Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Melted - Candles From The Keeping Room / Burnt Cream

Burnt Cream - 'This is your traditional french custard...with a hint of caramel sauce
that has been drizzled and torched.'
 
I wasn't sure what to expect with this one.  I seem to remember someone mentioning this on a blog and not liking it at all, that the 'burnt' note was overpowering.  I don't remember where I saw that though, or if it was even really about this scent.  So anyway, on cold sniff I was a little leery.  There was some weird note that I would say is the 'burnt' part of it but it wasn't like a scorched tart scent.  Once warmed, this became even more interesting.  I don't normally like chocolate scents in tarts but this was like chocolate cake and I quite liked it!  Not really sure how custard and caramel sauce comes out smelling like chocolate cake but that is absolutely what it reminded me of.  It wasn't an overly sweet scent, not like there was a ton of sweet buttercream frosting on this imaginary cake, but just enough to sweet to make this a very nice bakery scent.
I cut this tart in half, using about 1 oz. worth in my tea light warmer.  It had a medium scent throw, leaning towards strong.  I could smell it at a softer, pleasant level throughout the downstairs of the house.  I had to leave the house to do some errands and when I came back about two hours later I could smell this as soon as I opened the back door.  Even now, hours after the tea light has burned out and the wax has cooled down, I can still smell this very lightly throughout the house.  

Very nice!  I would order this again.

Melted - Ten Digit Creations / Cafe Vienna

Cafe Vienna - 'Coffee sweetened with vanilla, caramel, and brown sugar.'

Love me some coffee scents!  And this one is yummy!  Ohhh, just a really rich, full coffee scent without that bitter note, and deliciously sweetened by the ooey gooey caramel.  And you do get the caramel notes, not just some sweetness in a coffee scent. 

I melted this entire 1 oz. tart in my tea light warmer and had a good strong scent throw.  Coffee scents usually are strong anyway, but with the iffy throw from the first two Ten Digits tarts I tried, I was just relieved that this one performed normally.  I could very easily smell this throughout the downstairs of my house, even drifting upstairs.  When I had left the house for a bit and come back in, I could smell this as soon as I opened the back door.  That's the kind of tart I like.

Loved this one!

Read - City of Lost Souls

City of Lost Souls
by Cassandra Clare
2012
534 pages

From Amazon.com:
What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.


*** MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***
I had a harder time reading this book than any other in the series.  At times I had to force myself to pick up the book and continue, just so I could get through it.  And when I finally finished, I went online to look at other reviews to see if I was the only one who felt this way, if I was being too harsh again.  I was relieved to find many other people pointing out the same things I was feeling.  So what was so 'bad' about this one?

There was way too much going on.

If you've read any of my book reviews natterings, you probably know that I don't like overly busy plot lines.  If there is a story to tell, tell it.  Don't add in tons of extra garbage just to pad the length.  Also, supposedly this Mortal Instruments series was originally supposed to end after the third book.  I mentioned that the fourth book did have a different feel, and now this fifth book is crammed SO full of characters and side-stories and just a ton of really unnecessary things.  The first three books were not like this.  Even if you strip all that away and look at the main plot, it's becoming more elaborate and farfetched with each new book.  It's all rather disappointing because there are still things in the basic outline of the story overall that have such potential.  They were just buried under all the extra baggage this time.

There were a lot of weaknesses in this book.  It was hard to keep things straight most of the time.  Jace and Sebastian . . . ok, let's start right there and make up our minds on what these two are going to be called.  I think we all know by now that Sebastian's real name is Jonathan.  We all know him as Sebastian.  If the author wants us to know him as Jonathan she should have made a very clear switch back to that a long time ago.  If she wants us to know him as Sebastian because that's how we were introduced to him, then stop referring back to Jonathan all the time.  Same with Jace!  ERRRGH!!

Anyway, Jace and Sebastian are bound by ancient evil magic.  One cannot be hurt without hurting the other.  Kind of clever, as it assures Sebastian's survival while he tries to carry out his evil plan, and while everyone scrambles to find a way to save Jace.  But then it just becomes all confusing and often too convenient.  Oh, Jace doesn't remember this or that while he's under the spell.  Oh, Jace broke away from the spell for a bit but he won't remember it once Sebastian gains control of him again.  Or wait, was it that he'll remember things he did while under the spell but not as himself?  Or was it that when he's back to himself he won't remember what he did while under the spell?  I totally lost track of all that because it didn't seem to stay consistent at all.  He remembered things whenever it was convenient for the story.

The mysterious traveling apartment was way over the top.  What point did that serve at all?  Just a way for them to play house together and have access to pretty clothes for Clary.  That whole thing was completely ridiculous.  Again, the same things could have been accomplished in my simpler and less time consuming ways.  I do wonder about one thing though.  When Clary's rune destroyed the apartment, that would seem to imply the 'J.C. box' was ruined too.  Why then, was so much made out of the fact that Sebastian had somehow taken that box from Jocelyn's house?  Why were huge hints dropped about having possession of a lock of someone's hair, and knowing there is a lock of Sebastian's hair in that box?  I had thought THAT was going to be the key to breaking the spell but then -Poof!- all of that was gone.  Yeah, I'm guessing it will all come into play in the next book.

Sooooo many side stories going on!  Jordan and Maia, and the Praetor stuff.  Really?  Even Luke's near death situation.  Really??  Did we need ANY of that?  All of that Camille-Rafael-Maureen stuff was a confusing waste too.  Even Alec's secret meetings with Camille proved to be useless.  Granted, the result of that was shocking and heartbreaking, but there was so much extra stuff attached to it that it was just more mind boggling clutter.  The continued mentions of Will Herondale . . . ok, let's have something more with this please, instead of just continuing to randomly throw his name into things.  And now we're supposed to be all curious about who Magnus's father is?  Yeah yeah, I'm sure all of these are just setting things up for the next book but geez . . .  too much, too much, too much!  And considering the next book is *supposedly* the final book, it looks like it's going to be even more 'busy' than this one was.  Ugh!

Despite all my whining, I did not hate this book.  I'm invested in this series and I want to see it through to the end.  I do want to know what's going to happen with these characters.  I just wish the telling of this part of the story would have been streamlined, and better paced, thus making it more solid.  If the author is trying to constantly up the ante and out-do herself to the point that things can't fully be explained anymore (traveling apartment, anyone?) then she should probably step back and focus on writing something a little less 'awe inspiring' and something a little more believable.  I'd rather have a decently paced shorter book than a long book full of unnecessary filler.

Have YOU read this, or any of the other books in the Mortal Instruments series?  I'd love to talk about it with someone!


Friday, February 22, 2013

Melted - Ten Digit Creations / Sunday Morning

Sunday Morning - 'Nutty sweet cream, freshly grated nutmeg, caramelized pecans, almond, marzipan, and vanilla swirled with brown sugar.'

I forgot I was going to hang onto this one for fall and melted it this morning.  Kicking myself now because, yeah, it reminds me of fall for some reason.  In my cold sniff thoughts from my haul post, I mentioned there was something almost cider-like in here and that it was weird when you look at the notes in the description.  I'm not sure what marzipan is supposed to smell like but even so, looking at everything else you'd think this would be a warm, sweet, bakery scent.  It's just not.  It's not a bad scent, just weirdly not like what you'd probably imagine.

I get something sort of cranberry-orange, sort of tart and tangy, and something almost like cider.  There is a warmth behind that though, a hint of creaminess and vanilla.  That cranberry cider note just keeps shocking my nose though.  BUT, it's not like this is a bold cider scent, not like that odd cran-orange note is bright and strong.  It's just . . . there, among the more cozy notes.

I melted this whole 1 oz. tart in my tea light warmer and while I had better results than with the previous Ten Digits tart, it was still iffy at times.  The scent itself is strong, no doubt about that, but only in the general area of the warmer.  I would say the throw for this one was light to medium.  I could smell hints of it in other rooms, but the scent of the cake I was baking easily overpowered the tart most of the time.

I'm undecided on this tart.  The scent is not bad, it's just not what I'd expected.  Not sure if I'd order this one again.

Melted - Ten Digit Creations / Maple Sugar

Maple Sugar - 'The sweet smell of maple syrup and brown sugar.'

On cold sniff, I had been a little worried about this one.  I'd thought it was too light and not nearly as sweet maple-y as I'd imagined it would be.  The scent bloomed nicely when warmed though.  *phew*  It was an awesome rich, deep, sweet sugary maple scent.  There was almost a hint of creaminess.  While there was still that faint note of burnt sugar that I mentioned in my haul post, it did not ruin the overall scent.

This is the very first tart I've ever melted from Ten Digits and I had high hopes.  Although I've seen mixed reviews, most seemed to feel Ten Digits tarts have a nice strong scent throw.  Sadly, this one did not.  I'm torn on how to describe the throw on this one.  I melted this whole 1 oz. tart in my tea light warmer and while I could smell a nice, full, strong scent if I was within a couple feet of the warmer, it just didn't seem to carry out from there.  On the other hand, if I was in an adjacent room, I could pick up the scent every now and then but couldn't smell it in general throughout the rooms.  And then even more curious was that one of the times I woke up during the night, many many hours after this tart had melted and cooled, and in a room upstairs from where my warmer is . . . I could smell this scent.  So yeah, no clue how to rate a throw like that.  LOL 

Overall, I loved this scent but the throw was  . . . inconsistent.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Melted - Front Porch Candle Co. / Cookies & Cupcakes

Cookies & Cupcakes - '(In House Blend) Go for the sugar buzz...smile...wonderful aroma of sweet sugary cookies with rich vanilla cupcakes.'

There is something about Front Porch's marshmallow scent that I fell in love with, and now there is something about their 'cookie' scent that I'm in love with.  Remember how much I loved Mrs. Claus' Cookies?   On cold sniff, this is wonderful but slightly more 'sharp.'  I mean, you sort get a more distinct cake and cookie note.  But when warmed, ohhhmigosh, it turns into a sweet, rich, and creamy heaven.  As weird as it sounds, there is something almost sweetly sour about it, maybe something like cheesecake.  Not sure yet what my nose is trying to tell my brain.  It sounds like an ick factor but it just works.

I melted this entire 1 oz. tart in my tea light warmer and had medium scent and throw, leaning towards the lighter end of things.  I would have liked for this to be stronger, but oh well ... it was fabulous in the area of my computer and that's where most of my times seems to be spent anyway.  There were very light traces of scent in adjoining rooms.

Even though it was light, I would order this again.  I'd probably get a 4-pack and melt a couple in different rooms.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

New Febreze Candles . . . and Tarts!

Saw something new at Walmart this morning.  Febreze is apparently pushing its way into the 'real' candle world in a big way.  As I went to the candle/tart aisle to check for new tarts, I noticed a huge new display of some awesome looking candles.  Of course I had to check this new development out, and was surprised to find it was the Febreze brand.  There was big 22 oz. candles for $11.97, smaller 12 oz. candles for $7.97, and even smaller 7.5 oz. WOOD WICK (Yay!) candles for $7.97.  They are all in heavy glass and are not regular round shape.  They are sort of tall and oval shaped, very elegant looking.  The label is small and sort of a fabric type material.  These are definitely a whole new line, totally separating themselves from the 'cheap' candles over in the laundry detergent aisle.

There was also something that looked like a reed diffuser but I think was just a sort of oil warmer.  I didn't take note of the price of those.

And then I saw . . . clamshell tarts!  The packs are not shaped like the clamshells we are all familiar with.  They are longer, flatter, with six bars instead of cubes.  They are 2.75 oz. of wax and cost $2.97.  AND they have the cutest little electric warmers for $9.97.  The warmer is just very basic, plain white.  It is round, maybe sort of egg shaped?  There is a small dish.  I couldn't tell if it was light bulb or just electric heat-up style . . . I didn't delve into it that deeply yet.  But it was small and cute and would fit almost anywhere.

I did not take any pictures with my phone because I always feel weird doing that in stores, like I'm going to get in trouble or something.  Plus, the shelf stocker lady was there in the aisle, still organizing things.  I tried looking these up online when I got home but have not had any luck yet.

So anyway, back to the tarts.  Well, the scents.  The ones I saw on the shelves were Palm Leaf, Mineral Springs, Mandarin Cedar, Apple Currant, Asian Woods, Geranium Bamboo, and Almond Sugar.  Looking at the shelf tags were things have not yet been stocked, I also saw 'roseplum,' 'orange,' 'cranpear,' 'cucumber,' 'rainfl,' 'blossom,' and 'whpeach.'  As mentioned, the lady was still in the process of stocking these new items.  I suppose I could have swung back around at the end of my shopping just to have a more thorough look, but I didn't.  I also did not buy any because A) I'm not supposed to be buying any extras, and B) I wanted to wait till everything was there so I could sniff them all.

The only one I actually sniffed was Almond Sugar and . . . OH. MY. GAWD! . . . it is to die for.  I sooo wanted to get that but the tarts were not there yet.  I almost grabbed a wood wick candle just to have something in that scent.  It was amazing, sweet and sugary and sort of bakery.  Reminds me of cookies.  So yummy!

Have any of you seen these?  Have you tried them?  Let me know what you think of them.

*** UPDATE (Feb. 17) ***
Just watched a haul video and learned some of the other scents ....
  • CHAI LATTE!!!!
  • Cucumber Citrus
  • Agave Rainfall
  • Rosewood Plum
  • Orange Honeycomb
  • Lavender Blueberry

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Better Homes & Gardens / Scentsationals

Just noticed a post from Scentsationals on Facebook stating that new spring scents will be available in the next few weeks, including . . .

From Scentsationals:
  • Coffee Cake Swirl
  • Raspberry Fizz
  • Tropical Fiesta
  • Illusion
And from Better Homes & Gardens:
  • White Suede Driftwood
  • Sun-kissed Tulips
  • Blackberry Limeade
  • Tropical Pina Colada
Woohoo!  I will definitely be checking for these whenever I'm at Walmart.

*** UPDATE (Feb. 16) ***
I did see some of these new ones at my Walmart this morning. They were in the process of totally redoing and restocking the whole candle/tart aisle so they might have added even more after I left the area. They had a large end display with a big red 'Clearance' sign, mainly the last remains of the holiday scents. I do not know how much those cost now, didn't bother to check. But over in the regular tarts section I did see Grapefruit Melon Sage, which is not in the above list but I don't remember seeing this one before. From the list I saw . . .
  • White Suede Driftwood - smelled interesting, sort of woody cologney mixed but kind of soft, possibly a very faint smoky note.
  • Tropical Pina Colada - typical coconut, tropical smell.
  • Raspberry Fizz - *very* effervescent with a fruity background
  • Tropical Fiesta - listed passionfruit and guava on the label, reminded me of mango
  • Illusion - label said something about cedar, musk, "and mystery."  Surprisingly light scent, I didn't get much from it, maybe something sort of cologne-ish.
I did not buy any of these yet because none really grabbed my attention, and I really want to try those new Febreze tarts from my other post instead.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Haul - Sweet Fixations / Tarts

The second of my recent I'm Not Supposed To Be Buying Anything But Hubby Wanted Floral Scents orders arrived yesterday.  This was is from Sweet Fixations, which I'm pretty sure is my favorite wax vendor now.  I think this is my fourth order from there overall.

Let's just dive right in . . .

  • Sinus Relief - 'Smells like Vick's vapor rub. Cool, crisp mint fragrance. This seriously works!!'  Stocked up on these babies, got five.  I always doubted whether so-called 'sinus relief' tarts worked but when we melted one in our bedroom one night, both hubby and I did indeed seem to sleep better.  Wishful thinking?  Coincidence?  We'll find out.  And melting just half was plenty strong, so really, these five should last a good long time.
  • Tulip - 'Very lovely strong scent, not overly floral.'  Tulips are probably my favorite flower but I really wouldn't know what one smells like if you shoved it in my face.  Hubby wanted floral scents though, and since I don't see this often I grabbed it.  And sniffing it, it's actually a really nice scent.  There is an almost spicy, greenery note and not the usual perfumey grandma's bathroom flower scent.
  • Dreamcatcher - 'Very unique and so beautiful! Powdery with floral hints. One of a kind!'  This one is very light on cold sniff.  It's sort of a sweet scent, almost leaning towards fruity.  The powdery note is soft and pretty but not inyerface baby powder type.
  • Violet & Birch - 'Strong, intriguing blend of white birch, violet, orchid with a musky base. Beautiful scent.'  Every time I browse the scent list I'm curious about this one.  Again, hubby wanted florals so I got this.  Ooohhhhh, it's very pretty.  It's strong, a sweet floral again, with just the lightest hints of musk and woody notes giving it a nice base.  Me likes!!
  • Fresh Cut Roses - 'Smells like a wonderful floral rose bouquet. Lovely!'  Rose is often a scent that you either absolutely love, or absolutely hate.  I lean towards the haters club.  Hubby wanted floral scents, and I was trying to get a variety, so I got this one anyway.  It smells like  . . . roses.  It does remind me of Valentine's and the floral department of the local grocery store and old fashioned grandmas.  It's nice, but florals just aren't my thing.
  • Lily of the Valley - 'A delicate, white-green floral flower.'  Oooh, this one is very green and quite perfumey.  This really reminds me of being outside in spring or early summer.  For as much as I don't like the really perfumey type florals, this has a strong enough wet greenery note to balance that.  There is almost a cut grass hint to it.  I kinda like this one.
  • Domestic Goddess - 'Jasmine and lavender are warmed with rich woods and sweetened by a base of vanilla musk. Fresh, clean laundry scent.'  Really not sure why I got this since I don't think I like jasmine and I'm not often a fan of lavender, but the fact that it's classified as a laundry scent gave me hope.  On cold sniff right now I'm not really smelling anything but the zucchini bread that it was packaged against.  Hmm, will have to let this sit out by itself for a while and see if it comes into its own scent.
  • Fairy Dust - 'Fresh lemon peel creates a sparkling accent for the sunny fruit accord that opens this fragrance. A rich fruity floral signature balances night blooming jasmine with fresh cassis, while hints of ozone create a shimmering effect.'  Another one that just sounded interesting, but I think it's the lemon that hooked me.  I seem to be all about lemon lately.  This one is also very light right now.  What I do smell, I quite like.  I don't get any obvious lemon scent but there is a sweet, almost fizzy note.  There is something almost very lightly musk-like, possibly the ozone part of the blend.  This is almost a laundry type scent too, from the little bit I can smell at the moment.
  • Zucchini Bread - 'Fresh zucchini, and cinnamon with hints of spice. More on the creamy side.'  We already know I do NOT like zucchini bread scents.  Why the heck did I order this then?  Because my sister is wondering if she would like this horrible scent craze, so I got one for her try.  It's overpowering everything else in this order and I've even thrown it to the far corner of my desk in attempt to get rid of the smell while I write this.  LOL!
  • Plum Crazy - 'Sweet plum scent, sure to make you go crazy!'  This is a free sample I received with my order.  Usually the freebies are just another scallop tart, so it's fun that this is one of the 'candy bar' style tarts.  I mentioned in one post that I would like to eventually try ALL of the different products Sweet Fixations has, and this is one of them.  This is a .6 oz tart, so the whole thing would be melted.  (When ordering this style, you would get four of these bars in a package.)  This is a nice scent.  It's bright and fruity, sweet yet with a bit of tartness.
And finally, I love the fun little extra touches like this . . . a gummy heart candy for Valentine's Day!  One of my other orders had a pack of Smarties candies.  And there is always a handwritten note on the back of the business card, as well as on the invoice.  The few tarts that didn't fit in the usual tall plastic bag were packed into a super cute little cupcake-print cello bag.  And a bit of colorful crinkle paper mixed with the packing peanuts in the large padded envelope made something boring and necessary just a bit more fun.

Single scallop tarts at Sweet Fixations are $1.25, and scent shots are $1.50.  There are several other shapes and types of tarts in the 'bakery' section.

Shipping was decent.  I placed my order on Feb. 3 (Sunday morning) and received my package on Feb. 11.  I noticed in the tracking info that delivery was supposed to have been on Feb. 8 but for whatever reason it sat over the weekend at one of the postal centers.  Oh well, it still only took about a week and I'm totally ok with that.  They have a $7.00 flat rate shipping, or free shipping on orders over $50.00.  I'm pretty sure you get at least one free sample with every order.

I just really love this company!

Sircle Samples

Ok, I have to admit I don't even remember how I came across this program called Sircle Samples.  It must have been back when I was still into monthly subscription boxes like Birchbox and Eco-Emi.  I think I saw it mentioned on someone's blog . . . ?  It was a brand new program.  I signed up, not quite sure what it was all about, and never heard a word from them.  That was June 2, 2012 according to my account information.

Fast forward to January 11, 2013, when I received an email from Sircle Samples saying I'd been invited to join.  At first I didn't even remember what the heck it was and I almost dumped the email as spam.  After wracking my brain for a bit and then finally going to the sight I was like 'Ohhhhh yeah!' and had quite a giggle.

So what the heck IS Sircle Samples?  It's not like Birchbox or those types of monthly subscription programs.  This one is absolutely, totally free.  Well, at least it has been so far.  They are still in beta testing, so I can't really say what the program will involve once it's rolled out to the general public.  Anyway, it's a sample 'shopping' program.  It seems to be mainly beauty based but I read that there are also a lot of body and hair care products, and possibly some lifestyle products.  You get to pick what you want to try, and you 'pay' for them with the points you earn for taking part in surveys, referring friends, writing reviews.  When I registered on the site way back in June 2012, I received 500 points.  When I was accepted and filled out my 'beauty profile' in January, I received 1000 more points.  And I've been doing the daily survey pretty much every day since and earning 10 points for each one of those.  (The daily surveys are super quick, just two or three questions and you're done.)

There is a Sample Shop where they list things that might be of interest to you according to the 'beauty profile' you filled out.  Sometimes there is nothing in the shop.  Sometimes it shows things that were recently there but have sold out.  And it can be a variety of things.  I've seen makeup bags, compact mirrors, eye shadows, lip colors, face creams.  The 'price' varies depending on the item, but are usually around 300 points for basic things like lip and eye products.  The compact mirror that is available now is 600 points.  I've 'bought' two products so far, a face cream and a lip pencil . . . 300 points each.  You have to stalk the Sample Shop though because you don't know when things will be added (or what they'll be) and they go fast once they're listed.

Once you 'buy' something it does take a while to actually receive your product.  I think it took almost three weeks to get my first one, and maybe two weeks for the other.  Considering they are absolutely free, I'm not going to complain.  I have seen a lot of people on the Facebook page whining about it though.  I really don't understand the sense of entitlement some people feel!  People are bitching about the samples available, or the lack of samples, or the fact that they're not notified when things are listed.  Wow, really?  Go to the freakin' store and buy what you want then!

Why am I even doing this if I don't wear makeup?  Well, like I said, I signed up way back when I was all into this kind of thing.  And like I've also said, it looks like there is more than just makeup here.  Maybe I'll use my points to get some giveaway prizes for here on the blog.  And besides, I know there are a lot of people who might be reading this that would love to get involved in this.  I'm going to put my referral link below.  I will get points if you use my link, tis true, but even if you just go directly to the site and sign up, that's cool.  Just keep in mind, they are in beta testing at the moment and it took a loooooong time for me to even hear back from them.

My Sircle Samples referral link . . . HERE

You can also find them on Facebook . . . HERE

So what have I gotten so far?
My first 'order' was for Apothederm Moisturizing Cream.  They also sent a sample of their stretch mark cream (which was also in the Sample Shop at that time) and some informational reading material.  I thought that was pretty cool, since I'd been thinking it would only be the cream I'd selected.


The face cream is just a small .5 oz. jar.  At first I was using it as a regular face moisturizer, all over my face, but found it was a bit heavier than what I like, so I've switched to just using it as an eye cream at night.  Seems really nice that way.  And with the tiny dabs I need for just the eye area, this little jar will last quite a long time.

This is the stretch mark cream, just a small .17 oz. foil packet.  I haven't used it yet because I don't believe these types of products really work.  You know, stretch mark and cellulite reducers?  And even if they do, I'd need about a five gallon pail full to handle my problem areas.  *snort*

The brain food that was included.

My second 'order' was for a Nyx jumbo lip pencil.  It was a randomly selected shade, which I thought would be fun.

Don't know if you can see it enough but they sent me color number 714/Sable Bronze.  When I looked at it I laughed a bit because I don't wear lip color but thought maybe I could take baby steps into trying some, but this does not look like a shade to debut with.  Or, I don't know, maybe it is?  Maybe once applied it's not as odd as it seems to me now?  I'm not sure what to do with this yet . . . try it, or put it in a giveaway package.  Anyone interested in winning this??

They also sent a cute little silver coin, which is actually chocolate.  I have not eaten it yet because I was waiting to get these pics taken, but I will indulge now once I have this posted.

So yeah, just a fun little program I somehow got involved with and thought you might be interested too.  Let me know what you think!  Have you ever heard of Sircle Samples???

Friday, February 8, 2013

Haul - Books

I don't seem to be sticking to the Don't Buy Extras plan that hubby and I put into effect at the start of this year.  I couldn't help this one though!  And hubby laughed it off, saying it can be my Valentine's present.  Works for me! 

Anyway, since becoming sucked into the booky world right towards the end of last year, I've noticed that Beautiful Creatures is all the rage at the moment.  The movie version of the first book in this series comes out next week, and of course everyone is scrambling to read the book before then.  Honestly, I'm not even positive what it's about.  I know there is magic, or witchcraft.  I think the girl needs to decide which side she'll choose . . . good or dark, something like that. 

I've looked at Walmart pretty much every time I've been there the last month or so, and have never seen these books there.  I thought it was weird, considering it's supposedly going to be the next big thing, 'the next Twilight.'  A friend of mine really REALLY wants to read the books and see the movie, and was freaking out that she can't find them anywhere.  Well, imagine my surprise this morning when I finally saw the whole set prominently displayed on the Walmart shelf!  Finally!  I immediately sent her a text, cyberscreeching about it.  LOL

I've seen various covers for these books.  The most popular seems to be a gorgeous box set.  Those covers are very similar to these but are mainly black with the colors being in the lettering.
Like, the picture and font are the same but the popular set is black where this one is purple.  The trees would be shimmery silver-gray on the popular one, where this is still purple but still sort of shimmery.  And the title letters on the popular one are beautiful purple.  I would have liked to get that box set but these are all gorgeous too, sort of an all over low shimmer.  The first three are paperback, the fourth (newest) is hard cover.  I'm excited to have these finally!

There is no way I'll have the first one read before the movie comes out.  I'm still working through the Mortal Instrument series.  I don't even know if I'll go see this movie in the theater because A) we just don't go see many movies in the theater, and B) that would be spending money we're TRYING not to spend.  I know, you're laughing at me on that point.  I'm laughing too.

But anyway . . . YAY for books!!!!  I definitely need more bookshelves now.

Have you heard of Beautiful Creatures?  Will you go see the movie?  Or read the book(s)?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Haul - Ten Digit Creations / Tarts

Ten Digit Creations is a vendor I was familiar with back in my soap days, but these days I've been hearing a lot about them because of their wax tarts.  I never did try their soap back then, but I have now received my first order of tarts.

Yeah, yeah . . . I'm not supposed to be buying tarts.  I know.  I haven't forgotten that.  But over the weekend hubby was saying he wanted more sinus relief tarts as well as some spring/floral scents.  So yeah, we allowed ourselves a couple of small orders.  I also used the opportunity to finally try Ten Digits.  Yay!

So, what did I get?
  • Eucalyptus Spearmint - 'An invigorating blend of eucalyptus and spearmint.'  I didn't see an actual sinus relief tart in the listings but thought this one might be close enough.  It's not like the familiar Vicks scent but it is still a really nice, strong scent.  I think this combo might be used for stress relief, right?  Well, I could use a ton of that too these days.
  • Lilac - 'The aroma of a freshly blooming lilac bush.'  Ohhh my gosh, I'm not a floral fan in general but there is always a spot in my heart for the scent of lilac.  We had a huge lilac bush in our backyard when I was growing up, and we have a big lilac bush in our front yard here in our current house.  And this is an awesome lilac, smelling fresh and true.
  • Forget Me Not - 'Aroma of these fragrant delicate flowers in full bloom.'  Hard for me to describe since I'm not a floral fan.  Not a really perfume-y type floral, more of a greenery type.
  • Butterfly Meadows - 'Spring meadow filled with dandelions, verbena, heliotrope, lily of the valley, weeping willows, sweet pea blossoms, and kentucky blue grass.'  This is a new scent at Ten Digits and I think I got it on sale because of that.  I was interested in this because of the green notes mixed with the florals in the description.  Sniffing it, there is a strong grass note with lots of lighter prettier notes dancing in the background.  It smells like being outdoors in summer.
  • Violet Vixen - 'Violet blends with crisp, clean lime to produce this sophisticated fragrance.'  Since these were meant for hubby, I wanted to get a variety of different flower scents.  This one just sounded interesting with that lime twist.  It's very sweet and sort of powdery.  Not obviously floral, but pretty all the same.
  • Dragonfly - 'She smells of jasmine blooms, fresh air, and sunshine.'  Another new scent that was on sale, and another that sounded interesting.  Apparently fresh air and sunshine smell like cheap urinal cakes because that's totally what I get from this.  Hubby asked 'How would you know what urinal cakes smell like???'  LOL!  Seriously though, I do not like this one.  Hubby thinks it's ok.  Hopefully he melts it on a weekend that I have to work.
  •  Rattlesnake Grass - 'Fresh leafy greens showered with sweet orange flowers.'  I'd never heard of this scent so I just had to get it.  Another interesting one, sweetly floral.  There is the lush green note that keeps it from being straight floral, and then the sweet, almost sparkling note from the orange flowers.
  • Pink Sands - 'Bright citrus, sweet florals, and spicy vanilla.'  This ever-popular Yankee scent is not new but it must be new at Ten Digits.  I think I have had this scent from elsewhere, possibly even an actual Yankee tart or votive, but I really didn't remember what it was like so I decided to go ahead and get it.  I really like this one!  It is bright and sweet, with just the teeniest touch of warmth from the vanilla.  It's not fruity.  It's not floral.  It's an excellent mix.
  • Maple Sugar - 'The sweet smell of maple syrup and brown sugar.'  You didn't really think I'd place an order and not get myself some scents, did you???  This one is a little disappointing right now on cold sniff.  It's a maple syrup scent but it's not as sweet as you'd expect.  There is almost a burnt note to it, or pepper note.  Something odd about it at the moment.  Hope it's better when warmed.
  • Cafe Vienna - 'Coffee sweetened with vanilla, caramel, and brown sugar.'  This is super duper uber yummy!  A wonderful coffee scent without the bitter note, all sweetened up with creamy caramel and vanilla and sugar.  You do get a definite caramel note in here.  Love!
  • Sunday Morning - 'Nutty sweet cream, freshly grated nutmeg, carmelized pecans, almond, marzipan, and vanilla swirled with brown sugar.'  I can't remember if ScentMyWay (YouTube) had this in her recent haul video, or where I'd heard about it, but I knew I had to have it.  It's NOT what I was expecting.  This strikes me as a fall scent, not a ooey gooey sweet bakery scent like I thought it would be.  The almond must have a big role in this deception.  I don't know, there is almost like a cider note.  There is sweetness and warmth, a hint of spice, but there is an almost tanginess, something reminding me of cider.  It's a nice scent, just not at all what I was expecting.  I might hold on to this for fall.
  • Avocado & Sea Salt - 'Salty marine notes blend with bright grapefruit, soft white rose, and creamy avocado.'  This was a free tart in my order, and another of their new scents.  I get a lot of the rose and something spa-like, probably those salty marine notes.  I don't like this because it's too perfumey floral, but hubby likes it and it's meant for him anyway so I guess it works. 
The thing that most people probably know Ten Digits tarts for is the foil cupcake liners they come in.  They are 1 oz. tarts but they seem freakin' ginormous.  (I weighed one though, and it is indeed 1 oz.)  These tarts are also dye free.  I admit, pretty colors and cute shapes or decorations are definite eye candy even for me, but in the end all tarts melt down to a puddle of wax and it's the scents we buy them for.

I love that I can get single tarts at Ten Digit Creations.  They have a 4-pack option and a 13-pack option, but I went with singles on this first order.  They are normally $1.25 each.  There is also a What's New section where tarts are currently on sale for only 85cents. 

Shipping was lightning fast, which is one of the things I'd kept hearing and one of the reasons I wanted to order from here.  I placed my order Sunday morning and had the package Wednesday morning.  They have flat rate shipping of $5.95, which is awesome compared to most others who do flat rate shipping.  They also still do first class shipping on small orders.  If that means you're charged actual shipping I will be in total love with this company.  There are many times I've wanted to just try one or two scents from a vendor but the high flat rate shipping has kept me from doing so.

Ten Digit Creations has a line of bath and body products as well as their tarts, room sprays, and incense.  As mentioned earlier in this post, it was their soaps that I was originally familiar with.  This is a shop that was always on my 'must try' list back in my soap shopping frenzy days, but for whatever reason I just never did.  I still don't need to buy any soap yet but I think next time I place an order here (and I definitely will be!) I will finally be trying their soap, and probably their lip balm too.  I have not melted any of the tarts yet but if the strength of the cold throw is any indication, they should be fine.  So overall, I am satisfied with this order and thrilled to have finally tried this vendor!

Have YOU tried Ten Digit Creations?

Read - City of Fallen Angels

City of Fallen Angels
by Cassandra Clare
2011
424 pages

The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.


*** MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

This is the fourth book in the Mortal Instruments series.  I've heard that the series was originally only meant to be three books and yes, everything was neatly wrapped up at the end of that third book.  Maybe the popularity made the author decide to continue the story?  I was enjoying the series, looking forward to the continuation, and dove right into this book.

Sadly, I did not like this one.  Almost immediately, this book seemed different.  It focused mainly on Simon, which wasn't bad.  There was a Jace-Clary storyline but it seemed like an almost minor subplot.  All of the usual characters were in the book but a lot of them were just mentions here and there to sort of keep everyone included.  For example, Alec and Magnus were off traveling the world for much of the book, not actually involved in the story but mentioned once in a while. Things just seemed really detached.

The Simon story started out ok.  It was interesting to get into his world and see how he's coping with the changes in his life.  But then all of these extra characters were being brought into it and you really started wondering where this was all leading.

Jace and Clary's storyline in this book was awesome at first.  It did seem a bit choppy, but I was hooked, at least early on.  Jace was also dealing with all of the things that had happened (in the first three books) and was not having an easy time.  It was so heartbreaking to see how he tried to keep his struggles private.  There was one scene where he woke up from a nightmare and was rolling around on the floor in anguish, dry heaving because he'd become so afraid to eat, and just so overwhelmed.  And then you found out this had been happening for a while, and it just tore at you!  Shortly after that he happened to fall asleep while on a picnic with Clary and you felt so "Awwww," because he felt safe enough to doze here, or he just couldn't fend off sleep anymore.

Jace's struggles would have been an awesome main plot for this book.  There was great potential for the most powerful story of the series so far, but the author chose to go with Simon's story instead.  We were bounced back to Jace and Clary every  now and then, and the story grew weaker.  I hated how it turned from Jace keeping his problems to himself to actually cutting Clary off.  That tactic has been used in many YA books, one character distances him/herself from the other without any explanation and of course it causes nothing but problems.  It always makes me want to scream and fling the book against a far wall.  'Oh, I'm cutting myself off to save this person,' is always the line of thought.  Like the other person is just going to be like 'Ok, we must be done, so I'll just go merrily on my way.'  Really??  Of course the other person is going to keep coming at you, trying to find out what's wrong, demanding explanation, hurting and wondering what they've done wrong.  I just *don't* like this tactic in storytelling . . . at all.

I knew all along that these two seemingly unrelated storylines would eventually have to cross and have some point.  I think the author trying to set up an 'obvious' sort of dramatic climax, and maybe thought it would be so clever to just pull something out of nowhere to shake things up in the end.  I didn't like that either, mainly because it was farfetched.  It would have been better to keep the flow of the story going where the reader was probably already heading, let the pieces fall into place.  When the big 'OOOHHH?!' twist was revealed, I almost gave up on the book.  I admit, I skimmed a lot of pages from that point before getting back to really reading in the last thirty pages or so.  And then again, a big twist at the end meant to be so shocking but really just sort of an eye rolling cheesy finish.

I *am* curious to see what happens now, but just wish the road taken in this book would have been different.  I've seen others online have also thought this was the weakest installment of the series.  I've also seen people saying not to worry because the next book redeems the series.  We shall see.


Monday, February 4, 2013

My Tart Storage

There are always a lot of videos on YouTube, and some blog posts, showing tart storage.  I've often wondered why people would care to see something like that, and have wondered if it's really just more of a way to see how much wax a person has instead of how it's stored.  But whatever . . . I usually skip those videos and posts but I saw one today and decided I'd go ahead and do one too since I haven't been posting much lately anyway.

In what used to be our dining room is an ancient buffet that has been in my family for as long as I can remember.  (There is a matching table and chairs, and someday I'd like to have the whole dang set refinished and fixed up.)  I store my tarts in one of the end cupboards of that buffet.

The top shelf is just a mix of things.  You can see some old candy dishes and some old fake flowers in the back.  My tea lights are there in the front.  An extra lighter over there on the right.  Those few tarts are ones I was going to do a comparison of with another vendor's version of the same scents.

The bottom shelf contains my entire stash.  Those are two medium flat rate boxes, to give you an idea of size.  Yes, my stash is tiny compared to most other wax fans, but right now I feel *this* is uncomfortably large.
In the back is that Christmas basket that I won.  It was full of soaps at the time but has now become a tart storage basket until Christmas rolls around again.

The first box, on the left, contains what is left of my Front Porch stash.  In total, I have four 4-pks, two 3-pks, and 19 singles from Front Porch.  Most are from the large order I made thanks to the holiday gift certificates I'd received.  A few are things I've received as gifts or in swaps.

The other box, on the right, is my entire Sweet Fixations stash.  There are 39 singles in here, almost all of them from that large order I placed at the end of the year.  I haven't really dipped into here yet because I've decided to use up my Front Porch stuff first for whatever reason.

And in the basket at the back is a mix of other things, mostly my Walmart clamshells.  There are a few holiday scents from Front Porch that I want to hang on to.  And there are six Candles From The Keeping Room tarts in here.  Oh, and there is one Scent Appeal clamshell in here that I received as a gift.

And that is IT.  I've said many times that I'm trying to not buy any wax (or anything extra) for a while because we're trying to take care of some debt, but even if I wasn't doing that I still feel uncomfortable when I have this much wax piled up.  I find I don't appreciate the tarts when I have a lot.  I tend to just race through the melting in order to get rid of them.  I don't remember scents much when I do that, don't develop favorites, don't melt them till their scent is gone.  I did pretty darn good at not buying in January.  I only spent $4.50 on tarts, all of those from Walmart.  One was a 50cent Christmas clearance, one was a gift for someone, and one was a backup pack of an old favorite scent. 

Having said that though, I did place two orders yesterday.  But they weren't my fault!  LOL!  Hubby was unhappy with the scent choices we have on hand, said he was in the mood for some spring/floral scents because he's sick of winter already.  He also mentioned that the sinus relief tart really seemed to work, and that I should get more.  We briefly debated just running to the Yankee outlet to get some votives in spring scents, but decided we just didn't feel like going anywhere, so I hopped online and placed a couple orders.  So yes, you will see a couple tart hauls coming up in the next week or so.

I'm off now to read my book!

Haus of Gloi Micro-Haul

Haus of Gloi has come out with a new product called 'butterbombs.'  These little guys debuted during the recent Valentine release.  I've said before that I am not a bath lounger.  I don't normally partake in the apparent joys of things like bath bombs and bubble bars.  I've also said I would like to START taking leisurely soaks in the tube.  I've also ALSO said that I'm not buying anything extra these days while we beat some debt into submission.  I just couldn't resist these though.  I'd seen some sneak peek pics on the Haus of Gloi blog and thought they were just so dang cute, looking like little scoops of cookie dough or something.  I was good though, and only ordered two.  (And one is not even for me!)

Of the scents listed in the Valentine release, Toasted is the one that most interested me.  It's described as 'Reminiscent of warm milk, aromatic rice and burnt sugar.'  I'm not sure just what I expected that to smell like but I had a bit of a 'Eeuw' reaction when I first sniffed this.  It's a lot more 'dry,' almost reminding me of a bread scent, which must be the rice note.  There is a 'burnt' note but not overwhelming like something blackened and scorched onto the bottom of a pan.  This is not very sweet at all.  I don't know about this.  Guess we'll find out once I eventually use it.
These things are small.  Compared to Lush's ginormous monstrosities, you almost wonder how this little thing is going to be enough to DO anything.  This is slightly smaller than a ping pong ball or golf ball, maybe like half of a ball.  And they look so moist and edible in all the pictures I've seen but they are actually dry.  I'm told you are supposed to crumble the butterbomb under running water as your tub fills, and that it is somewhere between a bath bomb and bubble bar.  We shall see!!

The other one I got is White Blueberry, and I'm sure the person it's intended for has realized just by the name that it's for her.  LOL!  Described as 'Blueberries awash with white vanilla sugar, cream and a sprig of white thyme,' this one is kinda yummy.  You do get the blueberry note, and some sweetness, but there is also something sort of fresh and herbal which must be the thyme.  It is not a common blueberry bakery scent.  (This would be an interesting scent for tarts!)
Again, this little guy looks like something edible!  And this one is much more 'moist' than the other one, although still on the dry, crumbly side.  A yummy looking and smelling little treat indeed.

These butterbombs sell for $2.50 on the Haus of Gloi website.

Shipping was crazy fast this time!  The order was placed Sunday afternoon and I had my package on Wednesday.  As always with Haus of Gloi, you get a small sample vial of their perfume oil with your order.  I received the Odette scent this time, which is described as 'Clean sun dried linens, tuberose, ginger lily and white musk.'  It's quite a pretty scent.  I would probably wear this perfume!

So that is my teeny tiny Haus of Gloi haul.  Have YOU tried these new butterbombs?  Let me know what you think!