Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Petals Bath Boutique - Foaming Sugar Scrub

When I posted last night about my latest little haul from Petals Bath Boutique, I was a little iffy about the foaming sugar scrub.  I had tried a regular sugar scrub from this shop last summer and was disappointed because it was the dry and crumbly type, and I prefer mine more moist and workable.  Lately though, I'd been looking at the scrubs again and the pictures made them seem much more like what I was looking for.  Then I noticed some of them were now 'foaming' sugar scrubs and I decided to go for it.

My first impression was not good when I opened the shipping package and found this jar with the top completely off yet nothing had leaked out or spilled anywhere.  I should be glad, I know, but at the same time that instantly told me this was another of the dry type consistency scrubs.  When I touched it though, it was moist and sort of spongy.  I didn't know what to think!  Ah well, I figured, I'll give it a try anyway, and made a mental note to stop ordering scrubs from this shop.

But wait!

I used it this morning and instantly fell in love.  Oh my gosh!  It actually scoops out quite easily, stays quite solid on your fingers (not crumbling all over the shower), and feels slightly squishy.  As soon as you start spreading it on your skin and the water hits it, it becomes a creamy lather with very fine sugar to gently massage and exfoliate.  The lather lasts and lasts, and the sugar does not dissolve in the first few seconds.  And I think a little will go a long way.  I'm pretty sure I used way more than I needed to.  It rinsed away easily, did not leave my skin feeling greasy, and the tub did not get slippery as scrubs often tend to make it.

Oohhh, this was so nice, and so easy to use.  The scent was strong in the shower and lingered on my skin for a while but was gone within an hour or so.  That's fine for me because I have so many scented lotions and body sprays that I use, and I don't rely on my soaps to provide my scent for the day.  I did not use any other soap before or after this product, and I still feel nice and clean.

I got the Honey Mint Vanilla scent and LOVE it.  Described as 'Sweet golden Honey made fresh with crisp and invigorating notes of Peppermint and creamy Vanilla,' this is really strong and reminds me of candy canes.  I love it!  If she has this in other products, I will be ordering!  As for scrubs in other scents, it looks like it's always changing in her shop.  What you see available today, and what's available tomorrow might be completely different.  I'm not sure if you can choose a scent and she'll make the product for you.  I should ask.  Hmm.

Now, for the all-natural lovers, I'm pretty sure this foaming scrub comes from a pre-made base  It contains some things I can't pronounce.  I understand that a big part of the reason people prefer the handmade community is because you can get more natural products.  When I started buying handmade products I used to feel cheated if I found something was made from a base.  It doesn't bother me as much anymore.  My feelings about ingredients have become a mixed bag lately.  But that's a whole 'nother post waiting to be written!

Back to the happy side!

Kia's foaming sugar scrubs come in recyclable plastic jars, with gorgeous labels.  You get 4 oz. and they sell for $5.99 in her Etsy shop.  She also makes fabulous cold process soaps, beautiful bubble bars and bath bombs, and roll-on perfume oils.  Shipping is fast and you always get a little handmade thank you card and some samples with your order.  Customer service is excellent but sometimes it takes a bit to hear back from her.  She is a one woman show after all, and also has a family to take care of.

I love Petals Bath Boutique and highly encourage you to visit the shop today!  If you already have, what did you order?  I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Petals Bath Boutique

Petals Bath Boutique (formerly known as Beacon Creations) is a shop that I've known for a long time now, and have ordered from a few times.  It's only been recently though that I've rediscovered those soaps I bought last spring and fall, and have fully realized how much I love them.  I've been doing pretty good with not buying soaps as I try to work through what I already have . . . my stash is now small enough that it all fits in one basket . . . but when I saw that Kia had some mini bars available in tons of different scents, I just had to get some.

Honeybee Harvest is described as 'Bergamot and Sweet Orange balanced with Golden Honey Nectar, Crunchy Toffee bits and light musk,' and is a dupe of Lush's Honey I Washed The Kids.  I don't even know how to describe this scent.  It is sweet and something else, maybe that musk?  I'm not familiar with the actual Lush scent so I can't say how close this dupe is, but I quite like this one.  And this particular soap is one of a few goat milk soaps that Kia does.

Black Cap Berry might be a new scent.  Well, at least I don't remember seeing this one before.  And look how gorgeous those swirls are.  The scent is described as 'Black Raspberries intermingled with touches of Cassis and Grapefruit supported with creamy Vanilla and Raspberry Musk,' this one smells so yummy.  It's a light, pretty berry scent.  There is a faint floral note, and just a touch of vanilla rolling around in there.

Cotton Breeze is the type of scent I don't usually go for but since I don't remember seeing this one in her shop before I decided to give it a try.  It's described as 'A fresh and subtly sweet blend of Jasmine, Violet and Gardenia with a sparkle of Lemon Zest on a dry down of Vanilla,' and this is hubby's favorite of the bunch.  It's another hard one to explain.  It is floral, which I usually don't like, but there is also a bright sweetness to it, probably the lemon.  It's a fresh, happy, clean scent.

Madcap Life is another one I don't remember ever seeing in her shop.  Described as 'An alluring unisex fragrance with top notes of Oakmoss and sensuous Sandalwood supported by Tonka Bean and fresh Citrus on a base of precious Amber and soft musk,' I get the sandalwood and musk in this one but neither are overpowering, as they often can be.  It's actually a rather light scent.  It's nice, and hubby likes it.

Southern Belle is absolutely gorgeous, and I think might be another new one in the shop.  Described as 'A delightful blend of Lemon, Grapefruit, Peach Nectar, Raspberry, Pink Tulip, Soft Jasmine, Magnolia, Wild Honeysuckle, and Sheer Musk,' I wasn't sure how I'd like it since there are so many florals in there.  The fruits outweigh the florals though, making this a scent as pretty as the soap itself.

These mini bars weigh approximately 1.5 oz. and sell for $1.30 in the Petals Bath Boutique shop at Etsy.  Full sized bars weigh 4.5-5 oz and sell for $5.50.

I had asked Kia if there were any mini bars in the Mint Leaf Tea scent, and she said no but she could include a sample size.  I'm so glad she did because I really REALLY like this one.  Described as 'A herbaceous and sweet smelling aromatic blend of Peppermint, Spearmint and Rosemary essential oils,' this is a sweet mint scent that is soooo yummy.  It's not a sharp minty smell.  No, just think of Doublemint chewing gum. 

She also included a sample of Lavender Martini, which I think she said is a new one coming.  This one is described as 'Fresh and effervescent with top notes of tangy lemon zests, orange, and carbonation; followed by middle notes of spicy bergamot, mint, and lavender; sitting on a base note of rosewood.'  At first I wanted to say it just smelled like soap, like a generic sort of store bought soapy scent.  After coming back to it and sniffing it again, I do get the lavender and the 'carbonation,' and maybe a hint of the mint, but everything else is blended together subtly.

I also received a sample of Malzbier, which I've had in sample form before.  It is described as 'A true to life fragrance as refreshing as a cold mug of Rootbeer soda right down to the bubbles and frothy top,' and yeah, it's a fun Root Beer scent.

(Apologies for the crappy picture.)
And finally, I decided to try the foaming sugar scrub.  I'd tried the regular sugar scrub last fall and did not like it all because it much to dry and crumbly for my liking.  Since then, I knew that Kia had closed the shop for a while and sort of reinvented some things, and from looking at the photos it looked like maybe the scrubs had been reformulated or something.  This one was a *foaming* sugar scrub, and when I saw the yummy sounding Honey Mint Vanilla, I knew I had to try it.  I *LOVE* this scent.  Love it!  It's a soft and sweet minty scent, kinda reminding me of candy canes.  I've already messaged Kia, asking if she has this scent in bar soap form because I need it.  LOL  As for the scrub itself, I have not used it yet but let's just say that when I opened the shipping box I found this jar with the shrink sealed cover completely off, and nothing had spilled or leaked out.  That's how solid this is.  It does not feel as dry and crumbly as that other scrub I had, so this will be quite interesting when I do try it the first time.

Foaming sugar scrubs are 4 oz. and sell for $5.99 in the Petals Bath Boutique shop.

Kia also makes bath bombs, bubble bars, and perfume oils.  She will be restocking lotions soon.  I love this shop.  Everything always looks so pristine and professional, from the photos of the products, to the gorgeous labels, to the products themselves.  There is always a cute little handmade thank you card included in your order.  Shipping is fast, and customer service is awesome.  And her soaps are freakin' fabulous!

If you haven't tried Petals Bath Boutique, I highly suggest you get over there.  NOW.  (And let me know what your favorites are!)

Monday, May 28, 2012

May Giveaway Winners!

In the first giveaway, guest host Jean has selected Alyssa as the winner of the soaps.  Congratulations, Alyssa!


And in the second giveaway . . . 

. . . the lucky winner of the cat toys is The Chapstick Wrangler.  Congratulations!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Curious About Tart Warmers

I've been melting tarts for years now.  I've tried many styles from many vendors, but what I have not played around with is the type of warmer I use.  I started out with a cheap ceramic warmer that uses tea light candles as the heat source, and I've always been content with them . . . until recently.

These are my current warmers.  I don't use the small one in the middle anymore because I found out that soapstone type is meant more for warming fragrance oils.  Darn, and it's the coolest looking one!  Anyway, the two white ones are my workhorses.  Just simple ceramic cheapies . . . one from Walmart, one from Kmart . . . that use cheapie tea light candles.  They are small and easy to clean, and have melted almost any tart I've put in them (the exception being some partial melts of Candles By Victoria scent shots).  I like that the tea lights will burn themselves out after 3-4 hours, and that those tea lights are cheap and easy to get/replace.

Lately though, I've been hearing people talk about how this type of warmer burns the scents away too fast because they get so hot.  I've heard that using the electric warmers will extend the life of the scents.  Hmmm.

There are decorative warmers that are electric and use a light bulb as the heat source.  Some of them are really nice looking and I've often been tempted to switch to one but I've also heard they don't get hot enough to melt all types of wax, and the replacement bulbs can be hard to get.  Some people say you can probably find the bulbs at any hardware type store but I've never actually checked.

The thing I wonder about these (besides the bulbs) is that if they're not getting hot enough to melt all wax, is the scent throw in general going to be lighter?  I definitely don't want that.  I like my scents strong.

Another type of electric warmer is the hot plate candle warmer style.  This is the type I've been thinking about switching to because I've heard they are the strongest, and because I like the idea of being able to melt some of the problem candles we've encountered.  This type has a removable dish that sits on a hot plate.  Switch on the power, the plate heats the bowl, and the wax melts.  Or take the bowl off, set the candle (in a container!) on the hot plate and it will melt from the bottom up.  I actually did buy two of this style a couple years ago but I returned them because I did not have any available electrical outlets in the areas I like to keep my warmers, and because I decided I was content with my tea light style warmers.

Now though, I've been hearing that this style might also be too hot and burn the scent away too fast.  One scent guru felt her tart performance improved when she switched to this type of warmer.  Another insists these shorten the life of your tarts.  (I suspect in that second case it is more of a personal preference for the bulb style though.)

I would LOVE to try each type of warmer and do some tests, but I don't want to spend that kind of money if I'm not going to use them in the end.  So it got me wondering if anyone has already done some similar tests?  I don't mean 'Oh yeah, I've tried all three styles.'  I mean, someone using the same scent and brand of tart in all three styles in the same room (not at the same time), and actually keeping track of the results.  I watch several scent lovers on YouTube but I don't think anyone has done experimenting like this.  I've seen plenty of videos of people who have a favorite style, and explaining why they like it, but nothing more 'scientific.'

If anyone knows of any videos or blog posts about such experimentation, PLEASE let me know.  If nothing turns up, I might just splurge and explore this myself.

Or if you just have some personal preference reasons for one style over the other, feel free to share in the comments.

Thanks!

Movie - The Woman In Black

The Woman In Black
2012
Rated PG-13
95 minutes

Dispatched by his boss to an isolated seaside village to tie up a recently deceased client's affairs, a young London lawyer finds himself in a community grappling with dark secrets -- and a haunting presence with a sinister agenda.

I had been so looking forward to this one.  The commercials made it look so dang creepy!  Unfortunately, it's one of those cases where the commercials show the best parts and the movie itself is severely lacking.  I was SO disappointed!

Set back in the late 1800s, the opening scene of this movie has three little girls playing tea party with their dolls when they all suddenly seem to fall under a trance and walk together to the three large windows in the room and jump out.  Whoa!  It is freaky to watch and it kinda gets your nerves going, gets you excited for the movie, and then it all goes downhill from there.

Daniel Radcliffe (yep, Harry Potter has grown up) is the main character.  The house he is sent to work at is located some distance from the creepy little village where everyone is cold towards him.  Through bits of information he gathers from the one or two people willing to talk to him, and from the documents he is sent to go through, he learns that the couple who had lived there had lost there little boy in a tragic accident.  He hears sounds in the house and sees ghosts outside.  Whenever he goes back to the village (where he is staying at night) it seems one of the local children has died.  Eventually he learns that the villagers are terrified of the The Woman In Black, the ghost who is punishing them by killing their children because she'd lost a child of her own.  He THEN finds out it's not the ghost of the woman whose house he's been sent to, but a more complicated family secret instead.

This might be better in book form, if it is a book, but this version of the movie was way too boring.  It seemed like about five minutes of storytelling drawn out with endless scenes in dark rooms where you couldn't see hardly anything anyway, too many I Heard A Sound And I'm Going To Go Look For It scenes, overkill on the BOO! shockers like faces screaming in a window, and too many *hints* about things but not enough substance or explanation.  Things were explained in the end but in the time it took to get there you're left with a constant 'Huh?'

Once again, a story with potential that bombs in its movie form.

Movie - The Devil Inside

The Devil Inside
2012
Rated R
83 minutes

At once spooky and grisly, this thriller follows a woman's quest to find the truth behind claims that her mother killed three people during an exorcism. The daughter's journey takes her to Italy, where she becomes involved in other exorcisms.

I thought this one was going to be a lot of gore, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't AND that my stomach was tied in knots like it had been with things like Blair Witch and maybe even Quarantine 2.  Still not quite up there with Paranormal Activity or the first Quarantine though!  There was some blood and gore but it was the contorted body movements that freaked me out more.

This movie is done in the style of a documentary.  The main character is trying to find out more about a crime her mother committed many years ago . . . she murdered three people while an exorcism was being performed on her.  The daughter now wants to know what was going on.  Can people really be possessed?  Are exorcisms real?  Can her mother be saved from the demons?

The story does get predictable but it still keeps you hooked.  The sometimes shaky, sometimes choppy camerawork adds to the suspense because you just don't always get the full clear shots of what it is you most want to see.  Of course there is plenty of swearing and dirty talk, because apparently a demon's only scare tactic is to talk about the most nasty sexual things to shock those involved.  The creepy 'connect the cuts' noise that the murderous mom was making was by far more unsettling than any sex related insults that were slung about.

The scene with the baptism was disturbing but at the same time I was almost yelling at the screen, "Come on, people!  You'd really wait THAT long to react?!?!"

And while the end was somewhat predictable, the final act was still a bit of shock.  Was it because he thought it would put a stop to the horror?  Or was it because the demons made him?  If a possessed body dies, does the demon die too?  Or is it still free to move on?  Whatever the reason, it was a creepy end to a creepy movie.

Movie - The Innkeepers

The Innkeepers
2011
Rated R
101 minutes

In this eerie ghost story, a venerable inn closes after a century in business and the two remaining employees are determined to uncover the truth about longtime rumors that the majestic mansion is haunted -- but will they survive their explorations?

This could almost be one of the worst movies I've ever seen.  It kinda made hubby and I chuckle after a while.  Neither of us can figure out why it got an R rating because there was nothing any worse than what you see on network TV.  As for being eerie . . . nope.  There was never a point where either of us was tense, anxious, nervous, scared, or creeped out.  The story was weak, had holes in it, and left things unexplained.  Why was Claire the one in danger?  Why shouldn't Claire go into the basement?  What did the old guy have to do with anything?  At first I thought he was supposed to be the husband of the woman who was the ghost, but then I thought that woman had been murdered waaaaay before and there was no way the guy could have been that old.  Who were the other three spirits that the psychic lady contacted?  What was the point of the bitchy hotel guest and her son??  There was potential in this story, but it came up short.

The acting was a similar situation.  The main guy and girl were good in some ways, and totally sucky in others.  Maybe with a different director things would have been better?  It's like, you could see these actors trying to shine, but something was holding it all back.  Looking at their IMDB profiles, I see they've both done a ton of other work.  Too bad this one sucked.

This wasn't so bad that we ever considered shutting it off but like I said, it became almost humorous after a while.  We laughed that Kelly McGillis has sunk this low.  Yep, this one was a bummer.

Honey Bee Holistics

I learned about Honey Bee Holistics from some posts and recommendations over at Alyssa's Soapy Days blog.  In my search for a new face cream, Alyssa felt certain Honey Bee Holistics would have something I'd like.  Even so, it took another post on her blog, and then a discount code, to get me to finally place an order.

But WHAT should I try???

With a rather large discount option available to me, I decided to try several items.

This Wrinkle Away Face Cream is a 2 oz. jar and sells for $9.50.  It contains yummy natural things like bee propolis, and carrot seed oil, among many others.  There is a slight, natural scent that is quite pleasant.  I'm looking forward to trying this and really hope it ends my quest for a new face cream.

I also ordered a companion jar of Wrinkle Away Eye Cream.  This 1 1/2 oz. jar sells for $10.50.  (I had ordered the smaller size jar, 1/2 oz. for $4.00, but received the larger one.  Whether she was being generous or there was a mix up, I'm not sure.)  I don't really detect any scent from this in the jar, so if there is any while using it I'm sure it will be light.

I'll be honest . . . I don't expect these products to actually do anything for my fine lines and wrinkles.  I don't even believe that the high priced big name products do anything.  But we'll see.  I will be a giddy little girl if they really do something.  In general, if they just moisturize my face the way I want, I will be happy with that.

I also wanted to try some regular lotions, and there were quite a few I wanted so it was hard to decide what to start with.  I finally picked this calendula lotion because I remembered liking a similar product from another vendor some time ago.  This 1 1/2 oz. sample jar sells for $2.75.  I don't really get a scent from this one either, and that's ok because I won't have to worry about conflicting scents when I use body spray.

I just HAD to try one of the coconut lotions because I'd seen so many good comments about it at Alyssa's blog.  I chose the Orange Vanilla scent.  This is an interesting scent, heavier on the vanilla than it is on the orange, and I think some of the coconut oil scent might be coming through too.  There is a slight pinkish color to this lotion.  I have used a quick little dab on my hands and am quite impressed.  The scent does linger on your skin, and my hands feel hydrated but not greasy or coated like some lotions.  This 1 1/2 oz. sample jar sells for $2.75.

And finally, I just had to order a lip balm.  I picked the Lemon Creme balm, which sells for $3.75.  I have used this a couple times already and really like it.  The consistency is so nice, not hard and waxy so you're crushing your lips to apply it, but not so soft and moist that you feel you've just gobbed something on your face.  I smell lemon when I sniff directly from the tube, but on my lips I don't really detect scent.  I'll have to use it more to see how it holds up, etc.

Melissa is the Queen Bee at Honey Bee Holistics, and she sent a very nice card with a hand written note thanking me for my order.  She also included a discount code to use if I place another order, and this sample of the Chocolate Orange lip balm.  She sells lip balms in tubes as well as the kind in little pots that you apply with your finger.  I have not used this or even opened the packet yet because I'm not fond of the finger application style.  I'll probably pass this sample on to someone else.  But I do thank Melissa for sending it!  I lovelovelove samples!

There is some wait time once you place your order.  She states in her Etsy shop announcement that due to increased popularity her shipping times are currently 5-8 business days.  I did not order through the Etsy shop, but instead through email (bigger discounts) and from the time I sent her my list it was four days before I was invoiced and another thirteen days before I received my order.  I will admit I was getting a bit impatient but it all turned out in the end.  And I think we always have a bit of impatience when trying a new vendor because A) you're just excited to try new products, and B) you're not sure what to expect when you've never dealt with someone before.  Now that I know everything worked out I'm pretty sure I'll be able to withstand the wait better next time.  LOL

So, obviously these are just my first impressions of the products.  I haven't had time to really use them and get a good idea of how they are.  I will try to do more detailed reviews later but if there is anything you are particularly interested in hearing about first, please let me know in the comments below.

And also let me know if YOU have tried Honey Bee Holistics.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Open Giveaways!

Just a reminder there are two open giveaways on this blog right now.  One is for a variety of handmade soaps, and the other is for a variety of cat toys.  You still have time to enter!  

Good luck!

Monday, May 21, 2012

May Giveaway #2! [CLOSED]

Minion has decided he would like to host a giveaway too, as a way to share some of his toys.

When Hartz sent Minion some toys to try recently, there were two Battabouts in the box.  Minion already has two similar type toys, so the extra one he received will be the main part of the prize.  If you're not familiar with the Battabout, it is a furry critter with a stretchy cord attached, meant to be tied onto a cat toy wand (not included) or similar type stick, and then you interact with your kitty by bouncing, dragging, flinging the toy around to entice kitty into action.  The tail of this toy has crinkle material inside, and the pink part is very fine feather type material.

Minion has also decided that your kitty needs to try some other Hartz toys.

On the left is the green mouse from the 3-pack he received.  It has a felt material body with stuffing, little felt ears, a long felt tail, and string whiskers.  At the base of the tail is a tiny bell that makes a quiet, high pitched sound that is similar to a mouse squeak.

On the right is a red and white fluffy ball.  There are no bells or anything, not even a hard inner body.  It is just a fluffy ball that your kitty will love to bat around.

And finally, in the front-center is something Minion had a hard time giving up . . . one of the beloved furry mini mice that he goes absolutely freakin' nuts for.  This style mouse has fake fur covering a plastic body, with a long furry tail, and little felt ears.  I've posted about these mice, and it still cracks me up how crazy he is for them.  He's hoping your kitty will love them too.

None of these toys have been used by Minion (or Lynx).  They are extras that had not been taken from the packages until I got them ready for this giveaway.  The winner will receive all of the toys pictured.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below, telling Minion about who you would give these toys to.  Easy!

This contest will end in the evening of Monday, May 28, and I will use Random.org to select a winner from all the eligible entries.  One entry per person please.

Good luck!



May Giveaway #1 [CLOSED]

This month's giveaway prize has been generously donated by blog reader and swap buddy Jean.  She's been feeling the need to destash, and I have slipped away from from posting about handcrafted soaps because I just haven't been buying them lately . . . so this works out for everyone involved!

The winner of this giveaway will receive (front, from left to right):
  • Lemon Mudslide, Mint Madness, and Bar 21 (rosemary) from Bodygoodies
  • Outdoor Fresh (petitgrain and lavender) from Heirloom Soapworks
  • Low Tide (peppermint, half is sand for buffing feet) from Bodygoodies
  • And the blue bar in the back is a Magic Hands sea salt bar in Lavender Mint
All you have to do to enter is thank Jean in a comment below, and tell us which of these soaps you're most interested in, or which you've already tried (if any).  That's it!  This contest will be open until about noon Monday, May 28, and Jean will have the honor of choosing a winner.  One entry per person please.  (Due to shipping costs, this contest will be open to US residents only.  Sorry!)

Good luck!  And thank you, Jean!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Gracie Jo's - Tarts

And yet another tart shop that I found through YouTube videos is Gracie Jo's Candles & Soaps.  I had just placed all those orders for coffee tarts before remembering I wanted to try this shop, so at that point I wondered 'Do I really want more coffee scents??'  As I browsed the site I noticed a Grab Bag option.  For $10 you get 15-20 random tarts, and free shipping.  Hmmm!  This would be a fun way to not only try a new shop, but also some new scents . . . possibly some I'd never have considered choosing on my own.

When I received my order yesterday, I was excited to find the stuffed pink bag pictured above.  I was like a kid at Christmas as I pulled out tart after tart . . .

Yay!  I actually received 21 tarts but two are the same, so I received 20 *scents.*  They are in sealed bags, and I don't really want to open them until I'm ready to use them.  I will do a quick list of what I got, and the scent descriptions from the website, but it would take forever to try and also describe the scents myself.  So here we go . . .
  • 2 Lavender Vanilla - A nice floral blend of lavender flowers with a background of vanilla.
  • Fig Biscotti - The aroma of a classic Italian treat, without having to turn on the stove.
  • Tuiti Fruitti - A strong blend spices and fruit.
  • Spiced Eggnog - (no description found)
  • Hazelnut Coffee - A fresh brewed cup of coffee with hazelnut creamer added.
  • Cherries In The Snow - Tart yet sweet blend of wild cherries and buttercream frosting
  • Strawberry Cheesecake - The wonderful aroma of cheesecake topped with juicy strawberries.
  • Bayberry Mint - Traditional bayberry mellowed out with a hint of mint.
  • Mulled Cider - A spicy bouquet of apple, clove, orange, and cinnamon top notes with a sweet musky back note.
  • April Fresh - Exceptionally soft, fresh, and static-free. This fragrance will make you think you just washed your sheets every day of the week! 
  • Satin Serenade - Floral bouquet on a woody background sweetened by vanilla.
  • Cinnamon Bun - A spicy cinnamon accord with warm nutty undertones along with the aroma of fresh baked bread.
  • Sweet Pea - An English garden reminiscent of hyacinth, lily of the valley, violets and wild jasmine with a background of light herbal and musky notes.
  • Baby Powder - Reminiscent of Johnson's Baby powder scent.
  • Ozone Woods - A fresh herbal greenery blend. Nice scent for mixing.
  • Caribbean Holiday -  (no description found)
  • Blueberry Muffin - The aroma of a freshly baked blueberry muffin. Top notes of juicy tart blueberries with orange zests, middle notes of butter cake and base notes of vanilla and almond.
  • Amber Cardamom - A well rounded blend of amber and cardamom. Very strong scent throw.
  • Mint Julep - (no description found)
  • Sweet Orange Chili Pepper - A sassy, saucy combination of valencia orange, sparkling bergamot, tangerine zest, tart cassis, orange juice, neroli, ground pepper, fiery chili pepper and sheer musk.
As you can maybe see in the picture, there are many shapes and styles of tarts available at Gracie Jo's.  There are several packaging options too, as well as other products like candles, warmers, oils, incense, and ever bath and body products.  There are also fun things to do on the website such as enter contests and chit chat on the forum.  I'm looking forward to working my way through all these samples! 

If there are any tarts in the list above that you'd like a better description of, just let me know.

Now, have YOU tried Gracie Jo's yet?


Shayz Scentz - Tarts


Shayz Scentz is another tart shop that I found from watching YouTube haul videos.  When I was searching online for coffee scented tarts recently, I decided to go ahead and try a few new shops.  And this was one of them.

There are several style options available in the tarts section of the website, and there are some things I found a bit confusing.  There is a Sunny Samplers option, but the way the description is worded led me to believe this was for new scents only.  Now, after watching more videos, I'm thinking you can indeed order single tarts for fifty cents each.  Wish I would have realized that when I placed my order.  Doh!  In the end I went with the Shayz Sunny Tarts 6-packs, which sell for $3.00.  The individual tarts in these packs weigh .7 oz each, which is very close to the amount I melt when I do two cubes of Walmart tarts.  So this will be handy, just pop one in the warmer . . . no mess, no fuss. 

Cappuccino Mocha is described simply as 'just like a fresh hot cup of cafe mocha.'  This is a really nice scent, not strong on the coffee notes but enough to know that it IS coffee related, and then something sweet.  If I didn't know it was mocha I don't think I'd ever recognize the other notes as chocolate but after repeated sniffings yes, it does kinda smell like candy bars.

Cappuccino Brulee is described as 'vanilla beans, coffee beans, cocoa beans, blended together.'  This one smells a lot more coffee-y than the mocha one did.  And there is that sweetness again, but more vanilla than cocoa.

Caramel Coffee is described as 'freshly brewed coffee with creamy caramel and hints of vanilla.'  This one has a strong coffee note too, and then the sweetness coming in after it.  Similar to the others but this time the sweetness is a little deeper and warmer, if that makes any sense.

Creme Brulee is described as 'a rich, creamy, French coffee blend.'  I don't get a lot of coffee in this scent but O.M.G. it is to die for anyway.  Ohhhh, the warm gooey sweetness of caramel and vanilla . . . *drools like Homer Simpson*  This is definitely the highlight of my order!

I also received three free full sized tarts . . .

Zucchini Bread mixed scents are all the rage among the tart lovers community lately, and one of my samples is plain ol' Zucchini Bread.  Described as 'bread notes with freshly grated zucchini, cinnamon, and spices,' this one is quite yummy on its own.  I don't even know what a zucchini smells like but in this I do get the bread notes and the spice notes and something sort of sweet that must be, yeah, zucchini.  Interesting, and something I'd probably prefer to melt in the fall or on colder days when you want something comforting.

Another popular trend in tarts right now is to mix the Pink Sugar scent with anything and everything.  Another of the free samples I got is this Pink Toastie Marshmallow.  It is a Shayz Scentz custom blend of Pink Sugar (cotton candy, musk, jasmine) and marshmallow.  In my limited experience with marshmallow scented tarts, they have always been light on scent.  This one is the same, because I'm getting a lot more of the Pink Sugar notes.  That's fine though, because I love that scent.

I heard someone on YouTube say one of the tart shops had a lot of Vanilla Bean Noel mixes, and I think it might have been this one because this last free sample is called Pumpkin Beans.  I can't find it listed on the website so I don't know if it's new or discontinued.  Vanilla Bean Noel is 'buttery vanilla and musk' according to the Bath & Body Works website, and we all know what pumpkin smells like, don't we?  This one is heavy on the pumpkin, with some warm spices, and then that sweetness that I kept smelling in the coffee scents so I'm guessing that's the vanilla coming through.  This is very nice and I will hold onto it until fall.

So, a lot of these are similar because I was on the hunt for coffee scents.  I like these 6-packs, how they are stackable, and presented in a clean and elegant way with just a label and ribbon.  These would be perfect for gift giving.  There are tons of scents to choose from on the website, and there are several other products too, like candles, oils, air fresheners, and even a few bath and body products.  I can easily see myself ordering from here again, although I'd probably use the single tarts option for trying new scents.

Have YOU tried Shayz Scentz yet?  What scents do you think I should try next??

The Bathing Garden - Tarts

The Bathing Garden is a shop on Etsy that I learned about from watching YouTube tart haul videos.  When I ran out of coffee scented tarts recently and Walmart didn't have any more, I went searching online for some and decided this would be as good a reason as any to try some new shops. 

I never used to like the clamshell style tarts before when it came to the handmade shops.  Lately though, I *do* prefer them because I've found I don't like messing around with cutting larger tarts that are common in the handmade community.  One of the things that I found interesting about The Bathing Garden is that even though they are 'boring' clamshell style, tartmaker Shannon has found a way to jazz them up.  Every pack gets a decorative touch, whether it is a scent related do-dad in the lower left corner, or simply some pretty sprinkles or glitter across the top, or layers of colors/scents, each package is something fun and unique.

I ordered the Good Morning Coffee scent because, as I said, I was on the hunt for yummy coffee scents.  There is a coffee bean in the corner and a light sprinkling of coffee grounds across the top.  Nothing fancy about this scent, just good strong coffee and it is so darn good.  MMMM!  Can't wait to melt this one!

One nice thing about this shop is that you get a free item with every order.  Many places include a sample of something . . . and you know how I love that! . . . but The Bathing Garden includes a full size pack of tarts!  That is just too cool.  I was almost more curious about what my free one would be than how my coffee one would smell.  LOL!  My free one is Banana Foster scent, described as 'Fabulous scent of bananas, rum, brown sugar, and vanilla.'  There is a wax banana slice in the corner and a brown 'caramelized' drizzle across the top.  I'm not familiar with the actual Banana Foster dessert or this scent, but when I sniff it I get banana first and foremost, and then there is something sort of warm and sweet with it, sort of vanilla-y.  Hubby sniffed it and was not thrilled but I'm quite curious how this one will smell when it's warmed.

The Bathing Garden's tarts sell for $3.50 and weigh about 3.2 oz.  And there are a ton of fabulous scents in this shop.  I already see sooooo many more that I want to try next.

As if that wasn't enough to convince you to check out this shop, Shannon also makes sugar scrubs, salt scrubs, and some really cute soaps!

I'm glad I've finally given The Bathing Garden a try.  Have YOU?  What scents did you/would you get??

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hartz Mini Mice Trio and Battabout

Back in March I had posted about Minion's absolute favorite toy, the Mini Mice.  (You can read that post HERE.)  Some time later, Lindzee from Hartz contacted me, thanking me for the post and asking if there was anything else Minion might want to try.  I was tickled pink by this offer!  I browsed the Hartz website many times, trying to figure out if anything else would grab his attention like those dang little furry mice.  I finally sent Lindzee my choice . . . and couldn't believe when I received the package . . .
This was not just the small pack of a similar type mice toys I'd asked about.  They'd thrown in some extras!

And of course Minion had to be right there to check it out.  (Lynx had actually been exploring it first but the bossy BabyCat pushed his way in.)

They had not only sent the Mini Mice Trio pack I'd picked, but also two of the Battabout toys I'd asked about.  How awesome is that?

And Minion again, trying to speed the whole photo process along so he could play with HIS new toys.

He even pulled the whole dang setup down off the freezer at one point, just to get those mice!  Things were looking promising that these would hold his attention like the others had.


These came at a good time because we'd had to stop giving him the other furry little mice toys.  He'd been growing bored with them, and where he used to just eventually crush the little plastic inner bodies and tear the fake fur off, he was now EATING them.  Not good.  So yeah, we were rather desperate to find something else to entertain him.  I'd been buying something new every week when I went grocery shopping and nothing was holding his attention.  The closest thing we'd found was a similar type mouse from another company . . . not furry, and not plastic inner body.  These other ones were more of a canvas material with stuffing inside, and little twine or leather cord tails.

But anyway, when this package from Hartz arrived, and Minion went right for these mice, we thought our search was over.  After taking the pictures for the blog I tossed one mouse for Minion and BOTH cats went nuts, chasing after it.  I tossed a second one in a different direction to get Lynx to play with one of his own, and for the first several minutes it was hysterical chaos in the house.  Minion was like a kitty on crack, batting his new mouse around the kitchen.  And just to see the fat ol' man Lynx actually play like a kitten was both heartwarming and hilarious.  Lynx didn't play long though, which wasn't surprising.  Minion continued.

These new mice have a felt type body with stuffing, little felt ears and tail, and some string whiskers.  There is tiny little bell at the base of the tail and the jingle from it is kind of quiet and high pitched, making it somewhat similar to a mouse squeak.  Neither of our cats has ever seemed interested in those 'realistic' toys that squeak when they are batted around.  In fact, the loud squeaking seems to turn them off.  This one is a much more subdued sound though, and it catches their attention.  These are also quite a bit bigger than the furry little ones.

Unfortunately, these didn't entertain Minion like we'd hoped.  He seems to like them for short amounts of time but doesn't carry them around like he does with other mice toys.  Sometimes he'll find these on his own and if he's in a hyper mood he'll be batting them all around the kitchen, or if we throw one for him to get him started he will be crazy in the first few minutes, but then his interest fizzles.  Bummer.

As for the Battabout toys, we've only tried this tan one.  This is an interactive type toy, the kind with the stretchy string that you attach to wand (not included) and play with your kitty by making the toy bounce and move and jump out the way.  Unfortunately again, both cats are more interested in chewing on the stretchy string.  *sigh*

I'd been wondering if Minion was just outgrowing his crazy kitten play tendancies.  He is eleven months old now.  But there are times when we just absolutely need some sort of distraction for him because he gets SO naughty when he's bored.  And he is NOT a cuddly lap cat.  He is just a pacing, always into something, ADHD kitty.  Out of desperation, while shopping this morning I bought a pack of those original furry mice he used to love so much.  When I got home and took one out of the package for him, he was crazy about them just like old times.  He took off with it, batting it around the kitchen, carrying it around other rooms to have a look, then back into the kitchen to bat it around more.  He has not resorted to chomping it in the first few minutes like he had been the last time around.  I'm hoping he's had enough of a break from them that they will seem new all over again for him.  And his reaction tells me that it is . . . quite simply . . . those particular mice that he loves the most.

(The beloved mice.)

I would like to thank Hartz for sending me these things for Minion (and Lynx) to try.  The new mice and the Battabouts are not bad toys.  Minion doesn't seem to prefer ANY toy more than the furry little Mini Mice.  And Hartz should be glad that at least this crazy kitty's favorite toy is still one of their brand. I don't know what I'll do if they ever stop making these!  LOL

So anyway, thank you, Hartz!