Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Melted - Sweet Fixations / Raspberry Lemon Squares

Raspberry Lemon Squares(SF Blend)- Sweet raspberries and tart lemons
baked into a warm buttery crust.
 
Oddly enough, this smelled just like blueberry muffins to me.  There is definitely a 'warm buttery crust' note but it reminded me more of muffins than of crust.  The lighter notes of sweet fruitiness did not strike me at all as either raspberry or lemon.
 
Melting this entire 1 oz. tart, I had medium-strong scent in the room the warmer is in, and lighter scent in adjacent rooms.  I would normally like a stronger scent but since this reminded me of blueberry muffins, and that is not a favorite scent of mine, I was ok with the medium scent from this.
A pleasant enough scent but not at all what I'd expected.  Probably would not order this one again.

Won It - The Spirit Room

I won my second book from the Goodreads - First Reads program.  The first was Wilderness, by Lance Weller, which I posted a review for but had not ever posted about winning it.  Well this time I've won a book called The Spirit Room, by Marschel Paul.

'A captivating historical novel about two independent-minded sisters in Victorian era America.

Set in New York state in the late 1850s, two sisters are forced into becoming hoax mediums by their reprobate father in the wake of their mother's death. Following a short apprenticeship with a renowned Spiritualist and her clairvoyant assistant, 17-year-old Izzie and 13-year-old Clara Benton set up shop with Papa in a rigged séance parlor dubbed The Spirit Room.

The intelligent, self-educated Izzie shows genuine psychic talent but fears the spirit-world voices she hears are like her mother's, which she believes drove her mother to madness and early death. Vowing to return if Clara or her siblings need her protection, Izzie flees the family Spiritualism enterprise to go to Rochester with a new husband, a doctor specializing in "water-cure"--a trendy health spa therapy that the doctor soon begins to practice on his new wife. Clara, meanwhile, finds the Spirit Room gradually transformed, under her father's will, into a center for something much more malicious than hoax séances.

Becoming separated both physically and emotionally by complex turns in their paths, the young sisters, as the story unfolds, are becoming women. But will they be able to come out whole without each other?

In her noteworthy debut novel, Marschel Paul peppers her narrative with cultural and political references, from Madame Bovary to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, that effectively serve as touchstones for the story's themes of women's independence and the power of female relationships--whether they be sisters, mentors, allies, or friends.'


This is quite a big book . . . 587 pages!  I'm excited to read it.  There was a matching bookmark included too, but the coolest part . . . ?

It's signed!!

Melted - Sweet Fixations / Go Bananas

Go Bananas- Fun fragrance with ripened bananas mixed with crisp apples, creamy caramel, and toffee bits.

Strong banana note in this one.  I didn't get any hint of apple at all, didn't even remember there was apple in here until finding the scent description to do this post.  I kept wondering if this was similar to a Banana Foster type scent because along with the obvious banana note, there is a warm sweetness from the caramel and toffee, almost making it a bakery type scent.  Sometime caramel scents have a sort of harshness, and this one does have a hint of that.  Overall, this is along the lines of a rich dessert scent.

Melting this whole 1 oz. tart in my tea light warmer, I had medium-strong scent but very strong throw.  I could actually smell this better in adjacent rooms than I could in the room the warmer was in.  That was interesting, and fun.

This tart performed great but I'm undecided on this particular scent.  I'm not sure I'd order it again because there is just one small, odd note that I don't like.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Melted - Sweet Fixations / Creamy Orange

Creamy Orange- Vanilla ice cream, sweet pineapples, oranges, and fruits.

This one was interesting.  I had not looked at the scent description any time recently so when I popped this into the warmer I was thinking it was going to be like a Creamcicle scent.  And yep, as it was melting I was pleased to find this nice, deep, creamy vanilla with bright notes of orange.  But I also noticed that from time to time it almost seemed like a cake note, like it would be one of the juice cake scents I've had recently.  Every version of this scent that my nose picked up was yummy and lovely.  So it was funny to me when I went to get the scent description for this post and it supposedly contains pineapples and other fruits too?  Whatever was going on, it was a nice orange-cream scent somewhere between popcicles and cake.  LOL

I melted this whole 1 oz. tart in my tea light warmer and had deep, rich scent in the room the warmer was in, with more medium strength scent in adjacent rooms.  This stayed strong the full four hours of one tea light burn, and still had scent left in but I have not remelted it.

I would probably order this one again.

Melted - Sweet Fixations / Caribbean Salsa

Caribbean Salsa- Blend of sweet pineapples, peach, yuzu, and vanilla. You'll definitely love this!

When I picked this one it was because it sounded summery and because I'd like to eventually try each and every one of Sweet Fixations's scents.  I thought the addition of vanilla would be the interesting thing in this blend.  On cold sniff, there is a happy, juicy, fruity note from the pineapple and some peachiness.  I don't know why yuzu smells like so I can't say for sure if it's noticeable in here.  The vanilla is not obvious but it does sort of soften the overall wow from the fruits.  I was leery right away though because the cold scent was light.

Sure enough, melting this entire 1 oz. tart in my tea light warmer produced almost no scent at all.  I could get a verrrrrrry light background presence but nothing you'd really notice if you didn't know something was melting.  Every once in a while, if I walked by the warmer and stirred up the air I'd get a nice whiff of this, but overall it was a dud.  I did get a second one in this scent as one of my freebies but I don't know if I'll bother melting it or just pass it on in an eventual swap or something.

This one was a bummer but I still *love* Sweet Fixations!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Melted - Sweet Fixations / Cherry Slushie

Cherry Slushie- Strong, sweet frozen drink. Sweet and tangy cherry.
This one smells just like Kool Aid.  It is very candy/sugary sweet, with a nice cherry note.  Kool Aid is really all I can think of when I smell this.  lol
I melted this 1 oz. tart in my tea light warmer and found it to be one of those peculiar scents that seems stronger when you get farther away.  In the area of the warmer I get a medium strength scent, but when I was in an adjacent room it was strong.  This one definitely carried to all corners of the house in varying strengths.

While I did enjoy this playful scent, I probably wouldn't order it again because it's so candy-sweet.  This IS a good summer scent though!

Melted - Sweet Fixations / Banana Caramel Pound Cake

Banana Caramel Pound Cake (SF Blend)- 'Warm bananas, caramel sauce, and spice baked into a fresh yellow pound cake.'
This is a yummy sweet bakery scent, strong on the banana.  I like the Cupcake version of this scent better because you get a more distinct cake note.  This is still nice though.  Being pound cake, that cake note isn't quite as sweet and obvious.  There are hints of caramel but it seems more of a banana/cake scent.  Very nice.

I melted this entire 1 oz. tart in my tea light warmer and had a delicious medium-strong scent in the room the warmer is in.  I can smell it on a lighter level in other parts of the house but since I was also making soap while I had this melting, the soap smells pushed out the tart scent in the kitchen.  It probably would have been stronger all over the house if I hadn't been making soap.  Still, this one has staying power.  Well after the tea light had gone out and the wax had cooled and hardened, I was still smelling this scent.

I really liked this scent but like I said, I prefer the cupcake version and would order that one over this next time.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Melted - Sweet Fixations / Blue Raspberry Icee

Blue Raspberry Icee- Sweet and tart cold blue raspberry slushie.
 
Smells just like you'd think, just like the icy slushie summer treat it's named for.  This is very much a candy-like, sugar sweet scent . . . maybe too sweet for some people.  There is a fruity, sort of juicy note to it but I wouldn't recognize it as any kind of raspberry.  This is definitely a fun type scent.
I melted this entire 1 oz. tart in my tea light warmer and had a nice medium-strong scent.  Probably a good thing it was a more medium strength because of how sweet it was.  I could smell it on a lighter scale in adjacent rooms.

This was a fun one but not something I'd order again.  (I think this was one of hubby's picks.)

Read - Fated

Fated
by Alyson Noel
2012
352 pages

Strange things are happening to Daire Santos.  Crows mock her, glowing people stalk her, time stops without warning, and a beautiful boy with unearthly blue eyes haunts all her dreams.  Fearing for her daughter's sanity, Daire's mother sends her to live with the grandmother she's never met: a woman who recognizes the visions for what they are -- the call to her destiny as a Soul Seeker, one who can navigate the worlds between the living and dead.

There on the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico, Daire sets out to harness her mystical powers.  But it's when she meets Dace, the boy from her dreams, that her whole world is shaken to its core.  And Daire is forced to discover if Dace is the one guy she's meant to be with . . . or if he's allied with the enemy she's destined to destroy.

*** MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***
 
I originally bought this book as a Christmas present for a friend, and really had no interest in it for myself at the time.  Later, I noticed the second book had come out.  My friend mentioned that she'd really liked both books and was anxious for the third.  Then I saw that third book when it came out and I don't know why, but I suddenly found myself wanting to read the series.  Usually my friend and I have very different opinions on books and movies, so I was leery, but I decided to give it a shot.

Wow.  What a pleasant surprise this book was!  I had soooo been thinking this was going to be cheesy fluff teen drama.  It wasn't!  There was no love triangle, no horrible dialogue, no melodramatics.  Such a breath of fresh air for a YA paranormal book.  Although there is a love interest it is not a sappy, love at first sight thing.  In fact, she doesn't even 'get the guy' until the end of the book.  Also, this book keeps a quick pace and stays on course, not a lot of extra baggage to distract and weigh the story down.  I loved that.

The book delves into some Native American culture and traditions, an area that doesn't usually interest me too much.  The 'magic' people in this story are shaman.  I haven't seen that in any of the YA books I've come across.  There are demons in here but you won't find a werewolf, vampire, or angel in this neighborhood.  There are Animal Spirit Guides, and Vision Quests, healing herbs, and the occasional vortex.

There were only two small beefs I had with this book.  One was the way Dace, the dreamy hot guy, kept popping up in dreams AND later in reality.  I was getting frustrated wondering if he was real or not, wondering what was going on, and it never really was explained.  I know now that he is indeed real but I'm still not clear on the dreams, like how she knew him before she met him, and whether they really were just dreams or if it was some sort of connection to him already.  (Or maybe I'm just over-thinking it.)  The other small beef was that the whole thing with the glowing people and time stopping seemed to go away just a bit too quick and clean.  I understand that once she was with her grandmother and taking the herbs and learning what was going, things were more under control but then they just seemed to go away, never to be mentioned again.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  It was a refreshing change from the usual YA paranormal romance stuff I've been reading.  I'm really looking forward to diving into the next book.  And while I was not at all familiar with this author before, I now know she has a bunch of other books and I'm strongly considering getting her Immortals series.  So, if you're bored with the usual sappy teen romance, I highly recommend you give this book a try!

Melted - Sweet Fixations / Lemon Buttercream

Lemon Buttercream - (SF Blend)- 'Lemon juice squeezed into sweet buttercream frosting.'

I plunged my hand into my big box of Sweet Fixations tarts and came up with this one.  Sure, why not?  It's a bright, sunny, summer day and this scent fit perfectly.  This is a very sweet scent, not sickeningly sweet like some candy scents, but very up there on the sweet scale.  The lemon is happy and sweet, more of a bakery lemon than a Pledge/cleaner lemon.  The buttercream adds a nice creaminess, toning down the zing of the lemon a bit, bringing the bakery note into the mix.  This is a verrrrry nice lemon scent!

I melted this entire 1 oz. tart in my tea light warmer and had a near perfect strong scent.  It was nice and strong in the room the warmer was in, but not overpowering.  It was medium-strong in the rest of the downstairs of the house, easily noticeable lemon notes throughout the house.  When I came into the house from stepping out to the mailbox, I could immediately smell this when I opened the back door.

Love this and would absolutely order it again.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Melted - My Pink Dreams / Green Apple Explosion

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.'

Somewhere in my brain I always seem to associate apple scents with fall, whether they are spicy or baked or plain.  I was surprised to find that didn't happen with this one.  I'd said in my cold sniff first thoughts (in my haul post) that there almost seems to be something more than apple in this scent, that it reminds me of Jolly Rancher candies.  It is definitely an apple scent, juicy and bright and full, but it's very sweet.  Maybe there is sugary sweetness along with the apple?  Maybe that's why I think of candy?

I melted this whole 2 oz tart in my tea light warmer and was pleased to find it had a good medium-strong scent in the room the warmer is in, and lighter hints of it in adjacent rooms.  I do prefer my tarts stronger than this but considering how light most of the others from this small haul have been, this one is acceptable.

Melted - My Pink Dreams / Lemon Sugar

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.'

A nice, bright lemony scent but more like a Pledge cleaner type lemon.  There does seem to be a bit of citrus zing, and there is sweetness, but I don't really get any specific vanilla note.  Even though this leans more towards Pledge than candy or bakery lemon, it's still a nice scent, very cheerful.

I melted this entire 2ish oz. tart in my tea light warmer and only had a light to medium scent in the room the warmer was in.  It seemed to take a long time, even after the wax was melted, to get any really noticeable scent and even then it was mainly if the air was stirred up by someone walking by or a breeze through the window.

This is a nice scent, just needs to be stronger.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Watched - World War Z

World War Z
2013
PG-13
116 minutes

United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself. 

I had no real interest in seeing this movie but hubby has been getting more and more anxious to go, so today we went.  Since it's been out for a while now there were only eight other people in the theater with us.  Well, there were eight others when the movie started but a guy and 9ish year old son left quite early on because  . . . O.M.G. . . . it was freakin' intense.  I don't know if the boy got freaked or if the dad decided it was too much for him but I can totally understand them leaving.  Wow.

Since I'd had no interest in this beforehand and paid so little attention to the commercials and talk about it, I had no real expectations going into this movie.  I mean, I've heard it's completely different from the book and that people are mad about that.  I've also heard that the movie sucked.  But I haven't paid attention to details of why it's different or why it sucked.  AND since we rarely ever go see movies in the theater maybe I have a tendency towards liking anything I see in the theater, so having said all that I will just say  . . . I liked this movie quite a lot!

The movie starts off mellow enough, Gerry (Brad Pitt) and his family having breakfast in the morning, then in stand-still city traffic as the head to wherever it was they were going (work? school?).  While waiting in traffic there is an ever increasing sense of urgency with helicopters flying over and cops/sirens racing all around and warnings on the radio and then -BAM!- all hell breaks loose as people are suddenly running down the street screaming and cars are smashing into each other to try and get out there and just complete chaos.  The very first blink-of-an-eye shot of the first zombie we see will forever freak me out.  *shudders*  Just the speed of it all happening, and not knowing just what it is, and the family trying to stay together . . .  it was intense and overwhelming.  The first half hour is crazy!

It settles down a bit after that as Gerry and family are airlifted to safety by some connections he has.  They find themselves on a military ship and Gerry gets information on what's going on.  Then he's told he needs to come out of 'retirement' and go on this mission to try and find the cause of this zombie invasion, and find a way to stop it.  He's also told that if he doesn't do this he and his family will be booted off the ship because there is no room for people not contributing.  Knowing his family is safest on this ship, he agrees to do it.  From there he begins traveling all over the world as he tracks down information.  There is more action and more intense chaos scattered throughout the rest of the movie, and at one point the people back on the ship conclude that Gerry has been killed so they have no choice but to send his family to a 'safe camp' back on land.

This movie had me hooked right from the get-go.  It keeps a quick pace, keeps the adrenalin flowing.  At least it did for me!  But maybe that's because this is not a movie I'd typically watch.  I cried too, of course.  Not too sure how I felt about the actual zombies.  I prefer the old school, stumbling around and stupid kind of zombies.  These were FAST and creepy, but not particularly smart.  (I *hate* when zombies seem to have some mental capacity left.)  When they were all stampeding and climbing over each other up the walls . . .
. . . holy crap!  And why do all creepy monster creatures have to make the teeth clicking chattering sound????  *shudders again*

So yeah, while zombie buffs or action buffs might be able to pick this movie to bits, I liked it.  I would even be willing to go see this one again! 

Melted - Soap Up / Cookie Crumbs

I can no longer find the description for this Cookie Crumbs scent on the site but it reminds me of sugar cookies.  I said in my haul post, that my initial cold sniff thoughts were that it reminded me of Oreo stuffing.  Whatever it is exactly, it comes across as a very nice, vanilla-y, sugar cookie type scent.  Sadly, it's very light.

I melted this entire 1.5 oz. tart in my tea light warmer and only got a light scent in the general area where my warmer sits.  I did not notice anything beyond that.  What I did smell was delicious . . . I just wish it had been a lot stronger.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Melted - Soap Up / Half Baked

Half Baked - 'Mouth-watering cinnamon and brown sugar baked into moist cake
with drizzled icing accord.' 

My previous (and first experience) with this vendor's tarts left me leery because it had been a dud.  I am very pleased to announce that this one performed just fine!  I found I wasn't as fond of this scent as I thought I was on cold sniff though.  The cinnamon really came through once this was warmed.  Not a sweet, candy or fall-like cinnamon either . . . but a sharp, bakery, straight cinnamon.  The longer it melted though, the more the sweeter notes tried to come through.  There is a light cake note and something else, probably from the brown sugar, but that harsh cinnamon note stayed on top.

Since I wasn't expecting much from this after my experience with the previous one, I went ahead and melted this entire 1.5 oz. tart in my tea light vendor.  I was surprised and pleased to find that this one throws a nice medium-strong scent.  I could easily smell this in the room the warmer was in, and could pick up hints of it in adjacent rooms.  While the scent did last the entire four hours of one tea light, I'm not fond enough of it to try another melt and see how long it lasts.

I was happy this tart performed well but I would not buy this particular scent again.

Melted - Soap Up / Blast Off!

Blast Off! - 'Columbian coffee, spices, nut and vanilla buttercream.' 
 
On cold sniff this was a really nice scent.  There wasn't much of a coffee note but there was a deep, rich, creamy note that was just so delicious.  I have to rely on my cold sniff notes because, unfortunately, this was a total dud when melted.  I got nothing from it.  Nothing.  I'm rather baffled by that because while the cold scent was still on the lighter side, I could still very easily smell it.  Where did it go once melted??
I started with just half of this tart (.7 oz. worth) in my tea light warmer and when I got no scent I added the other half.  When I still got nothing I thought maybe I just needed to wait a while, because there have been times when a scent didn't present itself until much later in the heating process.  Since this was my first ever tart from this vendor, I tried to keep an open mind and I waited it out.  In the end, I got nothing from this tart.  Even when I put my nose right over the warmer I only got the very faintest hint of scent.

This was a disappointing first experience with this vendor . . . but luckily the next tart I post about redeems itself.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Melted - Sweet Fixations / Orange Chiffon Cake

Orange Chiffon Cake- Warm orange cake blended with creamy vanilla batter,
hazelnut, syrup, and citrus.

This is a yummy one.  (Aren't they all?)  There is a distinct cake note, and a bright sweetness, but you probably wouldn't recognize it as orange if you didn't know what it was.  There is  also a warmth and creaminess, probably from the hazelnut and vanilla.  At times I thought there was a caramel-ish note, other times I thought it was a maple note, and other times I thought it was a butterscotch note.  Whatever it was, it was good.

I melted this whole 1 oz. tart in my tea light warmer and had a good, strong scent in the room the warmer is in, and on a more medium level in adjacent rooms.  When I came back into the house from getting the mail, I could immediately smell a light version of this when I opened the door.  It stayed strong the entire first melt (tea light = four hours) and still packs a punch now as I melt it a second time, although it is slightly lighter.

I would buy this one again.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Soap Stuff - July 12

When you're a cold process soap maker you always have to think a couple months ahead because of the required cure time.  I recently ordered some fragrance oils in the scents I want for this fall and winter, and yesterday I made one batch.  I'd been planning on making several, but since I only casually make soap every once in a while now, I'd forgotten I was low on some supplies.  So yeah, only had enough for one yesterday.

These super cute pumpkin and leaves are in the scent Autumn Sunset, which is apparently a Scentsy dupe.  It's described on the oil supplier's site as 'Apples, pumpkins, fall leaves and warm spices. This is our interpretation of the scent made famous by Scentsy.'  This is SUCH an awesome scent for fall.  I would even consider placing a Scentsy order to get some of this in wax!

I usually just pour my soap into my plain ol' wooden molds and slice into plain ol' bars.  Since tiptoeing back into soap making after my year long hiatus, I've been more willing and wanting to play around with the cutesy silicone molds that had always angered me before.  I used to have tons of different molds but sold them all when I went out of business.  Kicking myself now!  (That one little Jack-o-lantern was the leftovers after filling the main mold, that's why he doesn't match.)

The other scents I will be making are . . .
  • Frosted Pumpkin - 'This is our interpretation of the Yankee Candle scent.  Notes of creamy pumpkin with ginger and nutmeg blend with vanilla frosting, maple sugar and a hint of citrusy lemon.'
  • Cranberry Chutney - 'Yankee candle duplicate. Scent of sweet cranberry chutney with hints of vanilla and spice.'  I prefer the Cranberry Spice scent that I used to make over this one, but this is still good.
  • Glistening Snow - 'This is our version of Glade's Glistening Snow fragrance. Fresh snow covered bayberries with undertones of cinnamon, clove and peppermint!'  Love this!  Since I just posted about Glade now coming out with wax melts, I hope they have this one when winter scents roll out.
  • Christmas Wishes - 'Warm vanilla sugar cookies, covered in sugary sprinkles, blended with notes of fresh balsam and a kiss of fresh lemon.'
  • Christmas Bliss - 'Balsam and pine blended with kisses of warm Christmas spices, holiday flowers and greenery.'  
The Christmas ones will all be regular bars because I don't have any Christmas molds and they won't be out in stores until after I need to have these made.  Bummer.

THESE molds, however, do not work.  My mother-in-law had gotten these Jello molds that you always see in the grocery stores.  She thought they'd make cute soaps because they are football themed . . .
. . . but no, this type does not work.  It is too stiff, you can't get the soaps out of the cavities . . .
I even tried prying them out with a knife but it only destroyed the soap's shape and still didn't get the soap out.  MAYBE if I'd sprayed the molds with Pam or some type of cooking spray, maybe then they'd have come out.  (Yep, I tried freezing them too.)  Oh well, it was more of a test to see how they'd work and now we know they won't.  Luckily it was only a half batch of plain goat milk soap.

I have several other 'everyday' scents waiting to be made too, but those will wait until after I get these holiday ones made.  Sometimes I miss having my Etsy shop. 

And then I remember how chaotic my life was in those days . . . LOL



Haul - Soap Up! (Tarts & Soap)

Blogger Courtney, over at the SugarLemonFizz blog, has an Etsy shop.  Did you know that?  It's called 'Soap Up!' and I think at some point I knew she had this shop, or knew she was getting started, but then for some reason I forgot about it.  A recent post on her own blog had me going 'Hey, wait, she has a shop?  And she sells TARTS?'  So of course I had to go check it out.  And of course I had to buy a few things even though I'm not supposed to be buying things.  (Operation Cut Spending has been great all year so far but sometimes we just get a little crabby about pinching pennies and allow ourselves a treat or two.)

What did I get???

Although I was originally looking through her shop to see her tarts, this soap caught my eye.  This is a Honey Vanilla Face Wash Bar, made with a hemp base and added honey.  I prefer traditional cold process soaps, especially goat milk soaps, and have always sort of poo-pooed the melt-n-pour soaps.  I've relaxed my views on it since giving up my own soap shop and getting lazy enough to fall back to commercial body washes.  Also, I usually use the slivers of whatever bar soaps have been used up in the shower as my face soap, and lately I've been finding that the really creamy cold process bars can be sort of heavy on my skin, especially now in the heat and humidity of summer.  So I've been alternating between my goat milk soap slivers and a commercial face wash every couple days.  Seeing this soap had me thinking it might be just what I need.

Ingredients are not listed on the packaging (wish they were), but this is a 4.5 oz. bar that sells for $4.75 in the Soap Up! shop.  I'm really looking forward to trying this!  I will do a more detailed review later, if anyone is interested.

Tarts!  YAY!  I don't like to place large orders when I'm first trying a shop, because what if I don't like the product?  Also, I just received my big order of tarts from that recent giveaway that I won, so I don't need a lot of other tarts at the moment.  But still . . . I had to get some, right?!
  • Half Baked - 'Mouth-watering cinnamon and brown sugar baked into moist cake with drizzled icing accord.'  Ohhhhh my gosh, this smells so freakin' good.  It's a warmly sweet, softly spicy bakery scent.
  • Blast Off! - 'Columbian coffee, spices, nut and vanilla buttercream.'  Another good one.  I don't get much coffee out of it on cold sniff, more of the hazelnut and creamy sweetness.
  • Cookie Crumbs - I don't see the scent description listed anymore.  Maybe she's out of this?  Just going by my nose on cold sniff, it's sweet and vanilla-y.  Makes me think of the stuffing in Oreos.  lol
These are different from what is shown in the Etsy shop.  Those are round tarts in black cups.  These are the oval shaped type, and come in clear cups.  These are cute.  I like 'em.  [Courtney has since let me know that she was temporarily out of the usual round black cups.]  They're listed as 2 oz. shots in the shop but the one I popped out to weigh came in at 1.5 oz.  They sell for $1.75.  On cold sniff they are quite strongly scented, so I'm hopeful they will perform well when melted.  The scent list is not huge like many other wax vendors, but there is a nice enough selection that it was easy for me to pick these and still see some others I'd like to try if these work out.  And who knows, maybe that list is continually growing?  Keep in mind, this is not strictly a wax shop.


I also received a freebie bottle of her 'organic hand sanitizing gel,' this one in Blue Slush scent.  I don't see a scent description for this in the shop but I'm assuming it's a 'slushie' type scent, which make the 'blue' probably a blue raspberry type thing.  It does smell sweet, like candy or Kool Aid.  I like it.  I've never been into hand sanitizers until just recently.  We're required to use it at work, but it's the approved, cheap, industrial crap full of alcohol and probably triclosan (or whatever that cancer causing chemical is).  It might kill the germs, but it also feels like it's killing the flesh on your hands.  Heh.  More recently around home though, I've found I wanted some sanitizer and just didn't have any.  And now I have some!  Have not tried this yet.  Again, there are no ingredients on the label, but I did find in the listing for this that it contains aloe vera gel, witch hazel, and fragrance.  No alcohol!.  Yay!  (This 1 oz. bottle sells for $1.00 in the shop.)

And that is my tiny first haul from Soap Up! over at Etsy.  There are several other things available in the shop, different soaps, some scrubs, crocheted soap sleeves, etc.  The business card mentions lip balms and solid perfumes but I don't see either in the shop at the moment.  I'm really curious about both of those!

Shipping was quick.  I ordered on Sunday evening and my package arrived in Thursday's mail.  Shipping cost was decent.  Everything arrived in perfect condition.  I had used a coupon code for 15% off at the time but I don't see that deal going now.  There is also a Soap Up! Facebook page HERE, if you're interested.

Have you tried Courtney's Soap Up! shop yet?

New! Glade - Wax Melts

Earlier this year, Febreze came out with a line of candles and wax melts, and that was pretty exciting.  Well now Glade has come out with their own wax melts.  Cool!  I saw several scents, pretty much whatever you find in their room sprays and other products, it looks like you can find in these wax melts.  The ones I saw today were . . .
  • Pure Vanilla Joy
  • Hawaiian Breeze
  • Clean Linen
  • Vanilla Passion Fruit
  • Wild Raspberry
  • Cashmere Woods
  • Fresh Berries
  • Lavender & Peach Blossom
  • Jubilant Rose
And there were combo packs of . . .
  • Vanilla Passion Fruit / Hawaiian Breeze
  • Jubilant Rose / Lavendar & Peach Blossom
  • Fresh Berries / Wild Raspberry
The packages are 3.1 oz., have 8 individual cubes, and sell for $2.98 at Walmart.   The packaging is like a typical clamshell, and they do pop open easily so you can sniff the wax.  Each of the cubes are already separated, not like other clamshells where you have to break them apart.  Not that breaking them apart is a big deal, but this is handy.  It doesn't say what kind of wax this is.  Kinda looks like soy, but maybe it's a para-soy blend?

One interesting thing on the inner label is that it mentions 'Glade wax melt warmers.'  When Febreze came out with theirs, they had cute little warmers on display right next to the wax.  I did not see any 'Glade wax melt warmers' at the display stand where these melts were.  Now I'm curious and will have to look around next time I'm there.

Another thing on the inner label is that it says 'Do not use more than one melt at a time.'  *snort*  C'mon, Glade . . . you gonna tell me how to use wax?  Hehe, I just had to laugh at that.

Obviously the one I bought is Pure Vanilla Joy.  I have two cubes (Don't tell Glade!) going in my tea light warmer (Don't tell Glade!) right now and am relieved to find these guys are quite strong.  This particular scent is sooooo yummy.  There is no scent description, but this seems like more than just vanilla to me.  It reminds me a lot of the Febreze Almond Sugar scent.  There is something almost sugar cookie-y about it.  I love it.

I know a lot of people don't care about the commercial brands of wax because they are loyal to the handcrafted market.  That's fine.  I, however, am not against trying these things as I come across them, especially now that more and more companies are coming out with tarts.  Sometimes it's just more convenient to be able to sniff something and know whether you like it or not, to happen across a new or seasonal scent and just buy it and have it instead of hunting it down in the private market and paying more (plus shipping) and waiting through increasingly long turn-around-times, only to find out when you receive it that it's not what you were hoping for.  I also think commercial brands are stepping up their game and making these things stronger now.  I will definitely be excited to see what fall/holiday scents they come out with in these little cubes!

So yeah, Glade now has wax melts.  Have you seen them?  Will you try them?  What scent most interests you?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Melted - Sweet Fixations / Freshly Bitten

Freshly Bitten- Fun fruity scent with notes of lime and orange,
slight fizzy notes, and a berry, cherry sweetness. 

First let me mention that Sweet Fixations owner Tia was having problems with her printer or something and her labels will look like this for a while . . . basic black, white, with pink logo, instead of the usual colorful round one with a scent related picture like we're all familiar with.

Anyway, if you kinda tip your head to the right and look at the tart in the pic, the white embed is actually a portion of vampire teeth.  See it?  Get it?  Goes along with the name Freshly Bitten?  That's cute and worth pointing out.

An-y-way!  I've had this scent before in handcrafted soap and I think maybe in tart form from some other vendor, and while I've always liked it, the sort of fizzy note was the one down note for me.  So when hubby picked this one while I was plotting my big gift certificate order, I was kind of blah about it.  He had it melting all day yesterday though and I was very surprised how much I liked it!  Well, I have always liked this scent but yesterday, this version or something just had me loving it.  The fizzy note is mild in here.  Hubby said he picked it up easily, but for me it almost wasn't even noticeable.  I liked that because it didn't distract from the bright, cheery, fruity scent.  You do get the orange and the cherry and the lime.  There is sweetness, and just a bit of tart, a bit of zing.  It's a juicy sweet, like punch.  I really really like this one!

Hubby melted this entire 1 oz. tart in a tea light warmer in the living room, which is on one end of the house.  I could easily smell this throughout the house, and even picked up traces of it when I was outside, doing some yard work near the living room windows.  In the room the warmer was in, this was a strong scent.  It was not overpowering though, just very there on a 'What's that fun scent?' level.  In other rooms it was a lighter scent but still easily noticed.  And it was long lasting!  We melted it three times (12 hours) and it was only at the end of the third melt that the scent finally started to die out.

This is an awesome summer scent without being the usual tropical type.  This would be good year-round as a bright pick-me-up when you're sick of pumpkin and cinnamon scents, and when you're tired of being cooped up for winter.  I will definitely repurchase this one!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Read - That Summer

That Summer
by Sarah Dessen
1996
198 pages

For fifteen-year-old Haven, there's just too much going on.  First, there's her father's wedding to Lorna Queen, the local television "Weather Pet."  Then her sister Ashley's wedding to boring Lewis Warsher, who doesn't seem to suit Ashley at all.  And Haven can't ignore the fact that she's nearly six feet tall and still growing.  Haven can barely figure out who she is anymore or where she fits in.  Then Ashley's old boyfriend, Sunmer Lee, shows up and sparks Haven's memories of the summer when her parents were happy, her sister was plucky and carefree, and everything was perfect . . . or so it seemed.

One thing I have learned this year as I've become more aware of the book community online is that people looooove Sarah Dessen books.  She has twelve books out now.  They all seem to be sort of light and quick, usually about teenage summer romance or something contemporary.  They are stand-alone novels, and don't seem to be huge beasts of books.  Perfect!  I decided I would start with her first book and work my way all the way through to the most recent, which was just released a month or so ago.

Well, hmm.  I'm really struggling with how to rate this book.   I want to give it three stars because it's not really *bad* . . . I have read much worse things . . . but I want to give it two stars because there just didn't seem to be a point to this story.  Haven is fifteen and doesn't she feel like she fits in anywhere this particular summer.  Things are happening all around her, like her father getting remarried, and her sister about to get married, and her best friend having her first boyfriend and breaking up, and the neighborhood celebrity having a breakdown, and someone having a baby, and wonderful Sumner Lee coming back to town.  There are just all these events that Haven is on the fringe of, and you keep waiting for 'the main event,' whether it be Haven falling in love herself or whatever.  Anything.  Something!  But it's always just Haven observing these things going on around her.

There seemed to be inconsistencies in all characters, like they were never fully defined or developed.  Things that were happening seemed big at the moment but then just fizzled out, never to be mentioned again as the next thing came up.  The whole thing just seemed very . . . incomplete.  This is Sarah Dessen's first book and it kinda shows.  I'm wondering if her books get better as she becomes a more seasoned writer?  I'm totally undecided at the moment whether I want to read anything else by her if they're all going to be like this first one.

So while this story wasn't *bad* it was lacking.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Won It - Sweet Fixations

The other part of my prize from the giveaway over at the Fragrance Obsessed blog finally has arrived!  (You can read about the giveaway and the first part of the prize in my post ... HERE.)  This part of the prize was a $50 gift certificate to one of the handful of vendors she had listed.  Since Sweet Fixations was on that list, that was my obvious choice.  Woohoo!

It took me several days to decide what to order.  Did I want to stock up on scents I already knew I liked?  Did I want to try some of the other styles of tarts available from Sweet Fixations?  Or did I want to use this to try more scents I have not tried yet?  In the end, I went with trying new scents.  Sweet Fixations has free shipping on orders of $50 or more, so I didn't have to worry about factoring shipping costs into my total.  You also get a free four pack of randomly chosen scents with orders of $40 or more if you mention it in the comments.  So yeah, I was getting as much out of this gift certificate as I could!  (I could have maybe gotten a few more if I'd used her Pick 5, or 10, or 20 option, but didn't feel that ambitious in the end.)

Once I finally had my order figured out, there was a problem with the gift certificate code.  A few more days passed emailing back and forth and trying new codes that Tia sent me.  We eventually got things worked out though.  And then it was just waiting.  I ordered on the morning of June 18, and received my order on July 1.

I hear you all, 'Yeah yeah yeah, what did you get already?!'  So, I'll just get to it!  This will be a long list, so I'm not going to comment on individual scents.  More detailed thoughts will come in my individual Melted posts as I melt each one.

In no particular order, here we gooooooo..............

 - Blue Raspberry Icee- Sweet and tart cold blue raspberry slushie.
 - Vanilla Pound Cake - (SF Blend)-So rich and creamy with hints of butter! Great cake scent!
 - Cherry Slushie- Strong, sweet frozen drink. Sweet and tangy cherry.
 - Caribbean Salsa- Blend of sweet pineapples, peach, yuzu, and vanilla. You'll definitely love this!
 - Sugar Cookie - Warm, crisp, vanilla cookie. The BEST Sugar Cookie Scent!!
 - Orange Cuppy Cake - (SF Blend)- Creamy orange cake with a hint of vanilla and frosting.
 - Jelly Donut- Sweet fried dough glazed with vanilla sugar and yummy strawberry jam.
 - Strawberry Shortcake- Sugared strawberries, sweet vanilla cake, and whipped cream.
 - Bear Claws- Sweet flaky pastry with raisin, nuts, and yeast dough.
 - Lemon Almond Cake - (SF Blend)- Almond cake with hints of rum, topped with a lemon glaze.
 - Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes - (SF Blend)- Sweet and juicy raspberry and lemon glaze on a sugary vanilla cupcake.
 - Cookie Jar- Smells of cookies baking in the oven with a dash of cinnamon and clove.
 - Butterscotch Cookies - (SF Blend)- Butterscotch and sugar cookies.
 - Orange Cream Cupcake- Orange peels,warm cake, lemon creamsickle frosting, buttercream, rum, chocolate and vanilla extract. Yum!
 - Vanilla Buttercream Crunch- OMG, this scent is great a rich and buttery toffee, with vanilla and crunchy nuts.
 - Lemon Drop Cookies - (SF Blend)- Buttery lemon cookies sprinkled with sugar.
 - Banana Caramel Pound Cake - (SF Blend)- Warm bananas, caramel sauce, and spice baked into a fresh yellow pound cake.
 - Dreamsicle- Vanilla ice cream and orange.
  - Mint Chocolate Chip- Refreshing mint ice cream with chunks of chocolate chips.
 - Lemon Buttercream - (SF Blend)- Lemon juice squeezed into sweet buttercream frosting.
 - Blueberry Muffins- Fresh blueberries blended with vanilla cake.
 - Almond Rum Cake- Yummy cake with chopped almonds, vanilla extract, dark rum, and vanilla.
 - Cinnamon Streusel Cake - (SF Blend)-Cinnamon swirled with caramelized sugar and cake.
 - Coconut Cream Pie- Fresh coconut with creamy vanilla.
 - Cinnamon Sugar Donuts- Warmed dough topped with caramelized sugar and other spices.
 - Ice Cream Scoop Bread- Sweet buttercream vanilla ice cream with crushed almond and topped with chocolate cookie dough crumbles.
 - Cherry Lemonade - (SF Blend)- Sweet cherries and lemonade. Great blend!
 - Orange Chiffon Cake- Warm orange cake blended with creamy vanilla batter, hazelnut, syrup, and citrus.
 - Buttercream Cupcakes - (SF Blend)- Sweet cake icing and buttery yellow cake.
 - Pancakes and Berries- Buttermilk pancakes with sweet berries.
 - Go Bananas- Fun fragrance with ripened bananas mixed with crisp apples, creamy caramel, and toffee bits.
 - Yuzu- A Japanese grapefruit. Grapefruit with a hint of mandarin.
 - Creamy Orange- Vanilla ice cream, sweet pineapples, oranges, and fruits.
 - Lemon Pound Cake- Lemon baked into a fluffy cake and topped with drizzling sugar glaze.
 - Lavender Rose - (SF Blend)- Wonderful, relaxing lavender rounded out with rose.
 - Freshly Bitten- Fun fruity scent with notes of lime and orange. Slight fizzy notes and a berry, cherry sweetness.
 - Sweet Tooth- Sugary butter cookie with sweet frosting, cherries, powdered sugar and candy sprinkles.
 - Raspberry Lemon Squares - (SF Blend)- Sweet raspberries and tart lemons baked into a warm buttery crust.
 - Funnel Cake- Yummy combo of fried dough sprinkles with cinnamon and sugar.
 - Serendipity Cake - (SF Blend)-Sugary serendipity and birthday cake.

My four freebies (chosen by Sweet Fixations owner, Tia)........
 - Vanilla Buttercream Crunch- OMG, this scent is great a rich and buttery toffee, with vanilla and crunchy nuts.
 - Caribbean Salsa- Blend of sweet pineapples, peach, yuzu, and vanilla. You'll definitely love this! 
 - Violet and Birch- Strong, intriguing blend of white birch, violet, orchid with a musky base. Beautiful scent. 
- Tulip- Very lovely strong scent, not overly floral.

And two samples I received .............
- Grapefruit- Sweet, juicy, and freshing grapefuit with a tangy zest. 
- Jasmine Tea- Green tea leaves and fresh jasmine petals.

See any favorites in there? Anything you're curious about? I can't wait to start melting them! Since I haven't been melting as much lately, this order will probably get me through long enough to where my next order will be those ohhh so wonderful fall and holiday scents! WOOOOT!!!!

Read - Wilderness

Wilderness
by Lance Weller
2012
291 pages

Thirty years after the Civil War's Battle of the Wilderness left him maimed, Abel Truman has found his way to the edge of the continent, the rugged, majestic coast of Washington State, where he lives alone in a driftwood shack with his beloved dog. Wilderness is the story of Abel, now an old and ailing man, and his heroic final journey over the snowbound Olympic Mountains. It's a quest he has little hope of completing but still must undertake to settle matters of the heart that predate even the horrors of the war.

As Abel makes his way into the foothills, the violence he endures at the hands of two thugs who are after his dog is crosscut with his memories of the horrors of the war, the friends he lost, and the savagery he took part in and witnessed. And yet, darkness is cut by light, especially in the people who have touched his life-from Jane Dao-Ming Poole, the daughter of murdered Chinese immigrants, to Hypatia, an escaped slave who nursed him back to life, and finally to the unbearable memory of the wife and child he lost as a young man. Haunted by tragedy, loss, and unspeakable brutality, Abel has somehow managed to hold on to his humanity, finding way stations of kindness along his tortured and ultimately redemptive path.

In its contrasts of light and dark, wild and tame, brutal and tender, and its attempts to reconcile a horrific war with the great evil it ended, Wilderness tells not only the moving tale of an unforgettable character, but a story about who we are as human beings, a people, and a nation. Lance Weller's immensely impressive debut immediately places him among our most talented writers
.

*** MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, the first I've ever won there.  It was sent to me by Bloomsbury, and while a review is considered a courtesy for receiving the book for free, it was not required.  But of course I'm going to review it!

I struggled with this book in the beginning, and almost gave up early on, but I stuck with it and by the end I was sobbing and gave it five out of five stars.  After reading so many YA paranormal romance type books lately, most of which don't require much brain action (lol), it was quite a shift to get into this one.  First, it's written in sort of an old time way.  Words and word arrangements were not always as we'd know them to be in today's way of speaking and writing.  It took a lot of mental discipline to focus on what was really being said.  I'd skimmed some reviews of this book early on and one in particular sticks in my mind because the person was ranting about how the author didn't know a thing about grammar and couldn't form a proper sentence.  Ha!  Well, obviously that person is not familiar with 'old speak.'  (I don't know how else to describe it.  Hopefully you know what I mean.)

Another concern I had early on was that I have very strong emotions when it comes to animal stories.  I knew this story was going to be about this man's relationship with his dog but when I read something very early on, just one part of one sentence in the prologue hinting at something, I almost quit reading on the spot.  And when I did keep reading, I lived in fear of getting to part where I suspected something horrible and gut-wrenching would be happening.  In the end, the part I feared was different and a much smaller thing than my mind had blown it up into but still ... I was sobbing.  Not just 'Oh that's so sad,' tears as I continued reading, but put the book down absolute body shaking sobbing because by this point in the story you'd come to know the characters so well.  It felt like I had taken part in it.  Ohhh, it was sad but it was wonderful in a weird sort of way because it had tapped into such real emotion.

Anyway, the story does jump back and forth from 1864 when main character Abel was in the Civil War, to 1899 when Abel is living alone in the wilderness.  Sometimes I found myself getting so caught up in the story that I had to stop and think of which year I was in.  Usually it wasn't a problem because the war chapters had different characters and, obviously, different situations than the wilderness chapters.  Later on though, when Abel is dealing with injuries and tragedies in both time periods, that's where it would momentarily become 'Wait, where am I?'  But it was never enough to ruin the story.

There is brutality in this story.  There is some scattered graphic detail.  Overall though it is not a gore infested sickening book.  Not at all.  It is a war story in the 1800s and there were harsh realities back then.  There were some disturbing choices that needed to be made.  The author doesn't dwell on such things though, just presents them as they are and keeps the story moving.  This style also doesn't lay out the whole story neat and simple as you read.  You get bits of information about things, and get a few more bits about it as it comes again later in conversations or memories, and in the end you might only have enough info to let you form your own conclusion.  Sometimes you're left wondering just as the characters are.

One silly problem I had while reading this book was that very early on the picture of main character Abel Truman that formed in my head was actor Danny Glover.  That's just great and wonderful, and it stuck with me the whole entire book, but the problem is ... Abel was a white man.  I tried to force Danny Glover out of my head by trying to imagine other actors such as Liam Neeson or Kevin Costner but it just never worked.  That was funny to me and by the end I'd just given up and let Abel 'be' Danny Glover.

One other small problem I had was the wolf.  What was the point of the wolf?  It seems it was supposed to be symbolic of something, it almost seemed to be watching over the characters and leading in the paths they needed to go.  I know this wolf was supposed to be the dog that got away from two thugs, but I just never understood why it was this sort of guardian angel, if it was real at all ... ?

So in the end, I loved this book.  I'm glad I stuck with it.  I highly recommend it but I also know it's just not for everyone.  It is most definitely not a light and easy read.  And you might be tempted to give up in the beginning, but stick with it!  It is quite a deep and touching story.