Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review - Sibu Beauty

I received a package from Sibu Beauty a while ago with some free products to try, and review.  I was not familiar with this company before seeing a review on YouTube, but a little more research on my own showed me this company was founded in 2003 and features sea buckthorn berry in all of their products.  You might be asking, 'What is sea buckthorn?'  A blurb on the Sibu website explains it this way:

High in the Tibetan Himalayas (12,000 feet above sea level) grows a tiny but resilient fruit that resists the harsh weather conditions and high altitudes. The sea buckthorn berry fortifies itself against the elements by producing an array of powerful nutrients. With over 190 bioactive compounds, sea buckthorn is an unsurpassed source of Omegas 3, 6, and 9. And it's a rich source of the elusive essential fatty acid, Omega-7, an essential fatty acid vital to collagen production and healthy skin, hair and nails.

Sibu has several body products, but it was interesting to see they also have dietary supplements, chocolates, and juice.

I received a full sized bar of their Cleanse & Detox facial soap.  It has a very nice scent, sort of a sweet citrus type but not at all overpowering.  I had figured the little black specks you see in the bar were from the sea buckthorn, but I see from the ingredients that there is also oatmeal in here.  It is all very finely ground though, so no need to worry about scratchiness.  I've cut a small slice off this bar and have been using is well over a week now, rubbing it directly on my face, and have not felt any harsh bits at all.

As mentioned, there is a pleasant scent to this soap.  It lathers easily but is more of a cream type lather instead of light and bubbly.  It rinses easily and has not left my face feeling dry or tight.  I have not noticed any irritation, but my skin is not really sensitive anyway.  I have not noticed any breakouts either, my skin being combination leaning towards oily.  And the only little slab I've cut off the bar so far is lasting a long time.  If I were to just use this for my face, I bet this bar would last months.  It says it is a a facial bar and that's all I've used it on, but I am curious how it would work as a body soap.  I might go ahead and give that a try at some point.

A 3.5 oz. bar sells for $6.95 on the Sibu website.  It is paraben-free, cruelty-free, and 100% natural.

I like this soap and if I could find it locally, I would probably buy it again.

I received a small sample packet of the Sibu nourishing facial cream, but I don't see it on their site so I can't really give you more details.  It was a nice enough cream, light and non-greasy.  I don't remember if there was any scent . . . it was very light if there was any.

A 1 oz. bottle of 'daytime' cream (not sure if it's the same) sells for $20.95 on the website.

I also received a small sample packet of their replenishing night cream.  It says 'rejuvenating' night cream on the website, so I'm not positive if it's the same product.  Maybe I have old samples?  Or there have been name changes?  Because the face cream on the site says 'daytime' where my packet says 'nourishing.'  Anyway, I don't remember scent with this one either but the website mentions lemon and orange essential oils.  It was light if there was any.  I didn't notice much difference between this and the face cream.  This one might have been a bit thicker.  Again, a nice enough cream that caused no problems for my skin.

A 1 oz jar sells for $34.95 on the website.

And finally, I received a small sample packet of the Sibu hydrating serum.  I am not familiar with serums, don't think I've ever used one from anywhere, so I wasn't sure how to use this or what to expect.  The packet just said to apply it basically the same as the other cream samples.  So I tried, but this is a clear, runny, almost liquid product and I wasn't prepared for that.  LOL!  It ran all over my hand and I sort of frantically slapped the rapidly escaping sample onto my face, only to find that I think you only need to use a wee amount.  Well, it was a learning experience, to say the least!  Again, not familiar with serums and don't know how to judge them so I can't say much about this.

A 1 oz. bottle sells for $39.95 on the website.

Using the store locator on the website, it looks like Sibu products can often be found at health stores.  I don't see any stores like Walmart or Target, at least not listed for my area.  I do like the bar soap I have but, honestly, the prices of the creams scare me a bit.  I have to remind myself that these are indeed natural products though, and I know the troubles I've been having trying to find an affordable (I am cheap) natural face cream.  So maybe I would splurge on a Sibu product. 

I am very happy to have been allowed the opportunity to try these products.  Sibu was very quick and friendly in their customer service, which is always huge with me.  Thank you, Sibu Beauty!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Haul - Yankee Candle Outlet

Hubby and I were out and about the other day and happened to be near the Yankee outlet store so we stopped in to see if they had any of the Easter goodies.  Because it's an outlet store, you can always find things much cheaper but the downside is that you can't always find the new or more current/popular scents.  They did have a couple Easter scents but only in the large jars, and we didn't want those.  They had a few Easter accesories like candle holders and things, but still not a huge selection.  (They do have leftover Halloween and Christmas things for dirt cheap though.)

Usually when we go to this store I get frustrated because you can't really smell the tarts through the plastic wrap.  And usually when we go I am too picky and only sort through a few, looking for scents I know I will like and giving up in a huff because they have such a random mix of lesser scents.  Hubby doesn't have these problems.  He just walks around and sniffs anything that catches his eye, not worrying about the name or what it *might* smell like.  He doesn't categorize like I find myself doing.  On top of all this, I've been so jealous lately of people I see in YouTube haul videos because they pop into Yankee and come home with all these wonderful sounding tarts, and they just have so much fun with it.  So I was determined to do it differently this time.

 We bought this super cute little candle holder for something like $4.00.  It holds votive sized candles, and is a pretty Easter design.

Since we'd gotten a votive holder, of course we had to get some votives.  These and the tarts were on sale for $1.00 each.  Hubby picked all of these, and I didn't not even look at them until we were in the car on the way home.  I told him I wanted to be more fun and less picky, and gave him free rein. lol

I'll just list these quickly, and if I can find the scent descriptions on the website I will include them.
  • Evening Air
  • Lilac
  • Island Flower
  • Citrus Punch
  • Autumn Fruit  A harvest celebration featuring lively blackberries with sweet grapes and juicy pears. 
  • Spring Days

 I picked all the tarts and was determined to have fun with it, open my mind, just pick some crazy things I'd probably never choose if I stopped to think about them.  I ended up with:
  • Beautiful Day
  • Cherry Blossom
  • Tutti Frutti
  • Island Guava
  • Orchard Pear  Ripe, succulent pears, fresh from the tree, warmed with notes of jasmine and cognac. 
  • Ocean Blossom   Like a swim in a tropical lagoon ... paradise calls in this blend of sea salt, lotus and water lily. 
  • Creamy Caramel 
  • Vera Cruz Vanilla
  • Dune Grass (Isn't this current?  Why isn't it on the site??)
  • Sea Harbor
  • Fruit Salad  It's a festive summer party with this bright, fun mix of juicy, sun-rich melons, berries and citrus. 
  • Lighthouse Point
  • Mango Peach Salsa  Sweet and zesty . . . juicy mangoes and peaches livened with citrus, ginger flowers and pepper.
  • Lakeside Birch
Because so few of these are on the website, and because this is an outlet store, it makes me wonder if these are all ancient and long ago discontinued scents . . . ?  Oh well, I'll still have fun melting them.  As we were checking out the Yankee girl told us about some bags of ten random tarts for $5.00.  We looked at some and it looks like a really fun way to try scents you might not otherwise try, but we didn't buy any this time.  You couldn't see all of the tarts in the bag.  You could see the top two, and if you were lucky enough to shift them around enough to see part of the label you might be able to figure out some others, but most would be a surprise until you opened the bag.  I think next time we go we'll get a couple.  I dropped a hint that maybe the Easter Bunny could drop a bag or two in my basket.  Hehe!

 Anyway, the next day we'd gone to Ace Hardware for something and I always get a kick out of the fact that this hardware store has a pretty decent selection of Yankee candles and tarts.  I decided what the heck, and got a few more.  They were $1.99 here, which I think is ridiculous for a tart, but they also had a lot of scents that I recognize from YouTubers' recent videos so I'm guessing these are much newer.  I got:
  • Sun & Sand  A tropical beach breeze of sweet orange flower, lemony citrus, fresh lavender and powdery musk. 
  • Vanilla Lime  Smooth and refreshing - the creamy richness of vanilla with sweet cane sugar and a zesty lime twist. 
  • Sage & Citrus   This blend of earthy sage, luxurious talc, and lemon-lime creates a natural harmony. 
  • Pink Sands   It's an exotic island escape in the beautiful mix of bright citrus, sweet florals and spicy vanilla.
So these should last me a while, along with all the other tarts I still have.  I will keep notes as I go through these, like what it smelled like, how I liked it . . . and will maybe do individual quickie posts about each.

I'm really curious about these scents that are not on the website.  Are any of you Yankee connoisseurs who can help enlighten me?  Or, what are some scents you think I should try next?  Would love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Haul/Review - Boondock G Soapery

Boondock G is an Etsy shop that I am totally wild about at the moment, and don't know why this isn't a more well known name.  I first heard about this one from blog reader Jean.  While I was mildly interested when she first mentioned it to me, I never did anything but browse the shop a couple times and make a mental note to order someday.  More recently, Jean included a bar of Boondock G's Blackberry Sage soap in a swap we did.  Again, the soap caught my eye but it ended up sitting in my stash with everything else while I tried other new things that I thought I'd been so interested in.

Then one day I popped that little bar into the shower and when I first used it . . . wow.  Simply, WOW.  I have not been this excited about soap for a long, long time.
(I never did take a picture of the actual bar I had, so I'm borrowing this one from the Boondock G Etsy shop's old listings.)
The lather from this soap was just amazing.  There is immediate, big bubbled lather that appears with barely any effort, and as you use it more it quickly becomes a thick, fluffy lather that rivals commercial body washes.  And it lasts!  And the scent was just right . . . strong enough to smell pleasantly in the shower, but not overpowering and perfuming your skin.  This scent in particular might just be a new favorite for me.  It's fruity but not overly sweet, and the sage gives it a sort of clean edge.  My skin felt fabulous, my winter dry itchies quickly coming under control.  I love this soap!  Even hubby noted what a nice soap this was, and he usually just uses anything that's put in the shower.

So now I *knew* I had to order from this shop!  And the fact that there was a 20% off sale didn't hurt either.

Tea Room is described as 'A luxurious olive oil soap bar scented with fresh black tea warmed with rich masala spices of saffron, nutmeg, cardamom, peppercorn and light clove ~ flowering nicotiana ~ thick honey and drops of dark chocolate. A proprietary blend of fragrance oils and vegan friendly!'   I really like this one, and it's too bad they won't be making it in bar form anymore.  It is hard to describe, slightly spicy but not strong and sharp like cinnamon.  I do pick up hints of chocolate now that I know they are there, but I don't think I'd have ever recognized it otherwise.  This is the type of scent that makes me think of Future Primitive or Haus of Gloi or even Valhalla.  You know, that hard to describe, complex mix of things.  And I love that so many (maybe all?) of the Boondock G scents are custom house blends.

Maiden's Blush is described as 'A gentle handmade olive oil soap scented with a soft fruit blend of plum, pear and peach in a perfect union of champagne, cannabis blossom and clean earth. A suitable bath soap for women.'  This one is sort of a fruity floral at first but then you get more of a just plain 'clean' scent.  It reminds me of someone being freshly scrubbed and still slightly damp, stepping out of the bathroom.  LOL!  At first I thought this might be too girlie for hubby but now I'm thinking he might see it as the 'clean' scent instead.  It's quite nice, light and bright.

Boondock G's bars are on the smaller side, about 3.5 oz, but I'm ok with that because I'm so impatient and like to feel I'm using up soaps so I can buy more without the guilt.  The $5.00 price for smallish bars would normally be a bit of a sore spot for me but because I am just crazy about this soap, I'm ok with it this time.  And the packaging is so clever.  I'm pretty sure the simple white paper these are wrapped in is simply . . . coffee filters.  How clever and probably inexpensive is that??

I am wondering one thing though.  The Blackberry Sage bar I had was a hot process soap and the bars I just received are cold process.  Some people say there isn't much difference in performance, and I'm hoping that's true in this case.  We'll see!

I also received a free sample of Peppermint Blossom Tea soap, described as 'Fresh tender peppermint leaves steeping in black tea with soft sweet notes of ginger, jasmine and fruits. Handmade bar soap suited for the woman species.'  This is a soft scent, not really minty and not really fruity.  It's another of those hard to describe ones.  It reminds me a bit of Bodycology's Enchanted Forest, if you want to run out to your local store and sniff that.

An act of 'You didn't have to do that!' that totally makes me a fan of this shop is that soapmaker Pat included this sample of body cream.  Before I had placed my order, I'd contacted her to ask if she ever had smaller sizes of body creams available.  She said no, that sometimes they have samples of soap available but usually people just go ahead and buy the large size creams anyway.  That was a bit of a bummer but it was the soap I was mainly after anyway.  I don't know if she's done it this way before if she got creative for my sake, but she put this nice sized sample in a little 2x3 inch ziploc pouch and included it with my order.  And it is in Maiden's Blush scent, to go with the soap.  Thank you so much!!  (I have not tried it yet.)

 Among several items in the shop, Boondock G offers wax tarts.  Ooohhhhh yes, this could possibly be my favorite all-around shop now!  LOL!  I chose the smallest option, which is three tarts for $3.00 and you choose the scents.  I picked White Tea & Berries, Bamboo & Sugarcane, and Green Tea & Willow.  (I don't see any scent descriptions on any of the Etsy shop pages.)  White Tea & Berries is my favorite of the three.  It almost reminds me of Christmas.  The bamboo one is sort of a tangy 'green' scent.  The willow one is kind of like a powdery perfumey scent.  The tarts are made with soy wax and are free of colors and dyes.  Looking forward to melting these!

So that is my first Boondock G Soapery haul, and if these cold process bars are as freakin' awesome as the hot process was I will definitely be ordering from there again.

How about you?  Are you familiar with Boondock G already and just haven't told me?  What are your favorites, or what would you try first if you do place an order?  I'm super curious!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Haul - Valhalla Soap Company

I've ordered and posted about Valhalla Soap Company before.  This latest order was just for one small bar of a soap I'd seen someone raving about in a video. 

"Grog" Oatmeal Stout is described as 'Full bodied, smooth beer fragrance blended with Creamy Oatmeal, Orange Peel, Butterscotch, Farm-fresh Milk, Nutty Almond and Rich Vanilla.'  It's a strong oatmeal scent, some nuttiness and creaminess in there.  When I keep sniffing it I can start to pick out hints of sweetness but nothing you would distinctly note as orange or butterscotch.  Just a really nice, homey scent.

I chose the smaller round soap over the regular sized bar because I really do have so much other soap right now, and I'd like to feel like I'm actually making progress through my stash so buying smaller bars will create that illusion for me.  LOL!  This is still a nice size piece of soap though.  The labels says 3.3 oz, and it sells for $3.85 on the Valhalla website.  Can't wait to try this one!

Soapmaker Donna included some extra goodies in the package, as she has done sometimes in the past.  This is a sample of the In Your Face soap, described as 'Essential oils of bright Lemon, warming Ginger and cleansing Sage combined in this moisture rich handmade soap. We've added ground organic sage for it's astringent and clarifying properties as well as mild exfoliation. A pinch of white clay helps to draw out excess oils and impurities making this a good facial bar for normal to oily skin. ' This has a really nice clean, bright scent, sort of a sweet herbal lemon. Looking forward to trying this on my face. And it's a good sized chunk too.

This is a sample piece of the Bergamot & Tarragon soap, described as '...top notes of tarragon leaves, grapefruit, and lime; followed by middle notes of bergamot and jasmine; well rounded with base notes of oakmoss and bamboo.'  An interesting scent, hard to describe.  It's a bit spicy, a bit sweet, a bit herbal, a bit woody.  I would never have picked this on my own because I'm not wild about most of the notes listed, but together they make quite a unique scent.

I was so excited to see this little wax tart as one of the extras!  You know I love tarts, and it was funny because hubby and I had just gotten back from the Yankee outlet store, where we'd gone a little crazy on buying tarts and votives.  This purple colored 'soy shot' is in Lavender Sage scent and described as 'A perfect unique balance of French lavender, bergamot and herbal sage that's clean and refreshing.'   I've never been a fan of lavender but have to admit I'm coming around to it lately when it's blended with other things. This one, oddly enough, reminds me of Wintergreen chewing gum. It will be interesting to see what this one is like when it's warmed.

Donna sometimes includes cards and bits from other shops. Whether they are partners or friends, I can't remember, but it's fun to be introduced to other shops this way. This time I received a bookmark (I think?) from Fallawake Magickal Arts, and a little beaded clasped thing from Do-Hickies & Thing-A-Majigs. Looking at that site, I think it is meant to be a 'stitch marker' but it also mentions these make cute zipper pulls.

Thank you for the interesting little mix of goodies, Donna (and the other creators)!

Have YOU tried Valhalla Soap Company yet? What are some of your favorites?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Book Review - Switched

Switched - A Trylle Novel (Volume One)
by Amanda Hocking

When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. Eleven years later, Wendy discovers her mother might have been right. She’s not the person she’s always believed herself to be, and her whole life begins to unravel—all because of Finn Holmes.

Finn is a mysterious guy who always seems to be watching her. Every encounter leaves her deeply shaken…though it has more to do with her fierce attraction to him than she’d ever admit. But it isn’t long before he reveals the truth: Wendy is a changeling who was switched at birth—and he’s come to take her home.

Now Wendy’s about to journey to a magical world she never knew existed, one that’s both beautiful and frightening. And where she must leave her old life behind to discover who she’s meant to become…


Ok, I'll just say it right off.  I *HATED* this book.  At first I thought it was so cool that the author had become successful through self publishing first, and then had gotten a 'real' book deal.  It sort of gives hope to all the people like me who have stories to tell but don't know how to get them out there.  The author lives in Minnesota, and the bulk of this story takes place in Minnesota, and you know how I love Minnesota.  They even drink Mountain Dew in this book.  Yay!  But wow, once I actually started reading this, not even those 'cool factor' points could save it for me.

There are so many things I hated about this book, I don't even know where to begin.  This might be a jumbled mess.

First, when it mentioned 'changelings,' it was not the type of changeling I was thinking of, what I know from video games, where the changeling can take on your appearance in order to fool or confuse others while continuing to carry out its evil tasks.  No, in this book a girl baby was merely switched with a boy baby and they were raised by different parents.  Well alrighty then.

Next, because vampires, werewolves, and fairies have been done to death this author decided to make her characters trolls.  Really?  Trolls?  Now we're just reaching to be different, aren't we.  And there was nothing really to make these trolls different than plain humans.  Oh, they might have unruly hair and don't like to wear shoes, and hmm, some just might have a barely detectable greenish tinge to their skin, and oh, some have special abilities like being able to levitate things or cause weather changes or possibly even read the thoughts of others.  But really, there was nothing different, nothing that needed these characters to be trolls.

The storytelling was crap.  One thing I absolutely hate in books is the use of stupid delay tactics to try and build suspense.  You know, when someone is about to reveal crucial information and someone else walks into the room or the phone goes dead or whatever.  This book does it All. The. Time.  And does it in the stupidest ways.  Wendy and Finn might be having a conversation and Wendy would ask a question about something that oooooh, we can't know too much about yet or it will spoil the story, so Finn gets all dramatic and tells her she'll need to wait for so-n-so to explain it.  Why??  So five minutes later she'll be having a conversation with someone else and will ask about something else and will be given some stupid answer like they don't have time to go into all that, yet will still stand around and carry on a much more pointless conversation.  It just kept happening, all the time, with everything!  And probably 99% of those things were never explained later.

There were so many instances of ridiculous and pointless situations or conversations.  It was like the author had all these random images in her head and tried to piece them together into a story.  And keeping with that, there were so many bits comparable to a certain blockbuster vampire series that it's almost like she was a huge fan and wanted to recapture her favorite moments again in her own story.

The dialogue was so cheesy and over-dramatic.

The sense of time was warped, if there was any at all.  Things like Wendy waking up one morning and finding herself in a spot of cheesy over-dramatic trouble, and following Finn back to his room while having an angry cheesy over-dramatic conversation, and then suddenly it had been an exhausting day and she just wanted to sleep.  Huh?

The characters were one dimensional and weak.  I never felt any connection to anyone.  I never got any sense of Wendy and Finn being deeply in love, so when she said she couldn't see it in him, well I guess she wasn't lying. HA!  Finn was probably my favorite character but there was nothing in this story to help him.

The actual wording of so many things was just so . . . weird?  Wrong?  Weak?  I'm not even sure.  Two examples come to mind but I don't have the book on hand to get the actual quotes.  One was when Wendy was about to go down the stairs one morning and another character is coming up and says something that sort of upsets her and she stops and sits at the top of the steps.  First, um, ok . . . but then the narrative said something like 'I didn't feel like standing anymore' blah blah blah.  It was just such a weird sentence.  And then later she's describing her brother to someone and talking about his personality and how caring, etc. he is, a deep meaningful description and then ends with 'and he's really, really strong.'  What???

So all this random pointlessness leads up to the oh so dramatic end, in which so many more things just failed to make sense.  I think we were supposed to be heartbroken and left anxiously waiting to see what happens in the next book but really I was just glad to be done with this one.  I felt so let down by this book, was angry and hating it, and had to do some searching online to see if it was just me or what.  I found others who appear to share my strong dislike, but I found others who absolutely love this book and this series.  I realize it's a young adult novel and maybe teen girls are more willing and able to just lose themselves in it, but wow, it makes me wonder what other books the people who loved this one are reading.

And I found that the author sold the rights to this series and it will apparently be made into a movie.  Oddly enough, I'm a bit curious about that.  Maybe without the crap writing this story could be tolerable?

Even with as much as I hated this book, when I was shopping yesterday I came across the second book in the series and actually stopped to have a look.  I even considered buying it just to see if got any better!  I will admit, I am a bit curious about how things end up but I could probably just find a summary online and not have to put myself through the trauma again.

What do you think?  Should I soldier on and see how the series ends?  Have you read this book?  What did YOU think of it?  I would *love* to know!

Pet Review - Hartz Mini Mice

If you're familiar with my blog or my Facebook at all, you probably know about our crazy kitten named Minion.  He has been a handful from the first moment we heard him crying on our front porch.  Like most kittens, he is go go GO, nearly bouncing off the walls at times, and almost always looking for things to entertain him.  We do have another cat, Lynx, but he is an older cat and would much rather sit in the sun and sleep all day . . . not run and chase and wrestle with this naughty little newcomer.  So it falls on us, the human family members, to interact and play with demon child Minion.  We do have a toy on a stick, you know the stretchy string type toy on a stick that you entertain the kitty with by making him chase and run and jump and burn energy.  Problem is, there isn't always someone with a free hand and a free moment to play this game.  And lately it just hasn't been holding Minion's attention anyway.

Desperate for a toy to catch his interest, I'd been buying something new each week when I went grocery shopping, and nothing really did the trick until the day I bought these . . .
Hartz brand Mini Mice!  Minion *LOVES* these things!  And they have been a life saver for us.  They are small, the body being about 1 1/2 inches long, covered in a furry fabric, with a long fabric tail and little pink felt ears.  The inner part is a sturdy white plastic.  The website says they have catnip but I don't seen any mention of it on the packaging.  The moment I pulled the first package out of the shopping bag Minion was there.  He would have been happy grabbing the whole dang pack and running with it!  I had to drop everything else to cut open the package and get one mouse out . . . and he was leaping at me to get it.  It was hilarious.  I tossed it across the floor and Minion took off after it. 

And he played with that thing for HOURS.

Lynx also loves these little mice but he just doesn't play as much as Minion, and it doesn't help that Minion never *lets* the old man play.  If Lynx is batting something around, Minion has to be right there to see what it is.  Like I said, he's a demon child.

Anyway, the one outside of the package in the picture above is one that he'd already been playing with, so it looks a bit  . . . crusty.  But, back to the point, Minion goes nuts for these things.  He will bat it around the kitchen for at least an hour.  If he comes into another room to check on things, he's carrying his toy like it's a real mouse.  He will get protective of his 'kill' just like with a real mouse.  And after he's had enough quality time with the victim, he will stop batting and chasing, and instead go to work on 'eating' it.  He will bite hard on it, crushing the inner plastic body, and will pick at the fur until that plastic is exposed.  Then he's done.

A mouse used to last him a few days.  Sometimes he'll finish one off in a matter of hours.  But oh, the peace and joy that we have while he's playing with one!

He wouldn't even let me finish taking pictures before he was in the way, thinking he was getting a new one.  LOL!

After going through several of the smaller packs I decided to try the larger pack.  The mice are made the same but have crazier, solid colors.  This pack is cheaper per mouse.  Minion seems to have a slight preference for the half white ones, but I suppose it could also be that by the time I tried these bright colored one, maybe the thrill is starting to wear off.  Not sure yet.  It's also very funny because lately, every morning, we've been finding his latest brightly colored victim in the cat food dish.  No clue why he does that!?

I buy these Mini Mice at Walmart, but I've seen them in almost every store that has a pet section.  The large pack is 12 mice for $5.27, and the smaller pack is something like $3.27 for five.  (I forgot to note the price, and will update this post after my next stop at Walmart.)

These little buggers have been a surprise hit with our kitties, and have provided many hours of play for our high energy, attention starved kitten.  And they're quite cheap!  I absolutely recommend them, and I'd love to hear how your kitty reacts to them.

Friday, March 9, 2012

March Giveaway Winner

And the winner for the March giveaway is . . . 

 Congratulations, Heather!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Haul & Review - Güd

Güd is a brand of hair and body products that I've only recently just heard of.  Actually, I had noticed this one from a 'Like' on the Facebook page of an acquaintance and was intrigued enough to check into it immediately.  They are apparently an offshoot company of Burt's Bees, and just like that company these are natural products.

On the Güd Facebook page you can sign up for a free sample and you can also print out a $1.00 off coupon.  I also found several printable coupons at the Target website, $1.00 each off various Güd products.  Although I had signed up for the free sample, I was just too impatient to wait the 4-6 weeks for it to arrive so I armed myself with the coupons I'd printed and made sure we stopped at Target while we were out and about this weekend.

The full line of products includes shampoo and conditioner, body wash, body lotion, body butter, body mist, hand cream, and foaming hand soap.  There are four scents: Floral Cherrynova, Orange Petalooza, Vanilla Flame, and Pearanormal Activity (which is a Target exclusive).  The store I was at only had the shampoos and conditioners, body washes, and body lotions.  But using my coupons creatively, I was able to get one of each product, one of each scent.

I got the body wash in Floral Cherrynova scent.  The bottle describes it as 'The scent of soft cherry blossoms and almond milk will gently revive you while chamomile conditions your skin.  So your shower is a spa, not a rude awakening.'  I really like this scent!  It's sort of candy-ish, bright and pretty but also just a touch of cozy and sweet from the almond milk.  Being a natural product, I admit I wasn't expecting much.  It's a clear, almost runny consistency and I used a generous amount just because I doubted there would be much lather.  I was quickly proved wrong!  

(Let me do my usual conditions clarification . . . I used this product in the shower on a mesh shower pouf, and I have very hard, country well water.)

This stuff explodes with rich, fluffy lather.  It's long lasting and rinses easily.  My skin felt clean and soft without feeling dry or tight.  There is plenty of scent while in the shower but it's not overpowering.  I forgot to pay attention to whether or not I could still smell it on my skin afterwards.  I really enjoyed this natural body wash.

A 10 oz. bottle of body wash sells for $6.99 at Target or $6.49 at Walmart.  I'm not sure what other stores carry the Güd products at this point because they are still very new. 

For my shampoo I chose the Vanilla Flame scent, which is described on that bottle as '...wash your hair with natural ingredients.  And the scent of vanilla and rice milk will leave it smelling sweet no matter what shenanigans you get yourself into.'  I thought this would be my favorite scent since I'm all about warm and cozy, but it's not.  It's not really a bad scent, just not at all the sort of vanilla anything I had imagined.  There is an almost wood-like note to it.

Again, being a natural product I wasn't sure what to expect.  It's sort of a mucous-y consistency, sort of a clear-ish, milky-ish color.  I wasn't sure how much to use since my experience with Organix showed you need to use quite a lot.  So I used a generous portion but I think it still wasn't enough.

(Pause for conditions clarification again . . . my hair is shoulder length, straight hair that I do not color or treat or do anything fancy with.  It's combination hair, oily at the roots and dry on the ends.  I usually wash it every other day.  And I have very hard, country well water.)

As I worked this shampoo into my hair there was lather but it seemed lacking, and there was a sort of 'stickiness' to my hair.  Both of these points make me wonder if using more shampoo would have better results.  I will try more next time, but that is already a downfall if that's the case, because it's already rather pricey and now you have to use twice as much?  Anyway, it seemed to rinse ok, with most of that sticky feeling going away but still didn't feel as slick and smooth as with other shampoos.  I didn't worry about it too much because I figured the conditioner would take care of it.

A 12 oz. bottle sells for $6.99 at Target or $6.49 at Walmart.

I picked the Target exclusive Pearanormal Activity scent for my conditioner.  I don't see it on the official Güd site but on the bottle it's described as ' . . . cuz you're pretty amazing and smelling like juicy pear and acai berry.'  It is a nice pear scent. 

(Pause for conditions clarification again . . . my hair is shoulder length, straight hair that I do not color or treat or do anything fancy with.  It's combination hair, oily at the roots and dry on the ends.  I usually wash it every other day.  And I have very hard, country well water.)

Because I thought maybe I hadn't used enough shampoo, I figured I'd better use plenty of this conditioner.  It is a very thick cream consistency.  I slathered some on both hands and worked it into my hair.  Even with this, I still didn't have the usual smooth glide feeling as my fingers moved through my hair.  The bottle doesn't say anything about how long to leave it but after the Organix experience I thought I should try to be patient and let it sit in my hair for a bit.  When I rinsed, my hair felt clean enough but just not the silky feeling you usually get after using conditioner.

Now, much later in the day, I'm a bit disappointed with how my hair feels.  It's not horrible, not dried or scratchy straw hair, but it's definitely not as soft and shiny as I would have hoped.  I do know that sometimes hair needs time and several washes to adjust to natural products so I will keep using it for a while, and will hold off on my final opinion of these Güd hair products.

A 12 oz. bottle sells for $6.99 at Target or $6.49 at Walmart.
 And for my body lotion I chose the Orange Petalooza scent, which is described as 'Naturally hydrating shea butter quenches skin and absorbs quickly.  The scent of blood orange and hyacinth leaves skin smelling delectable.'  This is a bright orange scent, very uplifting, and with just subtle hints of floral in the background.  This might be my favorite of the four scents.

Although it comes out of the tube quite thick, it spreads very easily and is surprisingly light.  There is a slight sticky or tacky feel after you've rubbed it on your skin but it's gone in seconds as the lotion quickly absorbs.  There is no greasy after-feel.  The scent is quite strong but not overpowering.  I've used it mainly on my hands so far and while it's lighter and meant to be for the body, it does a good job on hands too, where heavier creams are usually preferred.  I like this lotion and would gladly buy more in each of the other scents as long as I had coupons.

The 8 oz. tube sells for $6.99 at Target or $6.49 at Walmart.

Overall, I think this is a fun new brand of natural products.  I'm hoping the shampoo and conditioner will work better over time, but I'm already very happy with the body wash and lotion.  Being natural products, they are on the pricey side but it looks like there are plenty of ways to get coupons for them.  I'm anxious to try the body mist and body butter, and hope I can find them somewhere soon.

So, what do you think?  Does this look like something you'll try?  Which scent is calling to you?


And don't forget to enter my March giveaway . . . HERE!
Win a set of Bodycology minis in Brown Sugar Vanilla scent!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Haul - Country Home Scents

My latest order of wax tarts from Country Home Scents arrived yesterday.  You might remember from my recent Tart Swap post that I've been getting tired of my usual warm and cozy bakery scents lately and had wanted some lighter, brighter scents for spring.  So what did I get?

Banana Caramel Cupcakes - The scent of ripe bananas drizzled in warm caramel and a blended with a vanilla cupcake....Mmmmmm! A Country Home Scent custom blend!  First, I  *had* to get more of this one because it has now become my new favorite scent.  Soooo yummy!  I bought two this time, and one of those will go to my sister.  She needs to know there are more than just blueberry muffins to smell . . . LOL  Oh, this one is just so darn good.  If you didn't know banana was in there I don't think you'd ever pick it out but it does lend some sweet fruitiness to the warm gooey caramel and light cake-y notes.

Purple Passion - A passionate blend of mango, strawberries and peaches with a hint of passionberry!  I almost ordered this one just based on looks alone.  Purple is my color, and how pretty is this simple tart all glammed up with a heart of 'diamonds'?  This is a nice softly sweet fruit blend.  At first you think it's the strawberries you're smelling, then you decide it's the mango . . . then you're just not sure because it's a well balanced blend.  Very nice!

Spring Tulip - What makes you think spring more than blossoming tulips! These tulip scented tarts will make you feel like spring is here! A beautiful floral scent that will make you happy!  This is a new scent, just released on March 1.  Tulips are probably my favorite flower but I really wouldn't know what they smelled like if you shoved them in my face.  I was wanting some bright spring scents though, so I decided to give this one a try.  Sniffing this one, it is the perfumey type floral that I am not a fan of, but there is almost a lilac-y note to it that makes me think I'll be ok with it.

Hummingbird Happiness - An aroma that will make you smile:) A beautiful blend of lilac, lily, pineapple and pear.....a must try fragrance!  This one just sounds and looks so happy and springlike.  And because there is fruit to tame down the floral, I decided to give this one a try.  It is a very light scent.  Very light.  I have to shove it right up to my nose to get the subtle bits of aroma.  Hopefully it will be stronger when I melt it!  Anyway, it's a nice mix of the fruit and floral, leaning slightly more towards fruit.  I think the pear is a bit more predominate, and I don't really pick up any lilac in particular but there is a floral note in the background.  Another nice one.

Four Leaf Clover - A wonderful floral blend of clover and green grass, with hints of fresh cut wisteria. A fresh clean scent!   This one is listed as a new scent but I see it on my old list of scents from a while ago, so I don't know if it's been redone, or if it was gone for a while and has just returned, perhaps a seasonal thing?  Regardless, being March, I just had to give this one a try.  It is a little more floral than I was hoping for but the cut grass is definitely making its presence known in there.  Hubby thinks it smells like baby powder.  I guess I can see how he gets that, but there is a greenness to it too.  Not a bad scent, but not the type I'm fond of.  We'll see what I think when I melt it though.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry - The aroma of sweet, ripe strawberries drenched in delectable dark chocolate!  The freebie sample tarts are slightly smaller and not done up in their beautiful tart finery, but it's still fun to see which one you get in your order.  This one has a rich dark chocolate scent right off the bat, and the subtle strawberry lingers hesitantly in the background.  I love to *eat* chocolate but the scent of it in tarts or candles has never done much for me.  (The exception being the mint chocolate one I had from Bath & Body Works that smelled like mint chocolate chip ice cream.)  So while I don't care much for this particular scent, it is not a mark against Country Home Scents, not at all.  I'm still thrilled to get a free sample, because I remember in the earlier days when they didn't include them.  (Thank you!!)

Packaging has changed a bit since my last order.  I understand wanting to get the company name and logo on the label but I think I prefer the previous style, where we could just lift the little round sticker to open or reseal the package.

Shipping was super fast.  I ordered on Tuesday  night and had my order on Saturday morning.  Prices are comparable to many other handmade tarts, and customer service is fabulous.  There are many ordering options on their website, such as different size tarts and different size sampler packs.  There is a custom blend option too if you're feeling adventurous!  Or if you have a scent suggestion, just let them know . . . maybe they're already working on it, or maybe they'll add it to their list of things to try. (They have an Etsy shop too, if you prefer.)

Which are your favorites from Country Home Scents?  Or haven't you tried them yet?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!
And don't forget to enter my March giveaway . . . HERE!
Win a set of Bodycology minis in Brown Sugar Vanilla scent!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Book Review - Born Wicked

Born Wicked: The Cahill Witch Chronicles (Book 1)
by Jessica Spotswood

Blessed with a gift...cursed with a secret.

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship - or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word . . . especially after she finds her mother's diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family's destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood - not even from each other.

I finished reading this book the other night.  I was surprised by how much I like this one!  It wasn't about witchcraft like, oh, Sweep or The Craft are.  There was magic, sure, but it was more like Harry Potter type magic.  And it's not even witchy elements that sucked me in.  It was the love story, which was *not* what I was looking for when I bought the book.

Set in 1896 in fictional New London, it took me a while to realize this was not historical fiction.  There are elements from history like witch trials and witch hunts, and the rules of society being so much different than today,  but there are also things like the Brotherhood and the Sisterhood.  The Sisters could be thought of sort of like nuns, but the Brothers were like Nazi dictator witch police and they ruled the land.  When girls turned 17, they to "announce their intention" before everyone in church, and their options were simple: get married or join the Sisters.  If no one had proposed to you by the time of your Intention Ceremony, not to worry, the Brothers would fix you up with someone.  And if you were betrothed but the Brothers felt it was not a good match, well, they would find you someone more appropriate.  How nice of them!  Wow.

Cate is the main character, and she is a few months shy of her 17th birthday as this story begins.  She's not put much thought into marriage but knows she does not want to join the Sisterhood.  She has her hands full just taking care of younger sisters and hiding their secret (that they're witches).  To help keep their secret they've pretty much kept to themselves at their grand country home.  But people are talking now, and a meddling neighbor insists the girls need a governess since they have no mother to guide them, especially now when Cate and younger sister Maura should be coming into society and looking for husbands.

Then a mysterious letter is delivered and Cate's world is shaken up even more.  Now she has to keep more secrets while trying to find answers, plus the added pressure of marriage vs. Sisterhood . . . and even if she'd wanted to marry, there have been no gentlemen calling.  That is until her childhood best friend Paul returns to town after years away at school, and wants to marry her.  It seems like an obvious solution to her problem.  He has money, and a future laid out before him.  He's handsome and charming and acceptable in the community.  They've known each other forever, and she does love him, at least as a friend.  And he wants to marry her!  Oh, and he wants to take her away to the big city.  Another problem to add to Cate's stack of stresses.  How will she take care of her sisters and keep the family secret if she is days away from them?

Then there is Finn, who Cate has also known for years but never really paid much attention to.  Her father has done him a favor by giving him a job on their farm.  Cate soon finds herself falling for him, but he has nothing to offer her.  He is poor.  His family is of lower status than the Cahill's, and the Brotherhood are already keeping an eye on them.  It's rather heartbreaking when Finn finally admits his feelings for Cate but also makes it clear he has nothing to offer and they can't be married.

Cate's Intention Ceremony is now only weeks away.  What will she do?

This book kept a fairly quick pace and kept to the point.  I hate it when dialogue or events are over-dramatic  or drawn out with interruptions and delays, and this book didn't have that.  (Well, one minor incident but it was explained soon enough and not left for the next book.)  At first I wasn't really liking Cate, thought she was too hung up certain things and that got a bit old.  She started to grow on my though and while she's still not my favorite character, I did like her more by the end of the book.  The Paul-Cate-Finn love triangle was well done, and I am totally Team Finn.  It was so sad that the rules of society were pretty much the only thing keeping Cate and Finn apart.  I'm really looking forward the the next book(s) because even though Cate announces her intention at the end of this first book, I'm quite certain this love triangle is far from over.

I would put this book somewhere in the middle between serious reading and fluff, leaning slightly more towards fluff.  I would have liked to see more 'serious' witchcraft, or have them learning more about it instead of simply casting silly spells like they were at Hogwarts.  But even so, this book caught my be surprise and I really hate that we have to wait until who knows when for the next one.  I'm curious now about other books this author has written, if any.  I'll need to check.

Have you read this book?  What did you think of it?  I'd love to hear your thoughts, and even discuss the story!

I leave you with this Born Wicked 'book trailer.'  Enjoy!

And don't forget to enter my March giveaway . . . HERE!
Win a set of Bodycology minis in Brown Sugar Vanilla scent!

Love & Toast, and Gud

I've stumbled across two new bath and body brands that I'm anxious to try: Love & Toast, and Gud.

I just noticed this Love & Toast brand today while I was at Target.  It was right next to the Gud products and at first I thought they were all the same brand.  There are lotions, butters, scrubs, shampoos and conditioners.  The packaging kinda reminds me of late '60s or early '70s or something, kinda funky weird cute.  As you can see in the image above, there are none of the nasties in these products.  And the scents are unique.  There was a cute sampler package in that store that I almost bought, but decided to check into this company online first.

I first noticed the Gud brand as a 'Like' on an acquaintance's Facebook page.  It is sort of an offshoot of the Burt's Bees company, and the products contain no parabens, phthalates, or petrochemicals.  Their packaging also has that sort of '60s/'70s crazy colored fun look, which is why I almost confused the two companies.  Gud has shampoos and conditioners, lotions, butters, body washes and hand soaps, and body mists.  There are four fun scents right now, with one of those being a Target exclusive.  And if you go to their Facebook page you can sign up for a free sample!  (I'm waiting for mine at the moment.)

Are you familiar with either of these companies?  Or do you think you'll try them now that you know about them?  Let me know!

And don't forget to enter my March giveaway . . . HERE!
Win a set of Bodycology minis in Brown Sugar Vanilla scent!

New Bodycology : Cloud Nine

Bodycology had teased us with a picture of their newest scent, Cloud Nine, and with bits of info that "several" new scents would be debuting "this spring."  We knew that Cloud Nine, at least, would be coming out in late February and sure enough, on the 27th someone posted on the Facebook page that they'd just bought it.  I was in town on the 29th and had checked both Walmart and Target but couldn't find it.  Bodycology said on their Facebook page that it was a Target exclusive, so when I was shopping this morning I made a point to stop at Target and check again.

And this time it was there.  Yay!  I immediately grabbed a mini fragrance mist and a mini body cream but did not see a mini shower gel.

Cloud Nine is described on the package as 'Breezy - The cleansing scent of sweet citrus, apple, and jasmine will carry you to your own personal Cloud Nine.'  It is a light, sweet floral scent, and I am loving it at the moment.  It's bright and clean, perfect for spring, and is quite girly.  I don't think you'd ever be able to specifically identify apple or even citrus in this because they blend together so nicely and mix with the jasmine.  On first sniff you'd probably think "Ah, a floral," but then you'd quickly sniff again on second thought in a "Wait, or was that fruit?" kind of way.  It's just a really nice blend.  I'm glad I got it!

I also saw three other new scents:
  • Sunkissed Citrus
  • Passionfruit Punch
  • Mango Madness
Sunkissed Citrus was only in full size body cream and shower gel.  I gave it a quick sniff and quite liked it, but did not buy it yet.  Passionfruit Punch and Mango Madness were only available in full size fragrance mists, so I didn't get either of those yet either.  I didn't even sniff them.  They have a much different look though, both in the graphics style and bottle style.  (I think the bottle style was different anyway.)  I'm going to wait a bit and hopefully find these other scents in mini sizes.  If nothing else, I'll go back with my $1.00 off coupons from the Facebook page and buy them that way.

They had also hinted on their page that a new vanilla scent will be debuting in April.  I am super excited about that!  But really, that's ALL I know about it . . . that it's a vanilla scent.

So I'm a happy little camper today.  Heheee!

How about you?  Are you a Bodycology fan?  Have you tried Cloud Nine, or any of the new scents?  I'd love to hear about it!

And don't forget to enter my March giveaway . . . HERE!
Win a set of Bodycology minis in Brown Sugar Vanilla scent!

Friday, March 2, 2012

March Giveaway! (CLOSED)

This month you could win a set of Bodycology minis in Brown Sugar Vanilla scent.  The prize package includes a 2 oz. hand sanitizer, a 2 oz. shower gel/bubble bath, 1 oz. fragrance mist, and a 2 oz. body cream.  How fun is that?!

Brown Sugar Vanilla is described as 'Cozy - The warm blend of vanilla, brown sugar, and sensual amber creates a cozy, comforting scent.'  It is similar to the Warm Vanilla Sugar from Bath & Body Works, and is one of my favorites from the Bodycology line.

I thought choosing a variety of mini products would be a fun way for someone to try Bodycology.  These are the perfect size for travel, or they easily fit into your purse (although why you'd want a shower gel in your purse is beyond me, hehe).  You'll get plenty of uses from each product.  Just a fun little collection.

This giveaway will end on Friday, March 9, 2012.  I will try to pick a winner around noon central time, and I will use Random.org to pick that winner out of all the qualifying entries received.  And how do you enter?  Easy!  Just leave a comment on this post, answering the question below.

March . . . first day of spring, my husband's birthday, sometimes Easter, and always St. Patrick's Day!  Of all those fine theme ideas I'm going with St. Patrick's Day for this giveaway.  St. Patrick's Day as a nod to all the Irish things I love, like U2, Boomtown Rats, castles, my Irish ancestors, and even the upcoming 100th anniversary of Titanic (which was built in Belfast).

Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?  Do you have a fondness for green beer or corned beef and cabbage?  Have you been to Ireland?  Are YOU Irish?  Just leave me an Irish related comment to be entered in the March giveaway.  Doesn't get much easier than that, now does it?

Good luck!