Tea Time

Tea Time Main

Afternoon high tea is such a deeply civilized and indulgent custom, isn’t it?  I think it’s all those gold-rimmed cups, raised pinkies and tiny, crustless sandwiches.  Or maybe I just love the idea of stopping mid-day to treat yourself, mull over the events of the coming hours, days and weeks from atop a steaming mug of Earl Grey.  I think we’d all be better off – humanity, that is – if we were required to take a one-hour breather every afternoon. Stranger Things’ Chief Hopper may say that mornings are for coffee and contemplation, but I think afternoons are for tea and reflection.  Also crustless cucumber sandwiches with herbed cream cheese, and a couple of those tomato-and-bacon jobbies with the spicy mayo when you get a moment, thank you.

Sitting down with a bracing cuppa, however, is but one way to enjoy the elegant pleasures of tea time.  There’s also plenty of tea-based bath and beauty products, scented waxes and perfumes, as well as a vast assortment of things that just look like they belong on a tiered tray.  Of the latter, I have much!  It really made me realize how much my taste in decorating is rooted in the flouncy tea room aesthetic – so many vintage florals, and everything’s shaped like a petit four.  I also really love it when my bath and beauty items look – and smell! – like wee pastries.  And so what delicious assortment of treats has recently made an appearance on my tea tray of life? 😉

Tea Time Whole Tea Set

Well, for starters, tea time would be no such thing without a proper tea set, of which I somehow had none.  I didn’t even have a teapot, save the deeply unattractive – but wonderfully functional – diffuser pot I use for my day-to-day tea breaks.  I pulled together this beautiful little set from a stunningly gorgeous display of mix-and-match items at Marie Antoinette, a favourite decor shop in my hometown of Ottawa, Ontario.  If you turned me loose in there for just 10 unbidden minutes, I could bankrupt myself and probably everyone else I know.  Is it cheating to say, “I’ll just take the entire store”? Because I would.  Twice!

Tea Time Cups Collage

How wonderful are these sweet little cups with their tiny china spoons?  I’m smitten with the not-quite-matching detailing and the vintage floral design on these pastel pretties.

Tea Time Tea Pot

The nicest surprise of all – because it was actually something I neglected to check while I was in the store – was getting this cute little teapot home and discovering that it houses a convenient built-in diffuser basket. Form and function at its prettiest!

Tea Time Bath Bombs

Another sweet find from Marie Antoinette was this tantalizing trio of mini cupcake-shaped Bath Mallows from UK outfit Bomb Cosmetics in, left to right, Cherry Pie, Lavanille and Little Bo Peep.  These tiny treats are so scrumptious (particularly Little Bo Peep, which smells like cake and candied berries) I had to hold myself back from just snatching up mad handfuls of the delicious little buggers.  Oh, that finances and storage space were of no concern!

Tea Time Wax Scrub Perfume

Speaking of mad, here’s a few items that might show up on the edge of the Hatter’s tub, a playing card-shaped wax tart and tri-layered scrub from The Bathing Garden in Tea Party with Alice, a perplexing blend of strawberries, honeyed tea and clotted cream, and a dainty rollerball perfume from Solstice Scents in Blossom Jam Tea Cakes, a beguiling blend of spring florals, almond tea cakes and sweet icing.  Appropriately enough, I’ve been driven sort of mad by both of these scents, as I really don’t care for either.  Or do I? Nah, I definitely don’t like them.  Or maybe I do?  I’m deeply undecided on both, and it’s really messing with my head.  The Hatter would absolutely approve.

Tea Time Yankee Tarts

None of these wax tarts from Yankee Candle smell like tea, but they remind me of tiny fluted tea cakes nonetheless.  They also look pretty fabulous stacked up so sweetly in that header photo. 🙂

Of these five tarts, Strawberry Lemon Ice is a favourite.  It smells exactly like the strawberry sauce my church would serve atop its annual Strawberry Social shortcake, juicy, sweet and tart.  Cafe Al Fresco is an unexpected favourite – smooth and creamy in a way I think none of us ever expect from Yankee Candle. Honey Lavender Gelato was pretty inoffensive, and you already know my feelings on Pink Sands.  Peeps had no scent whatsoever, unfortunately.  It happens, particularly with Yankee’s lighter scents, and you don’t get lighter than a marshmallow Peep.

Tea Time Tray of Sweets

Finally, we have a couple of cake trays laden with tantalizingly yummy wax treats from The Bathing Garden, including (top tray left to right) Summer Melon & Mint, Guava Berry Gelato, Summer Twilight, Sweet Madi and Happy Un-Birthday and (bottom tray left to right) Bee Smitten, Sweet Madi, Cheshire Cat, Sugared Pie Crust and Mid-Summer Song. Delicious little (non-edible) treats fit for an elegantly refined – and well-earned – tea break.

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Sweet Carnival Treats

Circus Header with Banner

I sadly can’t remember the last time I was at a carnival or a fair or an exhibition. Probably the last time the actual Exhibition was in town, a travelling carnival (complete with jerky carnies of questionable sobriety) that made the Canadian rounds every summer until I was well into my 20s.  I loved going to the Ex so much; would actually go multiple times over its two-week run with my parents or my friends – ’twas no better place to people-watch, boy-hunt and play out your very dramatic teenage life than the dusty, sweaty and dirty Exhibition.

When I close my eyes, I can still see the flashing neon lights of the Zipper and the Pirate Ship and the godforsaken Tilt-a-Whirl bathing Lansdowne Park with their jaunty artificial glow.  I can smell back bacon on a bun, perogies, miniature powdered donuts and candy apples.  I can picture the trashcan beside the Himalaya where I nearly threw up in front of a boy I liked very much after we challenged each other to what was in retrospect an ill-advised pre-Himalaya milk-chugging competition (nobody won that day.)  These memories are so potent, I can almost hear local punk act Furnaceface (opening for Bryan Adams, yo) drifting (probably more like blaring) over the long-since-gentrified Lansdowne Park stands (it’s actually still a football stadium, now home to the Ottawa Redblacks, but these days it’s surrounded by far more genteel – and infinitely more boring – fare (Whole Foods, a splashy movie theatre and some chain restaurants that won’t be there in two years’ time.)  *Sigh*…might as well just give in to the Grumpy Old Lady within and admit that I miss the Exhibition of my youth. It was dirty, but it was our dirt (to paraphrase The Goonies, “It’s our grime!  It’s our grime down here!”)

Okay, time to step off the nostalgia bus and focus on the real task at hand here, eyeing-up this fun assortment of carnival-themed wax, snacks and bath and beauty items.  As always when putting together one of these themed posts, I’m amazed at the sheer number and variety of items I was able to pull together from just ’round the apartment. Why do I own so much circus and carnival-themed stuff when I haven’t been to either in over a decade?  Who the heck knows!  But it’s fun and pretty, and I had a blast putting together this little still life photo shoot.  MUCH easier working with cotton candy and sugar scrubs than trying to stuff babies dressed like begonias into flower pots, trust. 😉

Circus Lights Photo 1

First, a bit of carnival-themed wax, including clamshells in The Bathing Garden‘s unexpectedly delightful Clowning Around and Poppet’s Coaster Ride, and in the little cup, a few thematically-appropriate scents, Rosegirls‘ Cotton Candy Frosting and Waffle Cone and The Bathing Garden’s Tunnel of Love.

Both Clowning Around and Poppet’s Coaster Ride were favourites from an order I placed with The Bathing Garden earlier this year, and unexpected ones at that, on account of the popcorn note in Clowning Around and the lemon note in Poppet’s Coaster Ride – the latter tends to give me headaches and the former is nearly always totally yucky.  But the popcorn note in Clowning Around is completely inoffensive, adding a pleasant, almost grassy tinge to its tri-layered blend of sweet cotton candy, even sweeter candy apples and fragrant kettle corn.  And wonder of wonders, the lemon note in Poppet’s Coaster Ride, a dee-licious combination of raspberry cake bites, peach jam and luscious lemon curd, did not give me a headache!  Praise the fragrance gods!  And so I snapped up one of each scent in both the wax and scrub formats.  The sugar scrubs are loooonnnnng gone, having fulfilled their intended purpose in life, but they were too pretty to not share alongside these shots of their stupendously gorgeous clamshell companions.

Circus TBG Wax and Scrub Collage

By now you will have noticed that as ringmistress of this particular blogging circus, I’m focusing on the more pleasantly-scented side of the carnival circuit.  As in the cotton candy and the frozen custard and the caramel apples, and not so much the sweat and the outhouse and the chip grease (and the dust and the pig-on-a-bun and the cheap body spray.)  If that’s your thing, though, Demeter probably has a scent for you!

Circus Lights Photo 2

And if you’ll now direct your attention to the centre ring, ladies and gentlemen, you’ll find a fun assortment of carnival-themed bath and body care, including a festive fragrance from Solstice Scents (Foxcroft Fairgrounds, a beguiling blend of cotton candy, taffy, funnel cakes, crisp Fall air and wood smoke), a candy floss-scented bath bomb from The Goat Milk Soap Store, an Experimenter bath bomb from Lush, and a bottle of one of my favourite indie nail polishes, Candy Lacquer‘s Carnival Games.

Okay, okay, so with its funky old man smell, I’ll concede that The Experimenter is not exactly carnival-inspired.  At least no carnival I ever wish to attend!  But the mad burst of rainbow-hued bubbles it gives off reminds me of the garish, ultra vibrant neon lights of the attractions blinking feverishly in the sultry summer nights.

Circus Experimenter Bath Bomb Photo

And Carnival Games is the gold standard in mega chunky glitter bombs, a bonkers assortment of every shape possible in every colour imaginable.  Bright and whimsical, just like its namesake (though definitely not rigged, and certainly not a waste of money.) 😉

CG Bottle

Finally, we have a mixed bag of carnival-inspired goodies from The Bathing Garden – a bundt-shaped wax tart in Nights at the Circus, a scrumptious pumpkin-apple blend, lotion in Candy Carousel, another “scents of the midway” fragrance, whipped soap in Fried Candy Donut, a favourite of Mr. Finger Candy, dipped candy apple-shaped wax tarts in Victorian Midway (left) and Vintage Circus (right), two blends based off one of my mother’s favourite fragrances, Bath and Body Works’ Winter Candy Apple, another long-since-used sugar scrub in Fried Candy Donut, and a tiny, perfectly-shaped donut wax tart in – once more, with feeling! – Fried Candy Donut.

Circus Lights Photo 3

And with that, dear audience, it’s time to draw this carnival to a close – dismantle the Zipper, pack away the flammable prizes, turn off the cotton candy…blowers?  Sure, we’ll go with blowers.  See you out there in the circus of life, friends. 🙂

Tulip Fest

Tulip Fest Angle

The Canadian Tulip Festival is a thing that happens in my fair hometown of Ottawa, Ontario every May, a grand, sprawling celebration of, among other things, the 100,000 tulip bulbs the Dutch royal family gifted to Canada in 1945 as thanks for sheltering a princess and her daughters during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.  The great-great-great-great-great-great-to-whatever-infinity grand-flowers of those original tulips have blossomed every spring here in the Nation’s Capital (or not; sometimes we still get snow at this time of year) since 1953.  As a kid I’d go every couple of years with my parents or perhaps on a school trip, but I haven’t been since high school, when the festival was overflowing with awesome alternative music acts (Tulipalooza was the jam) and a ludicrous number of opportunities to meet cute, grungy boys (once again, thank you Tulipalooza!)

The Canadian Tulip Fest actually just wrapped up its 2017 season, so the artists, the musicians and the Big Lemon have all left the building, but the tulips – over a million spread out in vast beds across the city – are still here, and doing really quite well in our deeply unpredictable spring weather.  So I thought I’d do some nails to commemorate the commemoration of the tulips that commemorate the very special relationship between Canada and the Netherlands.  Phew!

And this has been your Canadian nail art history moment.  Please join me next time when I recount how my family is related to Laura Secord, a war heroine who actually has nothing to do with the chocolate empire that bears her name.  But for now, the tulips!

Tulip Fest Front

The Nightclub at the Edge of the Universe

Zaphods Fingers

On a Friday night 20 or so years ago, there was probably only one place you’d find me, on the dance floor of Zaphod Beeblebrox, the coolest bar in the universe.  Located in the very un-cool city of Ottawa, Ontario, Zaphod’s was a small, oddly-shaped, black-lit sanctuary of Brit pop, industrial, electronica and alternative rock, with potent signature drinks (the glowing green Pangalactic Gargleblaster was a particular delicious favourite) and nightly showings of Aliens.  Some of the best moments of my life happened in that bar – it broke my young(er) heart when it closed a couple of weeks ago after 26 years of killer Friday nights.

To thank Zaphods for all my best weekends, I thought I’d paint this glow-in-the-dark galaxy manicure that mimics the black-lit stars and galaxies that dotted the walls of my favourite Nightclub at the Edge of the Universe.  Rest well, Zaphod’s – so long, and thanks for all the fish.

Zaphods Collage

More Power to the Flower

Fleurs

Because those April showers have to pay off somehow, right?  And I’m pretty sure the record flooding my city has seen over the past week (in a condo apartment on high ground, I am thankfully immune) is not what that tired old expression originally contemplated.  Strength to my less fortunate neighbours, with the vehement hope that the waters finally begin to recede.  Until then, more flowers, fewer showers.

Queen of Hearts

vday-header-photo

So I always thought I was the Queen of Halloween.  I’ve always loved dressing up in costumes, decorating my home and hosting terrible parties (my bad Halloween parties – yes, parties, plural – are legendary in their awkwardness, although I can’t say I loved them.  Nobody did!)  I was married on October 31st, for pity’s sake! But this gorgeous, lush pile of beautiful Valentine’s Day goodies suggests that my affections may lie with the 14th of February, and all its confusing, commercial connotations (riddle me this: Why do we give hand OR Hallmark-written sentiments to loved ones in the name of Saint Valentine, who was blind?  Also a martyr and a political prisoner, but how unsexy is that?)

It also took me next to no time to pull together this collection of items, from cute wax tarts, to the absolutely stunning silk floral wreath my mom and dad gave me in a fit of post-Christmas spoilage.  It, along with all of the other silk flower arrangements dotted about my apartment, lead me to think I may have a heretofore unacknowledged romantic streak!  Also a lot of pink, red and white things, most glittery, and right at hand, no less, living amongst me as decorative items, not just seasonal decorative items.

And so let’s see what sorts of beautiful things I’m loving on in the days leading up to Valentine’s, shall we?  On the left we have, from left to right, a Sex Bomb bath ballistic from Lush, berry-shaped wax melts from Rosegirls in Strawberry Jam, a blossom-shaped wax melt from Vintage Chic Scents in Jackie O (a delicious, creamy vanilla), a pink piped heart from Rosegirls in Cotton Candy Frosting, a gorgeous pair of wax lips (the actual non-edible kind) from The Bathing Garden in The Sweetest Thing, a green-berry kind of scent, and my magnetic, kissing kitties salt and pepper shakers.  I purchased the salt and pepper shakers at the same place my parents bought this gorgeous wreath, a store in my city by the name of Marie Antoinette.  It might be the most beautiful shop I’ve ever been in in my life, packed to the rafters (literally; lush bouquets and other decorative baubles hang from every available surface) with a gorgeous collection of carefully curated items. When I shop there (about once a month, following a delicious donut breakfast with my mom at Suzy Q Donuts across the street) I’m hard pressed not to walk away with the entire store.

vday-right-side

And over on the right we have, from left to right, a Sparkling Red Slippers bubble bar from Lush, a Lover Lamp bath bomb from Lush (it smells like citrus cinnamon hearts), my favourite candle, Voluspa’s French Bourbon Vanille, nestled in a glittery stand from Bath & Body Works, a couple of loved-up iced sugar cookies from A Couple of Squares (shoutout to London, Ontario now), a neat stack of soap rosebuds, another faux floral arrangement, and finally, a wee ceramic gateau, hinged to conceal a small space for hiding tiny treasures, another darling find from Marie Antoinette.  I’m in love with it all!

vday-left-side

Peak My Interest

Peak My Interest Bottle

So winter returned with a vengeance today.  Seriously, check this out.  That totally indistinguishable mass of grey clouds and pelting snow?  Hiding an entire RIVER.  The Ottawa River, to be exact, not that you’d ever know it.  Clearly I am living in a snow globe.

Snow Day

Shit’ll melt (heavens, that was an elegant turn of phrase) but until then, I need to do something to cheer myself up.  Because this major a snowstorm this late in the season is a major bummer.  Enter KB Shimmer’s Peak My Interest, a sheer, coral pink jelly sprinkled with periwinkle, pink, baby blue and white hex and triangle glitter. I always think this polish looks like Palm Springs in a bottle – it’s very early bird special, no?  Maybe that’s just the fabulously flamingo vibe I also get off this polish.  Hard to escape the Florida with this one!

Peak My Interest Fingers