And Now Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

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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!

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Positive Steps: A Dieting Story

Irregular Choice Collage 1

I’ve been having all manner of difficulty lately staying on track of my fitness and diet goals.  Oh, I’m still going down to the gym and the pool for almost-daily workouts, sometimes even with Mr. Finger Candy or my mom in tow, but I’ve been eating such garbage, and lots ‘n’ lots of it.  I’d wager in the first year of my “Turn things around or you’re gonna die” regime I dined at McDonald’s (a favourite, because that’s where the golden delicious fries live) perhaps just three or four times.  I went there three times over this past long weekend alone. 😦

So that’s all kind of suckiness that I’m attempting to set right here at the beginning of this shortened work week.  No more eyeballing it, no more creeping portion sizes, no more crap dietary decisions.  No more McDonald’s, at least for the time being.  Instead, I’d like to see a return to the sensible – and very casual – diet and exercise “plan” I’ve been following to great success these past 15 months (you know, up until the high caloric affair that was The Great Quarter Poundering of Victoria Day Weekend 2018.)  I’m just a happier, better functioning human being when I keep a reasonable eye on body and soul, so that’s what I’m going to do.

As always, though, motivation is key.  After all, if I had such a limitless font of the stuff in the first place, I wouldn’t be here right now!  So this past weekend I went looking for something to juice the old motivational gears, evidence that what I’ve been doing has been working – a formerly snug tee, a formerly snug necklace, a formerly snug (insert the item *HERE* because everything was snug.)

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Including my shoes!  Because you actually can gain quite a bit of weight in your feet.  Which is why these kawaii cuties from Irregular Choice have been banished to the top shelf of the front hall closet for the past six years – because they simply do did not fit.  I’m one of Cinderella’s step-sisters, but instead of greed and avarice, I was kept out of these slippers due to my extreme love of butter.

Irregular Choice Collage 2

But they fit now!  And I was beyond excited yesterday when I found them, jammed them onto my feet (no surprise here, but they are muy uncomfortable) and discovered that not only could I fasten the Mary Jane straps across my arches, but I could also stand up in them AND shimmy around for a bit (before the daggers in the balls of my feet demanded I stop.)  Victory is mine!  And so is a whole pile of positive motivation to keep on keeping on.  I truly never thought I’d wear these shoes not just again, but EVER, because they have never fit.  I’m as happy as a gilded, googly-eyed cupcake on a pair of four inch heels.

Irregular Choice 3

Or my fingers!  Because, you know, nail art.  I think this manicure turned out wonderfully, if not totally impractically.  But sometimes in beauty – and footwear – you want to take the more is more approach, and these nails, and their inspiration, definitely qualify as MORE.  Love it all, and glad to be back on track in so many different ways.

Irregular Choice 2

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. 🙂

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.

Motivation Manicure: A Dieting Story

Motivation Manicure Fingers

Or “How to Persevere with Your Long-Term Health and Dietary Goals When Your Motivation is Beginning to Wane.”  Except that is WAY too long a title, so Moti-Mani it is!

Regular readers and casual dropper-byers alike may remember that I’m now four months into a rather major overhaul of my family’s general health and wellness.  As in we possessed neither of those things, and I was inching dangerously close to a pit that had nothing at the bottom but razor sharp rocks.  Also diabetes, stroke and heart attack, but I thought the pointy rock thing was apt.

So I hitched up my pants (hahahahahahaha, there was no hitching, silly!  I couldn’t even get my pants BUTTONED) and decided to do the only thing I hadn’t yet tried – make a real, concerted effort to save my own bloody life.

Nearly four months in, I’m pleased to report that I’ve shed a little over 40 pounds and four dress sizes.  Better yet, I now sleep through the evening (or at least as long as my cat will allow.)  I don’t get winded walking up a flight of stairs.  I no longer wake feeling like a UFC match took place in my stomach during the night.  My skin is bright and (mostly) clear.  I have lots of energy.  I no longer sweat while eating.  Or breathing.

And while those are all FABULOUS side effects of a healthier approach to diet, exercise and general wellness, remembering to appreciate those seemingly minor gains for the major motivational milestones they actually are is a trap all of us fall into at one time or another.  We have a tendency – in all aspects of life, really – to dismiss the mundane inanities of everyday life in favour of THE BIG SHOW.  We live for those big moments, and that includes the things we feel passionately about, the things that motivate us.

How that tends to manifest itself in the dieter’s mind is a fixation on a major, end-of-diet treat (an expensive vacation, a crossed-off item on the bucket list, a five-star tour of France where you do nothing but eat cheese for 10 straight days, I don’t know your life!)

For me, that major treat is a ludicrously expensive, long and splashy trip to Disney World, one of my favourite places on Earth, and a spot I’ve been avoiding since gaining ALL the weight.  I think about that still-very-nebulous vacation every day as I’m thumping away on the treadmill, imagining that each on-the-spot step is actually me hauling nimble ass towards the Haunted Mansion for the first of the day’s 13 straight rides.  It’s wonderful motivation, an achievable big dream I can almost reach out and touch.  It also sort of has a smell (popcorn, Dole Whip, propane and chlorinated It’s a Small World water, in case you were wondering.)

And that’s what this manicure is, the nail art representation of a beautiful dream that I’m taking much-needed steps towards making a reality every single day (me standing on the Hub grass of the Magic Kingdom waiting for one of the evening’s innumerable fireworks bonanzas as the sun sets in a pastel sky behind Cinderella’s castle, but of course.)

Motivation Manicure Bottle

But plans of dream vacations will only take you so far, as being so far off in the distance themselves, they can begin to feel unattainable – gigantic dreams turned pipe dream. With a long, hard slog ahead and no clear horizon in sight, it’s just far too easy to give up altogether, particularly after suffering a (completely normal and unavoidable) setback.

So I’m choosing instead to also celebrate those little, in-the-middle victories – the increased energy, the improved mood, the sleep-filled nights.  Because it’s good to always keep your eye on the big prize, but it’s also worth checking in every now and then with the smaller successes as well.  They’re the real motivators, and the real reason to continue doing just what I’m doing – because it feels good, and because I feel good. Nothing more complicated than that. 🙂

Saturberries

Succulent Strawberries Sun

I’m preparing for a great Saturday night just lounging around at home with my fella – Indian takeaway in the kitchen, Stranger Things on the TV for the I’ve-lost-count time and this sweet strawberry manicure adorning my fingertips.

Facebook recently informed me that three years ago I combined motivation and some not-long-simmering interest in nail art, and out the other side came about 1,500 manicures, and indeed this very blog.  Self congrats aside, for all of the people who have ever been kind enough to comment that I’m quite good at nail art, and they could never turn out, say, strawberries as fine as mine, YOU CAN.  It just takes a bit of practice and a whole lot of patience.  Because you’ve seen where I started out, right?  I mean, check out these lumpy berries!  Sloppy work, terrible photography, and did you even know I had a right hand? 😉

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Point being, we all start the things we eventually go on to be good or great at from a place of pure suck. Nothing sexier to be done about it than just keep moving forward and aim to improve, but that’s just good life advice, period.

Now off to my Stranger Indian Food Things. 😉

Succulent Strawberries Shade