Fall Fun Fridays: The Failing Grade Edition

Tree Collage

Good morning, friends, and welcome to another beautiful autumn Friday!  As of late, the weather around my neck of the global woods has been quite uneven – one moment it’s so cold, we’re all breaking out our toques and parkas, and the next it’s so dank and humid, we’re firing up the air conditioners for one last summery go-round.  But there’s only one way this all ends, and that’s with snow.  I suppose that’ll be here soon enough.

So being the end of the work week and all, it’s time for another edition of Fall Fun Fridays, the casual little blogging challenge I’ve been, let’s face it, whiffing hardcore with my friends Jay of The Scented Library and Julie of The Redolent Mermaid, who are decidedly not whiffing it.  Excuses, excuses, but my Fall has been rather disrupted by ongoing renovations to our apartment.  They’re not going super well, I keep injuring myself (I’m looking down at a throbbing cut on my thumb right now for which I probably should have sought stitches) and I haven’t been able to put out any of my usual decorations, including my beloved Halloween town.  Here, let’s take a peek at it from two seasons ago; that’ll make me feel peppier.

Halloween Town

Anyhow, all that to say I haven’t exactly been feeling the Fall this year, as the kids might say.  Looks like it’ll take another emergency infusion of Disney’s absolutely bonkers approach to the season to set things right – fortunate, since we’ll be back in about two weeks’ time. 🙂

This week’s prompt contemplated hands-on activities – your favourite Fall recipe, craft or some other DIY-able.  I’m actually right in the midst of putting together some fortifying chicken stew for dinner tonight with my parents – that seems like a very autumn dish.  But it won’t be ready for – *checks time* – oh, another five or so hours!  So until the timer goes off, I’d kindly direct you on over to my friends’ blogs, where they’re sure to have pulled out all the seasonal stops.  Happy weekend, friends; hope you get a few moments to get out there and enjoy all it has to offer.

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Fall Fun Fridays: Dropping the Blogging Ball

Leaf Collage

Good morning, friends!  If you’ve followed along with my last couple of posts, you know I started off the week with a power outage, and am now ending it with a cold.  In between I sneezed a lot, and re-bought the entire contents of my refrigerator.  Every part of my body aches today, but my heart aches the most for Ottawa’s small business owners and restaurateurs – anyone who deals in perishable goods, really – who lost tens of thousands of dollars in spoiled stock over the weekend.  Food waste makes me feel punchy; that we were all, to various degrees, subjected to this little (or not so little) indecency is just compounding my poor, sickly mood.  It’s been a weird week.

Today’s Fall Fun Friday prompt – that’s the little blogging collective I’m part of – was to discuss the books, movies and television programs you’re anticipating this Fall.  I’m pretty well ride-or-die for only one show, and that’s The Good Place, which premiered last night (no spoilers, please, it’s sitting on Apple TV waiting for one sneeze-free hour!)  Aside from that, I’m looking forward to Brooklyn 9-9’s move to NBC (their Halloween episodes are wonderful, and build off the previous seasons’ episodes, if you’re into that kind of tightly knit continuity, which I am.)  I’ve got one more episode of Castle Rock to tackle, if I can just get over the “WHAT IN SWEET, FROSTING-COVERED HELL IS GOING ON HERE?” of it all (what’s going on is I could stare at Bill Skarsgard’s cut glass cheekbones and giant, wounded eyes all. day. long, and yes, I’m totally that pervy old lady; my favourite headline about the guy is from a Mashable article titled “It’s not Bill Skarsgard’s fault that he looks like hot Satan,” heh.)

On the cinema side of things, I’m quite pumped for Wreck-It Ralph 2; Vanellope Von Schweetz is a mouthy little heroine of mine.  Hmm, that’s about it for movies, or at least new movies.  If we’re talking the things I watch every Fall and Halloween, we could be here for a while (The Nightmare Before Christmas, of course, Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, a weird new obsession with Hocus Pocus because I can’t get away from it at Disney.)

As for books, get back to me when I’ve finished Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin, a dense (in terms of writing and subject matter) examination of the collapse and subsequent bailout of the American banking industry in 2008.  I won’t be enjoying anything until I have that craven lot of greedy ghouls out of my head.  It’s been an incredibly frustrating and eye-opening read.

My blogging friends Jay of The Scented Library and Julie of The Redolent Mermaid are sure to have some great recommendations of their own, so I’d implore – implore! – you to pop on over and check out their autumn picks.

And now I’m going back to bed with a box of tissues.

Fall Fun Fridays: Something’s Smelling Good

Fall Wax Dregs

My favourite scene in Ghostbusters is an early one in the library in which Dan Aykroyd’s Dr. Raymond Stantz furiously shushes his partners-in-busting, and then cries out, “Listen!” before excitedly asking, “Do you smell that?!”  It’s a weird (and very funny) sensory disconnect, and one I always think of when I’m trying to describe in words how something smells.  It’s a writing skill – make no mistake, it is a skill – I do not possess.

But my blogging friends Jay of The Scented Library and Julie of The Redolent Mermaid do possess that skill (come to me when you need 2,500 words on a cat’s toe tufts) which is why we’ve partnered up to bring you a few fun Fall posts, starting with our favourite Fall scents.  Both Jay and Julie have impeccable taste in home and personal fragrance, and a real flair for describing scents in rich, evocative terms without ever once invoking the word “cupcakey.”  So I would direct you over to their wonderful blogs to see what sort of festive Fall scents are sweetly perfuming their lives as we kick off what I hope will be a lovely autumn.

Jay at The Scented Library

Julie at The Redolent Mermaid

As for me, I’m down to the utter dregs of my once-grand wax collection (balsam, hot chocolate and kiwi are totally compatible scent notes, right?!) with virtually nothing remaining but for this small handful of scents I held back in the event of just such an autumnal blogging eventuality.  This tiny bounty actually represents a solid third of my remaining wax collection – I have been nothing this year but utterly dedicated to reining in my discretionary spending, and this is where my efforts have really come home to roost.  It’s kind of one of those good-for-life, bad-for-blogging sort of situations!

Ah, but all is not completely lost; I still have a few Fall favourites, and here they are:

Moving from left to right, we have a rather shabby looking Demented Duck from The Melting Duck in Heads Will Roll, a pumpkin cupcake and candy corn blend.  You would not know that this dingy little duck started out life in lush, vibrant shades of jungle green, tomato red and marigold yellow, would you?  Well, he did!  But thankfully, colourfastness (or a lack thereof) does not typically impact a wax melt’s scent, and this one still smells great – very much like carnival snacks, all unidentifiably yummy glazes and crunchy, sugary sweets.

Fresh Duck

Beside my sole remaining Demented Duck we have a Rosegirls Scoopable in Paul Bunyan’s French Toast.  At three years old, this half-finished jar of wax is the oldest in my collection and smells not one bit different than it did the very first day I cracked it open – like brown-sugar dusted sweets and wood shavings.  I swear it’s a nicer scent than I’m implying; it just doesn’t see a lot of action because no matter the scent, the Scoopable formulations give my husband terrible headaches and a frantic case of the sneezes.

To the right of the Scoopable we have my one remaining chunk of a custom Sniff My Tarts blend I like to call Miss Apple Fritter after Cars 3’s derby-racing school bus, Miss Fritter.  Also because I think this blend of Apple Cider Latte, Ice Cream Scoop Bread and Vanilla Waffle Cone – perhaps the best blend I have ever created – smells just like a warm, cakey apple fritter.  Sometimes the naming thing is really just that simple, folks. 😉

Sniff My Tarts Custom 2 - Apple Cider Latte Pie 1

Finally, dotted along the bottom we have the final five pieces of The Melting Duck’s All Hallow’s Eve, another sugar smackery blend of candy corn, pumpkin cupcakes, buttercream crunch cake and caramel corn.  These shapes are so stinkin’ cute, and I just adore The Melting Duck’s heavy-handed approach to mica – it always creates the most amazingly beautiful, shimmery pools of wax.  I’ll freely admit that that’s a weird thing to derive enjoyment from, but whatever floats your boat on the first Friday of the Fall, right?!  To an excellent autumn, and more fun blogging adventures. 🙂

Sugar Skulls

Wax Pool

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!

Narwhal Nails

Narwahls

As Hurricane Irma batters the Gulf Coast and beyond, a dear blogger friend who lives in Florida is riding out the storm the only way she seems to know how – with a lot of optimism, hope and creativity.  These are traits she apparently passed on to her two daughters, who – stuck at home by order of closed schools and storm prep – are coming up with their own creative ways of passing the time, such as whipping up these adorable egg carton narwhals.  Their goobery, slightly blank expressions, noggins full of glitter and toothpick horns are the cutest things ever – puts my childhood egg carton caterpillars to shame!

Narwhals

So with thanks to Savanna and Scarlette for putting a big smile on my face (and for sharing this photo) I thought I’d (hopefully!) return the favour with these goofy narwhal nails, extra glittery. 🙂  Thinking of you and yours, Julie, and hoping for nothing but the best.

The Blogging Mermaid

The Pottery Mermaid Fingers Front

Eons ago – actually more like just four or five weeks ago, but we’re going for dramatic emphasis here – my blogger friend Julie of The Redolent Mermaid asked me if I’d be kind enough to create a manicure on her behalf.  So when Julie, who is really into pottery, posted about a lovely little glazed planter she recently bought, I thought it would make the perfect (partial) inspiration for those long-promised nails.

Full confession: Pottery?  Like, hand-thrown bowls and vases and stuff?  Not really my thing, although I can – and do – admire the hard work and talent that undoubtedly goes into the creation of every charmingly lumpy piece.  I’m just more of a china dishware kind of person.

However, I can always appreciate a gorgeous colour and a beautiful finish, and Julie’s little planter has both of those things in spades – I was particularly taken with the iridescent blue glaze on the inside of the pot and the multi-chromatic plum drips along the rim.

And so I used both colours – Polish Me Silly’s plummy purple multi-chrome, Guilty Pleasure, and A England’s purple-tinged turquoise, Whispering Waves, here alongside A England’s stormy grey Wuthering Heights – in this fun, mermaid-y mani that incorporates some of Julie’s favourite things with my talent for turning total randomness into nail art.  Enjoy!

Blogging Mermaid Nails Angle

Literary Inspiration: The Virgin Suicides

virgin-suicides-collage

At the end of last year as part of my annual assessment of greatness (doesn’t that sound like something George’s dad would come up with on Seinfeld?) it came to my attention that despite quantitatively reading more than I ever have before, I read just two novels in 2016.  Otherwise, the bulk of my reading was online – my blog, other people’s blogs, and so much infuriating on-the-fly political news, my blood pressure practically demands that I return to the comforting paper (or electronic) embrace of a real novel.

And so I’ve been following along with a casual reading challenge created by my friend Julie of The Redolent Mermaid in an effort to not only read more, but read better.  Also grammar gooder. 😉 And because there’s nothing I love more than making life difficult for myself, I’ve added two sub-challenges to the main thread:

1. Where possible, all selections will be made from my own bookcase.  Despite being an avid lifelong reader, I actually fell out of favour with reading as a pastime some years back – that’s not a recent development.  As such, I have a serious backlog of gifts, loaners and hopeful recommendations that require my attention, if only to finally be able to say, “I read that!”

2. To keep it relevant to my blog, I have to do a manicure inspired by whatever I’m reading at the time.

virgin-suicides-book

Which presents a bit of a challenge (within the challenge’s challenge) when the first book you pick to fulfill the theme of a beloved or favourite novel is The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides.  The entire depressing story is right there in the title – how exactly do I draw nail art inspiration from that?  Carefully, very carefully, and respectfully, being mindful of the overall feeling the book inspires in me as opposed to a strict adherence to its events. Which, absent any context or enjoyment derived from Eugenides paying out the story, are just so, so bleak.

If you watched the 1999 Sofia Coppola movie starring Kirsten Dunst, you’re already familiar with the story and tone of The Virgin Suicides.  The film is faithful to both, chronicling the year in 1970s Grosse Pointe, Michigan over which all five teenage Lisbon girls – Cecilia, Mary, Therese, Bonnie and Lux – take their lives.  The story is told from the perspective of a group of neighbourhood boys whose trainwreck-like obsession with the girls stretches into adulthood, upon which they reconvene one last time for a final forensic analysis of a shattered family, a decaying neighbourhood, the girls’ inexplicable deaths and, indeed, their own passing lives.  Really lightweight stuff!

I think Sofia Coppola’s adaptation of the novel is about as perfect as one can be, particularly that feeling of floating about inside a hazy, pastel-hued cloud.  But in both the film and the novel, there’s nasty little moldy bits creeping in along the edges of all that cotton candy fluff – cracks in the rose-coloured glasses that have let in the rot.  In the book more so than the movie, this is represented by the Lisbon family home, a staid suburban structure whose internal and external disrepair mirrors its residents’ rapidly decaying mental states.  And as the Lisbons incrementally retreat from their friends, their neighbours, the world, the family home, once a bustling hub of shimmery teenage girl activity, becomes a stale, airless crypt housing little more than living ghosts and their moss-covered memories of what can never again be.

virgin-suicide-nails

Super uplifting. 😉  And I can’t really explain why it’s my favourite book 20 years running, except that it just is. The weird heart wants what the weird heart wants, I suppose.  I just hope I did it right with my interpretation of the book’s tone, that feeling of life’s bright spark being born under by decay.  Let’s leave it on that cheery note!