLovesScents
Liz at Furianne
Stephanie at Imperfectly Painted
Sunnee at Our Sunny Life

Fall Fun Series: Le Fou’s Brew

lefous-brew-collage

We’ll call this an apple-y addendum to yesterday’s post, which focused on my delicious – but really so very non-edible – scented wax offerings.  One of the Mini Melter blending recipes I featured was inspired by a frozen apple beverage served at Disney’s Magic Kingdom by the name of Le Fou’s Brew.  Served exclusively at Gaston’s Tavern in the somewhat recently revamped Fantasyland, Le Fou’s Brew is a frozen apple and mango slushie topped with toasted marshmallow cream.  Served in a giant (collectible, always collectible) plastic stein, the drink mimics a tall, sudsy flagon of ale (flanked by many antlers and pelts, because you-know-who likes to use antlers in all of his DE-CO-RATING!)

lefauxs

That blend smelled so delicious – always does; that’s how I melted through an entire bag of Mango Sorbet Mini Melters in about two months – I thought I’d try my hand at actually making my own Le Fou’s Brew, except I’m calling my DIY concoction Le Faux‘s Brew!

Which is just as well, because this drink is kind of terrible!  I mean, I absolutely could have gone online and taken a gander at any one of the 8,000 existing recipes for homemade Brews, but I thought it would be more fun to throw total caution to the wind and create my own.  Which was kind of a mistake!

Actually, I’m sort of under-selling this.  The problem with this beverage was not the juice component, which I created by blending one cup of apple juice with half a cup of mango nectar and a whole bunch of ice.  The juice blend was actually quite yummy, and not very sweet (although t’were there to be a next time, I’d toss some frozen mango chunks into the blender and forgo the nectar entirely, which had an odd floral note to it.)

drank

The problem was the marshmallow “head” on the beer, which looked fantastic, but tasted – and behaved – like a wad of plastic marshmallow floating on a cold beverage (the topping on my husband’s sort of shot out on first sip and hit him in the face, and I laughed because I’m kind of a jerk like that!)

So not my finest culinary effort.  Also not my worst (oh, not by a long shot!)  I’d recommend the apple-mango part of the equation, but that’ll be a hard pass on the marshmallow fluff (although I’d welcome any suggestions as to how to make that part more palatable/manageable; what say you all?  How do we improve the Brew?)

Blue Belle

Holo Blues Collage

Hey, I made this polish!  Okay, obviously not Mega, the silver ILNP holo. That lacquer is a thing of beauty, and worth every cent of its rather elevated price tag.  But the blue glitter polish?  That’s mine!

One of only a small handful of personal use polishes I made nearly three years ago now, its name is I Blue It, and I was super pleased to see that even after all this time, and despite its DIY DNA, it’s still a pretty awesome lacquer.  A chunky glitter, yes, so a pain in the butt to remove, just like all glitter polishes.  Ain’t nuffin to be done about that.  But I Blue It has maintained its not-too-thick, not-too-thin consistency, and continues to apply smoothly and evenly.  I Blue It’s colour has also remained consistent over the years, the slightly dusky blue jelly base untouched by colour bleed from its white and black glitters. All the props to solvent resistant glitter for that – you can’t make a homemade polish without it.

Holo Blues Bottle Again

And all the props to me for this cute manicure that’s all tied up with a couple of turquoise bows.  I hadn’t planned on doing a second manicure yesterday, but with the sun out in its full, holo-blazing glory and these two polishes next up on deck, how could I not? 🙂

Holo Blues Fingers 1

One Big Blended Family

All In Bottle Shot

To my continued delight, I recently received a most generous press pack of blendable fragrances from Demeter Fragrance Library to test, muck about with and report back on. Like the Mr. Bubble campaign I took part in last September, this arrangement was brokered by Canadian Beauty Bloggers, a helpful online resource for Canadian bloggers, vloggers, Tweeters and ‘Grammers alike.  Pleased with the response to the one-bottle Mr. Bubble campaign, Demeter are now upping the ante a bit, providing bloggers with a range of complimentary, singular scents to mix and match and blend and otherwise play amateur parfumier with. I’ve long been a fan of Demeter’s spunky approach to fragrance (one of the blending scents is a cologne I already own) so this felt like a fun and natural fit.  There’s lots of delicious-smelling, DIY enjoyment to be had from these all-in-one blending kits, so let’s get into it!

Participants were asked to choose one of three different scent duos (jasmine/lavender, clean skin/sunshine or grass/dirt) to blend with a chosen base note trio (Hawaiian vanilla, angel food and gingerbread.)  I suspected that my choice, jasmine/lavender, was going to be a popular one, and indeed, I see there’s already a preponderance of posts favouring the floral duo.

Duo Collage

All the same, the point of this exercise is to build a unique custom scent, and with five lovely fragrances in the mix, as well as all the necessary blending accoutrements, Demeter has made it easy to do just that, enabling you to create a fragrance that, similarities in scent notes notwithstanding, is your unique creation and yours alone.  So we might all be dabbling in the night blooming lavender pound cake pool here, but everyone’s creative interpretation is going to be just a little bit different from their neighbour’s, and delightfully so.

Before I get into the actual fragrance creation, let’s take a look at the blending kits themselves.  For this campaign, Demeter chose the all-vanilla trio as its base note kit, although it’s also offered in scents ranging from smoky and woodsy to clean and floral. True to their name, these heavier scents form the foundation for your fragrance on top of which you layer one or both of the lighter scents from your chosen duo (which is also offered in a wealth of sweetly scented pairings.)  Having said all that, there’s no rule that stipulates that you must combine them in such a fashion.  In fact, the whole point is that there are no rules!  You can mix these fragrances (the duo and trio, both) exactly as you see fit, although I might warn against the all-in approach to fragrance creation – “jasmine gingerbread sunshine dirt cake” is a heck of a mouthful, and I can’t imagine it would smell that wonderful either.

Demeter Collage

Between the two kits, there are five one ounce fragrances, a funnel, four plastic droppers, a small stack of scent strips and an empty one ounce bottle in which to capture your perfect – and perfected – scent.  Of course, you could always go completely low tech and just fire two scents into the air – sideways! – and then glide through the mist like you’re Antonio Banderas in a beauty-obsessed version of Desperado, but where’s the fun in that (actually, that sounds like A LOT of fun!)  The set-up is simple and nicely intuitive – use the droppers to dab various scent combinations onto the disposable strips until you create THE perfect blend, at which point you use the empty bottle and funnel to create a lot of that perfect blend.  Easy!

But a beautifully blended fragrance truly is the sum of its individual parts, and so before we get to my creation, let’s first take a look at those singular fragrances.  Getting the negative out of the way first, I am no fan of jasmine, nor have I ever been.  I concede that it’s therefore an odd choice of blending fragrance on my part, although I was really after the lavender side of the duo, with jasmine simply coming along for the ride. Scent preference is a deeply personal thing, so I won’t fault you if you just adore jasmine, but to me, it smells simultaneously like hippie grandmas and an ex-boyfriend’s nauseatingly bracing cologne, neither of which I need to be reminded of on a day to day basis.  It does make for some rather beautiful nail art, though, no? Actually, as you’ll see, they kind of all did.

jasmine bottle

The other half of the scent duo is a gorgeous herbal lavender.  Lavenders can be quite tricky, as they often drift into “grannie’s unmentionables drawer” territory (again with the grandmas!) but this one is fresh and green and sweet, and not the least bit powdery or cloying.  Really lovely.

Lavender Bottle

Moving over to the base trio, angel food is the Demeter scent I already own (having a duplicate is stupendous, as the bottle I bought 15 YEARS AGO is just now starting to show its age.)  Unlike its diabetic-friendly namesake dessert, this fragrance is rich and sugary and buttery.  Immensely edible (but please don’t eat it.)

Angel Food Cake Bottle

If you’re looking for something a little less bakery-oriented, Hawaiian vanilla is a fresh and floral vanilla that’s evocative of the orchid plant that gives it life.  Mild and sweet, this vanilla will play nicely with other fresh florals and watery, clean scents.

Hibiscus Bottle

Finally, we have the fragrance I was the most excited to play with, gingerbread.  Spice-phobic folks need not fear this gingerbread, which is mild, sweet and dry, lacking that irksome and irritating fresh spice note that overwhelms most ginger-based scents.  Very nice.

Gingerbread Bottle

So lovely individual scents, all (save and except the jasmine) but what sort of fabulous creations did I wrest from combining them?  Well, I suppose it all rests on your definition of “fabulous,” but I don’t think there’s a dud in the bunch.  The “softness” of the scents aids in successful blending – there’s no sharp, unduly alcoholic tones to the fragrances, and they blend beautifully in nearly any proportion.  Just about as close to Demeter’s promised “foolproof” as possible!

Before settling on one favoured fragrance (the big reveal of which I’m saving for the end of this massive missive) I tried my hand at:

1. Lavender Vanilla Cake.  This blend of sweet lavender and angel food is the very definition of a gourmand scent, with a light herbal freshness to cut the all the sugary and buttery.  Yuh-um.

2. The Ex-Grannies.  That sounds like a punk band.  Or the bank robbers in a low budget remake of Point Break (so pretty much the recent remake of Point Break.) This combination of jasmine and Hawaiian vanilla represents my one and only attempt to blend with jasmine, and it failed miserably.  Best to leave this one to the grandmas and my ex-boyfriend’s gag-worthy cologne.  You can’t say I didn’t try.

3. Hawaiian Lavender.  I’m pretty sure there is no such thing, but work with me here!  It’s all about being creative, and that includes horticulture.  This blend of lavender and the most floral of the three vanillas combines beautifully, creating a soft, gentle fragrance the most in keeping with traditional floral perfumes.

4. Butter Your (Ginger)Bread.  Sweet and lightly spiced gingerbread gets a tender, almost buttery kick from delectable angel food.  Another beautiful bakery.

The last scent I blended was also my favourite, and the one I chose to bottle, a uniquely sweet and spicy combination of gingerbread and lavender I call “Gingy’s Hot Date.” Studies have shown that when it comes to stirrings of lustful feelings in people bearing the Y chromosome, lavender and spicy scents like ginger get the job done. So why not combine them into one monster aphrodisiac of a scent that will work its magic on men and gingerbread men alike?  Heck, gingerladies, too – let’s not leave them out of the sweetly scented fun.  This is a delectable, unexpectedly yummy-smelling fragrance that bridges the gap between earthy spices and rich gourmands, and I love it.

Gingy's Hot Date Bottle

All told, this was a fun do-it-yourself beauty project – like a science experiment, but less explode-y – and a well-run blogging campaign by Demeter.  A great experience all around, at the end of which you’re left with a beautifully scented reminder (or reminders) of your creativity.  Sweet!  And kind of spicy… 😉