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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Summer Solstice Scents

Summer Solstice Main

While the rest of North America swelters under a record-breaking heatwave (no climate change to see here, nosiree!) here in Ontario it’s pretty much summer business as usual. That means it rains a lot, especially on important milestone holidays (can’t wait to see the hurricane that will accompany Canada’s upcoming 150th) alternating with periods of crap heat and brutal humidity.  It’s absolutely nothing compared to the conditions that Phoenix is experiencing today, but then again, what is?

So I feel quite fortunate that the heat and humidity in my neck of the global woods is not so oppressive that I can’t enjoy this recently-acquired quartet of Solstice Scents fragrances – and on the Summer Solstice, no less. 😉  No finer time to delightfully delve into a handful of beautiful bakeries, fine florals and one apple-jacked pick for Fall.

As it was with my first Solstice order, I had zero issues with this purchase – it was remarkable only in its unremarkableness.  Oh!  Except that Solstice quite generously refunded nearly $9.00 in shipping overages, a lovely little treat I discovered only after noticing that a refund had gone through my account; I had had no idea one was coming to me in the first place.  It would have been pretty easy for Solstice to not inform me of a potential refund or to simply not issue one at all.  But they did, and in the most low-key, efficient and friendliest manner possible.  Customer for life with that kind of service, really.

Also?  This is a nice little personalized thank-you, and beside it, a thoughtful compendium of perfume-sampling tips (such as the important reminder to let your perfume sit a bit before passing final judgement; like a great stew or a fantastic soup, perfumes need a bit of time to settle and develop after bottling and shipping.)

Summer Solstice Cards

I picked up four 5 ml perfume oils this time around, with each blue cobalt rollerball retailing for $15.00 US.

Summer Solstice Main Up Close

And while my heart truly belongs to that most cherished of peppermint-vanillas, Snowmint Mallow, I think I can find a little room in there for these lovely and light summer scents, and that one autumnal outlier.

Summer Solstice Collage

Starting with the Fall favourite, Corvin’s Apple Fest is a scent I chose so I could layer it with another Solstice fragrance I own, Vanilla Pipe Tobacco.  By itself, Vanilla Pipe Tobacco is a sweet and sticky herbal fragrance – heady, like steamy night air rising from a sun-warmed cornfield.  I bought it because my grandfather smoked a pipe, and he always smelled a bit like the pouches of pipe tobacco he kept rolled up in the pockets of his Arnold Palmers.  Being a farmer, he also often smelled like sweet corn.

But my grandfather smoked highly aromatic cherry tobacco, and what Vanilla Pipe Tobacco was missing was the tart and tangy element only a touch of fruit could provide. So I picked up Corvin’s Apple Fest with the hopes that it would be lovely both on its own and as a blender, and indeed, it’s both of those things.  This is a really beautiful apple fragrance – fresh and sweet and juicy, with the barest hint of something tarty, cobbler-y or crisp-y.  A great season-jumping addition to my fragrance collection.

Corvin's Apple Fest

An unexpected favourite was Lemon Ginger Creams, a tart and tangy hit of lightly-spiced citrus.  This smells exactly like a lemon-glazed gingersnap, if there is such a thing, and if there isn’t, there should be one now! Like, right here with me right now, on a plate, waiting to be eaten.

Lemon Ginger Creams

A more traditional pick for my scent palette was Chantilly Cream, a sumptuous blend of fuzzy peaches, juicy mandarins, lightly-spiced vanilla and whipped cream.  This is a gorgeous gourmand fragrance that effortlessly tows the line between lip-smacking dessert and sweet scent, a lovely choice for those not spun by anything with “cake” in its title.  Ooh, I love this fragrance – soft and mild and sweet, perfect for those sultry summer evenings.

Chantilly Cream

And finally – as according to the tenants of Beauty Retail Law, there must be at least one per order – we come to the fragrance I am the least jazzed about, Blossom Jam Tea Cakes.  Oh, how I wanted to love this scent!  It was the first one into my basket, and I also seriously debated picking up a burnishing glace in the same fragrance.  But as always, I’m glad I ultimately held off, as there’s just a little something here in this lilac-tinged, lemon tea-and-cake blend that, to my nose, errs awfully close to something approaching powdery baby wipes.

Oddly, though, I don’t dislike this scent.  In fact, I find myself returning to my wrists to sniff it time and time again, marveling with each pull at the ever-changing kaleidoscope of fruity, floral and barely bakery notes.  It’s kind of delicious, and in hindsight, I might sort of love it.  I clearly have some conflicted feelings on the subject of this perfume.

But given that I’m so deeply undecided on Blossom Jam Tea Cakes, I’m going to take Solstice’s fragrance-testing advice and tuck it away for a bit, see how its scent develops in a few months’ time.  Provided I don’t, you know, drain the bottle this summer taking undecided whiffs off my wrists (reminder to self: don’t do this in public, it’s weird!)

Blossom Jam Tea Cakes

Once again, just a beautiful, beautiful order from Solstice Scents.  It wasn’t my first and it shan’t be my last. Shan’t!  I’m just so impressed with their scent offerings and presentation, and their customer service is second to none.  A very happy – and deliciously-scented – camper, indeed.

Winter Solstice

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Before I do the show-and-tell thing with this beautiful order I received from indie parfumerie Solstice Scents, allow me to share with you one of those odd little serendipitous moments that makes you feel at one with the universe.  Or mildly creeped out.  Depends on your world perspective, I suppose. 😉

Anyhow, after choosing a title for this post – Winter Solstice, because it’s winter, and this is an order from Solstice Scents – I thought to myself, “Huh, IS there such a thing as a winter solstice?”  Turns out there is! 2016’s winter solstice – you may know it as the shortest day of the year – was December 21st, which is the day I received this order.  Dun dun duuuuuunnnnnnnnn.  Really nothing more than a coincidence (Alanis would probably call it irony) but a cool little blip amid the atrocious randomness of the universe nonetheless.

Okay, so now that we’ve got that heavy stuff out of the way, let’s move on to the perfume! It’s been ages since I’ve been this excited about a new vendor, and even longer since I’ve worn perfume (I worked for many years in close-quarters courtrooms, pretty well the last place you should be doused, or even lightly spritzed, in anything.)  So when this tiny, potent pack of goodies arrived a handful of days before Christmas, I was in *just* the right festive mood to dive back into the world of olfactory delights, and delight in discovering a new vendor.

framed-solstice-cards-pic

First, the basics.  I placed my order on December 13th, Solstice shipped it from their Florida location on December 14th, and I received it here in Ontario a week later on the 21st.  That lightning fast turnaround time allowed me to sample some of the fragrances over the holidays, where I discovered a fabulous new favourite that smells just like me.  It’s the best thing I’ve smelled in forever!  My items (four 5 ml rollerball perfume oils, two 2.5 ml spray samples and six sampler vials) came neatly packed in a tiny box filled with the most gorgeous dark green tissue paper adorned with a festive sprig of evergreen – a lovely little touch.  Lovelier still were the postcards – including a handwritten thank you – depicting some of Solstice’s fragrances, as well as maps and bulletins from the Town of Foxcroft, inspiration for a number of their perfumes.

framed-solstice-cards-collage

Thoughtful aesthetic touches aside, let’s take a closer look at the contents of my order, shall we? First, I purchased four perfume oils in these cute little blue glass rollerballs. Each bottle was $15.00 US.

framed-solstice-rollerball-collage

Owing to what I’m assuming are infuriatingly random trade rules, Solstice is unable to ship sizes greater than the 5 ml perfume oils internationally.  So I’m stuck with these baby bottles until such time as I can ask an American friend for a fragranced favour, because I’m in LOVE with one of the scents I chose, Snowmint Mallow, and would very much like it in a larger size.  This is the fragrance I described some weeks ago as smelling like a beloved perfume I wore in high school, a refreshing, creamy and comforting blend of peppermint, cake, cookies, coconut and marshmallow cream.  Holy lord is it fabulous, and not remotely as heavy or gooey-smelling as you’d imagine from that description.

Of the other three perfume oils, I like Blackburn’s Parlor the best.  It’s another sundae-scented fragrance in that it literally smells like a banana split – sugary, buttery waffle cones, creamy chocolate and vanilla soft serve and the barest hint of fresh banana.  This is another one that somehow doesn’t come across as tooth-achingly sweet; rather, it’s a light gourmand scent softened with custardy cream.

I regrettably don’t care much for either Halloween Night or Blackburn Farmstead, the latter being a musky blackberry scent that simply doesn’t tickle my fancy.  Dark berry blends never have, though, something I should have remembered when placing this wildcard pick in my basket.  But I’ve no doubt I’ll be able to find Blackburn Farmstead a good home with someone who can appreciate its lush amber berries.  Halloween Night is…intriguing. Smells a bit like assorted candies rattling around the bottom of a plastic trick-or-treat pumpkin.  I can actually picture myself wearing this Halloween night.

Next, I ordered an assortment of fragrances in smaller sizes I wasn’t too sure about based on their descriptions.

I purchased two 2.5 ml eau de parfum spray samples in Owl Creek Aleworks, a rich, toffee and stout-infused butter bomb, and Foxcroft Fairgrounds, a light confection of a fragrance scented like sweetly spun sugar. Lovely, both.  Each spray bottle was $8.00 US.

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Finally, I purchased five fragrances (plus one freebie) in a beautifully presented sampler pack for $15.00 US.  I haven’t yet explored these scents in any meaningful way, but here I went kind of buck wild with my choices, swinging from sugary gourmand fragrances like Kitchen and Sycamore Sugarworks, to lively fruity fragrances like Heat of the Night, whose succulent mango notes I can already tell you I like very much.

framed-solstice-samples-2-collage

Overall, I’m tremendously pleased with my first – but certainly not last – Solstice Scents order.  Everything about this was a positive experience, from the no-fuss ordering system and super speedy delivery, to the beautiful presentation and gorgeously-crafted fragrances.  A definite winner.  Can’t wait to see what other fantastic scents are awaiting my discovery.

ETA: It has been brought to my attention by the very kind and complimentary folks at Solstice that there are actually a couple of vendors that deal in their beautiful perfumes internationally, Pretty Indulgent (they also carry a number of other niche lines) and The Rhinestone Housewife (same), who offers Solstice’s eau de parfums in 60 ml bottles that should hopefully slay my scent lust for all things Snowmint Mallow!

Pep(permint) Talk

peppermint-header-photo

Mmm, peppermint, what an olfactory delight you have turned out to be!  It pains me to admit this, but there was a time not that long ago that I cared for you not one whit – too icy, too bracing, too toothpastey.  But in my advancing years, I’ve developed a newfound appreciation for some of the flavours and scents I used to shun, and dear peppermint, you are number one on that list, with a bullet (alongside black coffee, black pepper, bourbon, freesia and anything involving anise.)

And thank goodness for that reversal in scent preference, because otherwise I wouldn’t have come into the possession of this lovely little mountain of pepperminty goodness.  So shall we check out some of the peppy mints that have been sweetly scenting my holidays?  Yes, let’s!

First up, the overkill.  So did I need an entire pie’s worth of Rosegirls’ sublime Peppermint Coconut Mallow? No, probably not…although “need” is such a tricky word, isn’t it? 😉 Anyhow, when Rosegirls opened up for a pre-sale in November that included a number of beloved holiday scents, I purchased an entire pie of Peppermint Coconut Mallow, a perpetually popular pick that softens peppermint’s icy chill with mounds of creamy, dreamy marshmallow.  It’s a sublimely gorgeous fragrance – sweet, cool and creamy.  One of those scent blends you stockpile if you get the chance, which is precisely what I did!

peppermint-pie-frosted

Another favourite mint around these parts is Bath & Body Works‘ Twisted Peppermint. Sweet and icy where Peppermint Coconut Mallow is cool and creamy, Twisted Peppermint is a blast of candied arctic air.  To me, it is the smell of Christmas.  It also reminds me of the candy coating on a Freshmint Tic Tac.  This three-wick candle is going into reserve for next year, although I had it out and about over the holidays because I love the design on the label.  Actually, come to think of it, Bath & Body Works had very attractive packaging on all of their products this year.  Well done, BBW!

peppermint-wax-frosted

Then, succumbing to the beautifully photographed enabling of my blogger friend Julie of The Redolent Mermaid, I placed an order with Solstice Scents, a small, independent parfumerie that deals in the sort of gourmand fragrances that make my eyes roll with delight.  That’s how I came to possess this tiny – already deeply coveted – roll-on bottle of Snowmint Mallow perfume oil.  And oh my, this perfume – a blend of “Peppermint, Vanilla Cake, Sugar Cookies, Flaked Coconut (and) Marshmallow Creme” – is FABULOUS!

I will freely admit that gourmand fragrances are not everyone’s cup of highly sugared tea. I also recognize that the above-listed scent notes seem like they would be best served on a dessert plate as opposed to spritzed on your wrists.  But Snowmint Mallow manages to dodge the plastic problem that so many foodie fragrances ultimately fall prey to.  This is no hodgepodge of vaguely fake, desserty-type scents; Solstice has created a proper fragrance here that’s beautifully balanced and layered.  That it reminds me of a favourite mocha vanilla perfume I wore in high school is simply marshmallow creme icing on the peppermint-dusted vanilla cake.  At a holiday party an old friend pulled me close and shouted in my ear that I smelled “JUST LIKE HIGH SCHOOL! Oh crap, is this the Wu?  CLEAR THE DANCE FLOOR!”  I’ve also received a number of compliments from my husband and my mom, who sniffed my wrist and shouted with delight, “It smells just like you!” Can you ask for anything more in a perfume?  I think I’m in love.  I shall be needing reinforcements, or at the very least a larger bottle.

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Finally, here’s an impulse purchase from Bath & Body Works that became my must-have beauty product of the holiday season, Shea & Sparkle Scrub in – sing it with me one more time! – Twisted Peppermint.  This is a lovely little scrub, soft and smooth as opposed to hard and scratchy, loaded with fine glitter and scented with that distinctive Tic Tac fragrance (softened a bit here for use in beauty products, a wise idea when using mints on your skin.)  The nicest thing about this scrub is it washes away cleanly, leaving behind no glittery, slippery residue, making it safe for both bathtub surfaces AND glitter-phobes! Dee-lish.

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