Well, That Was a Year

2018 Collage

If you follow this blog with any sort of regularity (and thank you for that, by the way, that’s very kind of you!) you know my 2018 is ending on a real down note.  At the beginning of the month we rather unexpectedly had to have our absolutely adored kitty, Weegie, put down.  The fallout from that was that Mr. Finger Candy and I just sort of drifted through the Christmas season, present in body, but nearly totally absent in soul.  For someone who never shuts up, I’ve had a hard time articulating why this particular death has hit me so hard.  I’ve lost quite a few beloved pets over my lifetime, and even more adored people, and yet this is the one that’s broken me.  I suppose this is what some well-meaning dumbass would optimistically term a formative event, and I’d begrudgingly have to agree – I certainly don’t feel like the same person I was at the beginning of the month, a change not necessarily for the positive.

But there’s no better time than the start of a new year to hit the reset button, and I’m looking forward to trying, trying again in 2019.  Because even without the heartbreaking events of the last month, 2018 was a wild roller coaster of big ups and bigger downs.  Sometimes actual roller coasters, even!  It just didn’t feel like the most cohesive of years, and I flubbed quite a few personal goals.

But supposedly we learn from our mistakes and all that good stuff, so I thought it might be helpful to look back over the hills and valleys of 2018 and take note of the things that worked, the things that didn’t, and hopefully find a path through 2019 that’s a lot less fraught with grief than 2018’s.  To a better year for all of us.

The Good

I started off the year on a positive note, promising myself that I’d limit my wax and beauty purchases to a small handful of orders from favourite vendors.  My discretionary spending was quite out of control, and my scented wax stores were fit to bursting.  So I put myself on a casual low buy, which though no real direction on my part morphed into a regimented no buy; there were a few months there where our financial behaviour could best be deemed as stupidly tightfisted.  But there just didn’t seem to be anything I wanted to buy, and besides, saving money felt better than buying stuff, which was kind of the point of reining in my spending in the first place, no?  Anyhow, this one was a proper New Years resolution, the kind you make with every intention of breaking, but somehow, I held fast.  Now, with three lovely, highly anticipated orders in my hot little hands (and hot little warmers) I’m set for another year of waiting and watching and planning and melting. 🙂

2018 Wax Collage

2018 is also the year I taught myself a video editing program, upped my photography and video game and started our YouTube channel, Park or Perish!  Amusingly enough, I can lay all three of these newly acquired skills at the tender little furry paws of our cat, Weegie.  There was a time (oh, just the last four or so years) when our sweet baby beast would NOT abide by either her fur mama or papa sleeping for any longer than it took for her soft food dish to run dry (roughly every hour and 45 minutes.)  So I’d find myself awake at all inhospitable hours of the very early morning, with precious little to do.

Then one morning as I sat there just staring at the sky, literally trying to will the sun into cresting the horizon, I suddenly thought about all of the photos and video I had shot of our Disney vacations, and wondered what more I could do with them (other than drive you lovely readers bonkers, that is.) 😉  And so that morning I downloaded a little iPhone-based editing program called iMovie and edited together my first project (a collection of photos of Weegie looking unbelievably saucy, of course, backed by Tom Jones’ What’s New Pussycat?)  Since then I’ve produced 27 videos for Park or Perish!, and some of them aren’t even all that bad!  I particularly like sound editing – it’s incredibly satisfying when two tonally disparate clips finally snap into place (nearly) seamlessly.  This is a major milestone for me; as I’ve mentioned a time or 20, I am unbelievably tech-unfriendly.  That I could even find the program in the App Store in the first place was something of a miracle.  Here’s the most recent video I posted, a fun round-up of our adventures at Disney this past year.  I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Speaking of Disney vacations and saving money (now there’s a couple of antithetical concepts) we were able to enjoy two of the former this year precisely because we prioritized the heck out of the latter. We eased up a bit on our “Disney or death!” approach to discretionary income as the year wore on, but generally, if we had two cents to scrape together, we’d throw them into the vacation pot.  It was through this kind of financial nit-pickery that we were able to take two Disney vacations in 2018, both fully (and reassuringly) paid off before we had even stepped foot in a park.  We also became Disney annual passholders this year, because it made the most financial sense given the extent of our plans.  Every little bit helps, and I was incredibly proud of us for hitting this Disney financial goal.

Passholder 1

And speaking of those two vacations, they were wonderful; some of the best moments of my year were had at Disney World.  It’s just where we go to cut loose, explore and have an awesome (frequently margarita-enabled) good time.  We are so fortunate to be able to enjoy such incredible vacations – some people can’t swing a single lifetime trip to Disney, let alone two in one year (actually four in 365 days, but who’s counting besides ourselves and every single one of our friends who has jokingly enquired as to whether we plan on just moving into Cinderella Castle full time (dare to dream!)

Character Collage

Just about my favourite moment of the year was spending Halloween, our 14th wedding anniversary, bombing around the Magic Kingdom rock star cosplaying as two different video versions of Tyler Joseph, the lead singer of twenty one pilots (the October release of Trench was another neon yellow bright spot in an otherwise pretty gloomy year.)  I can’t speak for Mr. Finger Candy (who was the recipient of most of the delighted compliments, including a number of longing and appreciative glances from one very interested lady and a couple of even more interested dudes) but I loved playing rock star for the day, even with that black gunk smeared about my neck and hands (black stage makeup, by the way, and no, it wasn’t difficult to take off at the end of the night.  Messy?  Yes!  Sooty black water droplets allllll over the bathroom.  But not difficult.)  Also, my man looked hella hot in his meggings and shorts combo, and no, I’m not remotely joking.

Tyler Two Pilots Collage 2

The Bad

Losing our beloved cat.  Taking her to the vet one snowy Monday morning, knowing in my already breaking heart that we wouldn’t be bringing her home again.  Holding her paw until the very end.  Lots of uncontrollable sobbing.  That was my December.  I don’t wish to ever experience another one like it (oh, that we could control such things!)  But isn’t she adorable?  Gosh, at one point she was a complete LARD; look at that tummy!  That’s some serious Weege the Hutt action right there.

InstaWeege

Losing Weegie also brought into sharp focus the good relationships in our lives – the people who have been there for us at this awful time, in supportive ways big, small and occasionally virtual – and those that are no longer worth our precious, middle aged time.  It was really its own special kind of compounding heartbreak to realize that with some people, we just didn’t rank, not even in the midst of our grief.

On the other, infinitely more positive hand, this event clarified the truly excellent relationships we do have in our lives, people we are so profoundly grateful to call our friends.  They are such fantastic humans, a realization ultimately worth so much more than the one about the social boobs.  I actually feel sort of hashtag-blessed. 😉

But getting back to the crap, after making incredible strides towards improving my health in 2017, I backslid in 2018 HARD, maintaining my diet and exercise regimen for most of the year before apparently just giving up altogether in the last three months and gaining 25 pounds.  I apparently like to eat my stress and grief.  And everyone else’s as well.  I aim to jump back aboard the treadmill express in the new year, and overhaul our diets while I’m at it.  Please stop the rich holiday food, I want to get off!

And this blog?  My beloved Finger Candy, which turned five impressive years old this year with nary a whisper of fanfare?  I have no idea what this blog is even about any more; I’m not even sure if nail art is my preferred focus.  I’m in a state of blogging flux; I hope to find some solid ground soon.

Okay, that’s it, 2018 – you’re drunk, go home.  Don’t let the door hit you on the arse on the way out.  And cheers to 2019 as it makes its hopefully spectacular way in.  Happy New Years, friends.

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Not Your Usual Holiday Meltdown

Mario Wax 2

After a year spent excitedly throwing myself onto and then most likely staggering off of any number of actual roller coasters, I find myself, here at the end of 2018, riding the Emotional Roller Coaster Express.  It’s been a real “Stop the world, I’d like to get off” kind of month.  But upon reflection, that’s been my entire 2018 – wild vacation highs followed by protracted periods of gutting real life lows.  On the whole, I haven’t enjoyed this ride.  In fact, I’m totally sick of it (instead of just getting sick by it.)  Zero stars on TripAdvisor, this attraction sucks.

Pretty much the only thing I didn’t biff this year was my commitment to cutting back on my discretionary spending.  I mean, I did just turn around and plow that money straight into Disney vacations, so file that one under the “Re-Prioritization” files.  But after 2017, when I spent every bit of money I had on things that I thought would make me happy, but didn’t, I knew a shift was in order, and I curbed my spending HARD.

Part of that curbing was limiting my wax purchases to three orders, a custom order from Sniff My Tarts (due any day now!), a hugely anticipated order from The Melting Duck and this order from Rosegirls, a holiday tradition of mine for three seasons now.  I love receiving these whimsical Mario blends every year; it wouldn’t feel like Christmas without them.  Just being handed this sweetly scented package put a smile on my face, possibly the first genuine one in weeks.  Also, not for nothing, but by limiting my purchases to a few absolute must-haves, it made what was becoming kind of boring and accepted (oh look, another wax order) a Very Special Event.  It’s nice to actual derive some enjoyment and delight out of my treats again.

Mario Wax 3

All right, enough emotional shop talk, on to the wax.  Let’s take a look-see and peep the Super Mario-themed blends I picked up in 2018, shall we?

Mario Wax 4

First up, a sextet of adorable little muffins (“Title of your sextet tape!”) in, top row, starting on the left, Jumping on Clouds, a candy floss-dominant bakery blend of Vanilla Crunch Donuts Fluff Puffs, Marshmallow Smoothie, Cuppa Cake and Cotton Candy Frosting, Starbeans Cafe, a gently caffeinated combo of Espresso, Vanilla Crunch Donuts and Vanilla Bean Noel and Thwomps, an incredibly unique, “Wow, this one’s got a taste!” blend of Pine, Peppermint, Sugar Cookie Dough and Campfire Marshmallow.  I’m not entirely sure I like Thwomps, but I don’t dislike it either (which means in about a month’s time it will become my most favouritest scent blend EVER, trust.)

Then on the bottom row, once again starting on the left, we have Warp Zone, a spritely combination of Monster Cookie Fluff Puffs, Peppermint and Vanilla Crunch Donuts, Koopa Klaus is Coming to Town, a rich, ultra comforting blend of Sugar Cookies, Coconut and Baked Zucchini Bread (and an all-time favourite of mine) and Bob-omb Blast, an improbably delicious blend of Blackberry, Campfire Marshmallow, Vanilla Bean Noel and Glazed Donuts.  It is so weird and I love it about as much as I’m confused by Thwomps.  Both feature Campfire Marshmallow; is that the weird at work here?

Mario Wax 4

Finally, we have a pretty random assortment of chunks, top, and a new item called Mario Melts, bottom.  In chunks, I grabbed Yoshi the Red Nosed Dino, left, a beautifully hued and ultra tart combination of Raspberry Sauce and Pistachio Marshmallow Fluff (another favourite, if not THE blend that turned me on to scented wax in the first place) and Go Tell it on DK’s Mountain, right, another “Why do I like this?” fave featuring Fresh Pine, Sweater Weather and Vanilla Bean Noel.  How bizarre that all my Mario usuals are my usual unusuals, no?

Then in the Mario Melters, little layered, bar-shaped wax chunks, I ordered another annual favourite, Up on the Castle Top, left, a bubblegummy blend of Berry Creme Brulee and Rice Krispie Treats (it does not smell like pink bubblegum, but rather this berry Bubbalicious gum I loved as a kid) and then the new wax on the block, Koopa Klaus Needs a Latte, right, a combination of my beloved Koopa Klaus is Coming to Town and Espresso.  Holy smokes, this one is great; Mr. Finger Candy’s going to be all over this coffee ‘n’ cookies combo.  I also think the potential for someone to actually mistake this wax for something edible is nearly guaranteed, particularly at this time of year – it looks EXACTLY like these homemade Twix bars I like to make, and smells just like them, too.

Mario Wax 5

So there we have it, a highly anticipated Rosegirls wax order over one year in the making.  I really wish a lot of things had gone differently this year, particularly in the last month, but I will continue to be proud of myself for reining in my more destructive shopping impulses so that I can once again enjoy the things I do buy, like this special little wax order.  Gotta take pleasure in the small – and smell 😉 – victories.

Having a Ducking Meltdown

March on Ducks 2

To make the joke that’s been made time and time again, no, Autocorrect, no one has ever in the history of smart phone keyboards ever intended to say, “ducking.”  No one. 😉

Hey, so remember how, in an effort to save a bit of money and go to Disney many, many times in one year, I stopped mindlessly buying stuff like tons of clothes and housewares and nail polish and scented wax?  And how I swore I’d use up that which I already had before making any new purchases?  Well, that all actually happened!

It took no small amount of financial prioritization and, yes, some sacrifice, but indeed, this year my husband and I saved a bit of money, we went to Disney many, many times and we both stopped mindlessly buying stuff.  We also used that which we already had (Mr. Finger Candy diving into older, unplayed games, me melting through a larger-than-I-thought wax collection) before making any new purchases.  Interestingly enough, we’ve both been playing the long game when it comes to the items most atop our wish list, with my husband on years-long pins and needles for the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 (end of the month, and lord help my sanity if they push the date back) and me confining my wax purchases to two absolute must-haves in the past couple of months, a custom order with Sniff My Tarts, and this fabulous order from the Melting Duck!

So is it everything I hoped it would be?  Yes, it is – all that and the proverbial bag of (tortilla) chips (with queso blanco and maybe a margarita on the side from the Mexico pavilion, with a ride on the Gran Fiesta Tour after, AND a character meet-and-greet with Donald, because I’m pretty sure the Melting Duck girls are ducking Disney fans!)

Consisting primarily of Fall and Halloween-type scents, this colourful, sweetly scented collection of wax (new, fresh wax – it feels like such a novelty!) includes – *takes deep, steadying breath* – Haunted Mansion wax.  Wax!  Of the Haunted Mansion!  You guys know how I feel about the Haunted Mansion! (*huffs into a nearby paper bag*)

Mansion Collage

Okay, I’m back now, slightly more in control of my faculties and ready to show off the wax I suspect the Melting Duck gals may have made purely to humour me, because I asked for it literally every single time they solicited scent ideas for their upcoming releases.  If that was indeed the case, thank you, Kristin and Lauren, I love Foolish Mortal and next time (!) I’ll be happy to buy sacks of the stuff!

Foolish Mortal, named after the gently needling nickname the Ghost Host imparts on visitors to the Haunted Mansion, is a blend of Candy Cane Cupcakes and Toasted Marshmallow.  I thankfully don’t get too much of the toasted off the marshmallow, which is good, because I’m not overly fond of that ersatz “baked” note in my home or personal fragrances.  The Haunted Mansion actually doesn’t have much of a scent itself (hmm, perhaps that pleasant background scent of high efficiency air conditioning and meticulously maintained dust) but I imagine if ghosts had a scent (notice how I’m not disputing the existence of ghosts, merely their smell) this would be it – a quick, tingly blast of icy sweet peppermint.  And the colours are perfection, the very hues of the Grim Grinning Ghosts in the ride’s big graveyard showpiece scene.

Foolish Mortal 1

Next up we have a blend of Duckin Donuts (described as “a house blend of fresh coffee and fresh baked goodies”) and Pumpkin.  So basically Fall’s ubiquitous Pumpkin Spice Latte!  Once again, the colours are perfect; I particularly love the little candy corn-striped ducks.

Duckin Donuts and Pumpkin 1

Next up we have the sleeper hit of my last order, Ghost Stories by the Fire, a “Sandra shouldn’t like this” blend of Marshmallow Fireside, Earl Grey and Vanilla Ice Cream.  But it turns out Sandra likes Ghost Stories very much (so much, in fact, I actually only melted through my final piece the day this order arrived on my doorstep, finally secure in the knowledge that there were backups!)  Typically I’m not much for Marshmallow Fireside blended with other scents; I prefer it straight up, in candle format preferably.  But there’s something really nice about the Melting Duck’s Marshmallow Fireside; it’s sweet and mellow, bearing none of the objectionable acridness common to fire-imitating scents.  And once again, the colours and the shapes?  So creative!  Half the fun of this order was examining the cute little shapes, from sprinkled donuts, winged bats and sparkly macarons, to plump pumpkins, ornate sugar skulls and many, many little duckies.

Ghost Stories by the Fire 1

Next we have the sleeper hit of this order, Death of the Party, a rich, delectable bakery blend of Grave Mistakes (Zucchini Bread and Sugar Milk) and Marshmallow Fireside.  At first glance, none of those scents look as though they’d play nicely together (cloying, acrid, corn chip) but as a whole, it smells like…smokey sexy man muffin!  I just adore it (another Marshmallow Fireside blend, wouldn’t you know it?) and I’m smitten with the little pink rose shapes in this blend and that one gigantic chocolate chip cookie.  My husband loves this one, and that’s really saying something, because he is traditionally un-fond, shall we say, of Marshmallow Fireside, claiming “it smells like some douchebag hitting on a disinterested co-worker at a holiday party.”  Well, okay then!  There you go, folks, descriptive fireworks courtesy of Mr. Finger Candy. 😉

Death of the Party 1

Finally, we have the non-seasonal outlier of this order, a bag of my beloved Pink Sands, neat.  This Yankee dupe is a very nice one, bright and fresh and clean, and I’m looking forward to melting through the wide assortment of plucky little pink duckies (so many ducks in this bag!)

Pink Sands

Oh!  Actually finally-finally, I ordered a trio of cups in Ghost Stories by the Fire so I can send them on to friends, as well as three cups of Spider Cider, a blend of Cinnamon Sugar Donuts and Apple Cider.  I’m glad I only purchased the three cups of Spider Cider, because out of the entire order, it’s the only scent I’m not wildly thrilled about.  It’s nice, and I’m going to wait to see what it does given a bit of time to settle, but I’m not in love with it like I am, say, Foolish Mortal or Death of the Party.  Still, those wee little embedded spiders are quite creepy-cute.

Cups Collage

And I’d be remiss in failing to show off this dinged dude, one of the Melting Duck’s Studs in a Tub, which I received as a little freebie with my order.  I had a great laugh when I pulled this guy out of the box, because the Studs, well…they normally have attached heads!

Beheaded Stud 1

The Melting Duck actually created some intentionally beheaded Studs for the Halloween season, with splashes of red dotting the bubbles, but this little wax man is not one of those pieces, just the unfortunate victim of the ever-handsy postal service!  All the same, he smells wonderful (like Lemon Cupcakes and Satsuma.)

Beheaded Stud 2

I’m so thrilled with this order!  It really feels like a special treat, which I suppose is exactly what it is.  I’ve talked with a number of people this year who, like me, but for their own individual reasons, chose to cut back on their discretionary spending, and one of the reasons that I’ve heard over and over again is because endless purchases arriving on your doorstep grows to become quite boring, that these little (and not so little) treats cease feeling special.  I quite like the return to that little acquisition rush, although I’ll continue to respect the healthy distance we’ve put between one another. 🙂

So there we have it, the scented, waxy rewards I finally reaped after a solid year of cutting back, using up and re-prioritizing.  Very glad I waited to blow it out with the Melting Duck, because this order was a ducking treat to receive, and very soon to melt.  If you’re interested in checking out the Melting Duck’s super cool and great-smelling wares for yourself, join up with their Facebook group, where they post notifications about their upcoming releases (conducted on a mixed bag basis of pre-orders, ready-to-ship sales and the occasional custom.)  Happy ducking shopping!

Passholder Pride!

Passholder 1

So here’s that thing I was so very proud of that I wanted to show you, but first needed a something to show, but the something got caught up in transit, and so I had nothing to show.  Thing thing thing, show show show!

*Ahem* So the thing I was so very proud of – the physical proof of which was indeed caught in a sort of transit – is that thanks to our year-long diligence in cutting back, watching our spending and enjoying that which we already have, we were able to become Disney World annual passholders!  That’s kind of big deal, right, it’s not just my imagination? 🙂  But for what we have planned for the next 365 days, it made the most financial sense, and that’s on a cost-of-tickets basis alone; the extra little perks like money off dining, merchandise, entertainment and accommodations and special, passholder-exclusive offers are just that – extra little perks (and already well-used, thanks to our Labour Day long weekend trip!)

Passholder 3

Anyhow, it’s been a donkey’s age since I’ve done any nail art, and so I thought I’d do a manicure celebrating this awesome – and awesomely fun – financial milestone.  I am so, so proud of us for making this happen, as silly as it may seem.  Which I bet to many of you is very silly.  And I’m cool with that; the Peter Pan approach to life is not for everyone.  But consider that Mr. Finger Candy and I have decided to just get out there and fully immerse ourselves in the Deep Disney State – anything we can do to save money while we’re out being dorky dreamers is going to be a help.

Passholder 4

TL;DR: While year-long passes to four of the world’s most popular theme parks may seem like a gigantic financial leap, it’s a chasm we easily crossed thanks to our very best efforts in reining in our spending and dedicating everything extra to this one financial goal.  I love that we worked toward a goal and met it.  Gotta say, it feels pretty darn great!  Just like these nails – I’ve missed doing nail art, must really aspire to feature more of it here on this, uh, nail art blog. 😉

Passholder 2

A Bounty of Bath & Body Works

BBW Order 1

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that at the end of last month, I failed to post my as-promised accounting of our new-and-improved actual accounting (with optional scented wax discoveries, should any delicious new scent combinations be discovered as I melt through my once giant, now dwindling collection.)  That’s because I was waiting on the delivery of something very cool and not entirely inexpensive that we were able to purchase precisely because we’ve been so very circumspect with our money this year in the first place.  It’s a financial victory, and I’d love to share it with you!  Which of course means it’s been tied up in the vagaries of both the American and Canadian postal systems now for about five weeks straight.  So perhaps next month?  I really can’t wait to share this one with you; I’m incredibly proud of us!

But as for the end of July, I’ve made outstanding progress on both abstaining from any new purchases of wax or bath and beauty items AND using up that which I’ve already bought.  This month we finally used up the final bar of soap from a large and rather ill-considered purchase I made last year, and I’m getting down to such dregs in my wax collection, I have nothing noteworthy to share with you on that front either!

And so with Bath & Body Works releasing a number of delicious-smelling scents from their upcoming Fall collection, as well as the sudden reappearance of a favourite candle scent that I thought I had missed out on earlier this year (Pink Apple Punch, a sweet, Pink Sands (I swear!) tinged blend of apples and honeydew melon) the time seemed right to place an order for some scented goodies for the first time since November 2017.  Cracking open the box felt like such an indulgence!  It reminded me that shopping can be fun again when you stop compulsively buying and start purchasing because you really need and can accommodate a thing.

I was clearly of a real mind for apples with this order, between the Pink Apple Punch candles (two of them, in the most gorgeous rose red frosted jars) and the foaming hand soaps in Pumpkin Apple (what fruity, lightly spiced, barely bakery-type sorcery is at work here?!), Afternoon Apple Picking (crisp Mac apples warmed from the sun) and Red Apples & Spice (a delicious, Christmasey-smelling blend of sweet apples and rich mulling spices.)  But seeing as the soaps were available on one of those buy-three-get-six-for-free kind of deals (joke; they were actually six for $18) I purchased three more hand soaps in Best Day (a light raspberry sorbet scent), Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte (a perennial Fall favourite) and Life is Sweet (a toasty waffle cone scent.)  Great picks, all, and I guarantee you they’ll see a lot of hand-washing action.

BBW Order 2

Next month I really hope to have something super cool to share with you, the kind of thing that will hopefully remind you (as it did for me) that if you put your mind to what seems like an unreachable financial goal, and make just a few not-so-sacrificial sacrifices to reach that goal, you can make some very good things happen. 🙂