The Secret Bathing Garden: A Haul Post

TBG Main Photo

Or not-so-secret, as here it is, in all its deliciously-scented glory. ūüôā

So it would appear that my previous protestations that I am not a beauty product person were weak efforts made in total vain, because you guys, look at all the pretty beauty products!  I bought so much!  Not one demonstrable ounce of willpower on display, not a one.  Birthday mad money very well spent.

This is the part where I’m supposed to scold myself for glorifying capitalism and mindless retail expenditures. Except it wasn’t mindless! ¬†For that you’ll have to check out this fun story of the time I narcotics-shopped my way into a $200 bounty of shimmery unicorn makeup. ūüėČ

But regardless of where you stand on the “My, that was a silly purchase” spectrum, I think we can all agree that these Bathing Garden items, a lovely treat facilitated by one of my sweet online friends, are absolutely beautiful and well-deserving of a SHOWING OF THE STUFF. ¬†So let’s show it!

TBG Scrubs Collage

First up, we have four lovely sugar scrubs in, from left to right, Sugared Pie Crust, Tea Party with Alice, Fried Candy Donut and Parisian Strawberry Fields. ¬†Shannon, the mistress of all things Bathing Garden, makes the most gorgeous scrubs – they’re finely textured, beautifully scented and not too oily, perfect for everyday use. ¬†I tore through the two scrubs I purchased some months ago with great haste – not too surprising given that I used them (and continue to use them) to buff my tired tootsies every day as a nice little post-workout treat. ¬†I’m really the sweetest smelling, most well-exfoliated lass in the land. ūüôā ¬†These 8 oz. scrubs were $9.00 US each.

TBG Pie Time

Next up, I spy with my little eye something that is…pie! ¬†Regrettably non-edible, but that may be a blessing in disguise when you’re trying to stick to a healthy eating plan, and also when the items in question smell as delicious as this bundle of Sugared Pie Crust sweets. ¬†Not to get all rapturous on you or anything, but these items – the sugar scrub we saw before, a light lotion, a wax clamshell and that adorable little lattice-topped pie slice – smell like sex on stilts. ¬†Sugared Pie Crust, you incredible bakery beast, where have you been all my life?!

Here’s the part where I killjoy all over your piqued interest by noting that this scent is no longer available. Offered as part of The Bathing Garden’s monthly featured scent bundle, Sugared Pie Crust was a bit of a one-and-done (or a one-and-done…for now; these popular scents tend to make annual reappearances.) ¬†The items in each bundle vary slightly from month to month (May’s featured the most adorable little popsicle-shaped wax tarts and a lush whipped soap) but this particular assortment of goodies retailed for $18.50.

TBG Tea Collage

Then following pie time comes tea time – a playing card-shaped wax tart and a tri-layered sugar scrub in Tea Party with Alice, a honeyed tea, clotted cream and strawberry jam fragrance. ¬†Both items are beautiful (even the scrub, with its sadly melted rosebud embellishment) but I’m quite undecided on the scent. ¬†To my nose, the honeyed cream and tea layers combine to create something unpleasantly sour and astringent – it’s an odd combination somewhat redeemed by the rich strawberry jam scent. ¬†The sugar scrub, which we saw above with its yummy sisters, was $9.00, and the gorgeous tri-layered tart, sprinkled with beautiful eye-catching embellishments, was $3.00.

And since no Bathing Garden order would be complete without at least a few clamshells, I picked up some of those. ¬†Plus, you know, nine or 10 others. ūüėČ ¬†These clamshells were $3.75 each.

TBG Clamshells 1 LabelBare Collage

Representing Team Brown, we have Fried Candy Donut, a favourite wildberry donut scent, Eat Me, a complex, beguiling blend of what I swear is chocolate and wood shavings, and that glorious Sugared Pie Crust fragrance, on whose many delicious-smelling qualities I have already expounded.

TBG Clamshells 2 LabelBare Collage

From the recently-retired Spring Collection, we have Sweet Green, a bracingly strong blend of mint, clover and other grassy things, Pomegranate Lime Sweet Tarte, a delightfully yummy fragrance that smells exactly like all four of those descriptors, and Spring Fling, a mild blend of citrus and cupcakes.

TBG Clamshells 3 LabelBare Collage

Next, we have three delicious new favourites, Cheshire Cat, a fun and fruity combination of lemon, raspberry and vanilla, Happy Un-Birthday, a not-so-basic blend of yellow cake topped with mounds of cotton candy icing, and Parisian Strawberry Fields, a super fresh and sweet-tart blend of strawberries and mangoes. Fantastic, all!

TBG Clamshells 4 LabelBare Collage

Finally, we have my three favourite clamshells of this order, both in terms of fragrance and aesthetics,¬†Clowning Around, an I-shouldn’t-like-this blend of popcorn, candy apples and cotton candy,¬†Knave of Hearts, a candy sweet blend of fresh strawberries and brown sugar coconut cake, and¬†Caterpillar Mischief, a sweet and creamy combination of mild coconut cream and apricot. Mushroom-induced fissure notwithstanding, just look at this gorgeous tart! ¬†It’s stupendously beautiful, even a tiny wee bit roughed-up. Tiny wax works of art.

Caterpillar Mischief

Finally-finally, we come to my favourite part of any Bathing Garden order, the free samples and fun little extras. ¬†I suspect I am not alone in my outright awe of Shannon’s generosity, which is second to none – at least one full size item of her choice comes with any order over $90.00, and that’s in addition to the many, many, many sample size items that routinely come with each order as delightful little enablers. ūüėČ

As this order was a little bit mine and a little bit my friend’s, we split the freebies roughly 50/50. ¬†There were, however, a number of scents that simply didn’t speak to me – that happens when 3/4 of the scents you like have the word “cookie” somewhere in their name. ¬†So I left those in the possession of my friend, who I¬†know will sniff and suss out their hidden depths and glories far better than I. ¬†So this bounty, which includes one of the full size sugar scrubs we saw before, represents just my half of the extras, and then just a fraction of those (wow, seriously, so many unintentional fractions in that last paragraph!)

TBG Freebies

Generously-provided freebies, clockwise from left to right, include a full size sugar scrub in¬†Parisian Strawberry Fields, a small tri-layered bundt in Cheshire Cat,¬†a sample size sugar scrub in¬†Knave of Hearts (ooh, this one is so delicious in a scrub, and that red velvet hue is to die for!), a small blue and purple bundt in Summer Twilight, a calming berry-lavender blend, a small green rosette in Summer Melon and Mint, a nose-tinglingly yummy combination of watery melons and mint, a large yellow coin in Bee Smitten, a light, honeyed floral, a small yellow rosette in¬†Happy Un-Birthday, a small pink star in¬†Guava Berry Gelato, a popular blend of creamy vanillas and sweet berries, a large pink coin in¬†Sweet Madi, which regrettably smells a bit like plastic disposable diapers (which is pretty rank, but I suppose you can’t win ’em all) and a small blue rosette in¬†Mid-Summer Song, which smells like a memory from my past that I can’t quite put my finger on right now, but which will undoubtedly come to me in the dead of night or some other thoroughly inconvenient moment.

So there we have it, another lovely Bathing Garden order that more than tickles my fancy – it also exfoliates, moisturizes and leaves my fancy smelling just divine, thank you! Secret no more. ūüėČ

My Top 16 Nail Art Designs of 2016

best-16-of-2016-collage

Closing out another year of intensely fussy nail art with a look back at the 16 designs that ruled my 2016. Highlights this year include a growing mastery of the water marbling technique (if not the ability to get any two of my nails to look the same), a begrudging acceptance of once-hated charms, studs and other dangly bits, a more than passing acquaintance with tiny, free-handed designs and an absolute ton of lettering, both on my nails and on the page, one of many fun little tangential offshoots of this nail art business.

In nearly all respects, 2016 has been a miserable year, more like a deeply unpleasant dream than actual reality. But that warm, tiny little fissure of joy I get from a nail art job well done? ¬†That’s real, and cherished – a bright spot amidst the gloom, and one I’d like to share with you. ¬†I hope you enjoy this look back at some of my better efforts. ūüôā

Miss Argentina, the droll, seen-it-all receptionist who mans the check-in desk in the Waiting Room of the Dead in the movie Beetlejuice.

Miss Argentina Hand

Custard Waffle Cone, With Sprinkles.  Yummy.

Dollish Polish's Get Your Sprinkle On!: Funfetti Frozen Custard

Beetlejuice.  This manicure is my favourite of the year; I think I really nailed the lettering. A more than fitting tribute for a beloved movie.

beetlejuice-fingers

Suicide Squad, a movie that had a lot of (Hot Topic-infused) style and not much substance.

Suicide Squad 1 Hand

Sandra’s Midnight Garden, because sometimes you just want pretty, pretty nails.

Secret Midnight Garden Fingers

Butterfly Garden, for when you’re in the mood to infuriate yourself with glitter placement. ¬†Also, see above re: pretty.

Butterflies in the Sun

Sandra’s Fabrics. ¬†Here’s another¬†post with my name in the title, this time a play on the name of textile purveyor Jo-Ann’s Fabrics.

sandras-fabrics-side

Saturberries. ¬†Because this is a strawberry manicure and I did it on a Saturday. ¬†Sometimes it’s really just that silly!

Succulent Strawberries Shade

Super Mario Bros.  Boing, boing!

Super Mario 1

Floral Fingers.  The absolute height of 3D embellishment madness.

Floral Fingers 1

Fruity Fingers.  Although there is an awful lot of stuff on these nails, is there not?

Fruity Fingers Shade

What a Gem. ¬†Although these nails are nothing BUT gorgeous little gemstone nail charms atop a smokin’ hot polish, so clearly I have no idea what I’m talking about!

What a Gem 1

The Division. ¬†For my gamer husband, who is approaching¬†1,000 hours of playable game time. ¬†It’s a sickness.

The Division Hand

Blurryface.  Twenty One Pilots was the non-stop soundtrack to my 2016.

twenty one pilots hand

Saturday Night Sushi.  Another lotsa-stuff-on-my-nails mani painted on a Saturday night.  Those microbeads were a nightmare to corral.

Sushi Hand

Dory.  I like this nail art more than I liked the actual movie.  Pixar, you be slacking lately.

Dory Hand

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 Рbut incredibly delicate РNightmare 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: 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

 

Eye-Searing Citrus

Citrus Smoothie Fingers

Bright! ¬†So bright! ¬†Just a simple, super vibrant combo here of a couple of unnamed neon jellies topped with Candy Lacquer’s ultra fruity Citrus Smoothie glitter topper. ¬†In real life, this manicure is a touch more yellow and a smidge more pink than it’s showing in these photos – with apologies, neons can do some very strange things to a camera’s colour correctness.

Citrus Smoothie Bottle

Fabulously Flaky

Macro Mani

Getting way up close and personal with this flaked-out manicure that was little more than an excuse for me to muck about with a fun, colour-shifting polish and my neglected macro lenses. ¬†And this flakie, Polish Me Silly’s multi-chromatic Party Hearty, is an excellent candidate for the job – it just looks so cool mega magnified, particularly the larger, slightly raggedy rainbow bits. ¬†Love this fun, experimental look. ūüôā

Fabulously Flaky Fingers 1

Another Go at the Flaming Moe (OMD3)

Flaming Moe's Collage

No, you’re not imagining things – this really is the second time I’ve done this exact design in as many days.

Perfectionist types, no matter the creative medium they dabble in, may be familiar with that nagging feeling to DO BETTER that accompanies perceived mis-steps, like crappy nail art that you really wish you hadn’t published to your blog before embarking on a serious do-over. Because the first Simpsons manicure that I did just two days ago has been DRIVING ME BANANAS, and I’ve been plotting its re-boot ever since I hit the “Publish” button. So when a bit of poor weather-related downtime presented itself this weekend, I decided to do precisely that, and I’m so much happier with the results! Behold, Flaming Moe’s 2.0!

So what was driving me so first world nail polish bonkers about my first attempt? For starters, and probably most vexing of all, I painted the first version quite late at night and took my photos in my insufficiently lit bathroom. Every other manicure I’ve done for the Oh Mon Dieu Nail Art Challenge – indeed, every manicure I’ve done for months, period – has had its photos taken outdoors, which when it comes to nail art photography at least is very nearly always preferable to an artificial light source. Painting my nails in the dim evening light also presented its own set of problems, namely that I didn’t notice any until it was far too late to do anything about them, because I couldn’t clearly see my own work. And to that end, I found the gradient I attempted (which was supposed to look like a multi-layered Flaming Moe) muddy, washed out and ill defined.

I also didn’t care for the way I went about the lettering in “Flaming Moe’s” the first time around. For Moe’s V. 1.0, I painted on the yellow lettering and then outlined each letter in orange, which went about as well as you can imagine. Things got quite messy and I basically wound up painting over the yellow lettering with the orange and then filling it back in with the yellow. Very counter-intuitive and a big waste of time and materials.

So for Version 2.0, I went with a completely different approach, starting with a lighter, simpler gradient in basic creme polishes and ending with the easier lettering technique I eventually adopted during my first go-round. MUCH better, and proof positive that with nail art – and so, so many other things in life – you really can learn from your mistakes, even if it’s a couple of days later. ūüôā

Flaming Moe's Hand