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!

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SMT Scent Summit

SMT - Scent Summit Main Photo

Good morning, friends, and welcome, here in Ontario, to another swelteringly hot summer day.  We’re deep in the heat right now and just coming off a long weekend marred by inconsiderate, unpleasant weather, so everyone should be in a super great mood today!  So what better time to plan out a big scented wax order with Sniff My Tarts, who are opening for customs this coming Saturday?  I’d actually say it’s the perfect time for such an activity (anything that keeps you quiet, seated and three inches off the air conditioner, right?) especially with a couple of cool blogger friends and I guiding you through the madness.

I’ve posted about Sniff My Tarts before; I’ve placed two custom orders with them in the past, and shipping SNAFUs aside, I have always been very pleased with my products.  But jumping into the deep end of the custom wax world, creating scent blends when you’ve no idea what the individual notes even smell like in the first place, can be a confusing, daunting prospect.  Which is why a couple of blogging buddies and I have teamed up to share our custom ordering experiences, including our successful scent blends, in the hopes that you, too, can join in on the fun and mayhem this coming Saturday.

First, the pertinent details.  Sniff My Tarts will open for custom orders twice on Saturday, August 11th, once in the morning between 9 am and 10 am EST, and again in the evening between 7 pm and 8 pm EST.  Custom orders are taken on a first come, first served basis, and turnaround times for this popular ordering event (which SMT only holds twice a year) can be substantial – my last custom order took six months to finally make its way to my doorstep.  An order with SMT is very much a set-it-and-forget-it kind of proposition, as in make your choices, place your order, pay your money and then be utterly surprised and delighted when a gigantic box of wax that you had somehow forgotten about materializes on your doorstep in some months’ time.

If you go over to Sniff My Tart’s website and click on the “Custom” button on the left-hand side of the page, you’ll see the many formats that SMT is making available for customs – everything from multi-scent chunks, loaves and those incredible decorated sheet cakes, to chunky frosted sugar cookies, mini muffins and dainty macaroons.  Note that some forms are only available in individual scents (the macaroons), while others can accommodate blends of up to four different scents (pretty well everything else.)

After choosing the type of wax you’d like (I’m quite partial to those lovely decorated sheet cakes), begin to compose your scent blends.  You can find a comprehensive list (actually two lists) of SMT’s offered scents and their descriptions at the top of their homepage.  Keep in mind that the order in which you choose your scents does affect the outcome of your scent blends – the first scent you choose (sometimes called the overpour) will be the most dominant scent, with the second and third scents pulling up the rear.  So if you’re looking at a blend – say, this Mango Sorbet/Vanilla Waffle Cone/Coconut Cream Pie beaut I created some orders back – and thinking to yourself, “That sounds great, but I’m not sure I want that much Mango Sorbet,” move the scent notes around so the Mango Sorbet is in the third scent slot.  These are your custom creations – do with them what you will!

Birthday Sheet Cake

Having said all that, I’m also all too aware that creating your own delicious-smelling blends is a daunting, somehow needlessly complicated prospect, particularly if you’ve never done it before.  Which is precisely why I’ve composed this handy dandy list of some of my favourite SMT scents to help guide you through the seemingly endless blending possibilities.  Some of these creations are tried and true favourites – the Mango Sorbet blend, the Apple Cider Latte/Ice Cream Scoop Bread/Vanilla Waffle Cone blend, anything involving Marshmallow Noel and Candy – while others are hopeful shots in the dark.  What I do know for certain is if we weren’t talking about wax here, I’d want to eat every single thing on this list!

SMT - Sandra's Picks

If you don’t care for my BAKERY ALL THE THINGS approach to home fragrance, I’d invite you to peruse the infinitely more diversified scent lists of my blogging buddies Jay of The Scented Library and Julie of The Redolent Mermaid.  Over on both blogs you’ll find similar charts laying out Jay’s blends (fresh, airy, herbal blends shot through with fresh fruit and the barest bit of bakery) and Julie’s (natural, earthy, herbal scents heaped with mounts of mint and sweet Pink Sugar.)  Both have excellent, deeply varied tastes in fragrance, and they both like to experiment and blend outside the box (whereas seemingly the only requirement to me liking a scent blend is whether it could also possibly be mistaken for some sort of delicious dessert.)  And not for nothing, but they’re both pretty cool people with awesome blogs!  So please do check out Jay and Julie’s blogs for awesome additional scent blends, as well as their thoughts on the SMT custom dance.

As always, if you have any questions or would like a bit of guidance as you navigate the choppy waters of a custom wax sale, please do drop any one of us a comment and we’ll be happy to assist.  Who knows, we might even pick up some heretofore undiscovered scent blends.  Happy planning, friends!

Wake Up and Smell the Stupidity

Wax Collage

Also the scented wax coffee blends, but more on those in a second.

In my end-of-the-month spending assessment for March, I indicated that I hadn’t yet worked up the nerve to address the spend-a-thon I enthusiastically undertook in 2017 in any real detail.  Frankly, I was scared.  It’s difficult to confront hard and unflattering financial truths, isn’t it?  But Mr. Finger Candy and I recently made some smarter-than-usual financial decisions, and they have paid off in our ability to hopefully very soon book a second, interim Disney vacation between now and our bought-and-paid-for trip at the end of the year.  We’re even looking into becoming annual passholders.  This would have been completely incomprehensible this time last year for a wealth of reasons, including our actual wealth – hard to go on lots of fun Disney vacations when every cent you’ve got (and plenty of those you haven’t) goes into wax or nail polish or streamable media or video games.

So I took the plunge, and the total as represented through my PayPal account alone was startling – over $5,000 Canadian.  Feel free to let your jaw rest there on the floor for a bit – mine certainly took a while to rejoin the rest of my wide open mouth.  Distressingly enough, that $5,000 doesn’t even represent the purchases I made on a credit card, or the almost vulgar amount of shipping and customs fees I paid out of pocket.  Those alone could total in the thousands.

So yes, this was a hugely unflattering look into last year’s apparent total abdication of financial responsibility, a state we’re only now emerging from thanks to a lot of “sacrifice” and daily diligence.  But it was also a necessary peek behind the curtain, where of course there was a wizard furiously pulling the levers, a nasty little gremlin in dinky short pants who encouraged us to replace life with things.  Turns out, neither one of us was particularly enjoying the gremlin’s not-so-sage counsel, which is the moment we decided to really turn things around.

I love my nail polish and my scented wax and Mr. Finger Candy loves his Apple purchases and his GTA DLC, but I think life experiences, as well as the comforting assurance that your finances are not a total clusterbiff, are more important to us now.  God, getting old can be such a drag, suddenly you’ve got to be all responsible and shit. 😉

As always, some of that responsibility is manifested in the mantra of “Don’t buy more; just use what you’ve got.”  I’ve been following this sage advice for a while now, picking up books that have been sitting on the shelf for years, watching movies that have been sitting on the shelf for even longer and melting through my formerly extensive collection of scented wax.  At the beginning of all of this, I estimated that I probably had enough wax on hand to keep me going for eight or nine months.  Nine months may have been a bit of a reach, but eight is looking doable.  I very much hope the end coincides with a really fantastic Rosegirls sale, or a SMT customs opening.  My Mini Melter cupboard is beginning to run bare (not an actual cupboard; I didn’t go that hog wild!)

And the cupboard is running bare because I have been going nuts on the Mini Melter blends, conjuring up all sorts of fun creations in an effort to not deplete any one scent category completely.  Which didn’t stop me from going further nutso on the coffee blends this month – apparently I was really feelin’ the java!  Here are some of the more successful scent blends I came up with, in case you too feel like getting experimental with your scented caffeine.

Absolute Coffee/Marshmallow Smoothie/Monster Cookie/Raspberry Sauce

Wax 3.1

Starting with a tried and true favourite, we have the pleasant bitterness of Absolute Coffee as set against warm brown sugar cookies, fluffy marshmallow cream and tangy, ultra fruity raspberry drizzle.  Egads, this is a yummy blend!  You’ll note that save for one bakery-heavy combination, everything I’ve highlighted here is a fruit-and-coffee combo.  Very strange, as I generally loathe flavoured coffee, particularly the ones that are supposed to smell like fruit (my husband used to love the stuff; I still kept him.) 😉

Blackberry/Vanilla Hazelnut Latte

Wax 2.1

This juicy, fruity treat is equally delicious when paired with scrumptious Marshmallow Smoothie, but I’m down to my last three pieces of my Precious, so I must conserve.  But this blend doesn’t suffer from a lack of creaminess; there’s plenty of that provided by the rich Vanilla Hazelnut Latte, which holds its own nicely against the super juicy Blackberry.

Royal Sugar Cookie/Snickerdoodle Latte/Waffle Cone

Wax 4.1

Next up we have what is probably my least favourite of the four blends, and that’s because I’ve never been fond of Snickerdoodle Latte, the scent that forms the coffee base of this sweet bakery treat.  To me, it’s always smelled very sweet, very powdery and very phony – like Swiss Miss instant coffee mix.  It fared a little better paired alongside buttery Royal Sugar Cookie and toasty, sugary Waffle Cone, but it’ll never be a favourite.

Absolute Coffee/Apple Clove Butter/Marshmallow Smoothie/Monster Cookie

Wax 1.1

Finally, saving perhaps the very best for last, we have what should be an incongruous mix of bracingly strong coffee, warm and creamy bakery and spiced apples?  Sounds abhorrent, smells positively delicious, like a warm, cakey apple fritter.  It’s the closest thing to a total dupe of a favourite Sniff My Tarts custom – very fortunate, as I’m running low on that gem as well.  Fruit and coffee – seriously, who knew?!

Next month/this month?  More of the same financial goodness and cents sensibility, only this time accompanied by slightly fewer coffee-based blends – I’m in danger of running out!  Perhaps an “Anything but Marshmallow” (and Coffee!) challenge would stretch my blending legs, hmm? 🙂

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

They Say it’s Your Birthday

Birthday Collage.jpg

It’s my birthday, too!  No, actually, it really is – today I am *giant sigh* 41.  I won’t dare complain about it, though, as the alternative is pretty darn grim.  I’m just not feeling the celebratory thing this year, although I’m sure that will change once I’m half a whisky sour into tonight’s birthday steakhouse dinner; a lot can change once you add whisky sours to the mix. 😉

And so this afternoon, for my 41st, I’m enjoying a few of my favourite things – Dirty Dancing on the TV, pretty springtime Mickey nails and a thoroughly inedible birthday “cake.”

As always, my mani’s got me thinking about Disney.  I think this is the part where I’m supposed to say I want to be there RIGHT NOW, but I so don’t want to be there right now – right now is spring break, and spring break at Disney occupies its very own circle of Hell.  I saw photos yesterday of the lineup for Space Mountain that just about gave me a panic attack – it extended all the way out of the attraction and down to Auntie Gravity’s.  For those perhaps not as well versed in the Magic Kingdom’s geography as I, that’s a gigantic, four-plus hour lineup, easy.  Ugh, what a nightmare.  I’ll take this simple, springy mani over that any day, thank you, but especially on my birthday!  Ain’t nobody got time for that nonsense.

New 16

And as has been my little tradition now two years running, I blew out a candle and made a birthday wish on a decorated wax sheet cake from Sniff My Tarts.  I don’t have much of a sweet tooth – plus there’s that whole sure-to-be-indulgent dinner thing coming up – so this custom cake (featuring a blend of Peppermint, Coconut Cream Pie and Sticky Marshmallow) really fits the birthday bill.

BDay Cake

So happy birthday to me, and happy birthday to you, too, should you also be celebrating on this Friday the 13th.  To another great year!

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. 🙂