Flashy ‘n’ Foggy

Futterwacken 2

Today started off Indian Summer foggy and ended Victorian London bleak.  That’s what happens when the temperature plummets 30 degrees in the span of a few hours and you live on the edge of a river.  Or at least I swear there’s usually a river back there somewhere. 😉

Foggy 2

Foggy 1

After staring into the mist (just not, you know, THE Mist) for hours on end, I thought I’d perk myself up with an ultra flashy manicure, but even this lacquer, Glam Polish’s The Best Futterwacken in All of Witzend (just rolls off the tongue, don’t it?) proved to be no match for all the glum.  Shame, because this polish is essentially a Rockette costume ground up and stuffed into a bottle.  That sounded more attractive in my head.

Futterwacken 1

Here’s hoping those grey skies are gonna clear up in time for the weekend; it would be nice to actually get out and enjoy the leaves while they’re at their autumn peak.  Definitely not foggy on that.

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Fall Fun Series II: Pinspiration

Fall Inspiration Board

Good morning, friends!  This Saturday’s prompt in the Fall Fun Series is to compose an inspiration board, a pictogram, a collage or even a simple list of the things that make our hearts sing every autumn.  For me, that means a heck of a lot of gazing at leaves, assembling my Halloween Town, wrestling my cat into goofy costumes and celebrating my wedding anniversary, among many other lovely autumnal things.  Let’s take a closer look at some of the Fall delights that always inspire my soul at this time of year.

Cats in Costumes Collage

Cats in costumes!  Here we have the Weeger as Eeyore, a bee, a centipede and a mylar shark, and our dear, late kitty Porky as Pooh Bear and a deadly little Mewback.  Porky was always deeply intolerant of the five to 10 minutes we would spend every year wrestling her into her costume and then chasing her around the apartment with a camera, but Weegie takes it with some degree of good measure (so long as we lavish her with soft food the second she’s wriggled out of whatever tummy-constricting costume we’ve managed to wrap around her pudge in the first place.)  We don’t have kids; please don’t judge!

Leaf Collage Again

Leaves!  Right outside my door, lining the Ottawa River, or out in the country, edging the highway, or up the Gatineau, where I go with my parents every year to tend my grandparents’ graves.  I’m so incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by such a bounty of leafy beauty every year, it almost makes up for the following six months of snow and ice.  Almost.

stranger-manis-collage

Stranger Things!  The second season starts on October 27th, and I shall be indisposed until such time as I have finished watching it.  I really don’t like binge-watching things – loved parsing out the first season episodes bit by wonderful bit, actually – but I don’t believe any of us will be afforded the luxury of remaining spoiler-free this time around. It’s the best show I’ve ever seen (sorry, Buff) and I am so. unbelievably. excited!  A very dope anniversary present from our Netflix overlords.

Wedding Photo 1

Yes, a fine anniversary present indeed for these two (young, so young!) goobers, who are celebrating their lucky 13th.  My gosh, we are just babies in this photo (but dang if my boobs don’t look SLAMMIN’; bless you, corset gods.)

Halloween Town

My Halloween Town!  A rather large operation that sprawls across my moss-covered diningroom table every Fall.  I had briefly toyed with the idea of letting the town go fallow for the year – setting it up and lugging it out of storage is a major, major pain – but I know I’ll cave in the end.  Gotta let the residents of my spooky little town vent their haunts for the year, yes?

Scary Movie Collage

Scary movies and TV shows.  Although I must note that I haven’t possessed the stomach or temperament for major (or even minor) gore in a long, long time.  Nostalgic picks like the deeply silly Friday the 13th series or my favourite terrible horror movie, Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, are about as wild as I get now, and I’m perfectly content with that. Bring on the G and PG-rated spooks!

NBC Fall

Like The Nightmare Before Christmas, a charmingly creepy little stop motion movie that has a place in my heart and home year-round.  I spoke at some length last year about our snow globe, a wonderful wedding gift from friends.  This year we were fortunate enough to find another gorgeous collectible, an anniversary gift to ourselves that I will be positively gagging to share with you just as soon as it’s mounted to the wall!

Wax Header

And, of course, we can’t forget all the delicious smelly things that will be sweetly scenting my home this autumn.  This is a photo of last year’s bounty (with the exception of the scoopable, a pancakes-and-campfire scent, I melted through all of this and then some.) Looking forward to more cozy scents this year.  To the Fall!

Fall Fun Series: The End

fall-collage-again-again

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!

cake-stand-wax-collage

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!

nbc-collage

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.

halloween-town-1

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.

beetlejuice-fingers

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.

leaf-collage-again

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.

super-wax-collage

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.

north-gower-collage

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!)

Fall Fun Series: Colours of Fall

colours-of-fall-fingers

Those colours coming from Fall leaves, of course, which – wonder of natural wonders that I’d probably have to be a scientist to understand – are still clinging to the trees in my part of the global woods, weeks (and one nasty little snowstorm) beyond when they should have long skipped town. This is probably some evil portend of impending environmental doom, but I’ll take it when the view, both on my nails and off the balcony, is this spectacular.

Still, it’s hard to deny that winter is indeed on its way, especially when you compare today’s view across the Ottawa River with one from two weeks ago (cue The Byrd’s Turn! Turn! Turn!)

leaf-collage

 

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

 

Fall Fun Series: Having a Ball in the Fall

North Gower Collage.jpg

Yesterday dawned gloomy and rainy, so of course Mr. Finger Candy and I decided it was the perfect day to take a wee country drive, head out to the little town I grew up in and visit its final farmers’ market of the season, purchase an abundance of holy-crap-that’s-good pastries, revisit the place where we were married and then perhaps swing by the site of one of my young life’s greatest embarrassments.  So come along, won’t you, friends, as we get out of the city for a bit to admire the leaves and indulge in a bit of a nostalgia tour.

farmers-market

North Gower is the name of the little Eastern Ontario village I grew up in.  It lays about half an hour outside of Ottawa, although with suburb-creep, “in town” is now just 15 minutes down the highway.  This barn, and its crazy, higgeldy piggeldy attachments, lays on the Seabrook property on Roger Stevens Drive, right down the road from the 150-year-old farmhouse I used to call home (apologies for the lack of pictures, but on that score, the earth appears to be reclaiming my once-beautiful home.  It actually hurts my heart to see what has become of it.)

Today the barn acts as the central site of the North Gower Farmers’ Market, a bustling local enterprise that began years after my family moved into the city.  Dim lighting and a generally overcast day put a damper on taking any photos indoors, but the interior of the warm barn was stuffed with vendors’ tables, each bearing all sorts of cute and delicious-looking homemade goods like jams and jellies, knits and jewelry, soaps and candles and tons and tons of baked goods.  There were also a number of tables outside bearing the veggie farmers’ wares, including tons of pumpkins, squash and gourds, and one pig farmer whose table I purposefully didn’t examine too closely (no judgement, but I just don’t have any particular need for half a pig in my life at the moment, you know?)

But I do apparently have a pressing need for pastries, because I fared quite well on that front, nabbing some absolutely fantastic Norwegian shortbread from one gentleman (as well as half a delicious, crispy pizza, not shown because we ate it!) and a buttermilk pie from Frank’s, which is apparently the home of Ottawa’s best butter tart.  Huh, the things you learn in a day!

market-finds-collage

I also picked up these two beeswax sheep (ram?) candles, which I’ll never be able to melt now that my husband has gone and given them names, which are Baaa-ob and Doug Mackenzie.

beeswax-bob-and-doug-the-sheep

But can we go back to talking about the shortbread for a moment?  Because it was bloody fabulous and I wish I had bought sacks of the stuff (my waistline is glad I did not.)  Buttery and tender and glazed with just the barest wash of vanilla and raspberry jam, they were some of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten.  I kind of wish we had saved them to enjoy with an afternoon cuppa instead of just shoving them directly down our throats (kinda.)

yummy-shortbread

After leaving the farmers’ market (carefully – parking was beginning to get a bit hairy) we drove to my elementary school, North Gower Marlborough Elementary, site of my first marriage in the kindergarten playground (never annulled; does that make me a bigamist?) It was also the place where I once fell over a chainlink fence and had to be rescued by my 5-foot-2 mother and where a very bad boy ripped the leg off my teddy bear (that very bad boy grew into a very bad man, and last I heard, he was a guest of Ontario’s Department of Corrections.)  I also once ate too many apricot-flavoured Fruit Roll-Ups on a dare and then went on the tire swing and THEN threw up in the playground sand.

But my greatest, dumbest claim to fame (infamy) might be the time I got my tongue stuck to a dirty old metal well cover while playing Care Bears with my friends at recess and had to be rescued by a teacher bearing a teapot of warm water who probably went home that night and laughed her ass off every single time she thought about the dumbass kid at school that day she had to rescue because she got her tongue stuck to a dirty old metal well cover while playing Care Bears with her friends at recess.

I was only moderately sad to see that my old pal Dirty Old Metal Well Cover had long since been filled in and paved over, but just for old time’s sake, we took some photos of me reenacting the idiot crime, until my husband pointed out that it kind of looked like we were taking crime scene photos.

Me on the Ground Collage.jpg

After that we drove back through town and then up the road a few minutes to Strathmere, which is where we were married 12 years ago this coming Halloween.  I have virtually no exterior shots of our wedding, as the sun had already set by the time our ceremony was finished.  That and our photographer was grossly incompetent (I also have NO photos of my parents and I (and my new husband) together, but that’s a rage story for another day.) So I was going to take a few photos of the barn yesterday (yes, we were married in a barn, and it was lovely) but when I rounded the corner, I found a very testy couple hurling rolls of tulle and bunting out the back of a pickup in the persistent, sprinkling rain.  Gosh, I hope they weren’t the bride and groom – that’s kind of a lousy way to start things off, no?

The rain actually went on to completely clear up by afternoon’s end, but even before then, Mother Nature was putting on a beautiful show at Strathmere, like in this wee little secret garden tucked into the back cottages.

Strathmere Secret Garden.jpg

Or this lane between the parking lot and the main inn.

strathmere-lodge-lane

Or this gorgeous stand of trees edging the parking lot (again with the well-appointed parking lots!)

backside-of-the-main-lane

Or the gorgeous, leaf-carpeted lane that runs down from the highway and always reminds me of something out of Sleepy Hollow.

strathmere-lane

After that the rain began pelting down, so we skedaddled back home, but I had a wonderful morning revisiting some old haunts, checking out the foliage, finding a new pastry thing to obsess over.  As Ice Cube would say, it was a good day.

Fall Fun Series: Forest Floor

fall-forest-floor-fingers-2

A number of blogger friends participating in the Fall Fun Series live in Florida, which is currently being lashed by Hurricane Matthew.  Being roughly 1,600 miles from the action, there’s little I can do but wish for my friends’ continued safety and a speedy resolution to the storm.  But while they’re all hunkered down, I thought it might be a nice little diversion to take a peek at the softer side of Mother Nature with both this very leafy manicure, and some of the changing leaves I’ve recently spotted around my neighbourhood.  And not for nothing, Florida friends, but when this coming winter rolls around and I’m up to my Canadian eyeballs in freezing rain, you will have it allllll over me!

This simple, sponged-on manicure was a total breeze and so much fun – I love nail art that calls for you to just play around with a whole mess of colours.  It also reminds me of the crisp blanket of multi-coloured leaves that fall to the ground of a maple forest floor.  And nothing more exciting here than red, green, orange and brown polishes randomly sponged over a light tan base and topped with ILNP’s very leafy-looking The Road to Awe multi-chrome flakie.

fall-forest-floor-fingers-1

But looking up from my nails for half a second, one of the things I’ve really enjoyed about participating in the Fall Fun Series is that it has forced me to stop, slow down and really appreciate the beauty of my surroundings at this time of year.  Living on the bend of a tree-lined river, with the leafy Gatineau Hills visible from every one of my windows, I suffer an embarrassing amount of leaf riches.  And yet, every year when the final burnished leaf hits the ground, I’m surprised that Fall came and went so quickly, and I hardly even noticed its presence. No wonder Ma Nature’s so pissed come wintertime.

But this Fall I’m finding myself present, to use an obnoxious term, in ways I’ve simply not been in years past. And if that comes at the behest of a blogging challenge, well, that’s just fine with me.

I can’t just lay down some lacquered leaves, though, and leave (wah-wah) it at that.  So how about the real deal? Like these leafy trees (against an endless-looking sky) along the Ottawa River that are just beginning to turn.

endless-sky-leaves

Or these vibrant trees edging the parking lot of a local theatre (where I recently watched Bridget Jones’s Baby, which I quite liked.)

leaves-at-the-theatre

Or this tree that stands to the side of a path directly below my balcony.

leafy-tree

There’s so much beauty out there – you just have to pull your head up every now and then and actually enjoy it. Stay safe, and happy Fall, friends.