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!

And Now Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

Collage

I was saying to a friend the other day that despite all manner of great things in my life at the moment – home renovations that are progressing nicely and this blog’s upcoming fifth anniversary, to say nothing of the mini Disney World break we’ll be taking in just two days’ time!!! – I have been feeling wildly out of sorts.  And while I haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact source of my unease, I think a large part of it stems from the fact that for the first time in very nearly a year, I am doing all of the things I once eschewed in an effort to save my body and soul – spending a lot of discretionary money, not monitoring my diet, neglecting my workouts.  I mean, there’s certainly no Caligula-esque bacchanalia going on here, but it does feel quite outside the norm.

Ah, but it’s the great human conundrum to ruminate over, well, everything, so I can still feel quite guilty about all of the above, despite the fact that I’m doing all three of those things (or neglecting to do two, while overindulging in another) precisely because I cut back on our spending and amped up our self-care in the first place – specifically, to have been circumspect enough with our money that we were able to book four Disney trips in one year, including an unexpected interim trip this coming long weekend.  And then being in good enough physical health to actually go and comfortably enjoy ourselves (don’t laugh, there was definitely a time not that long ago that I absolutely felt too zaftig for Disney.)

But spending begets spending, and in the past few weeks as we’ve been preparing for our trip, I feel like our spending has gotten a bit out of control, and it’s making me quite twitchy.  Of course, “out of control” is an assessment made purely in the mind of the beholder, but if you’ve spent the past year buying virtually nothing but the essentials, purchasing anything that’s not toilet paper or food feels weirdly illicit, and not in a good way.  So lots of guilt there.  I even have guilt over the two and only wax orders I placed earlier this month, and I’ve been waiting for them since November of last year!

Then I’ve just been having a really tough time maintaining my dieting motivation.  Part of that is owing to the many disruptions going on in my life, both fun (Disney!) and not so fun (anything involving concrete filler.)  I thrive on structure and consistency, and neither travel nor renovations aid in either of those things.  And I’ve been slacking hard on my workouts for no good reason other than being just dog tired from the endless up-and-down that is laying new flooring.  I guess I could call those squats?

All that to say I plan on doing better, starting immediately – perhaps even starting with Disney (I have this maybe not so crazy idea to develop a diet and exercise plan around Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom.)  But also do better in the sense that I must cut myself some slack and focus on the positives of which I am so proud.  Positives like the fact that we have bought and paid for four Disney vacations in one year.  Positives like the fact that I have spent just $250 on scented wax this year, as opposed to the significantly higher amount I spent the year previous.  Positives like the fact that none of the stuff we’re buying for our trip (rain ponchos, waterproof footwear, basically anything to keep us from drowning in Florida’s swampy humidity) is disposable, and we’ve built some awesome (and awesomely functional) park bags for our vacations going forward.  Positives like the fact that I know both Mr. Finger Candy and I have lost weight since our Christmas 2017 trip, and that this motivational blip too shall pass.  Onwards and upwards.  But maybe not outwards. 😉

Another positive?  Continuing on with my low-buy no-buy.  So true, I did make those two wax purchases, one a custom order with Sniff My Tarts and another a Melting Duck order containing Haunted. Mansion. wax, but neither one will be showing its face around here before Halloween.  And so with nothing new coming in, I’ve continued to diligently melt through the old, whittling my once quite unmanageable stash down to something approaching reasonable.  Actually, more than reasonable; I now have so few Mini Melters, creating complimentary scent blends is becoming something of a dicey chore.  But not undoable – and here’s some of the better scent blends I’ve come up with as I scrape the bottom of the metaphorical wax bucket.

Blackberry/Blueberry Muffin/Cotton Candy Frosting/Raspberry Sauce

Berry Candy Floss 2

This smells like berry-flavoured candy floss.  Very sweet and fruity, with that tart berry kick.  And not a bit of my beloved Marshmallow Smoothie to be found.  Because I used it all up weeks ago. 😦

Gilligan’s Brew/Royal Sugar Cookie/Waffle Cone

Coconut Crunch Cookies 2

I call this one Coconut Cookie Cone, because it smells like all of the above!

Apple Clove Butter/Lambeau Leap/Vanilla Bean Noel

Lambeau Leap Plus 2

Getting a jump on the Fall scent blends with this crisp, Sweater Weather-based fragrance.  Lambeau Leap is a blend of three Bath and Body Works scents, Sweater Weather, a juniper berry scent, Cider Lane, a spicy apple cider blend, and Vanilla Bean Noel, a caramel cookie and musk scent, although I mainly get that bracingly strong Sweater Weather note.  So I amped up the two “missing” scents with this Mini Melter blend of Lambeau Leap, Apple Clove Butter, a warm, slightly spicy apple scent, and Vanilla Bean Noel.  Ahh, much better.

Raspberry Sauce/Vanilla Bean Noel/Waffle Cone

Raspberries and Cream Cone 2

And all will be right in the world so long as I have my beloved Raspberry Sauce.  I think I have maybe six or seven little pieces left, and when that’s done, there will be another order placed immediately.  And I won’t feel the least bit guilty about THAT one. 😉  This scrumptious blend smells like raspberry cream ice cream in a toasted vanilla waffle cone.  Yuh-um!

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. 🙂

Breaking the Financial Fast

VCS Melted Wax

Last month, during my casual, end-of-month assessment of my formerly getting-to-be-concerning financial habits, I noted that after three solid months of abstaining from any purchases that don’t qualify as the necessities of this (good and kind of spoiled) life, I was actually starting to have difficulties parting with my hard-earned funds.  As in I really didn’t want to, even for the necessities.  Becoming unnecessarily tightfisted, I was!

And so for April, my birthday month, I vowed to loosen the purse strings a little, not just in the procurement of some fun birthday gifts, but also to remind myself that so long as you keep a critical eye trained to your spending habits (like Mad Eye Moody’s, only it susses out boneheaded money mistakes) you can occasionally treat yourself, even while pursuing other financial goals.

Of course, this almost zen-like approach to finances has been made all the easier this month by a major influx of parentally-provided birthday funds – hard to be bitchy about the things I’d like to buy when I’ve been given the means to do just that.  And do that I most certainly have, nabbing a pile of new clothes from a favourite online retailer during a well-timed sale, as well as some nice new nail polish and two streamed seasons of a favourite show (Misfits seasons 1 and 2, and I’m actually kind of miffed about it because in the version I purchased, at least half of the original songs have been swapped out for what I’m assuming are less copyright-protected tunes.  Misfits is a show with a very strong, very specific (mostly electronic and Brit Pop) musical presence, and these amendments change the entire tone of the program.  In hindsight, that’s money I very much wish I had not parted with.)

Gift from Jay

This month I continued making good progress towards melting down my scented wax stash, although there were some top-up additions courtesy of a lovely gift from my blogging buddy Jay of The Scented Library.  It was in this scrumptious-smelling and completely unexpected package that I found April’s pick for favourite melted wax, an entire freaking loaf of one of Vintage Chic Scents’ marshmallowy Jackie O-based blends!  VCS, an insanely popular indie vendor, has some of the hardest wax to get your hands on.  They also don’t ship to Canada.  As such, I have always been quite lacking in the VCS department – but not any more!  My house is gonna smell like cake for days.  Plus it’s just so stinkin’ pretty with those delicate little rose inlays that shatter apart when you slice into it.  Thanks again and again, Jay – you’s good people. 🙂

VCS Loaf 1

Keep Climbing That Mountain

I experienced both the pros and cons of my low buy-turned-no buy this month when I first found myself feeling unflatteringly resentful about all of the things other people have been buying and I have not, and then wildly proud that because of our commitment to cutting back on unnecessary discretionary spending, we have already been able to pay for half of our now-booked Disney anniversary trip!  I’m so proud of this accomplishment, and it came about at just the right moment, precisely as our joint motivation was really beginning to wane.  Being financially virtuous is kind of a pain in the arse, and it’s no fun abstaining from the fun things in life, even with the promise of even funner things in the future.  So quite literally being able to put my money where my mouth is is a great feeling indeed. 🙂

We're goin back to Disney!

Other positives to this unintended no buy of a low buy?  Learning to identify other poor or lacking financial habits outside of the area of discretionary spending.  That’s one spending foe I thankfully seem to have vanquished – I haven’t made a wax purchase in over three months, and I doubt I’ve spent more than $75 on the non-essentials of life during that time either.  And as for the essentials, I’ve now begun paying a directed mind to them, looking for ways to maximize our hard-earned money.  But man, being virtuous truly sucks, and I miss the little rush that accompanies a new purchase.

However – and this would be another unintended positive – I don’t miss coughing up for exorbitant shipping fees on my online purchases.  International shipping fees are just beastly, and I can’t bring myself, even now with the benefit of hindsight and some gained wisdom, to make a full accounting of the shipping and customs fees I paid in 2017.  I have a feeling the number is terrifying.  And while we’re on the subject, I absolutely do not miss dealing with the always-clumsy postal system, nor do I miss guiltily breaking down reams of cardboard boxes to sneak out in stages so my neighbours don’t think I’m some sort of weird box hoarder (a candle hoarder, sure, but cardboard?  Never!)

And as I have noted the past three months running, a wonderful positive of the no buy-low buy is that I’m actually using up that which I did buy; my once fit-to-bursting stores are now merely bursting. 😉 And as I promised scent highlights, here’s one from this month – Rosegirls’ Mini Melters in the comfortingly cozy blend of Birthday Cake, Marshmallow Smoothie and Vanilla Bean Noel.  I actually used to really dislike Vanilla Bean Noel; there’s a musky note to it that does not always play well with some of the juicy fruit and berry scents I prefer.  But it is so darn scrumptious on its own, and it’s amazing in combination with fluffy marshmallow and rich, frosted cake.  This is a simple, “warm hug” kind of a scent – it just makes you feel cared for and comfortable.  Not bad work from a few hunks of scented wax!

VBN

Next month I really hope to find a bit of balance in my spending habits.  As in, I should not feel absolutely ridden with guilt because we ate out once in the past month.  Life happens and money needs to be spent – now I just need to learn to find a happy medium between the two states.  To another month of continued positive financial growth!

Ducking Debt

Duck 1

I indicated at the end of January that in an effort to continue some positive, newly developed financial habits, I’d be aiming to do an assessment of my progress at the end of each month.  So here I am, ready and waiting, eagerly awaiting my grade!  Such a little brown-noser, I know (I noted the other day that I’m a J-school grad; you never seen ANYONE grade grub in your life like a journalism student, trust.)

And I know I’m far from the most unbiased moderator on the subject, but I’ll go ahead and give myself an A++, because we killin’ it.  February was another unintended no buy of a low buy for both my husband and I.  Once again, we probably spent just $100 on the non-essentials of life between the two of us.  We’ve actually kind of turned it into a game – how long can you go without spending money?  No, really, how long can you go without purchasing something?  I think you’d be surprised at how quickly just a wee something every day adds up.  Or the problem I think we all encounter, which is we’re out picking up that wee something, and oh! while we’re out and about, we might as well stop in here, and while we’re in here, we should really grab this thing, and while we’re getting this thing, we should add this and…it’s seriously so much easier just to stay in and use that which you already have at hand!

Speaking of, another part of my accountability report was to make note of any already-owned items I finally used and enjoyed.  I made good progress melting through my wax stash this month, and by not adding to it (not hard; there actually wasn’t a single release that called to me in February) I’m starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.  Or the bottom of the drawer in the wax cupboard.

Duck 3

The wax hit of February was this pre-decapitation duck from The Melting Duck in Briarcliff, a very Fall-friendly blend of pumpkin, vanilla and marshmallow.  Demented Ducks, I think they’re actually called, but this one was insolent and kept leering at me with that one purple eye, so I off’d his head.  Still didn’t stop him from staring unnervingly at me from the bottom of my warmer as he melted into a pumpkin-scented puddle.  Like, ever get that feeling you’re being watched by your wax?  No, just me?

Duck 2

Please join me next month when I will hopefully continue to have good news for you on the spend less, use more front.  To our continued strength in the face of so much inviting temptation. 🙂

Cozy Time Sweets

Bath Sweets Collage

I recently unearthed a container of old, favourite clothes that I had banished to shameful storage after I had gained, and retained, all the weight.  I have no idea why I saved some of the items (the thermal shirt with the stars is cute and all, but…) although others are more clear (the cat ear’d hoodie I wore on my first date with Mr. Finger Candy.)

But I clapped with joy when I pulled these old (yet barely ever worn) Nick & Nora flannel jammies out of the box.  Mr. Finger Candy gave me these maybe our third or fourth Christmas together?  I LOVED these pyjamas!  And then I forgot all about them.  Which happens when you somehow manage to gain so much weight, you outgrow your gigantic flannel PJs and are forced to relinquish them to the purgatory of the basement storage locker.

Which is where they would have stayed had I not lost 85 pounds in the last year and completely overhauled both my shape and my health.  Making it the perfect time to pull that container of old, favourite clothes straight out of purgatory to see what might fit.  Which was actually a ton of stuff!  Including these wonderful jammies.  I washed them up straightaway and then started to plan a warm, cozy bath with some likewise forgotten bath and body products.

Yummy Jammies

I mentioned last month that as part of my low-buy no buy I was also going to try to use up that which I had already bought, but not yet got around to using.  So drawing inspiration from my newly found PJs, I dug a whole mess of candy sweet things out of the beauty bin and drew myself one sweetheart of a bath.

Bath Sweets Main Photo

There’s a little bit of everything here – a three-wick candle in Bath & Body Works’ Vanilla Bean Noel, a favourite sugar cookie scent tinged with a touch of musk.  A tiny wax pie slice, sugar scrub and lotion from The Bathing Garden in Sugared Pie Crust.  A bar of soap from Dreaming Tree Soapworks in Bewitched, a creamy vanilla-raspberry scent.  A tiny, cupcake-shaped bath melt from Bomb Cosmetics in Cherry Pie.  Mmm, a couple of spritzes of Demeter’s Vanilla Ice Cream cologne, a scrumptious, toasty warm waffle cone scent I already use all the dang time.  A cotton candy-scented bath bomb gifted to me from a kind friend.  And finally, a post-bath cup of tea using this delicious Binx blend sent to me by another kind friend (named after Binx the cat from the movie Hocus Pocus, it contains catnip!)  Oh, and a couple of food-shaped wax tarts from The Bathing Garden because the PJs practically demanded it. 🙂

Dollars and Scents

Customs Collage

Back at the beginning of the year I indicated that owing to an overabundance of stuff and an underabundance of life, I was going to attempt to curb my spending in an effort to not only stem the seemingly endless tide of scented wax (and other treatsie-type items) slowly overtaking my home, but to also put those “found” funds towards another far-more-important-to-me experience, namely another end-of-year trip to Disney World.

People call these cut-er-off regimes “no buys” or “low buys.”  I’m not particularly fond of the no buy approach – most tend to come at them as they would a diet (“I’ll start on Monday!”) and along with that comes a nearly identical rate of failure.  It’s hard to turn off years of poor shopping and hoarding behaviour all at once – if it was easy, you probably wouldn’t have to institute a no buy in the first place, and you definitely wouldn’t be in danger of being buried alive by your candle collection.

Low buys are a far more reasonable approach to financial management and stuff assessment, as they really allow you to examine your shopping habits on a bit of a forensic level.  Absent that so-tempting-to-walk-right-across-it no buy line in the sand, is this really how you want to spend your budgeted mad money for the month?  Don’t you already have this exact candle, plus three backups in the closet?  Do you even have room to store this stuff?  And even if the answer to all of those questions is yes, yes and no, I ran out of room two years ago, at least you’re giving a bit of thought to your purchases and where they fit into the scheme of both your life and your budget.  I just find it easier to operate within the confines of a reasonable framework than to cut myself off completely – the raze-the-earth approach rarely works in the long-term, often setting off an avalanche of “zero hour” purchases that badly undermine your efforts before you’ve even begun.

All that to say I’ve been on an unofficial low buy since the beginning of the year.  And when it comes to scented wax, one of my favourite treat-myself things, I haven’t placed any orders since November of last year.  So there’s nothing coming in, although there’s plenty going out – the flip side of the low buy coin is use-up-what-you-did-buy.  I’ve been diligently melting through my wax every day, and I wager I have enough there to keep me going for the next eight or nine months.

But I’ve been doing so well (correction: we have been doing so well; Mr. Finger Candy and I are prioritizing the crap out of this trip!) that I thought it might be of some benefit to share my progress on a monthly basis.  Perhaps you’ll draw some inspiration from my attempts to whittle down my wax and be a bit more mindful of my spending in the first place.  Also, this will hold me accountable to my low buy; there’s no slacking when the blogiverse is watching!

Without getting into specific numbers, I did very, very well this January, purchasing absolutely nothing of a discretionary nature.  Seriously, not a thing.  That’s ever so slightly less impressive when you remember that I am coming off a rather pricey Christmastime trip to Disney where I treated myself just fine, but all the same, I avoided FOUR pre-orders from favourite wax vendors, as well as about a half dozen movies I’d like to purchase and some DLC updates to favourite video games.  I estimate that my husband and I spent just $50 this month between the two of us on the non-essentials of life, a trend I’d like to continue for as long as it possibly can.  Building up a bit of momentum in the early stages of anything is key, let alone when you’re trying to correct years of cruddy financial behaviour, and marking off those huge initial strides is super motivating.

I also like that the other side of the low buy (the “use it already!” buy) forces you to actually use the things you’ve already bought.  So much of this fragrance and beauty and home decor stuff is limited edition, and the urge to stock up on and hoard the things you know you’ll never be able to buy again can be quite overwhelming.  But there’s really something to be said for actually using the things you bought, and deriving every bit of enjoyment from them while they’re in your possession.  Somewhere Tyler Durden has a bullshit, machismo-laden take on the things you own owning you, but who needs that walking set of abs anyways? 😉

This will also provide me with a great opportunity to share with you any beauty hits or scent slam dunks I discover over the course of the month – you just never know what gems might be languishing in storage.  Gems such as this custom loaf and half-and-half pie I nabbed from Sniff My Tarts during a quickie Thanksgiving sale.  All three are AWESOME – I may just be getting the hang of this custom blending thing. 🙂

Apple Cider Latte/Ice Cream Scoop Bread/Vanilla Waffle Cone

Apple Cider Latte Custom

I was super pleased with all three of these scents when I received them a la carte in one of last year’s customs orders.  Apple Cider Latte is the absolute ideal of an apple fragrance – crisp, juicy, tart, sweet and lightly, slightly spiced.  Coffeephobes need not turn up their noses at this wonderful fragrance either – that latte note is a deceptive one, hovering lightly in the background, providing just the barest hint of bitter to support all that sweet.  In combination with Ice Cream Scoop Bread and Vanilla Waffle Cone (a favourite “base blend” of mine that I like to pair with juicy fruits such as blackberries) it’s a total slam dunk – I think it smells EXACTLY like a warm, cakey apple fritter.  And now I want an apple fritter!

Mango Sorbet/Coconut Cream Pie/Vanilla Waffle Cone

Mango Sorbet Custom Pie

Vanilla Waffle Cone makes another appearance in this fantastic, sunny blend, which I created during my first customs order last year or maybe even the year before.  I’m very nearly finished that gorgeous decorated sheet cake, so it was time to re-up my stores of a fabulously fragranced favourite.  A scrumptious, fruity, creamy treat.  Holy gosh, is this blend ever yummy!  The only scent in my years of custom blending that I’ve seen fit to duplicate.

Starbucks Vanilla Latte/Vanilla Butter Fudge

Coffee Custom Loaf

And finally, one for Mr. Finger Candy, who loves coffee in all its varied forms (we stood in line for half an hour on Christmas Day at the Main Street Starbucks in the Magic Kingdom so he could get a keg-sized mega cold brew, the same keg-sized, apparently open-topped mega cold brew that later denied us entry to the People Mover after we had waited in line for half an hour for it as well.  WHAT THE HELL, MAN?!)  Hmm, I’m suddenly wondering if my husband even deserves such an adorable little loaf! 😉 I’m not totally sold on coffee scents, but this is a nice one.  SMT’s Starbucks Vanilla Latte fragrance is seriously decent, bearing none of the acidic bitterness common to coffee blends.  Nor does it smell like one of those appallingly powdery Swiss Miss concoctions – nothing here but a lovely creamed coffee scent, not too sharp, nor too milky.  And now I want a latte.

And with that, I close out January.  I’m proud of myself for sticking to my spending guns (again, proud of us) in the face of so much post-holiday temptation.  But I’ve got my eye on a much larger, hopefully more fulfilling, prize, the mere thought of which takes a lot of the sting out of abstaining from my favourite things.  Please join me again at the end of next month, when I hopefully have continued good news for you on the low buy front.  Until then, let us all go out and use the things that bring us happiness, and enjoy them for no more complicated a reason than simply because we can.

Sunday Scents

Rosegirls Collage

During my end-of-year State of the Sandra assessment (yes, this is a thing) it came to my attention that during 2017, I spent far, far too much on myself.  “Well, no durr, you went to Disney World twice,” you may be saying to yourself.  Except I’m not talking about the back-to-back Disney vacations we enjoyed in 2017; those were incredible experiences, and worth every penny.

No, I’m talking more about all of the stuff I purchased.  The largely unaccounted-for stuff that ate up every bit of discretionary income I had, and then some.  And the really depressing part is that for the most part, I hardly remember how I spent it.  Wax, for sure; my stores are fit to bursting.  Soap; eight bars’ worth of a product I ultimately wound up binning.  Video games that went nowhere, movies that have languished on to-be-watched lists, and a revolving door of clothes, none of which ever seem to fit my always-changing figure.  Mr. Finger Candy suffers from a similar spending problem with respect to video game DLC and Apple TV purchases.

And as it turns out, amassing stuff, particularly stuff you can’t even remember purchasing, is an excellent way to feel deeply unfulfilled, and possibly a little ashamed that you were such a fool with your money in the first place.

So hot on the heels of two excellent trips to Disney, Mr. Finger Candy and I are setting limits on our mostly mindless discretionary spending, with an eye to another (longer, just as blowout-y) Disney/Universal vacation in 2018.  At this point in our lives, we’ve just decided to prioritize experiences (particularly those of an amusement park nature) above things.  We have enough things.  What we are lacking is living.

And so this may be one of the last wax posts you’ll see for a while; this Rosegirls haul from before Christmas is one of two orders that were waiting for me when I returned home from Florida, and I’m actively avoiding all of my favourite vendors in an effort to curb my over-spending in the new year.  Don’t call it a no buy; it’s really more a low buy, or a moderated buy.  I’m not turning off the tap entirely, just slowing things to a dribble.  I’ll keep you updated on how I do. 🙂

But back in December, when I was spending pre-vacation money with reckless abandon, I placed a rather large order with Rosegirls for a number of replacement Mini Melters, as well as some cute traditional chunks and nearly all of the holiday Mario blends on offer.  I did not exercise much restraint!

Mini Melters Up Close

I’ve shared no photos of the replacement Mini Melters, because for the most part, it was just a whole lot of beige and brown (all of my favourite bakery blenders, from Waffle Cone and Vanilla Bean Noel, to Marshmallow Smoothie and Royal Sugar Cookie) with a tiny bit of Raspberry Sauce red thrown in for good measure.

But of the new blends on offer before the holidays, I snapped up two bags of Holy Cannoli Twinkies (left) and Christmas Wish Peeps Cake (right.)  Christmas Wish, a festive blend of pine trees and iced sugar cookies, is an odd favourite of mine; blended with sugary sweet marshmallow Peeps, it’s positively scrumptious.  And Holy Cannoli Twinkies, a classic Rosegirls Raspberry Sauce blend, is fan-freakin-tastic – a little sweet, a little tart, a little cakey and a whole lot fruity, it was love at first sniff.

Chunks

I love creating my own blends with Mini Melters, but there’s always something to be said for Rosegirls’ classic chunks, and in such charmingly pretty colours, too!  Of the many scents on offer, I grabbed three bags in Crazy Pants Wackadoodle (left), a super potent blend of juicy apples and rich sugar cookies, Strawberry Mango Peeps Cake (centre), a Peeps-enhanced blend of one of my favourite fruity duos, and Dunk My Donut Cuppa Cake Noel (right), a disappointingly light combination of cinnamon sugar donuts, cupcakes and Vanilla Bean Noel.  I get that distinctive VBN note and not much else.  I’m going to tuck this scent away for a bit and see if it comes around with time.

Snowflake Wreath

Saving the biggies for last, these jumbo snowflakes (a bit bigger than my palm and twice as thick) came in an assortment of Rosegirls’ popular Super Mario-inspired scent blends.  It’s been my fun little holiday tradition for three years now to grab whatever’s available in these festive scents; I don’t think it would have felt like Christmas without them. 🙂

Starting with the topmost snowflake in purple, we have Up on the Castle Top, a favourite fruity-bakery blend featuring Berry Creme Brulee and Rice Krispie Treats.  I think this smells like old school berry Bubbalicious bubble gum, the super smackery kind.  Going clockwise, the green snowflake is Go Tell it on DK’s Mountain, a bracingly strong blend of cologne-y Sweater Weather, pine and Vanilla Bean Noel.  I’ve no idea why I like this scent; it’s entirely unlike any of my usual scent preferences.

Continuing on clockwise, the dusty rose snowflake is in the blend that sold me on all things Raspberry Sauce, Yoshi the Red Nosed Dino, a nose-tinglingly tart combination of my beloved Raspberry Sauce and pistachio smoothie.  Yes, pistachio; I stand beside you in your shock!  But wow, this scent is wonderful.  I look forward to melting it all year.  Down in the 6 pm position, the pale pink snowflake is in Koopa Troopa Assault, another bracingly strong blend of pomegranate, lemon, Raspberry Sauce and Marshmallow Smoothie.  With both of these ultra strong blends, I should get a solid six or more melts out of each snowflake.

The turquoise snowflake is in Koopa Klaus is Coming to Town, a warm and cozy blend of zucchini bread, coconut and sugar cookies.  Rich and sweet, this delightful scent smells like the very best kind of Christmas baking.  Finally, closing out the wreath with the rose red snowflake, we have Manic Mario Madness, a new-to-me blend of Mac apple, blueberry and vanilla ice cream.  Apples and blueberries – can’t ever go wrong with that combo.  The three Christmas lights are samples in Up on the Castle Top.

So there we have it, the fragrances that will be scenting my home for what I hope is many, many months to come.  Low buy no buys are so much more satisfying when you have a stash to work through, and boy, do I have a stash!  So I’ll be working through that, all while studiously ignoring all but the most tantalizing of wax offerings.  Gotta keep my eye on that Disney prize. 😉