Monday, April 30, 2012

Luminessence - Dollar Tree Tarts

I have heard from online scent lovers that dollar store tarts are actually pretty good.  Since I was at our local Dollar Tree store this morning to look for graduation stickers, I decided to see if they had tarts.  I saw one no-name brand of plain vanilla scent round tarts and dejectedly passed them by.  A bit farther down the aisle though, I was surprised to see a nice little variety of clam shell package tarts!  The brand is Luminessence and there were maybe seven or eight different scents, but I chose just two, to see how they are.

Ocean Breeze does not smell anything like I would have expected it to.  I thought it would have been sort of 'green' or 'ozone'y or spa-like.  Nope.  This one smells like coconut with very subtle hints of something like baby powder.  Sounds weird, but it's actually very  nice.  I don't think the name fits it AT ALL, but ignoring that, I really like this scent.

Cucumber Melon is what you'd expect, a light and bright scent that is perfect for spring and summer.  This one doesn't seem quite as juicy as others I've smelled but it's still instantly recognizable.  A nice scent that I see in bath and body products all the time, but not so much in tarts.

These packs only have four cubes in them, as opposed to the typical six cube packs you get most other places.  At first I thought it was such a steal, only a dollar for these little gems, but when I got home and really looked at them I saw that the cubes are actually smaller.  I popped the wax out of the package and weighed it ... only 1 oz.  Heh, Walmart tarts are $2.00 for 2.5 oz.  Oh well, I'm always happy to try new tarts.

Normally, with Walmart tarts I will melt two cubes at a time.  That's about .8 oz.  I considered just melting all four cubes of the new one but I'm using my slightly smaller warmer today and ended up only putting three in, which should be close to how much I melt with Walmart tarts.  (Follow that?  lol)  I decided to try the Cucumber Melon first, and they've been melted about an hour now.  I can only faintly smell anything.  I *can* smell it, but it's much lighter than I prefer.  For smaller apartments or rooms, or those who like lighter scents, this would probably be great, but cost-wise you're still better off getting the Walmart tarts.

So in the end, while it was fun to find these and get a couple to try, even if the Ocean Breeze one is stronger I won't buy them again simply because the Walmart tarts are a better value.

Have you ever tried Luminessence tarts?  Or any off the wall brand tarts?  Have you found any surprise hits?  Let me know!

Bath & Body Works - NEW Malibu Heat

I very rarely go to Bath & Body Works but I admit I do sometimes get sucked into the excitement of new scents when I watch YouTuber B&BW guru videos.  Just this morning I watched Ellie's video about the new scent, Malibu Heat.  Later this morning, Ty and I were trying to kill some time in town while we waited for his car to be fixed, and we ended up at the mall.  He went to GameStop.  I went to Bath & Body Works.

I knew I had to be very careful in that store because we're tight on money at the moment, and I have plenty of lotions already that I'm trying to use up.  First thing I did, even before Overly Perky & Pushy B&BW Girl got to me, was hunt down the Summer Boardwalk candle that everyone is raving about.  MMMM!!!  Yep, it's one I would love to have.  Unfortunately, it only comes in the large size for now and I was not about to spend that much money.  As I was drooling over all the little baby sized candles of other scents, Super Knowledgeable & Helpful Sales Associate finally caught me and ruined my day but telling me that while she thought Summer Boardwalk might be released in the smaller (4 oz.) candle, she was quite sure it would not be in the little baby size.

So I asked about Malibu Heat and she perkily led me up to the checkout counter.  She said had full sizes of different Malibu Heat products in the back if I was interested, but they wouldn't have their full release until later . . . in May, I think?  These 2 oz. preview size bottles of lotion are only a dollar so I knew I'd at least be getting one of these.

I decided to look around the store a bit more, see if there were any other preview size anythings available.  (Nope.)  Or see what the bargin bins had.  (No bins.)  After starting to feel the lure of the candles again, and the urge to buy lots of things I just don't need, I figured it was best to just get my one little bottle of lotion and get the heck out of that place.

I paid and fled.

LOL!

So, what is this new scent like?  The B&BW site describes it as 'Juicy pineapple, California orange and creamy coconut milk.'  It is a light, fun scent . . . fruity.  If I didn't know what was in it, I don't think I'd ever identify anything specifically, but would consider it tropical.  Knowing what notes are there, I do smell the pineapple most and then the sort of creamy sweetness of the coconut milk, but I don't get any orange.  Maybe the orange is that subtle note of 'brightness,' but I'd never know it was actually orange.  It's still a very nice scent though.  I like it.

One thing I love/hate about Bath & Body Works is the bajillions of scents they always have.  I love it because there is always something fun to check out, but I hate it because it can be overwhelming and even repetitive.  I've been hearing that many scents lately seem to be very similar to other scents already out.  Ellie mentioned this Malibu Heat is once again familiar to her but she hadn't put her finger on what it reminds her of yet.  Since I am nowhere near a B&BW connoisseur and have definitely not smelled all they have to offer, I couldn't even begin to suggest what this new one may or may not smell like, BUT, when I sniff this I *do* think there is something sort of generically related to B&BW scents.

Wow, that's a lot of nattering for one little bottle of lotion!  Guess that shows how anxious I am to get back to my daily natterings type posts.

But anyway . . . have you tried B&BW's new Malibu Heat scent?  What are some of your favorite B&BW scents or products?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tart Quickie

I was at Walmart again this morning and couldn't help going back to the tarts and grabbing this one.  I'd considered getting it the other day but left it in the end.  Then we were talking at work about a cherry scent from a well known but overpriced company, and I decided I wanted this one after all.

Doctor Mom - 'Cherry berry and a kiss to make it better.'  This is from the Scentsationals Mother's Day line of tarts.  At first it reminds me of cherry candy, like Lifesavers or something, but then you realize there is some berry playing in there too, maybe strawberry . . . ?  It's a really fun, bright scent, and I'm looking forward to melting this one.

There are several others in this Mother's Day line that I'd like to have, but I'm hoping the menfolk of my house will surprise me with some.  Hehe!!

So what are you melting or burning today?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Walmart Tarts Mini-Haul

Had to run to town for a few things this morning, and decided to pick up some tarts even though there aren't really any new or fabulous scents out right now.  There are a ton of scents in a special Mother's Day line of the Scentsationals brand.  A couple of them really caught my eye but in the end I didn't get any.  I'll drop some hints for my menfolk as far as those go.  Hehe!

Vanilla Caramel Spice - I'm pretty sure I've had this one before.  Although I'd intended on buying some fruity summer scents, this was the one that I liked the most out of all that are currently available.  This is a very nice warm and creamy scent, big on caramel and softened with the vanilla.  I detect very little spice in this one.

Green Apple - I usually save apple scents for the fall season, but those are usually spicy apple scents, or caramel apple, or cider types.  I was watching a YouTube video yesterday, someone showing her Walmart tart collection, and she had Green Apple.  She said she liked it for summer, and just made it sound so yummy.  When I noticed it at my store this morning I gave it a sniff and decided to give it a try.  It is straight up green apple, sweet and tart and juicy.  There is nothing else to make it more of a fall type scent.  Even so, I tend to associate apples with fall . . . so I might end up just hanging onto this one until later in the year.

Black Raspberry Vanilla - I loved this scent in my soapmaking days, and I have loved it in Bath & Body Works products, but I have always passed this one up in tarts.  I usually give it a sniff in the store, get a moment of 'Aaah,' and put it back on the shelf.  In that same video I was watching yesterday, the girl once again made this sound so yummy, and also mentioned she can't find it anymore at her store.  When I saw it still available at mine, I decided now was the time to try it.  I'm a little worried because the cold scent if fairly light.  I'm hoping like crazy it will bloom when heated.  It's a great scent though, fruity at first but quickly followed up with the creamy vanilla.  Funny, it's called Black Raspberry Vanilla but the scent description mentions blackberries.

Better Homes & Garden tarts and Scentsational tarts are made by the same company - Scentsationals.  The BH&G line is a Walmart exclusive but I'm pretty sure Scentsationals can be found in other stores as well as online.  Both brands are excellent tarts, and super affordable.  A six cube (2.5 oz.) pack sells for $2.00.  I've always found these to be strongly scented and long lasting.  Sometimes floral scents and certain fruity scents will be lighter, but that is typical of the scent and not the brand/product.  In my tea light warmer, I use two cubes at a time, and can easily get at least two melts (6-8 hours) out of them.  I could probably get away with just one tart most of the time because these are so generously scented.  If you tend to think these are cheap because they are from Walmart and are only $2.00, I challenge you to give them a try.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!

So?  Have YOU tried them yet?  What scent did you get?

Embrace (Violet Eden Chapters) - Jessica Shirvington

Embrace
by Jessica Shirvington
(2010)

It starts with a whisper.

"It's time for you to know who you are . . . "

Strange dreams leave her with very real injuries and there's a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms.  The guy she thought she could fall in love with just told her he's only half-human - oh, and same goes for her.  And she keeps hearing a distant flutter of wings.

Violet Eden is having a very bad 17th birthday.

But if angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worst than betting on Violet Eden . . . 

Originally released in Australia and New Zealand in 2010, this is yet another book that has been repackaged and re-released recently.  And it is this beautiful purple cover that caught my eye and made me buy it.  They say don't judge a book by it's cover but sometimes that cover is all it takes.  I don't know if there has been a recent explosion of interest in the young adult book market and that is why so many of these types of books are being reintroduced to us?  Are teens and young adults really getting back to reading?  That warms my heart if that is indeed the case.  I encourage everyone to read more! 

Anyway . . .

I loved this book.  I was immediately sucked into the story.  I immediately felt connections with the main characters Violet and Lincoln, and felt their bond easily.  Early on, everything between them was just so 'real.'  No cheesy writing or dramatics.  There was one simple moment that nailed it all . . . Violet had shared a disturbing, long held secret with Lincoln, something that upset both of them.  Instead of going for big dramatic punch, the author had Lincoln listen quietly and let her have a moment to gather herself, and then he simply put an arm around her shoulder for a moment in a silent gesture of 'Are you ok?  Yeah, you'll be ok.'  It was just so real, so basic, and not some forced emotional scene to try and impress the reader.  A lot of the book was like that, and that's a big reason why I liked it.

Things did get a bit weak for a while once Violet learns about the angels.  I thought her reaction to not being told was a bit extreme, and I didn't like fact that angel partners can never be a couple.  While I do think that was just a far-fetched way to create the whole forbidden love angle, I can also see how it will add emotion to the series by having these people possibly have to watch their beloved become involved with someone else.

I *loved* the whole Phoenix part of the story.  Lincoln was hot in his laid back, casual cool demeanor but Phoenix was sizzling.  Even though he came across as a bit more forced cool, it worked.  Phoenix and Violet had a chemistry and a sexual tension like Bella and Edward.  Whooo!  *fans self*  I suspected early that he was someone much larger than he let on, but even so, when it was confirmed it was still a bit of an awe inspiring moment . . . again, because a huge deal was not made of it.  Some books might have done it up in huge overdone fashion, but the sort of laid back nature of things in this one make it cool because it's believable.  Even though the subject matter is fantasy (or is it? lol) it's written in a way that you just accept it.

One thing I did not like is something that bothers me in a lot of young adult fiction.  Why is it that kids are always the ones to undo the years of ultimate evil that the best of the best could not touch?  Harry Potter is the perfect example of what I'm talking about, but it is in so many other books and movies too.  And it's in this book as well.  Violet has only known about the angels for, what, a matter of weeks?  Yet she's right in there with these top notch agents and armies, fighting the evil right in the heart of things, and oh yes, she is the strongest thing anyone has seen in a bajillion years.  *rolls eyes*  I mean, I guess I can see how teens reading a teen book are going to be all over that, but it always makes me kinda cringe in a "Really?" sort of way.  Still, it wasn't enough to turn me off in this book.

There were some weak points, and times when things did drift into that cheesiness I hate so much, but towards the end it started pulling itself back together and I am REALLY looking forward to the next book in this series.  And I'm doing my best to not snoop around online and find out what happens in the rest of the books.  That is one danger of coming into these things late.  But anyway, loved this one and would recommend it wholeheartedly!

Have you read Embrace yet?  Do you get into the whole angels genre?  I'm new to it, so I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Unseen - Richie Tankersley Cusick

The Unseen, and The Unseen 2
(It Begins; Rest In Peace; Blood Brothers; Sin And Salvation)
by Richie Tankersley Cusick
(2005)

Volume One
Out walking alone one rainy night, Lucy becomes convinced that someone - or something - is following her.  Spooked, she ducks into a cemetery to try and lose her stalker.  Panicking in the darkness, she slips and stumbles into an open grave - only to discover she is not alone in there.  She manages to escape, but soon begins having terrifying visions and dreams - and she still can't shake the feeling of an unseen presence, always watching, waiting . . .   Who was the girl in the grave?  And what did she do to Lucy?

Volume Two
Too many deaths, too many terrifying visions and sleepless nights have taken their toll on Lucy Dennison.  She wonders if she can trust anyone or anything anymore - even her own mind.  Lucy knows there must be something, somewhere that can tell her why she was chosen to receive the terrible visions, why she feels the sinister presence all around her.  As Lucy searches desperately for answers, she knows time is running out.  Too many people have disappeared - or worse - and the constant feeling of being surrounded by something truly evil grows stronger each night.  Can Lucy defeat the evil in time?

This series was originally released in 2005 and 2006, and was four separate books.  Walmart recently repackaged and re-released the series as two volumes, each containing two of the original books.  This seems to be the trend in books these days because I've been seeing soooo many others being redone this way.  Anyway, I noticed it and paused to look at it a few times before finally giving in and buying it.

I wish I would have written this post as soon as I'd finished reading because now enough time has passed that I don't remember all the finer details.  Overall, I liked these books.  They are not grand literature, but it was a pleasant enough read.  A quick and easy read too.  The first book in volume one started out so good, I couldn't put it down and couldn't wait to get back to it if I did have to break away from reading.  Things turned a little cheesy and over-dramatic for a while with one character but once he was removed from the situation things got better again.  Each of the books ends rather abruptly, and then the first chapter of the next book is just a repeat of the last chapter of the previous book . . . which was somewhat annoying but oh well.

The story kept me guessing.  Sometimes that was good and had me tense and anxious for answers, but sometimes it was just because things were not explained clearly.  The end left things hanging for me.  While I did have to laugh because I had not seen the final twist coming, when all was said and done I felt like some things were just never tied up.  I actually checked online to see if there was another book after this.  LOL

I had suspected all along that one main character (Matt, the priest) was not what he appeared to be, but he was my favorite character nonetheless and I was disappointed to see what his role in all of this really was.  I'd had much grander visions.  

As for the unseen, the evil stalkers . . . what were they?  I still don't know.  Shape shifters were mentioned a lot.  Some werewolf type thing was mentioned.  Something about needing to complete the transformation from one class to the next was mentioned.  But was it ever really explained?  I didn't come away from this series feeling like I knew just what they were or why there were that way.  It also got tiring sometimes always wondering if there was trickery going on, or if things were legit for the moment.  But overall, yes, I did like this series and I would recommend it for a quick supernatural type read.

Bodycology Body Scrub

You know I love Bodycology.  So imagine how thrilled I was recently when I noticed several new things in the Bodycology section at my local Walmart!  And the thing I was most excited to try was their new body scrub.  Available in several scents, I bought Coconut Lime Twist.  (Other scrub scents are Sweet Petals, Exotic Cherry Blossom, and Toasted Vanilla Sugar.)

The description of Coconut Lime Twist is 'Uplifting - The sweet scent of coconut mingles with refreshing lime to help relieve stress and tension - like a tropical getaway.'  It is a very nice, summery scent, a bit heavier on the coconut but the lime is right there under it.  Very bright and clean.

The exfoliant in here is sugar, and the granules are quite large.  There is also a large dose of shea butter in this scrub.
It is a very thick consistency.  This was a little frustrating because you have to *really* squeeze the tube to get some out.

This is not the type of scrub that foams or lathers as you use it.  It is just sugar and oils.  While the sugar granules are quite large, I did not find them to be too harsh or irritating.  They do not dissolve overly fast.  In fact, I could still feel them when I eventually rinsed off.  The scent was pleasant and light, and not strong enough to interfere with any perfume or scented lotion you might normally apply afterwards.  It rinsed cleanly and easily, left my skin feeling fabulous, and there was no leftover oily feeling.  There is a slippery tub warning on the tube but I did not find my tub to be any more slippery than usual.

An 8 oz. tube sells for $4.47 at Walmart.  (Bodycology products can be found at most stores, such as Target, Kmart, Walgreens, etc.)

While I did enjoy this product, I much prefer their other style of scrub that comes in a jar.  (Review HERE.)  The thick consistency of this version makes it hard to squeeze out of the tube, and it takes a bit of work to get it to spread out on your skin.  Once you introduce some water and get it thinned a bit it works much easier.  Also, those larger sugar granules are a bit alarming at first.  It was fun to try this and I'm glad I did, but yeah, I think I'll stick with the other style.

Have you tried the new Bodycology body scrub yet?

Torn - Amanda Hocking

Torn - A Trylle Novel (Volume Two)
by Amanda Hocking
(2010)


When Wendy Everly first discovers the truth about herself—that she’s a changeling switched at birth—she knows her life will never be the same. Now she’s about to learn that there’s more to the story…

She shares a closer connection to her Vittra rivals than she ever imagined—and they’ll stop at nothing to lure her to their side. With the threat of war looming, her only hope of saving the Trylle is to master her magical powers—and marry an equally powerful royal. But that means walking away from Finn, her handsome bodyguard who’s strictly off limits…and Loki, a Vittra prince with whom she shares a growing attraction.


*** MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

This is the second book in author Amanda Hocking's Trylle trilogy. You might remember my scathing review of the first book, Switched ( HERE ), and the fact that I hated it so much. And you're probably asking why on earth I would read the second book, right? One reason is because I do admit that I'm curious how this story ends, but the bigger reason is that a friend of mine has unknowingly been teaching me tolerance for fluff.

I didn't hate this book as much as the first. Maybe I was prepared for it, or maybe I am learning that tolerance. While I still don't think there is any reason these characters need to be trolls, except to be different from the usual vampires and angels, this book got a bit more use out of it. We learned much more about the rival faction, the Vittra, in this book. Having these two warring sides, and learning about their differences and their histories made it a bit more interesting, although it was all still rather weak.

The actual storytelling leaves much to be desired. Again, there were too many pointless conversations and situations. One example, some dramatic events had happened earlier in the day and now everyone is safe and at home and Wendy is soooo exhausted and emotionally drained but before anything she feels she needs to check in with her brother and make sure he's ok, and explain everything to him. Ok, yeah, that's believable. But the crappy storytelling kicks in by having Wendy go to her brother's room and have a two minute conversation in which she says she doesn't have time to explain right now. What?? Wasn't that the reason she just had to see him? Ok, wait, it gets better . . . She leaves him after their non-conversation and goes back to her room to take a shower and get cleaned up, and then goes back to her brother's room to talk to him. WHAT??? So really, we couldn't have eliminated that shower part and just got on with a decent conversation? Because ooooooh, the suspense that one extra page built up nearly killed me. *GAG* So she goes back and it says she told him everything, although we got none of that conversation. And then the next day or something, there is a conversation between Wendy, her brother, and some other people, and it says that Wendy had purposely left out details of what was going on so her brother wouldn't get overwhelmed. So why then did she go back to his room after that shower and tell him *everything*???

Ugh, endless situations like that. Endless overuse of that highly annoying delay tactic where important information is about to be learned but things are interrupted for one reason or another, or one character will always say "There's no time for that now," or "I'm not the one who should be telling you." STOP IT!!!! I doubt that even a 14 year old dreamy eyed girl reading would be getting anything out of such techniques.

Ridiculous situations to create brief moments the author must have imagined or seen elsewhere and needed to duplicate are another ongoing problem. An example here is that Wendy again had been doing something but felt she needed a shower to relax before whatever the next drama was, but she gets into her private bathroom and finds she's out of body wash. This seemed like an odd detail, out of place in the rest of the storytelling, but still common for this author. Anyway, did she not notice the last time she took a shower that she'd used the last of that body wash? Had someone else been using her private bathroom and used the last of her body wash without her knowledge? Whatever. She needs some damn body wash! Keep in mind, she is a princess living in a huge grand palace. What does she do? She puts on her robe and goes walking down the hall to the closet where more bath supplies are kept. Huh??? But ooohhhhhhh, this was needed because apparently there is no other possible way to have her run into the guy she's in love with but who seems to be avoiding her. Oh! I see it now! *puke*

It also drove me nuts how this bumbling, uninformed girl would miraculously transform into a perfect regal hostess and conversationalist whenever someone of importance was around. It would have been so much more believable to have her stumble her way through such situations, have her advisers always sort of fill in the conversational gaps. One of many annoying points with Wendy is that she always, ALWAYS resorts to yelling at people in her conversations. Apparently the author is imagining emotional dramatic punch this way but really, it's just annoying. I know if I was talking to someone who yelled at me in every conversation, I'd eventually just avoid talking to that person. She mutters a lot too. I just really do no like this main character.

I never felt any bond or attraction between Wendy and Finn. That is a relationship that started back in the first book, and I think we're supposed to be all heartbroken and pulling for them to find a way to be together, but I just don't feel it. I'm pretty sure they will indeed end up together in the end but I'm just not caring for either of them along the way.

There is new possible love interest in this book. His name is Loki, and he is also an impossible partner for her because he is from the rival Vittra. The story tries to make us feel this magical, immediate bond they supposedly have but again, I didn't feel anything for these two. Finn and Wendy at least have some history at this point but it's supposed to be some love at first sight thing with Loki and it's just not working.

Even with all this negativity, there were a couple slightly interesting things in this book that kinda caught me off guard. I even almost cried at one point. *GASP* I'll do a quick run through of the books, and there will be spoilers, so stop here if you don't want to know.

In the first book we find out that Wendy was switched at birth and that she is actually a troll. When she is 17, a tracker named Finn comes to find her and take her home, back to a secret troll compound in Minnesota. (That's just so funny to me. I *love* Minnesota, but it's just so funny.) There she meets her mother, who happens to be the queen of these trolls. That means Wendy is a long lost princess. Of course in the time they spend together, Wendy and Finn fall for each other but she learns that they can never be a couple because she is royalty and he is a lowly tracker. Wendy also encounters a rival troll clan called the Vittra, who try to abduct her. She is only given bits of information about them and why they want her, and it's implied that she has strong mind powers that the Vittra want to take advantage of. Wendy has also learned that some trolls have powers like control of the weather, or moving objects, or controlling minds. The first book ends with Wendy narrowly escaping another Vittra attack, and her deciding to run away and go back to her other 'normal' home.

The second book picks up right where the first left off. She is back home and trying to explain things to her brother. Finn and another tracker show up that night to persuade her to go back to the troll compound but she refuses. That same night she is abducted again by the Vittra and taken to their own compound. It is there that she learns the king of the Vittra is her father. She eventually learns that her mother and father had married in attempt to bring peace between these two factions, but it all backfired and they continued to be at war. One of her abductors is Loki, and they seem to have an immediate connection. He lets her and her friends escape, and later lets himself be captured in Wendy's compound. Does he really want to be with Wendy or was he sent on King's orders? Although it was somewhat explained, I never really did understand what the true reason was. Wendy finds out her mother is dying and this is why she has been pushing Wendy to learn everything she'll need to know and do to rule the kingdom. She also eventually realizes that at least some of the people closest to her are driving her training (to control and strengthen her mind powers) because they hope she will be able to kill the king and bring peace once and for all. On a side note, her mother arranges a marriage for Wendy that will also supposedly aide in the strength of the kingdom. The chosen young man is a friend of Wendy's but not anyone she'd ever consider marrying. It is Tove, who has been a character since the first book, and has become my favorite character of the series so far. Wendy is mad that Finn won't even try to fight for a way to be with her. She rejects Loki's offer to run away from all of this and be happy together. And this second book ends with Wendy and Tove admitting they are not in love with each other but agreeing that there could be much worse things than marrying each other.

So, even though I pretty much hated this second book too, I will go ahead and finish out the series when the third book comes out. I'm sure there will some cheesy turn of events that will bring peace to the trolls and allow Wendy and Finn to finally be together. And I'm sure there will be a tons of crap writing and weak storytelling to get us to that point. But I'll suck it up one more time.

Have you read this book? Have you ever struggled through a book you hate? Or do you give up and move on to something hopefully better? I'm curious.

Friday, April 20, 2012

L'Occitane Body Lotion

 A company called L'Occitane sent me a bottle of their Verbena Body Lotion recently.  I'd never heard of this company before seeing a YouTuber talk about in one of her videos.  She said she'd been so fond of the sample sizes in a bed and breakfast place she'd stayed at that she had to visit the nearby boutique and buy some to take home.  I looked them up online and found they are a French company but have boutiques all over the world.  (None near my, like all good things.  *sigh*)  I contacted them and asked if they ever sent out samples, and they sent me a whole dang bottle.  Nice!

 As mentioned, this is the Verbena Body Lotion.  The label is so cool because it appears to have Braille on it.  Maybe it's not, but that's the impression I get.  I haven't done any research to see what it might say.  (Can you see the dots on there?)

The bottle itself is rather cool too, definitely not like any others I have.  There is sort of an old fashioned feel about it.  It is a slightly squeezable clear plastic, with a leaf shape on each side.  Everything on the bottle is in French first, English second.  So one side says Verveine under the leaf and the other side says Verbena.  The gray top at first looks like an old fashioned metal screw cap but it is a plastic flip top.  I just might hang onto this bottle after the lotion is gone, just to look pretty on a shelf somewhere.

As for the lotion . . . I *love* this stuff.  The scent, being verbena, is obviously lemony.  It's not a fake lemon cleaner type.  There is more of a 'green' note, but also reminds me of lemonade in it's sweetness.  And it's quite strongly scented.  Not overpowering, but you definitely smell it for a while after applying it. 

Described on the website as a lightweight lotion, I would say it has a medium consistency but yes, does feel light on the skin.  It's spreads very easy and absorbs super quick.  There is no greasy after-feel.  Even using it on my hands has been wonderful, and I usually have thicker, heavier lotions for that.

This 8.4 oz. bottle sells for $25.00 on the L'Occitane website.  I couldn't believe they'd sent me a whole bottle to try for free!  There are many other things on their site that I'd love to try but they are quite pricey, so I'll have to make a wish list and hope for generous gift givers.  lol

I would really like to thank L'Occitane for providing me with the opportunity to try this product.  I wasn't sure what to expect when I'd heard it was high-end boutique and coming from France, but I am impressed and really do like it.

Are you familiar with L'Occitane?  What products have you tried?  I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April Giveaway Winner

First, apologies to anyone who was waiting for the winner to be drawn yesterday.  I don't know why I chose the 18th as the end date when that was a day I worked.  Duh me.  Oh well, let's get on with it.

Once again, only a few entries . . . and the winner of the Old Williamsburg Candle is . . .
Congratulations, Jess!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April Giveaway! (CLOSED)


I just posted about Old Williamsburgh candles ( HERE ) and since they were kind enough to send me extras I've decided to go ahead and use one as the April giveaway prize.  Yay!  And thank you, Old Williamsburgh.

The winner will receive this 18 oz. jar candle in Iced Lavender scent.  Described as 'A fresh fragrance of sweet lavender fields blowing in the country air,' this pretty purple candle is perfect for spring and summer.  While it is mainly a lavender scent, there is a sort of 'green' note mixed in that keeps it from being too floral.  This is a very nice, sweet lavender scent.

All you have to do is leave a comment about candles on this post.  Anything about candles.  Your favorite brand, or your favorite scent, or why you want to win.  Anything.  That's it.  (One entry comment per person, please.)

Because this is a large, heavy candle, the shipping will be quite high.  Because of this I have decided to limit this month's giveaway to US residents only.  Sorry!  :(

This contest is open now until about noon/central on Wednesday, April 18, 2012.  I will use Random.org to choose the winner from all qualifying comments.

GOOD LUCK!!

Old Williamsburgh Candles

Last month, when Old Williamsburgh Candle company said they'd send me "a few of our candles" I thought I'd be getting a few votives or tea lights.  You know, something small to sample.  Imagine my surprise when I received a this large and heavy box?!  I'm pretty sure I was giggling like a schoolgirl as I opened it to find . . .
They sent me SIX large candles!  These are big, 18 oz. jar candles.  I absolutely could not believe their generosity.  Mark, from Old Williamsburgh Candle, had even asked what scents I preferred.  I'd told anything was fine, that I preferred warm, foodie scents while hubby preferred some florals and light scents.  They did a good job picking, because I received two each of three different scents . . . a floral, a warm foodie, and one in between.  My giddiness continued.

Tahitian Vanilla - 'Exotic sensual vanilla topped with roasted chestnuts.'  This is a white candle and smells oh so yummy.  It is a really nice, rich vanilla scent but with something more.  It is not nutty at all, but the chestnuts just lend something to it.  When you smell it right from the jar, this candle seems quite strong.  When burning it though, it's more of a lighter scent throw.  I could smell it throughout our large living room but it was more of subtle scent, not like you'd walk in and think 'Wow, vanilla candle burning!'  Very nice. 

We burned this several hours the other night and did have some slight tunneling.  It's not horrible, but just never reached one side of the jar.  I'll do a little wax maneuvering next time we burn it, and see if I can correct it.


Chamomile Green Tea - 'A mix of green tea leaves, fresh cut grass with touches of peppery ginger and chamomile.'  This yellow candle was a surprise hit with me.  On first sniff you'd swear it's a straight up floral, but it's not.  You do get that cut grass note in there and then there is some sweetness and a very soft hint of the ginger spice.  This one had a much stronger throw while lit than the vanilla did, and this one burned perfectly.  The wax pool made it smoothly and effortlessly all the way across the top.  And a bit more of a warm note comes out while it's burning.  Really like this one!


Iced Lavender - 'A fresh fragrance of sweet lavender fields blowing in the country air.'  As you know, I never used to be a fan of lavender scents.  And as you may also know, I seem to be warming up to lavender scents lately.  So when I pulled this purple one out of the box my first reaction was a bit of an 'Ugh, lavender' cringe.  Smelling it though, I had to eat that first reaction.  The 'country air' that the description mentions must be what's making this one okay for me.  There is sort of a green note dancing among the initial lavender notes.  While still not a favorite, I do think I'll like this one.  We have not burned this one yet, so I wonder if the warm throw notes will be any different.  And since we had minimal problems with the other two candles, I'm hoping this one burns evenly too.

I don't know actual prices of these candles because I only saw small ones in the store, but I did find something on the website suggesting a retail price of $4.99.  That's pretty darn affordable!  Yankee's 14 oz. candles are almost $25!  And these are 18 oz.! 

The store I originally saw this brand in was a local Pick N Save grocery store.  I admit I didn't have high hopes for the strength of the scents in such a candle.  Reading on the Old Williamsburgh website, I found that they are the primary supplier for Dollar-type stores, and also Michael's and JoAnn Fabrics.  Heh, yeah, my expectations were pretty low while I waited for my package to arrive.  Candles have always been very hit or miss for me . . . usually miss.  But wow, I have been pleasantly surprised with these!  I was showing these to my sister the other day and she asked if I would still buy these over bigger brand names.  I think I would, yes.  Maybe I'd eventually end up with a barely there weak scent but I'd know now that it's not a representation of the company as a whole.

Since they had sent me two of each scent my first thought had been to do my April giveaway with the doubles.  Then I realized that shipping on these buggers would be quite pricey, and reconsidered.  While my mom and sister were here on Easter Sunday, they each picked a candle to take home and try for themselves.  That leaves one extra candle, and I've decided to go ahead and use it for the giveaway.  (I will do a separate contest post.)

I would like to thank Old Williamsburgh Candle for sending me these wonderful candles.  It has been so much fun trying them out and sharing them with others.  And I will definitely be more open to trying their other candles as I come across them in local stores.  Thank you, Old Williamsburgh!

Are YOU familiar with Old Williamsburgh candles?  Would you give them a try if you came across them?  I'm curious!

OH!!  And perhaps the funniest thing of all was that the colors they sent are purple, yellow, and white . . .
Vikings!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Haul & Review - Five Monkeys (Bath & Body)

A brand new soap shop has opened and I am tickled to know that not only is it very local to me, but its owner was my very best friend at one time.  Ahhhh, yes . . .  *cue flashback swirlies and sounds* . . . Traci and I had some wild times in the years we worked together.  We pretty much discovered the internet together, and I don't think I've ever laughed as hard as the times we were up to no good.  (ICQ, anyone?  Germany, Norway, Antioch, bouncing Mario Kart cars, Titanic beepers . . . )  But as life happens, we drifted apart and lost touch for a while.  Imagine my surprise when I found out through Facebook that she was also a soap maker?!  She's just recently opened her Five Monkeys shop (referring to her five daughters) and is still tweaking things but I knew I had to try her stuff.


There are several soaps already in her shop and I, of course, wanted to try them all.  But since I am TRYING to control my spending, I finally decided on just one.  The Oatmeal, Honey, Almond soap is from the Bare Naked (100% Natural) line.  I can't seem to link directly to it on the site but this hot process, unscented bar is described as 'A breakfast your skin will thank you for! Oatmeal provides a great mixture of exfoliation, moisturizaton and protection for your skin. It's also known for its skin irritation relief making it a perfect choice for those sufering from dry itchy skin, insect bites or eczema. Honey will protect, rejuvenate, moisturize and soften the skin. It's safe for senstive skin types and aids in the process of tissue regeneration.

This is a really  nice bar of soap!  I'm really liking the hot process soaps that have been popping up for me lately.  I don't know why I've ignored them for so long.  As mentioned, this is unscented.  You don't even get that slightly 'soap oil' scent that you sometimes get in unscented bars.  The oatmeal has not been scratchy at all, even though some of the bits look quite large.  After breaking through that initial 'skin' new bars of soap sometimes have, this one lathers like a dream.  Tons of light, sudsy, lather that lasts the entire shower and rinses cleanly and easily.  My skin did not feel dry or tight, and my usual winter itchies have once again been beaten into submission.
Ingredients: Olive Oil, Palm Oil, Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Almond Milk, Roasted Oats, Honey
Weight: 5.1 oz.
Price: $4.50 


Five Monkeys has a variety of other products available, so I thought I'd try the lip balm too.  Again from the Bare Naked line, this is the Bare Naked lip balm . . . no colors, flavor, or scent.  A very nice lip balm, not too soft and 'wet' feeling, and not too hard and waxy.  So far it has been working nicely, I don't feel that I have constantly reapply it, and it doesn't feel like it's gobbing up my lips in order to protect them.  And very affordable!  I'm looking forward to trying some of the scented/flavored ones next time.
Ingredients: Bee's Wax, Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter and Sweet Almond Oil
Weight: 1.5 oz. tube
Price: $2.00 


I also received a free sample of the Beer soap. You know how I love samples! I think they are just such an easy little treat, a way to say 'Thank you,' a way to keep the customer interested in something other than what they ordered. I've never understood the thrill of beer soaps but the info on the site for this one says 'Hops, which beer is primarily made of, is known for its relaxing properties, as well as its ability to sooth irritated skin. It also contains some wonderful skin softening amino acids. What better place to put all this goodness to work then soap?' Well, that's interesting. Although there is no added fragrance there is still a slight, pleasant scent that I can't describe. (No, not beer scent.) This is a good sized chunk and I will definitely be trying it out.
Ingredients: Olive Oil, Palm Oil, Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Beer
Weight: approx. 3 oz.
Price: $2.50


Shipping was quick and very reasonable. Even though Five Monkeys is very local to me, I chose to have my order shipped to go through the entire shopping experience. Other products in the shop include massage oils and massage candles, and lotions. I decided not to try the lotion with my first order because I noticed it is a whipped shea formula and all of my previous experiences with whipped shea are that sort of hard-but-melty consistency that I don't like. And there were no smaller sized jars, so I didn't want to commit to a full sized one. I think Traci is still working on other products too.

Be sure to check out the Five Monkeys site . . . HERE.
Also be sure to show some love on the Five Monkeys Facebook page . . . HERE.