Friday, June 28, 2013

Influenster - Sunkissed VoxBox!

"Influenster is a free -to-join community of invited trendsetters who live to give opinions of products and experiences. Influenster creates links between brands and members to reward participation and influence future products."

I've been in the program a little while now and this is the third package I have received.  This is the 2013 Sunkissed Voxbox.  So let's see what I got . . . 
(Click for larger photo, to read the details if interested.)

I almost didn't bother with this Sunkissed box because I knew one item I wouldn't ever use, and two others I was iffy on.  But then I figured 'Ah what the heck,' and went ahead with the pre-qualifying survey, and was thrilled to find out later that I'd been selected.  Woot!

Dr. Scholl's For Her - High Heel Insoles (retail $10.99)
This is the item I knew I'd never use.  While I do currently have a pair of the regular Dr. Scholl's for her inserts in my work shoes, I do not wear high heels ... ever ... and have no use for these.  If anyone wants them I will gladly send them to you.

Goody Ouchless Ribbon Elastics (retail $3.99-$4.99)
I am looking forward to trying these hair ties though!  Especially since my hair is pretty long now (for me) and I'm always putting it back anyway.  I saw somebody in a YouTube book haul video swear by these types of bands.  I'd always passed them by, thinking they wouldn't stay tight enough to stay in place.  We shall see!  And how nice that there is a PURPLE one in there!

Olay Fresh Effects - BB Cream -
Skin Perfecting Tinted Moisturizer With SPF 15 (retail $12.99)
I do not wear makeup, never have, but I do love to watch beauty 'gurus' on YouTube and it always makes me want to try beauty products but then I chicken out because I'm so self-conscious and never-changing.  *dramatic sigh*  But anyway, I know a year or so ago BB creams were all the rage.  Maybe they still are, I'm not even sure.  So I was curious about this product.  The box says it 'refreshes, brightens, evens tone, hydrates, smoothes, and protects.'  The box also says that BB cream is 'also known as beauty balm, one of Asia's hottest beauty sensations.'  Hmm, well ok.

SinfulShine with Gel Tech (retail $2.99)
While I very rarely do it, I will wear nail polish once in a while.  It's another one of those girlie things that I'd like to get into but just never do because it's so out of character for me at this point.  So while I was iffy about getting a bottle of polish I was also excited because it might give me more incentive to actually paint my nails more.  
There was an info card with this, and it says this line is found exclusively at Walgreens and only for a limited time.  The color I got is called VIP.  It's one the far right of the card, second one down, if you care to compare with what else is available.  It's a bright, bright pink ... the picture looks quite true to the real thing.  I do like the color.  I've never used this particular brand and I am by no means a nail polish expert, so I'll just have to use it one of these days and see how it goes.

And that's what I got in my Sunkissed Voxbox.  And all for free!  Pretty cool, huh?  If you're a blogger or a Tweeter or a Facebooker you should join Influenster.  They have a lot of different themed boxes and there are always campaigns going on.  It's not like the same box goes out to everyone once a month.  And there are tons of ways to boost your score or rating on the Influenster site, like posting reviews, blogging, YouTubing, Tweeting, pretty much anything online.  I was frustrated in the beginning because I didn't know how things worked but now it's fun.  And it's totally freakin' free!

Disclaimer - I received these products free from Influenster for testing and review purposes.  Opinions are my own.

Melted - My Pink Dreams / Chai Tea

Chai Tea - 'A very complex fragrance! Our chai tea fragrance begins with top notes of spicy cinnamon bark and nutmeg; followed with a body of fresh green tea; finished off with the aroma of creamy soy milk.'

Love this scent!  You definitely get the tea notes, and there spice but it's not too harsh or 'sharp,' and throughout all that there is a slight sweet creaminess.  Mmm, just sooo nice!  More vendors need to offer this, and I will have to start keeping my eyes open for it.

I melted this entire 2 oz. tart in my tea light warmer and had a medium strength scent.  It's a lot stronger than some of the previous tarts from My Pink Dreams that I've had, but it's still on the lighter side.  I can smell it easily in the room the warmer is, but only slightly in adjacent rooms.  Still this is such a nice scent that I'm considering going back and seeing if she has any left.  And if they're still only 25cents (?!?!) I will scoop them all up!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Melted - My Pink Dreams / Hazelnut Coffee

Hazelnut Coffee - 'Hazelnut Coffee: An aroma of freshly brewed Arabica coffee beans combined with creamy vanilla with a base note of nutty hazelnuts.'

This is a nice coffee scent, sort of mild which would please those who don't like the strong bitter notes.  There is a strong creamy nuttiness to this one, with the coffee much softer in the blend.

I melted this whole 2 oz. tart in my tea light warmer and found it to be one of those weird behavior ones.  It took forever to get any scent from it while it was melting and then it was barely there.  I would get a light hint of it if the air around the warmer was stirred up but otherwise nothing.  I did notice I seemed to catch the faint scent more the longer into the melt it got.  And then, after I'd left the house to do some errands and then came back home, I could smell it ... although lightly ... as soon as I walked in the back door.  Since then I have been able to smell it on a light-to-medium level in the room the warmer is in, and lightly in other rooms.  Soooo, I don't know if it really kicked in after a while or if my nose just needed to step away for a bit, but in the end this one was ok.  Sill light, but not the total dud it started out to be.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Melted - My Pink Dreams / Butter Maple Oats & Honey

Buttered Maple Oats & Honey - 'This fragrance has top notes of oatmeal and sweet cream butter, middle notes of cinnamon, raisins, and honey, and sits on dry base notes of vanilla, brown sugar, and maple.'
 
On cold sniff this was a very nice scent, sort of warm and cozy, and reminding me of fall in some weird way.  Melted though, well, there was almost nothing.  Only if a breeze came through the window and carried the little bit of scent to me did I actually smell anything, and even then it was light.  The tiny bit I could smell was nice, very much an oatmeal scent, hints of saltiness, and just a teeny bit of sweetness but not recognizable as maple or honey.
 
I melted this entire 2 oz. tart in my tea light warmer, and as mentioned, had no scent throw at all, and barely any scent period.
 
Bummer.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Won It - Kiehl's & Chanel

I recently won a fabulous giveaway over at the Fragrance Obsessed blog, and part of the prize arrived today.  Sunnee was celebrating the one month anniversary of her blog, and had very generously wanted to share some of her favorite things.  The other part of the prize package was a gift certificate for wax tarts, and I'll post about that when my order comes.  But for now I'm excited to natter about the lotions and perfume I received!

I'd never heard of Kiehl's brand until earlier this year when I was watching a YouTuber who was always talking about how Kiehl's is such fine quality and how they are an old company and have so many products.  It intrigued me the same way Lush fans are loyal despite the prices.  (I am sooo freakin' cheap, it's embarrassing.)  So I was thrilled to see some Kiehl's products in the prize package!  This is the Creme de Corps, which is all-over body moisturizer.  Yay!  Love me some lotions!

I also received this Ultimate Strength Hand Salve, which is awesome because I'm always in need of hand creams.  I'd recently been thinking I need to place a Haus of Gloi order for more pumpkin butter, but that can wait a while now that I have this.

And finally, this bottle of Chance, by Chanel, perfume.  Although I've heard the name a billion times, I'm not familiar with the actual scent.  I did a little test squirt just to get a sniff and found it quite interesting.  The description from Chanel.com is 'A light, subtly sensual fragrance, filled with vitality and energy, evolves from one moment to the next, each wholly unique. '  That's not much help, I know.  I'm assuming I'm the last person on earth to ever smell this and that you are all familiar with it already.  lol

I have not actually used any of these products yet because I just received them, but I am very much looking forward to it.  And I'd like to thank Sunnee/Fragrance Obsessed again for such a wonderful prize package!


Friday, June 21, 2013

Melted - My Pink Dreams / Orange Juice Cake

Orange Juice Cake - 'The aroma of buttery pound cake with orange zests,
with base notes of vanilla, coconut, and caramel.'

This is a sweet bakery scent, very nice.  There is a vanilla creaminess, a definite sweet cake note, and a bright note from the orange.  It's still a sort of warm bakery scent, but it's fun and yummy.

I melted this entire 2 oz. tart in my tea light warmer and had medium-strong scent in the room the warmer was in.  The scent throw did carry this into adjacent rooms but it was light, almost like a barely there background scent.

Loved the scent but wish it had been a bit stronger.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Melted - My Pink Dreams / Lemon Pound Cake

Lemon Pound Cake - 'This wonderful baked aroma begins with zesty lemon rinds, rounded out with buttery yellow sponge cake, toasted coconut, smothered in buttercream frosting.'

I've been soooo into lemon scents this year.  I mean, I've always liked lemon but now I just seem to gravitate towards any lemon scented tart or candle I see.  So of course when I saw this one (and only 25cents!) I knew I had to get it.  Sadly though, I wasn't thrilled by this particular scent.  I didn't really get any lemon note at all.  There was something lending a sweetness but I never did recognize it as lemon.  Even the cake note seemed off.  It was almost more like a bread scent than a cake scent.  And there was a saltiness . . . which then made me think of the dreaded zucchini bread scents.  I even wondered at one point if this was just a mislabeled tart?!    (But no, because the cold scent is a smidge lemony and cakey.)

I decided to melt this whole 2 oz. tart instead of cutting it in half.  I put the whole darn thing in my tea light warmer that has the biggest dish.  This had a strong scent in the room the warmer was in, and a strong throw to all the other rooms in the downstairs of my house, but the scent was light to medium in those other rooms.  The scent remained strong through one tea light melt (4 hours) but since I wasn't crazy about this one I didn't bother melting again to see how much longer the scent would last.

A decent performance from this one, but I just didn't like the scent.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Read - Infinity

Infinity
by Sherrilyn Kenyon
2010
464 pages

At fourteen, Nick Gautier thinks he knows everything about the world around him. Streetwise, tough and savvy, his quick sarcasm is the stuff of legends. . .until the night when his best friends try to kill him. Saved by a mysterious warrior who has more fighting skills than Chuck Norris, Nick is sucked into the realm of the Dark-Hunters: immortal vampire slayers who risk everything to save humanity.

Nick quickly learns that the human world is only a veil for a much larger and more dangerous one: a world where the captain of the football team is a werewolf and the girl he has a crush on goes out at night to stake the undead.

But before he can even learn the rules of this new world, his fellow students are turning into flesh eating zombies. And he’s next on the menu.

As if starting high school isn't hard enough. . .now Nick has to hide his new friends from his mom, his chainsaw from the principal, and keep the zombies and the demon Simi from eating his brains, all without getting grounded or suspended. How in the world is he supposed to do that? 
 
*** MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

This is the first book in the Chronicles of Nick series by Sherrilyn Kenyon.  I seen or heard much about this series, even though the fourth book just recently came out.  It must be popular somewhere, right?

I started out absolutely loving this book.  For the first 75 pages or so I thought I'd found my new favorite book, and I was sooooo excited.  And then it all just went weird.  The plot got crazy and things seemed inconsistent and a lot of times I wasn't sure if this was supposed to be serious or a dark comedy.  For a while I fell to the other extreme of absolutely hating this book, thinking it was a joke, a very weakly written rush job of a story.  But as it went on I started to like it again.  I think (hope!) a lot of the chaos in this first book was to help set up the series and each of the following books will slow down a focus a bit.

This story started off solid, letting us get to know main character Nick and his mother and his rough upbringing.  Fairly early in the book, Nick is involved in a mugging and is almost killed.  He is saved by a mysterious rich man who takes him under his wing, and this is where the first signs of the paranormal side of the story show up.  A couple weird events after than and suddenly -BAM!- the story explodes into chaos.  You know I hate overly busy storylines, right?  Well, this one ended up there.  There were so many characters being thrown at us, so many things happening, so many side characters and side plots . . . ugh!  Some things seemed related, some I'm not so sure of yet.  

Zombies was the focus of this first book.  While Nick is learning more about zombies as they find a way to fight them, we (and he) also find out there have always been vampires, werewolves, demons, etc. in Nick's life.  We knew from the beginning that Nick's father was not a very person and is in prison for murder.  Eventually we find out there is much much more to his father than anyone realized.  And I'm still not quite clear on that whole part of it.  Then there is mysterious Uncle Ambrose, who Nick never knew existed.  There is some weirdness about him too, as in he might actually be Nick's father who might actually be Nick himself.  Huh???  Yeah, exactly.  There is something going on about Nick reliving his life and trying to make different choices or something . . . 

Then there is something about these ancient characters who are trying to help Nick, or guide Nick, or win Nick to their side.  I'm not clear on all that either.  I know there are two sides battling for him but I got lost on who was on what side, and just what each sides represents.  And I couldn't really see what any of that larger story had to do with the almost comical zombie plot we had throughout this first installment of the series.  Oh, and add in the hot girl that Nick has a major crush on, the hot girl that mysterious Ambrose is worried about because he can't 'sense' her.  We're given enough bits of information to know that she is supposed to be an enemy of Nick, but we also see the forbidden romance starting.

I like that this series is from the guy's point of view for once.  I like that there isn't the obligatory love triangle, at least not yet anyway.  I like that the romance is starting out rather cute and harmless instead of the usual love at first sight after one saves the other type thing we always seem to have.  

While there were a lot of times through the middle of the book that I was cringing at the really lame dialogue and unnecessary running around, and while I am somewhat confused on some plot points, and while I was disappointed that the book started out so great and then just went weird . . . I am looking forward to the next book and seeing where things go.  I do like a few of the characters quite a lot and want to know their stories.  I know this is a spin-off series of author Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series, so now I'm even curious about those books.

As for my overall opinion of did I love it, did I hate it . . . I'm undecided at the moment.  I think if I were to read it again things would fall into place much easier.  I'm also really holding my decision until I see how and where the next book goes.

(I don't know why this post won't format like my other book reviews, with the pic on the left and the text wrapping around.  I've tried numerous times to get it but for some reason, today it just won't work.)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Melted - My Pink Dreams / Orange Chiffon Cake

Orange Chiffon Cake - 'Orange Chiffon Cake: A decadent blend of warm, buttery vanilla pound cake topped with a creamy, sweet orange meringue sprinkled with orange zest and toasted hazelnut.'

I really like this scent.  There is a strong cake note, but it's pound cake so it's not as sweet as a birthday cake or cupcake type scent.  It is a warm and cozy bakery scent, sweet creaminess from the vanilla and hazelnut, but there is also just enough of that orange to brighten it up.

This was my first experience with melting something from My Pink Dreams.  Cold scent was strong so I was hopeful.  Since the scent shot was about 2 oz. I decided to cut it in half.  I don't like having to cut tarts but since I usually only melt about 1 oz. at a time, and since this was my first time melting from this vendor, I decided to go ahead and cut this.  Luckily, it was very easy to cut.  (I hate when they're hard and either crumble or you fear you'll lose a finger trying to force the knife through.)  

I melted half a tart (about 1 oz.) in my tea light warmer and got a decent medium scent.  In the room where my warmer is I could smell this easily but it was not at all overpowering.  I could smell it on a slightly lighter level throughout the whole downstairs of the house.  The scent did lighten a bit by the end of the tea light (about 4 hours) but I could still easily smell it.  Considering I only paid 25cents for each of these tarts, if they all perform at least as well as this one I will be happy.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Haul - My Pink Dreams (tarts)

I've been very good about not ordering tarts for many months now.  If you're a follower, you know that hubby and I came into 2013 with a mission to cut spending and get some debt taken care of.  Now that my stash (from a couple big orders right at the end of 2012) is gone and I only have leftover fall/holiday scents tucked away in the back of my tart cupboard, the urge to order has been coming back.  Since last weekend was our anniversary, I was going to allow myself a small order . . . but from where?

It's been a long time since I've just ordered from random 'unknown' vendors I find while browsing Etsy, so that's what I decided to do.  I'd browsed for a while and had several possible shops marked, and then I came across My Pink Dreams.   This shop has 2 oz. scent shots for TWENTY-FIVE CENTS. 

TWENTY-FIVE CENTS?!?!

That couldn't possibly be right.  Was there a sale?  I looked back over the info and didn't see anything about a sale.  Going out of business?  Again, didn't see anything about that.  Just getting into the business?  No clue.  Well, what the heck . . . twenty-five cents?  So I ordered.  LOL!
  • Chai Tea - 'A very complex fragrance! Our chai tea fragrance begins with top notes of spicy cinnamon bark and nutmeg; followed with a body of fresh green tea; finished off with the aroma of creamy soy milk.'   Smells sooooo freakin' good!  Would be a good fall scent, but I don't think I'll wait that long.  A strong tea scent but with a creaminess, and softly spiced.  And it has purple and yellow glitter, making it Vikings colors.  Skol!
  • Hazelnut Coffee - 'Hazelnut Coffee: An aroma of freshly brewed Arabica coffee beans combined with creamy vanilla with a base note of nutty hazelnuts.'  I love coffee scents, and this one is yummy, sort of sweet, not strong on that typical bitter coffee note.
  • Orange Chiffon Cake - 'Orange Chiffon Cake: A decadent blend of warm, buttery vanilla pound cake topped with a creamy, sweet orange meringue sprinkled with orange zest and toasted hazelnut.'   Ohhh, this is good.  A nice, full pound cake scent, and you really do get a distinct, bright orange note.
  • Orange Juice Cake - 'The aroma of buttery pound cake with orange zests, with base notes of vanilla, coconut, and caramel.'  The word 'juice' is misspelled on the label and the Etsy listing, but oh well.  This is a nice scent but I prefer the chiffon cake one.  This one is a lot sweeter, with a strong vanilla note.
  • Buttered Maple Oats & Honey - 'This fragrance has top notes of oatmeal and sweet cream butter, middle notes of cinnamon, raisins, and honey, and sits on dry base notes of vanilla, brown sugar, and maple. This fragrance is amazingly true to its name.This is yummy but again, makes me think of fall or winter in its warm coziness.  Strong on the oats and butter part, with all the other goodies lightly sweetening it up.
  • Lemon Pound Cake - 'This wonderful baked aroma begins with zesty lemon rinds, rounded out with buttery yellow sponge cake, toasted coconut, smothered in buttercream frosting.'  On cold sniff, I don't get much lemon in this.  I can tell it's there, but right now it's lurking deep in the pound cake note.  (This one also had a spelling error on the label.)
  • Lemon Sugar - 'Remember the taste of childhood, lemonhead candy? This fragrance takes it up a notch with citrus top notes of real lemon, and warm base notes of vanilla and sugar.'  This was a freebie in my order.  Yay for extras!  This is indeed lemony but it's more of a Pledge than a Lemonheads type.  Will be interesting to see how this is warm.
  • Green Apple Explosion - 'We believe we have quite possibly found the "spunkiest" green apple fragrance on earth! We thought about calling it Granny Smith Apple, but this fragrance deserves a name that "pops" just like its aroma.'  Another freebie, this guy was scenting the whole package and is hubby's favorite of the bunch.  It IS a nice scent, bright and fun and summery, but it doesn't immediately strike me as just apple.  It seems like there has to be something else in here, something making it more rich and candy-like.  Kinda reminds me of Jolly Rancher candies.
Turnaround time was fantastic.  I ordered late afternoon Sunday and the package arrived in Thursday's mail.  That is awesome!  My order arrived in a well sealed yellow padded envelope, with the individual tarts looking like this .........
Each was wrapped in tissue paper and then wrapped in very cute Hello Kitty tape.  I don't know if this was to absorb any oils and keep the lids on the cups?  They definitely survived the trip, but the amount of tape was inconvenient.  Cute, for sure, but too much.

The tarts themselves are all white with different colored glitters on them.  They are filled to the brim, for sure.  The label says 2 oz., and the one I popped out of the cup to check the actual weight was 1.7 oz..  These are 100% soy tarts.  The wax is sort of soft and crumbly around the top, yet when popped out of the cup the bulk of the tart feels quite solid.  I hope they're easy to cut because I will probably only melt half at a time.

As mentioned, turnaround time was awesome.  I was not thrilled with the shipping costs though.  A lot of people blame Etsy for 'stupid rules' but I had my own Etsy shop for two years and know how those things work.  Many shop owners will refund overcharges.  This one apparently doesn't.  There was no business card or invoice in the package.

The name My Pink Dreams seems familiar to me.  The Etsy shop is mainly nail polishes.  The Facebook page says they also have soaps and body products.  Maybe I know this name from my soap days?  I'm not sure yet.  There is not a huge scent list to choose from.  Again, I don't know much about this vendor.  Maybe there is another website with more offerings?  There are 19 scents to choose from in the Etsy shop right now, almost all of them being yummy foodie type scents.  And I still really wonder why they are only twenty-five cents.

I have not actually melted any of these yet.  Cold scent is pretty strong on all of them so I'm hoping they are good and strong while melting.  Scent shots and tarts I have to cut are not my favorite formats but for the price that these are, I'm willing to deal with those minor technicalities.

And for those nail polish lovers out there, here is a sample of what My Pink Dreams offers .....


Are YOU familiar with My Pink Dreams??

Monday, June 10, 2013

Melted - Yankee Candle / Tea & Honey

While I've given up on Yankee's tarts because I get no scent from them, I'm still willing to give their votives a chance.  I've heard a lot of people melt them as tarts.  So when hubby wanted to stop there as an anniversary treat to ourselves, it was mainly votives that we got.  Tea & Honey is one of them that I picked out.  I can never smell these things through the wrapper so I didn't bother with a cold sniff.  Once melted, this was a very nice scent, very much like Lemon Iced Tea.  There was something soothing about.  I think the almost floral notes of the honey are what made my mind think there was lemon, and that mixed about equally with the tea note.  It was sweet but not overly so like candy or something.

Since a a votive is just shy of 2 oz., I cut this in half and melted just one of the chunks in my tea light warmer.  The scent was medium in the area of the warmer.  It's a very natural, pleasant scent ... not like something heavily perfuming the air.  The throw was weak.  I could detect light traces of it in the next room but probably only because I knew something was melting and I was checking for it.

While melting this votive as a tart gave better results than Yankee's actual tarts, I was still a bit disappointed by the strength and throw.  I'm not against buying more votives when they have their $1 sales.  I think in the fall maybe we'll go back get some in the fall and holiday scents.  As for this particular scent, Tea & Honey, yes, I would buy it again.

Watched - Identity Thief

Identity Thief
2013
Rated R


From IMDB.com - 'Mild-mannered businessman Sandy Patterson travels from Denver to Miami to confront the deceptively harmless-looking woman who has been living it up after stealing Sandy's identity.'

Hubby and I watched this recently and loved it.  I never really liked Jason Bateman when he was young, thought he was a pretty boy child actor, but time and time again I find I like him in the adult roles I've seen.  And Melissa McCarthy just cracks me up.  So yeah, I was pretty sure I'd enjoy this movie.

Jason's character's name is Sandy.  Because it's a unisex name, Melissa's character was able to steal his identity even though he's a man.  And there are all kinds of jokes and jabs about his name throughout the movie.  When he finds out his identity has been stolen he's confused and angry that the police can't do anything.  (The police in the city she's committing the crimes have to be the ones to catch her, or something like that.)  Sandy figures out where she is and how he can catch her, and plans to haul her back to his city and set it up so the police will be able to catch her red-handed.  So the bulk of the movie becomes the crazy adventure of him trying to get her from Florida to Colorado.  And to add to it, there is someone else after her too.

Ohhhh my gosh, there are tons of hysterical moments in this movie.  There is a scene where they have stopped at a restaurant for a bite to eat but have very little money.  Sandy says they need to order the cheapest thing but of course when the waitress comes, FakeSandy starts ordering a full meal.  When Sandy snaps at her that he told her she couldn't have food, the waitress takes it as him being an ass of a husband punishing his wife for being overweight.  And FakeSandy just plays that out to the max.  I was laughing soooo freakin' hard I could barely breathe.

There is another scene later when FakeSandy gets hit by a car and is knocked out for a moment.  When she wakes up, her automatic reaction (throughout the movie) is to punch the other person in the throat, and this is what she does to Sandy who is checking to see if she's ok.  They don't have time to waste so they're trying to get back up and continue running away from the danger.  Sandy is whining that she needs to slow down because he's been punched in the throat and can't breathe.  She snaps at him "Well, I was HIT BY A CAR!  Did you see THAT?" and keeps running.  LOL!!!

There are heartwarming moments too, and a warm fuzzy ending that had me in tears.  I'd wondered all along how it would be wrapped up but hadn't ever thought of what happened.  Then again, I'm a sap and a sucker and cry at the drop of a hat. 

But yes, loved this movie and will have to buy it on DVD.

Have you seen it?  What did you think?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Melted - Better Homes & Gardens / Vanilla Caramel Spice

Vanilla Caramel Spice is an interestingly aggravating scent for me, and it makes me laugh.  I've had it before and think I might have actually given away or thrown away most of the pack.  Time passed, I saw this in the store and sniffed it, and thought 'Mmmm, wow, this is NICE!'  Even though I suspected this was the one I'd had and didn't like, I decided it must have been something else because this one I was smelling was darn yummy.  So I got it.

Well, wouldn't you know, looking through old blog posts last week I discovered that this was indeed the same scent.  Huh.  Proves our tastes change over time, right?  Apparently not, because I'm not digging this now that I have it home and have melted it again.  I don't hate it, but there is just something about it that bothers me.  When I'm not looking at the package and seeing that it says CARAMEL, I always think it's a vanilla-cinnamon blend.  On cold sniff it's a much sweeter and creamier scent, but when melted the spice note comes through quite strong and I'm pretty sure that spice is just plain ol' cinnamon.  I think it is because of the sweeter cold sniff scent that I keep thinking I'll like this.  Again, I don't hate it, but I think when that cinnamon comes through it just totally changes the scent.  There is a sort of caramel note deep in there, and the vanilla keeps the cinnamon in more of a bakery type category as opposed to a fall or holiday type cinnamon, but it is still a spicy scent.

I melted two cubes (about .8 oz.) in my tea light warmer and had strong scent and throw.  I can easily smell this all over the downstairs of my house.  As usual with the BH&G tarts, I'm finding on the second melt (one tea light lasts about 4 hours) there is still plenty of scent.  I did notice that when the tea light went out and the wax cooled, the lingering scent went back to that creamier, yummier version.  I also noticed that when I came back into the house from being outside, not only did I smell this immediately from the back door but it was that creamier version.

So while this was not a horrible scent it was definitely not a favorite, and I'll have to try and remember not to buy it next time I see it and sniff it and think 'YUM!'

Read - Loki's Wolves

Loki's Wolves
by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr
2013
358 pages

"The runes have spoken. We have our champion...Matthew Thorsen."

Matt hears the words, but he can't believe them. He's Thor's representative? Destined to fight trolls, monstrous wolves and giant serpents...or the world ends? He's only thirteen.

While Matt knew he was a modern-day descendent of Thor, he's always lived a normal kid's life. In fact, most people in the small town of Blackwell, South Dakota, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt's classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke. No big deal.

But now Ragnarok is coming, and it's up to the champions to fight in the place of the long-dead gods. Matt, Laurie, and Fen's lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team, find Thor's hammer and shield, and prevent the end of the world.

In their middle grade debut, K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr begin the epic Blackwell Pages series with this action-packed adventure, filled with larger-than-life legends, gripping battles, and an engaging cast of characters who bring the myths to life.


*** MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

I was immediately drawn to this book because of the whole Viking thing.  I put it back on the shelf though because it was 'a kids book.'  But just like the online community has opened my eyes to how many people read graphic novels, it has also shown me how many people still love so-called kids books.  Heck, didn't Harry Potter start out as a kids series??  (It got much deeper and darker as the series went on though.)  So yeah, I bought this Loki's Wolves next time I had the chance. 

This is a 'middle grade' book, meant for ages 12 and up, or something like that.  There are several black and white illustrations throughout the book.  It was also kinda cute how there is a lot of learning going on while reading the story.  It reminded me a bit of The Magic Treehouse books, where kids are learning bits of history or science or whatnot without realizing because it's just all part of the story.  There are a lot of quick and easy references to many Norse things, but also things about Mt. Rushmore and some other South Dakota/old west things.  Of course it was all Viking related things that had me thrilled.

I quite liked this book.  It was quick paced, which kept it interesting all the way.  I loved all the talk about Thor, Loki, Odin, and even Balder.  There were wolves, Norns, Valkyrie, mara (nightmares), and trolls.  I learned about the wolves Skoll and Hati chasing Sol and Mani (the sun and the moon), and about Ragnarok ... all on an informative but easy to follow level.  Reading this book made me want to go back and watch the History channel's Vikings show again!

The three main characters are Matt, Fen, and Laurie.  All are likable but Fen's constant 'I have to protect Laurie at all times' got old fast.  Matt learns fairly early in the book that he will have to be a key player in stopping Ragnarok and saving the world as we know it.  He must find and gather the rest of the kids who will be part of this battle, and he must find several items that are needed.  This sets up the series, as I'm guessing each book will be about the search for the next person and object.  In this first book we have met the key players and found the first object.  We also found out that perhaps not everyone wants Ragnarok (end of the world) to be prevented after all ...

There is some violence in this book and there is a death, leaving the book ending on a shocking note, but I think Loki's Wolves is a really interesting read for kids and adults alike.  It seems everyone knows or writes about Greek mythology and other ancient stories that have been done a million times, so taking on the lesser known Norse mythology is an exciting breath of fresh air.  I highly recommend this book, and am very much looking forward to the next one in this series.

(And I think it would make a fantastic movie, hehe.)