Jolly Hollies

Holly Jolly

I mentioned some posts back that I’ve really been bitten by the Christmas bug this year.  And I have to say, I far prefer this kind of bug bite to the bah humbug variety that has regrettably plagued my Christmases for many years running.  I have a very small family, and we’re close, but our holiday celebrations are always deeply WASP-y affairs – tasteful decorations, sumptuous feast, many viewings of Love, Actually and Home Alone in which we yell profanities at Alan Rickman and count the number of felonies committed by Kevin McAllister, respectively.  And I really love those Christmases, tiny and weird though they may be (particularly the brunch and dinner parts; my mom is an ah-maze-ing cook) but they’ve become a bit predictable, and I think we’re all ready for a change.

So this year my husband and I are trying something new.  As such, I’ve really had to be on the ball with my holiday preparations, and my enjoyment of the season is truly all the better for it.  The tree is up!  And I didn’t electrocute myself this year, not even once.  My cards are written and ready to be mailed out, most of my gifts are purchased and Babes in Toyland has been watched.  And then just this past weekend my parents and I enjoyed a lovely and festive night out touring beautiful old homes done up for the holidays.  It’s been nice; I like actually engaging with the season instead of whining about how much I have to do until suddenly it’s Boxing Day and I realize I’ve done absolutely nothing.

And that goes for my nails as well – there’s always a mad rush in the final 10 days of the year to complete all those festive manicures I neglected through the other 21 days of December.  But not this year!  I’m on it, and digging on this multi-chromatic holly berry design.  Very merry.

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Metallic Roses

Metallic Roses Again

New goal in life: Live long enough for it to be acceptable as an old woman to run around in an embroidered turquoise leisure suit bearing THIS print!

I assure you I did not intend for these nails to turn out quite this way, but this manicure is so terrifically 1970s. I almost feel like my paternal grandmother had a belted polyester leisure suit (with slightly flared pants) featuring an embroidered rose print.  That must be where I got the just-accidentally-fell-into-it inspiration for these nails.  Also, not for nothing, but if that’s true, nice one, Grandma – it’s a whole lot of look, and I totally love it!

Metallic Roses

 

 

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

Party Hearty

Mardis Gras Bottle

So it struck me today that on the cusp of my *cough*(inaudible)*cough* birthday, I’m about 1,000 times lamer than my 70-year-old parents, who are at this very moment partying at Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  That’s WAY advanced party studies right there – they may as well be in Ibiza!  I’m chuckling at the imagery, but two of us are nibbling on powder-dusted beignets and roulez-ing le bon temps this evening and one of us is reheating last night’s broccoli mac and cheese and watching the final episode of Crazyhead, so who’s winning at life now?  (Possibly me; Crazyhead is wicked awesome.)

At least I’ll always have you, nails, this time a simple, but glittery, mani in some very Mardi Gras shades, Whimsical Ideas by Pam’s There’s No Place Like Home, a green and gold glitter topper, over A England’s purple Crown of Thistles.

Mardis Gras Fingers

Fall Fun Series: Waxing on About Pumpkins

pumpkin-wax-collage

So I’ve gone totally off script on the Fall Fun Series, writing several posts about one theme (this is my second about pumpkins, for instance) or combining multiple posts into one (that would also be this post, as you’ll see at the end.)  Oh yeah, I’m a blogging rebel!  Or I apparently have a lot to say on the subject of pumpkins?  One or the other.

Let’s start with the pumpkin wax, shall we?  So as it would turn out, pumpkin scents, across multiple vendors, are simply not my jam; I find most of them to be quite sour and a bit headache-inducing.  Other fragrance-philes have probably experienced this, but there’s an odd little thing that happens with home fragrance – particularly complicated, multi-layered bakery blends – where you conflate what sounds yummy to the tummy with what might actually be pleasing to the nose.  So a pumpkin cream cheese smoothie may sound pretty delicious as a snack, but in scent reality, it’s a little less scrumptious.  So that’s how I wound up with a number of pumpkin-based scents that I’m not extraordinarily fond of, although I’ve no doubt there are other people out there for whom pumpkin scents are the axis on which the scent world turns.  Told you – odd!

And so for those folks, here are some of the pumpkin scents I melted this week that I enjoyed, but which unfortunately didn’t set my world on fire (wah-waaaaahhhh.)

The top left-hand photo in the header collage is a scent I melted through rather quickly this year, Rosegirls’ Pumpkin Blueberry Cobbler.  I melted this blend for the Fall bakery prompt some weeks back, and I really like it, as that sour pumpkin note I object to is well buried under sweet, delicious blueberries.

pumpkin-blueberry-cobbler

Going clockwise, the second scent is another Rosegirls blend in Pumpkin Pecan Waffles and Butterbrickle. Butterbrickle, for the blissfully unaware, is a kind of butterscotchy scent – I always think of peanut brittle without the nuts.  To my nose, it has a sort of cooked note to it that I’m not hugely fond of; combined with Pumpkin Pecan Waffles, a ubiquitous Fall scent from Bath and Body Works that I’m also not super keen on, this one was a bit of a dud.  Pretty, though, when melted – it looks a bit like orange pekoe tea.

butterbrickle

Continuing on clockwise, the next scent is another blueberry-pumpkin blend from Rosegirls, this time Pumpkin Blueberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes.  This one has grown on me considerably in the last little while, although that sour pumpkin note, in combination with an occasionally sour-smelling cream cheese note, is just far too powerful a blend-mate for the mild blueberry to overcome.  Bit of a bummer, as I purchased an entire bag based on the very delicious-sounding description (see above re: confusing what sounds delicious and what sounds like it will smell delicious.)

cupcake

Finally, we have the Rosegirls blend I mentioned earlier, Pumpkin Cream Cheese Smoothie.  I had the same problem with this wax as I did the Pumpkin Blueberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes, which is not too surprising, as they have a nearly identical scent profile, minus the saving graces of the blueberry.  I turned this one off rather quickly; not my favourite.

cream-cheese

Finally-finally, to satisfy the Fall-in-nature portion of the Fall Fun Series, here is a photo of my parents standing in front of the stunningly gorgeous Gatineau Hills.

gatineau-hills-mom-and-dad

I can see the Hills from my balconies all the time, but the three of us took a bit of a trip up that way the other day to visit the small family cemetery where my grandparents are buried.  We do this a couple of times a year – tidy up their graves, tend the flowers we’ve planted around their stones, get kind of maudlin and weepy.  It’s all very Irish.  But first, the leaves!  And just THE most perfect blue-skied Fall day.

gatineau-hills-1

 

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley

On/off topic here, but when I was a kid, there was a restaurant in my city called The Lily of the Valley.  My grandmother on my dad’s side LOVED to go there – it was very old fashioned and catered perfectly to her preferred dining experience of grilled scallops, two double Manhattans and five extra long Benson and Hedges.  All of the wait staff at The Lily of the Valley were ladies over the age of 65, an impressive push-back against the age discrimination that ran (and continues to run) rampant in the industry.

Sounds amazing, were it not for the fact that those women were the world’s scariest, ball-bustingly nasty jerks to ever sling a plate of roast chicken.  Sweet merciful lord, they were some stone cold bitches, man.  I really hated eating there, because there wasn’t a single server who could contain her loathing for anyone under the age of 60 (and I was a super well behaved kid in restaurants; if I was out with a bunch of adults – that happens all the time when you’re an only child – I’d bring a book for on-the-go entertainment, plus I had a pretty adventurous palette.)  They didn’t even like my parents!

I tried not to look at it as some kind of karmic justice when The Lily of the Valley burnt to the ground some years ago, mostly because those nasty old servers are probably long gone (in the very finalest sense of the word.)  Ah, but the locals say if you listen carefully, you can still hear their disdainful snipes and jeers, as the smoky tang of mentholated extra longs linger in the still night air.  Actually, I’m pretty sure there’s a condo tower where The Lily once stood.  Of course – it’s all condos now.

Hybrid Theory

Rosy Peony

This manicure started out life as a tribute to the fabulously frilly and floppy peony, my grandfather’s favourite flower, but somewhere along the line it morphed into your standard rose design.  But hey, look, I discovered a new varietal – the Rosy Peony!  Let’s hope these ones are slightly less ant-infested than traditional peonies, though.