Having a Ducking Meltdown

March on Ducks 2

To make the joke that’s been made time and time again, no, Autocorrect, no one has ever in the history of smart phone keyboards ever intended to say, “ducking.”  No one. 😉

Hey, so remember how, in an effort to save a bit of money and go to Disney many, many times in one year, I stopped mindlessly buying stuff like tons of clothes and housewares and nail polish and scented wax?  And how I swore I’d use up that which I already had before making any new purchases?  Well, that all actually happened!

It took no small amount of financial prioritization and, yes, some sacrifice, but indeed, this year my husband and I saved a bit of money, we went to Disney many, many times and we both stopped mindlessly buying stuff.  We also used that which we already had (Mr. Finger Candy diving into older, unplayed games, me melting through a larger-than-I-thought wax collection) before making any new purchases.  Interestingly enough, we’ve both been playing the long game when it comes to the items most atop our wish list, with my husband on years-long pins and needles for the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 (end of the month, and lord help my sanity if they push the date back) and me confining my wax purchases to two absolute must-haves in the past couple of months, a custom order with Sniff My Tarts, and this fabulous order from the Melting Duck!

So is it everything I hoped it would be?  Yes, it is – all that and the proverbial bag of (tortilla) chips (with queso blanco and maybe a margarita on the side from the Mexico pavilion, with a ride on the Gran Fiesta Tour after, AND a character meet-and-greet with Donald, because I’m pretty sure the Melting Duck girls are ducking Disney fans!)

Consisting primarily of Fall and Halloween-type scents, this colourful, sweetly scented collection of wax (new, fresh wax – it feels like such a novelty!) includes – *takes deep, steadying breath* – Haunted Mansion wax.  Wax!  Of the Haunted Mansion!  You guys know how I feel about the Haunted Mansion! (*huffs into a nearby paper bag*)

Mansion Collage

Okay, I’m back now, slightly more in control of my faculties and ready to show off the wax I suspect the Melting Duck gals may have made purely to humour me, because I asked for it literally every single time they solicited scent ideas for their upcoming releases.  If that was indeed the case, thank you, Kristin and Lauren, I love Foolish Mortal and next time (!) I’ll be happy to buy sacks of the stuff!

Foolish Mortal, named after the gently needling nickname the Ghost Host imparts on visitors to the Haunted Mansion, is a blend of Candy Cane Cupcakes and Toasted Marshmallow.  I thankfully don’t get too much of the toasted off the marshmallow, which is good, because I’m not overly fond of that ersatz “baked” note in my home or personal fragrances.  The Haunted Mansion actually doesn’t have much of a scent itself (hmm, perhaps that pleasant background scent of high efficiency air conditioning and meticulously maintained dust) but I imagine if ghosts had a scent (notice how I’m not disputing the existence of ghosts, merely their smell) this would be it – a quick, tingly blast of icy sweet peppermint.  And the colours are perfection, the very hues of the Grim Grinning Ghosts in the ride’s big graveyard showpiece scene.

Foolish Mortal 1

Next up we have a blend of Duckin Donuts (described as “a house blend of fresh coffee and fresh baked goodies”) and Pumpkin.  So basically Fall’s ubiquitous Pumpkin Spice Latte!  Once again, the colours are perfect; I particularly love the little candy corn-striped ducks.

Duckin Donuts and Pumpkin 1

Next up we have the sleeper hit of my last order, Ghost Stories by the Fire, a “Sandra shouldn’t like this” blend of Marshmallow Fireside, Earl Grey and Vanilla Ice Cream.  But it turns out Sandra likes Ghost Stories very much (so much, in fact, I actually only melted through my final piece the day this order arrived on my doorstep, finally secure in the knowledge that there were backups!)  Typically I’m not much for Marshmallow Fireside blended with other scents; I prefer it straight up, in candle format preferably.  But there’s something really nice about the Melting Duck’s Marshmallow Fireside; it’s sweet and mellow, bearing none of the objectionable acridness common to fire-imitating scents.  And once again, the colours and the shapes?  So creative!  Half the fun of this order was examining the cute little shapes, from sprinkled donuts, winged bats and sparkly macarons, to plump pumpkins, ornate sugar skulls and many, many little duckies.

Ghost Stories by the Fire 1

Next we have the sleeper hit of this order, Death of the Party, a rich, delectable bakery blend of Grave Mistakes (Zucchini Bread and Sugar Milk) and Marshmallow Fireside.  At first glance, none of those scents look as though they’d play nicely together (cloying, acrid, corn chip) but as a whole, it smells like…smokey sexy man muffin!  I just adore it (another Marshmallow Fireside blend, wouldn’t you know it?) and I’m smitten with the little pink rose shapes in this blend and that one gigantic chocolate chip cookie.  My husband loves this one, and that’s really saying something, because he is traditionally un-fond, shall we say, of Marshmallow Fireside, claiming “it smells like some douchebag hitting on a disinterested co-worker at a holiday party.”  Well, okay then!  There you go, folks, descriptive fireworks courtesy of Mr. Finger Candy. 😉

Death of the Party 1

Finally, we have the non-seasonal outlier of this order, a bag of my beloved Pink Sands, neat.  This Yankee dupe is a very nice one, bright and fresh and clean, and I’m looking forward to melting through the wide assortment of plucky little pink duckies (so many ducks in this bag!)

Pink Sands

Oh!  Actually finally-finally, I ordered a trio of cups in Ghost Stories by the Fire so I can send them on to friends, as well as three cups of Spider Cider, a blend of Cinnamon Sugar Donuts and Apple Cider.  I’m glad I only purchased the three cups of Spider Cider, because out of the entire order, it’s the only scent I’m not wildly thrilled about.  It’s nice, and I’m going to wait to see what it does given a bit of time to settle, but I’m not in love with it like I am, say, Foolish Mortal or Death of the Party.  Still, those wee little embedded spiders are quite creepy-cute.

Cups Collage

And I’d be remiss in failing to show off this dinged dude, one of the Melting Duck’s Studs in a Tub, which I received as a little freebie with my order.  I had a great laugh when I pulled this guy out of the box, because the Studs, well…they normally have attached heads!

Beheaded Stud 1

The Melting Duck actually created some intentionally beheaded Studs for the Halloween season, with splashes of red dotting the bubbles, but this little wax man is not one of those pieces, just the unfortunate victim of the ever-handsy postal service!  All the same, he smells wonderful (like Lemon Cupcakes and Satsuma.)

Beheaded Stud 2

I’m so thrilled with this order!  It really feels like a special treat, which I suppose is exactly what it is.  I’ve talked with a number of people this year who, like me, but for their own individual reasons, chose to cut back on their discretionary spending, and one of the reasons that I’ve heard over and over again is because endless purchases arriving on your doorstep grows to become quite boring, that these little (and not so little) treats cease feeling special.  I quite like the return to that little acquisition rush, although I’ll continue to respect the healthy distance we’ve put between one another. 🙂

So there we have it, the scented, waxy rewards I finally reaped after a solid year of cutting back, using up and re-prioritizing.  Very glad I waited to blow it out with the Melting Duck, because this order was a ducking treat to receive, and very soon to melt.  If you’re interested in checking out the Melting Duck’s super cool and great-smelling wares for yourself, join up with their Facebook group, where they post notifications about their upcoming releases (conducted on a mixed bag basis of pre-orders, ready-to-ship sales and the occasional custom.)  Happy ducking shopping!

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A Bounty of Bath & Body Works

BBW Order 1

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that at the end of last month, I failed to post my as-promised accounting of our new-and-improved actual accounting (with optional scented wax discoveries, should any delicious new scent combinations be discovered as I melt through my once giant, now dwindling collection.)  That’s because I was waiting on the delivery of something very cool and not entirely inexpensive that we were able to purchase precisely because we’ve been so very circumspect with our money this year in the first place.  It’s a financial victory, and I’d love to share it with you!  Which of course means it’s been tied up in the vagaries of both the American and Canadian postal systems now for about five weeks straight.  So perhaps next month?  I really can’t wait to share this one with you; I’m incredibly proud of us!

But as for the end of July, I’ve made outstanding progress on both abstaining from any new purchases of wax or bath and beauty items AND using up that which I’ve already bought.  This month we finally used up the final bar of soap from a large and rather ill-considered purchase I made last year, and I’m getting down to such dregs in my wax collection, I have nothing noteworthy to share with you on that front either!

And so with Bath & Body Works releasing a number of delicious-smelling scents from their upcoming Fall collection, as well as the sudden reappearance of a favourite candle scent that I thought I had missed out on earlier this year (Pink Apple Punch, a sweet, Pink Sands (I swear!) tinged blend of apples and honeydew melon) the time seemed right to place an order for some scented goodies for the first time since November 2017.  Cracking open the box felt like such an indulgence!  It reminded me that shopping can be fun again when you stop compulsively buying and start purchasing because you really need and can accommodate a thing.

I was clearly of a real mind for apples with this order, between the Pink Apple Punch candles (two of them, in the most gorgeous rose red frosted jars) and the foaming hand soaps in Pumpkin Apple (what fruity, lightly spiced, barely bakery-type sorcery is at work here?!), Afternoon Apple Picking (crisp Mac apples warmed from the sun) and Red Apples & Spice (a delicious, Christmasey-smelling blend of sweet apples and rich mulling spices.)  But seeing as the soaps were available on one of those buy-three-get-six-for-free kind of deals (joke; they were actually six for $18) I purchased three more hand soaps in Best Day (a light raspberry sorbet scent), Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte (a perennial Fall favourite) and Life is Sweet (a toasty waffle cone scent.)  Great picks, all, and I guarantee you they’ll see a lot of hand-washing action.

BBW Order 2

Next month I really hope to have something super cool to share with you, the kind of thing that will hopefully remind you (as it did for me) that if you put your mind to what seems like an unreachable financial goal, and make just a few not-so-sacrificial sacrifices to reach that goal, you can make some very good things happen. 🙂

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? 🙂

Lifestyles of the Rich and the Sudsy

Soap Collage

Some weekends back my mom and I went out for one of our doughnut ‘n’ decorating dates, which involves a trip to a favourite local doughnut joint (Suzy Q’s in Ottawa, Ontario) followed by a bit of retail therapy at a favourite home decor shop across the street (Marie Antoionette’s.)  I’ve spoken about both before – and actually, hang on a tick, I’ve vlogged about both before as well!  I actually vlogged this doughnut date, much to my mother’s eternal embarrassment/amusement.  Here, ch-check (it out for) yourself, if you’d like:

Anyhow, it was during this Saturday morning shopping excursion that my mom, as is her sweet custom, asked me if I’d like a little treat from Marie Antoinette.  The answer to that question is always a delighted YESand I quickly snapped up a beautiful bar of soap from Juniper Tree, a soap supply company out of Berkeley, California.  I’ve actually purchased three or four bars of Juniper Tree’s gorgeously detailed glycerin soaps in the past, and all from Marie Antoinette, who display them on tantalizingly tiered trays like precious little petit fours.  This beautiful bar, with its crown of dried flowers, is in a fresh and sweet scent called Tiki Taffy.

But I clearly spaced on how much these little bars of soapy goodness actually cost, because there was a moment of sticker shock when the cashier read out our total.  “Sorry, how much was the bar of soap?” my mother casually asked in a not-remotely-casual tone of voice.  And when the answer came back as a shade over $10, we had a good, guffawing laugh (once we were outside, we’re not complete animals.)  My mom was positively in stitches over the thought that this one wee bar of soap cost more than her entire suds “budget” for the year.  What can I say, her daughter’s got tastes in high places.  This is really all her fault, wretched enabler. 😉

But seeing as I was now in possession of a very expensive bar of “company soap,” I thought I should do something impressive to best display its elevated status among the other suds-stuffs in my collection.  And that’s how I found myself carrying out a lifestyle photo shoot with a bar of soap, a bottle of Prosecco and my thoroughly annoyed cat at three in the afternoon on a Wednesday in the middle of May.  As you do.  Or as I assume wealthy people do, because what else would a $10 bar of soap be up to other than…

Soap 3

…drinking sparkling stuff out of fluted champagne glasses?  Or…

Soap 5

…hunting big, deeply disinterested game?  Or my personal favourite…

Soap 6

…perusing yacht listings.  I’ll take the $74 mil guy at the top – he comes with a villa!  Mr. Finger Candy, grab my cheque book, we got a yacht to buy!  Quick question: Do you think they accept Canadian Tire money?

Really, though, I was just feeling exceedingly goofy.  This bar of Tiki Taffy will go into a soap dish and I will use it with relish.  Until the next trip to Marie Antoinette’s when we’re amusingly sticker-shocked anew!

Breaking the Financial Fast

VCS Melted Wax

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

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

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

Gift from Jay

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

VCS Loaf 1

Keep Climbing That Mountain

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

We're goin back to Disney!

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

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

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

VBN

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

Ducking Debt

Duck 1

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

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

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

Duck 3

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

Duck 2

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