Saturday, April 30, 2016

Read - Escape From Wolfhaven Castle

Escape From Wolfhaven Castle
(The Impossible Quest - Book One)
by Kate Forsyth
2014
185 pages

'Tell your lord to beware; the wolves smell danger in the wind...

Wolfhaven Castle has been attacked, and only four escape capture... Tom, trained to scrub pots, not fight; Elanor, the lord's daughter; Sebastian, a knight in training; and Quinn, the witch's apprentice.


Somehow, if they are to save their people, these unlikely heroes must find four magical beasts from legend and awaken the sleeping warriors of the past. But first, they have to make it out of the castle alive...
'

I'd never heard of this series, knew nothing about it, and happened to stumble upon it while browsing the catalog of books for a book party my sister hosted recently.  I'm all about castles and witches and such.  I saw that these are middle grade books, and short, and was all over that.  Sometimes I really enjoy the ease of younger reader books.  You get a nice quick story without being bogged down in a lot of details and side stories, without having to work your brain too hard.  And for me, with a million things screaming for attention in my brain, quick and easy is sometimes the perfect  brain cleanse.

I ordered the whole series (five books) from the book party and have finished reading the first.  When they say this series is for middle grade readers, I'd say it's a very easy level middle grade.  It was still quite an interesting story though.  Quick and simple, yet clever in places.  There are hints of violence and possible death but it doesn't go into details, just enough to know what's going on without loading you down with more troublesome facts.  It is for younger readers, remember.  But even in this quick pace, you do get to know the characters quite well.  And there was even some mystery.

Our little group of heroes is sort of thrown together in desperate circumstances as the castle is attacked.  They come from different situations in life, from lowly cook's son Tom, to arrogant squire Sebastian, privileged Elanor, and mystical Quinn.  There is bad blood between Tom and Sebastian right from the beginning, when Tom bests Sebastian in a ball game.  Sebastian's arrogance clouds his judgement, and he has a hard time accepting that a simple servant's child might be smarter than him.  Elanor is sort of cliche wimpy and goody-goody, but she's coming around.  And Quinn might be the most interesting one of all.  She's smart and strong and not afraid to put boys in their place.  They make an interesting little group as they are forced to learn to deal with each other and work together.

In this first book, we get to know these four kids a bit before the castle is attacked and they are forced to flee to save themselves.  Their goal is to try and find help, but the castle witch has told them there is a much bigger mission before them.  They must gather the items and wake the 'sleeping warriors of the past' if there is any hope of saving the castle and their loved ones.  This first book has them on a desperate journey through tunnels and caves, on a mysterious boat on a river, and seeking food, shelter, and help at another castle they find.  This castle is cold and creepy and seemingly empty though.  Was it really a good idea to stop here?

I really enjoyed this story and have immediately started on the second book.

Have you read The Impossible Quest series?  Or even heard of it?
Do you read younger, middle grade books?

Melted - Country Lane Keepsakes / Pistachio Pineapple Salad

Pistachio Pineapple Salad - 'A holiday favorite with my family. Pistachio nut pudding, fresh crushed pineapple, almonds, vanilla, whipped cream and marshmallows.'
 
Almond haters should stay away from this one.  The almond note is the strongest, with the sweet pineapple trying it's best to keep up.  I didn't get much creaminess but there is, in some unexplainable way, a sort of softness to the overall scent.  The whipped cream and marshmallows must be working hard in the background to soften the edges of the almond and pineapple.   I like this but yeah, it's a strong almond blend.

I melted this 1 oz. tart in my Glade hot plate warmer and had strong scent.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Haul - Rosegirls / Mini Melters

I placed a small order for Rosegirls mini melters back on March 3.  I received the order on April 27.  I chose the 6 oz. bags, which cost $7.00 each.  These four bags came in a padded priority envelope, and shipping was $6.10.

Let's see what I got!

Bananas Foster - [no scent description]
Descriptions of this scent from other sources generally include bananas, caramel, brown sugar, and sometimes rum or cinnamon.  I've enjoyed this type of scent in the past so I thought I'd try the Rosegirls version.  Mmmm!  It's so yummy on cold sniff!  There is banana, but there is a lot more caramel and brown sugar.  Oh, I hope this will strong because it's mouth wateringly delicious!

Nilla Strawberry Noel - [no scent description]
I've had this before and remember absolutely loving it, so when I saw it in the mini melters list, I snagged a bag.  Sooo good!  It's sort of a warm cookie scent with just hints of sweet strawberry.  It kinda reminds me of those pink sugar wafer cookies, but a bit deeper.

Vanilla Bean Noel - [no scent description]
If I remember correctly, VBN is a mix of vanilla, toffee, cookie, and maybe caramel or something.  I found myself really loving the scent last Christmas so I must have thought I'd still be loving it when I ordered this bag of mini melters.  It is a nice scent, a deep vanilla-caramel bakery scent.  I think there is musk in it too...?  But at the moment I'm not digging it like I was back at Christmas.  I'll set it aside and see how I feel about it when fall rolls around again.

Streuselkuchen - [no scent description]
Who doesn't love the Rosegirls Strueselchoochoo?!  In reality, streuselkuchen is a German coffee cake.  In Rosegirls wax it is a delicious softly spiced, super cozy bakery scent.  It is cake-like, or maybe even sugar cookie-like.  It's just freakin' delicious and I'm happy to have a bag of it.

And that is my order.
Have you ordered any Rosegirls mini melters lately?
What are some of your favorites?


Melted - Country Lane Keepsakes / Sweet Sugar Cookie

Sweet Sugar Cookie - 'Warm Sugar cookies with a dusting of those large sugar drops across the top.'
 
This was very nice.  A cozy, welcoming type scent.  I've had some really deep, rich sugar cookie scents before.  This is on the sweeter side, as you'd guess from the name.  This is not quite as heavy and buttery, but more sugary.  Still very nice though.  I'd like to try this again but add a bit of peppermint to it around the holidays, and see how that is.
 
I melted this 0.8 oz. tart in my Glade hot plate warmer and had strong scent throughout the downstairs of my house.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Melted - Glitter Garden Farm / Misc. Wax


I was contacted recently by Candace, of Glitter Garden Farm, and she wondered if I'd like to try her products in exchange for a review on the blog.  I almost said no because as I browsed her Etsy shop I noticed almost all of the scents were floral or spa scents, and that's just not my thing.  Chitchatting a bit through email, we did come up with a few foodie type scents for me to try.

When I received a very small package from her, I was confused and frustrated.  They were indeed the scents we'd discussed but two of the tarts were tiny.  Seriously.  Two of the tarts were only 0.3 oz. each.  What was I supposed to do with such tiny amounts?  She offered her products for me to review, so I expected at least enough to work with.  But, I soldiered on and melted them as I would any other tart.

Coffee House - 'All the lovely scents of walking into a coffee shop. Fresh roasted coffee beans with touches of mocha, espresso and cream.'
This little star is one of the 0.3 oz. tarts I received.  I melted it in my tea light warmer and was actually surprised that it packed quite a punch.  I would say it was a lighter medium strength in the room the warmer was in, and I could smell it lightly in an adjacent room.  The scent was nice, an obvious coffee scent but slightly toned down.  That tell-tale bitter note that is common in coffee scents was minimal.  There was a bit of sweetness and the tiniest bit of creaminess.
 
Happy Birthday - 'Moist vanilla cake and buttercream icing combine to create this sweet smelling celebration melt.'
 This is the other of the tiny 0.3 oz. tarts I received for review.  The scent was rather light on cold sniff, and with such a tiny amount to melt I wasn't too surprised that I didn't really smell anything.  There was the tiniest hint of something sweet, almost perfume-y, when the furnace kicked on or the air was stirred up but in general, no, this was just too light.  Maybe a larger chunk would have worked better.

Saturday Breakfast - 'Scents of fruity cereal with a touch of berries and sweet cream on top.'
This is normal sized tart, right around 1 oz. and much easier to review.  The name cracked me up because I would always think it was something like pancakes, maple, something along those lines, but then I'd sniff and it would be sweet.  I finally had to look up the description and had a 'Duh!' moment when I saw it was fruity cereal instead.  Oops, my bad!  This isn't like the usual Fruit Loops type scent.  The fruity-candy sweetness is stronger than the cereal note, although that note is still there.  I melted this in my tea light warmer and lighter-medium scent that traveled to the adjacent room as well.
 
Strawberry Jam - 'A warm, nostalgic scent. Sweet strawberry jam that was freshly made and canned!'
I also received a bath bomb because I'd asked about this scent but she said she did not have it in wax. (Although I do see it in wax now on her site.)  I have not used it yet, and I'm not a bath bomb expert by any means anyway, but the scent is nice.  It's a sweet, sugary strawberry.  I like this type of strawberry scent more than the fresh picked strawberry type.

I'm not sure if Candace was only looking for review of the actual wax melts, or everything overall like packaging and presentation.  I'm going to offer that anyway.  These items had a simple and clean presentation.  The wax was crisp and clean, easy to handle, not smooshed or old looking.  The two smaller tarts were in tiny zip-top bags.  The larger one was wrapped in regular plastic wrap with a label sticker holding it together.  I do know a lot of people get crazy about what their wax is packaged in for fear of the plastic sucking the scent out, so this saran wrap might not sit well with wax snobs.  The bath bomb was also wrapped in plastic wrap.

The Glitter Garden Farm Etsy shop is inconsistent.  Pricing seems to vary with little rhyme or reason, and information is often lacking or even misleading.  There is an option for wax 'crumbles,' where a 4 oz. tin is $2.96.  That's seems to be a steal!  But then there are listing for those little shaped tarts like I received, and the listing says you'll receive four shaped tarts for $2.33.  If one of those shapes is only 0.3 oz., then four of them would be 1.2 oz., right?  $2.33 for an ounce of wax is quite high.  Then there are also listings showing two of the larger type tarts like I received, for $1.54.  Well, that's great, right?  Except if you read through the listing description, you'll see you only get ONE of those tarts.  $1.54 for one ounce of wax is more reasonable but still rather high, AND showing two in the picture is misleading.  I also noticed that the copy/pasted general information in each listing is also misleading because it often refers to the tarts being 1.5 oz., but this is used on listings featuring everything from those tiny tarts to clamshells.  I also noticed that this small package of items to try has been listed as a sale in her shop.  I understand wanting to boost the sales number to reassure potential new customers, but doing that way is also misleading.  One last little thought is that while I understand her having a lot of floral scents because it's spring right now, I think it would be to her advantage to also keep other scent types available for those (like me) who don't like florals.  A potential customer might be lost if they are limited to one type of scent.

I'm happy to have been able to try Glitter Garden Farm's products and I thank Candace for that opportunity.  The wax itself was fine and I hope to try that bath bomb soon.  Hopefully the Etsy shop can be tweaked and cleaned up as she settles in.  And hopefully her scent list grows to include more types over time.

Have you tried Glitter Garden Farms?

[As mentioned, these products were provided free for review.]

 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Read - Demigods & Magicians (Percy Jackson)

Demigods & Magicians
(Percy And Annabeth Meet The Kanes)
by Rick Riordan
2016
187 pages

'Magic, monsters, and mayhem abound when Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase meet Carter and Sadie Kane for the first time. Weird creatures are appearing in unexpected places, and the demigods and magicians have to team up to take them down. As they battle with Celestial Bronze and glowing hieroglyphs, the four heroes find that they have a lot in common--and more power than they ever thought possible. But will their combined forces be enough to foil an ancient enemy who is mixing Greek and Egyptian incantations for an evil purpose? Rick Riordan wields his usual storytelling magic in this adrenaline-fueled adventure.'

I'm not sure why I grabbed this off the shelf and tossed it into my cart so quickly while shopping.  It's just a small book, only 187 pages, made up of three short stories.  I don't usually get into all of the companion books and things that come out along with series that I like.  And after I got it home and was looking at it a little more I realized, duh, these are the same short stories that were already included in some of the Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicles books.

The Son of Sobek is when Percy first meets Carter Kane, and was included as a bonus in The Serpent's Shadow (Kane Chronicles, Book three).

The Staff of Serapis is Annabeth first meeting Sadie Kane, and was included as a bonus in The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus, Book Three).

The Crown of Ptolemy is Percy and Annabeth meeting up with Carter and Sadie to defeat a crazy dude who is trying to make himself a god, and was included as a bonus in The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus, Book Four).

I'd never read those bonus short stories at the time so I went ahead and read them now, in this book I didn't really need to buy.  lol  I kinda like the book itself though.  It's smaller, only 5.5 x 7 inches, with deckled edge pages.  It reminds me of a spellbook or journal or something.  It will look cool on the shelf along with the rest of the Percy Jackson books.  There are even eight pages of artwork in it.

Since the stories are just short, there isn't much to review.  They are written in the usual sassy humor of the Percy Jackson books.  Our Greek heroes and our Egyptian heroes must find ways to work together to defeat the threats of evil in each of the stories.  The stories are just quick servings of the things we already know and love about the worlds Rick Riordan has created.

There are also previews of the new Magnus Chase book, which introduces us to the Norse gods, and a preview of the soon to be released Trials of Apollo series, which I'm quite anxious to get as well.

Are you a fan of Percy Jackson?
Do you enjoy these types of little extra stories?

Watched - Star Wars 1-7

This is probably going to really date me but I saw the original Star Wars in the theater when it originally came out.  I never remembered too much about it because my friend and I spent more time running back and forth getting drinks and snacks than actually watching the movie.  Over the many years since then I had seen bits and pieces of that one again, along with bits and pieces of the next two that had come out.  When the next trilogy came around, the prequels, we did go see the first two in the theater because we'd thought Ty and Casey would be into them.  And now that there are once again new ones coming out, I thought maybe it was time I finally sit down and watch them all, completely and in order.  Luckily, Netflix actually had them all available, so hubby and I have spent the past week and half or two watching Star Wars.

I thought I'd do quicky summaries instead of a post for each movie.
Keep in mind, these are the thoughts of a very casual fan.  Space and sci-fi is really not my area of interest, so these were watched with the most innocent and clueless eyes.  lol

Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace
1999

'Two Jedi Knights escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to reclaim their old glory.'

This is the one I remembered the most about.  I think we actually saw this twice in the theater.  And this is probably still my favorite of all of the movies so far.  I really liked Qui-Gon Jinn and his Jedi-ness.  I liked little Anakin and seeing the beginnings of his story.


Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones
2002

'Ten years after initially meeting, Anakin Skywalker shares a forbidden romance with Padmé, while Obi-Wan investigates an assassination attempt on the Senator and discovers a secret clone army crafted for the Jedi.'

We saw this one in the theater too but I didn't remember nearly as much about it.  Once again, Anakin's part of the story is what I liked most, seeing how and why he progresses down that path to becoming Darth Vader.

Episode 3 - Revenge of the Sith
2005

'During the near end of the clone wars, Darth Sidious has revealed himself and is ready to execute the last part of his plan to rule the Galaxy. Sidious is ready for his new apprentice, Lord Vader, to step into action and kill the remaining Jedi. Vader, however, struggles to choose the dark side and save his wife or remain loyal to the Jedi order.'

This might make me a creepy old lady but dang Anakin was hot in this one!  This would have been my favorite of all the movies but the end absolutely killed it for me.  Chopping off Anakin's arm and both legs and letting him catch fire?  A bit over-the-top dumb, no?!  And then pretty much rebuilding him as a cyborg?  I liked Darth Vader better when I thought he was just a mysterious and powerful human.  But anyway, watching Anakin's continued struggle was heartbreaking.
Episode 4 - A New Hope
1977

'Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a wookie and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire's world-destroying battle-station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader.'

And now we're back to the ancient original Star Wars.  I knew this would be cringe-worthy because of the now-cheesy special effects and bad acting but wow, I had no idea how bad it would be.  LOL
It was interesting to see how they tied things together, and amusing to see the powerful Darth Vader seemingly dress down to a more simple look.  I didn't really care too much about the story or the characters at this point.

Episode 5 - The Empire Strikes Back
1980

'After the rebels have been brutally overpowered by the Empire on their newly established base, Luke Skywalker takes advanced Jedi training with Master Yoda, while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader as part of his plan to capture Luke.'

This one bored me to death.  I honestly dozed off at one point.  There were so many annoying things that it was hard for me to even keep track of the story.  The snarky banter between Leia and Han got old a long time ago.  Luke seemed to learn the ways of the Jedi in about a day.  Yoda  was like some insane little creepy thing, not at all like the calm, wise elder we'd come to know in the first three episodes.  And Chewbacca's constant whiny voice became SO freaking annoying!  And I had to laugh because a coworker had told me this was his favorite of all the episodes.  Gah!
Episode 6 - Return of the Jedi
1983

'After rescuing Han Solo from the palace of Jabba the Hutt, the rebels attempt to destroy the second Death Star, while Luke struggles to make Vader return from the dark side of the Force.'

This one bored me too, and I felt myself nodding off again.  The only thing that really interested me was the smaller part of the story where Darth Vader might have actually still had some internal struggles in his choice of alignment.  I did not realize that Darth Vader dies in this one?!  That caught me totally off guard!  And it would have been so much better if, when they removed his mask, he hadn't looked like some puffy, wimpy, ugly thing.  What the heck was that?!  Jedi Luke did not compare to Jedis  of old at all.  Qui-Gon Jinn seemed wise and powerful in everything he did and said.  Luke just seemed like some dorky young man who could do parlor tricks once in a while.
Episode 7 - The Force Awakens
2015

'Three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a ragtag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance.'

The newest of all the episodes, I almost didn't watch this one after how bored I'd become with the previous two, especially after Darth Vader died.  I was like "What's left to care about?!"  But a couple people insisted I keep watching, and I must say, I'm glad I did.  I really liked this one!  I liked it because we're back to better special effects and whatnot, and also because the story is all new.  Yes, we did have some old familiar characters, but the new characters steal the show.  The dark side is still trying to gain control but it's all new players so it was interesting.  The 'new Darth Vader,' Kylo Ren is kinda cool.  I really liked the new girl, Rey.  I'm curious to see what her backstory is, who her Jedi parent will be.  Although only in the movie for a very short and silent time, Luke Skywalker looks cooler now in his old age than he ever did in his 'prime.'  And what's up with Carrie Fisher's (Leia) face?!  It looked frozen, like there was bad plastic surgery or botox in her past.  But yes, I'm glad I watched and I'm actually looking forward to the next episode, which comes out . . . next year?
------------------------------------------------
Some lump sum thoughts . . . 

While I liked the newer ones because everything just *looks* better, I think the stories in the newer ones are better.  Episodes 1 and 2 seemed to really show more of what was going on in the galaxy and on the different planets, showing more of the struggles against this rising dark force.  The stories seemed more solid and serious.  The original trilogy, the older movies, seemed more like adventure romps full of cheesy dialogue and bad acting.  It seemed like they were just hopping form one sticky situation to another and I never really got a feeling that there were bigger problems in the world beyond them trying to rescue each other.  And then in the newest everything shifted back to the more solid story-telling again.

Whether sci-fi space, medieval fantasy, or teen wizardry, the struggle between good and bad, light and dark is the same.  Seeing Christopher Lee as Count Dooku, in his battle for power, was so similar to Christopher Lee as Saruman in Lord of the Rings in his battle for power.  Anakin's struggles could be compared to Harry Potter's.  I liked that about these movies, that even though they were all futuristic spacey sci-fi, the stories and the struggles were still relatable.

Oh!  I knew the older trilogy was remastered but I didn't realize they were altered!
At the end of Return of the Jedi, the 'ghosts' of Obi Wan, Yoda, and Anakin are seen looking over Luke.  And it was Hayden Christensen's Anakin they showed!  What was it originally?!
There was another spot earlier on, maybe not even in Return of the Jedi, where I'd wondered if they'd gone back an altered things but I can't remember now what that part was.  But then seeing Hayden Christensen in that part at the end really had me wondering what other little things might have been tweaked?!

Oh yeah, one more funny little thing.
I was laughing as we watched either Episode 5 or 6, and said "I can't believe such a strong following was ever created when it was this cheesy crap that started it all."  I mean, yeah, back then the effects were amazing and the story was probably pretty darn interesting.  But when you now have the newer ones, much more solid in every way, and look back at the older ones, it really is amazing that huge following ever took off.  lol

I'm still not a huge Star Wars fan because space and sci-fi just aren't my thing, but I am glad to have finally worked my way through these movies.

Are you a Star Wars fan?
Which episode is your favorite?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Read - Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices - Book One)

Lady Midnight
(The Dark Artifices - Book One)
by Cassandra Clare
2016
669 pages

'The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.
'

 *** MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

It's been nearly two years since we've had a new Shadowhunters novel and I was ready to get back to that world.  That makes me laugh a bit because going way back to the beginning of the Shadowhunters books, it was a struggle for me to get into them.  Now here I am, anxiously devouring this newest one.  Although when I saw this was nearly 700 pages I was a little bummed.  I don't like huge books.

I really enjoyed this one!  I think for the first two-thirds or so this was my favorite of ALL the Shadowhunters books so far.  The story shifts from the familiar New York institute to the Los Angeles institute where Emma and the Blackthorn family are based.  We get to know some new characters along the way, including Cristina and Diego, who are Mexican Shadowhunters, and Malcom Fade, who is the High Warlock of L.A. and a sort of bumbling equivalent to Magnus Bane.  This series follows Emma and Julian, but what really made this book interesting to me was the return of Mark, Julian's brother who had been taken by the Wild Hunt, which is part of the fairy world.

Emma is determined to figure out who killed her parents and why.  She comes across some information in a place she shouldn't be, and that sets off the events of this story.  It seems there have been more murders lately, similar to what had happened to her parents.  It has to be related, right?!  And she's determined to solve this case.  Since events from the last Shadowhunters book (City of Heavenly Fire) have left relations between the Shadowhunters and the fairies quite strained, Emma would be in trouble if the Clave (Shadowhunters government) found out what she was doing.  The fairies work out a shaky deal with Emma and Julian.  They return stolen brother Mark to offer assistance in the investigation, and if the case is solved Mark will get to choose whether he wants to stay with his Blackthorn family or return to the Wild Hunt.  And it is HIS struggle that really sucked me into this book.

Mark has been gone five years in human time, but time runs differently in the land of the fairies.  He was a teen when he was taken.  He's a young adult now when he's returned.  He is half fairy, which is why he was taken, but he's also half human, which is why he's returned.  Does no one really want him?  His years of riding with the Wild Hunt have hardened him, turned him almost feral.  He's been beaten and tortured and brainwashed . . . and now dumped back into the human world with a family that he no longer knows.  His struggle is heartbreaking.

The other big storyline in this book is the budding . . . and forbidden . . . romance between Emma and Julian.  We all knew this was coming, right?  These two have known each other nearly all their lives.  They've been best friends since they were little kids.  They've trained together as Shadowhunters, and both suffered great losses.  Emma was taken in by the Blackthorn family at the L.A. institute after her parents were killed.  Emma and Julian became parabati partners, a sacred ceremony and bond that makes their Shadowhunter skills and powers even more powerful.  It also forbids romantic relationships between partners.  Uh-oh.

And ya know what?  This is a sore spot of mine.  Why do they let KIDS go through the parabati ceremony?  When you're a young kid of course you're going to be all about 'We can be stronger and more awesome?  Cool!  Let's do it!'  How can a kid of 12 or 14 know how they're going to feel about that partner in 5 or 10 years?  Even if it's not a romantic relationship getting in the way, what if the two people go down different paths and just can't tolerate each other anymore?  The parabati bond is for life, yet they let kids make the choice. But anyway, yeah, Emma and Julian are struggling with romantic feelings now that they're older.  I'm sure by the end of this series the law about parabati relationships will be changed.  lol

I like my storylines streamlined and well paced.  This book did a pretty good job at that.  I think this author has come a long way from some of the overly cluttered and cheesy stuff in the earlier Shadowhunter books.  While this book does still have some side stories going on, probably setting up things to come, not a lot of time was spent on them.  They were able to be worked into the main storyline more efficiently.  There was a point about two-thirds of the way through where things got a little crazy.  As things were being revealed and coming to a head, the story seemed to get a little over the top.  I was so disappointed at that point but, luckily, it didn't last long.  As things started to settle down again after the big climax, the story went back to the toned down awesomeness of the beginning of the book.  Secrets were revealed and hearts were broken and yes, I was in tears.

I think everything with Mark was what I liked best about this book, but my absolute favorite part was later, when preparing for battle, when Mark admitted to himself and someone once dear to him that "I am a Shadowhunter."  He repeated it three times, his resolve growing each time.  I cried hardest at that point, even though more heartbreaking things that came later.

While I really enjoyed most of the book, I absolutely hated the very end.  Here we go, using that YA fiction tactic that I really hate, the one where someone in love decides they're just going to push the other one away to save them.  Why, why, whyyyyy?!  Emma and Julian have 'the talk' at the end of this book, and one decides they need to make the other think they're interested in someone else.  I will admit though, I'm curious about the motive of the third person involved in this ploy.  Hmmm.

Are you a fan of the Shadowhunters world?
Have you read Lady Midnight yet?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Melted - Sweet Fixations / Blonde Moment Blend

Blonde Moment, Strawberry Sherbet, and Fizzy Pop OP
Blonde Moment- Sugary raspberry, cranberries, and iced sweet champagne.
Fizzy Pop- Bubbly soda pop with top notes of lemon-lime and orange.
 
I enjoyed this one.  It was a sweet drink type, with the lemon-lime and orange the strongest notes.  There was not a lot of fizz in this, which I was glad about.  There was only a hint of it, just enough to make you wonder if it was really there.  I think the sherbet toned this down just a bit, keeping it from being candy-sweet.  This was a fun, summery type scent.

I melted .8 oz worth of this chunk in my tea light warmer and had medium-strong scent.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Melted - Sweet Fixations / Peach, Cotton Candy, Watermelon

Peach, Cotton Candy, and Watermelon OP - [no scent description]

I was worried about this because of the strong peach note on cold sniff.  I'm not a big peach fan.  It turned out fine once warmed though.  The watermelon combined with the peach enough to tame it, turning this into a bright and fun drink-type scent.  The cotton candy lends its sugary sweetness to the mix.  This turned out to be quite yummy!

I melted .9 oz. worth of this chunk in my tea light warmer and had wonderfully strong scent.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Natters - Apr. 15 / Unemployed?

We have spring flowers!
And our weather is decent!
Could spring really be here, finally?!

Well, we got some surprise news at work Wednesday morning.  One of the customers we produce for is pulling their business and going to a different style package in a different facility.  This customer that is leaving is the part of the plant that I work in.  We were told that within 18 months those particular lines would no longer be running.  So, what does that mean for the 40 or so people that will be affected by this?  We don't know yet.  Our plant manager said they're trying to pick up more business and/or bring in other projects, but right now they just don't know.  Business is picking up on the other lines in the plant but that doesn't really help us on the departing lines.  I mean, if spots are already filled on the other side where are they going to move the rest of us to?

So, I could be unemployed within the next 18 months.  I'm a total mixed bag of thoughts and emotions about this.  At first I was greatly relieved.  All my current troubles will be going away!  Yay!  It was quite a freeing realization.  It doesn't matter now if we run good or bad, if our cleanups run long, or if so-n-so person is a crap operator.  It doesn't matter if we bust our ass or not to achieve all the front office b.s. goals and things that only make THEM look better.  It was just sort of a total wipe the slate clean relief.  As I had more time to think about it, I did cry a bit.  This has been my only real job my whole life.  This highly annoying place has been a HUGE part of my life for over 20 years.  While I've done several different jobs within the plant, this one I'm doing now is the one I've done the longest, probably 15 of my 20+ years.  
So there are sentimental attachments, but there are also financial worries, of course.  I'm quite sure we can get by if I'm unemployed.  We would have to cut back on things though, and I don't like that.  We're finally in a position to really start paying off our house.  Our equity loan is paid off, and our credit card will be paid off in another month or two.  Then the plan is to start dumping all that extra money onto house payments and finally get it paid off, as fast as we can.  Although we could get by without me working, I don't want to have to continue to just putz along.  I like being able to buy things if and when I want them.  I like being able to do things or go places.  I'm not at all thrilled about the idea of going back to skimping and penny pinching like we did in our early years.

But then I try to remind myself that getting rid of all that stress from work, the physical stress of the 12 hour shifts, the foot pain . . . and maybe the cutting back on wax purchases and washi tape would be totally worth it.

I really have no idea what will happen to my job within these next 18 months.  I know I'm not going to flee in a panic and grab some desperation job somewhere else.  I'm going to ride this out and see what happens.  Maybe I'll get some news before the end and I can adjust at that point.  Maybe they'll find a way to work some of in over on the other side of the plant.  Maybe they'll keep two leads per shift.  I just don't know at this point, and neither does anyone else.

I have been kicking around some ideas though, if I do end up unemployed.  Soap, and papercrafts, and professional blogging are what I'm considering, and I'm actually really excited about it.  In some ways I'm hoping I do get let go from my job.  I'm not brave enough to leave my job on my own and venture into these other things full-time, but if I'm forced to . . . well that's a whole different story.

In other, happier news, the NFL schedules came out last night.  Hubby and I quickly scoured the Vikings schedule and have already picked which game we want to go to.  Now we have to wait till tickets go on sale, in July or so.  It's exciting though!  We haven't been to Minnesota or a Vikings game for the past two years while they've built the new stadium.  So not only will it be fun to finally return to Minneapolis but it will exciting to see this grand new stadium!

A couple little shopping goodies from this morning.
I grabbed a couple of the Mainstays 3-wick candles from Walmart.  The only candles we have left are fall and winter leftovers, so I grabbed some summery scents to just have something in candle form.  Garden Rain is one we've had before.  It's an outdoorsy scent, sort of green with a teeny hint of something like musk or cologne.  It's not as 'wet' as I remember it.  Raspberry Ice is new to us.  It's just a nice, sugary raspberry scent, very happy and simple.  The only pack of tarts I grabbed was French Lilac Flowers.  I think this is the most authentic lilac scent I've come across in wax.  It's just pure lilac, no greenery or anything else to clutter it.  You all know I'm not a floral fan but lilac is an exception because it's so strongly attached to my childhood.

I dashed into Target after I was done at Walmart this morning.  I haven't been paying too much attention to the Dollar Spot lately because I was pretty sure I'd gotten over my crafty urges.  When I'd been there last week I'd noticed a bunch of new washi but left them because I just didn't desire them anymore.  Well now with this job situation and my thoughts turning to what I can do in the future, suddenly the idea of papercrafts appeals to me again.  I saw a video last night where the girl was showing all the fun new tapes at Target and I decided I needed them afterall.  Of course wouldn't you know they'd be GONE now that I want them?!  I did manage to find these three, but there are several white tape designs that I *really* want now.  If anyone can find the white with gold dots, white with gray dots, white with gold diagonal stripes, or other current designs . . . grab them for me please!  I'll pay you back!

I also grabbed the color page flags because I have an idea for them that doesn't involve planners.  lol

And that's about it for now.
What are your thoughts on this job situation I've found myself in?


Haul - Country Lane Keepsakes (wax)

This is my second order from Country Lane Keepsakes and I'm pretty sure it's a vendor I'll continue to order from.  I've grown frustrated recently with light throwing wax, and scents from samplers that just weren't my cup of tea.  I decided to place some small orders from a few different places, and CLK is one of them.  So let's just dive in and see what I got!

Grandma's Lemon Cake - 'That moment when you cut into a warm lemon cake, just after grandma topped it with her delicious lemon sugar glaze!'
 So soo yummy.  There is sweet sugary lemon, and the cake is more like poundcake.  How cute is that little wax bee?!  There were two of them in this package.

Cherry Custard Pie - 'A pie that has long been a family tradition. Custard pie with wonderful black cherries baked in. Served warm or cold this was always a favorite.'
I'd forgotten I ordered this one and it was funny to see it because just the day before I'd received an order from another vendor that had Black Cherry Custard in it.  Am I on a cherry custard kick now?  lol
Anyway, this one is also very nice.  There is a nice creamy cherry note along with a distinct pie crust bakery note.
 
Comforting Caramel - 'Caramel sauce over a spiced strudel cake.'
I wasn't sure about this one because lately caramel scents haven't agreed with me.  I keep getting a salty, bitter note.  I took a chance with this because of the cake and yeah, I think this will be alright.  On cold sniff I get the softly spiced cake notes first.  The caramel is sweet and milky, not at all the salty type.
 
Berliner - 'The German term for what is similar to a donut. Made from sweet dough with a berry filling and covered in powdered sugar.'
I just had to try this one because you know I'm all about Germany.  A German bakery scent?  Sure, why not!  This is kind of hard to describe.  On cold sniff right now there is sort of a doughy donut note, with a soft, sweet berry note deep inside.
 
Lemon Squares - 'A wonderful lemon pudding layered between vanilla cake and served with a sprinkling of confectioners sugar.'
 Ohhh yes.  Love me some lemon squares!  This is a sweet lemon scent, like Lemonheads candy, with some creaminess to it.  The cake notes are softer, like a platform for that delicious lemon.

Huckleberry Corn Muffin - 'A something special muffin with huckleberries thrown in.'
I had to do some reading, and found that huckleberries are similar to blueberries.  Since I've had corn bread scents that I enjoy, and since I enjoy blueberry muffin scents, I figured I'd give this one a try.  I would say, if you didn't know any better, that this is very similar to a blueberry muffin scent.  The corn muffin might be a touch bolder than a generic 'muffin' note but it's still yummy.

And then there is the very generous bag of SIX freebies.
(Thank you so much, Carol!)

Vanilla Peach - 'A nice vanilla pudding with fresh, ripe peaches sliced and blended to perfection.'
Peach is not a scent I'm overly fond of.  It always reminds me of super cheap stickup air fresheners that we had in this house when we were first moving in.  This is a soft peach, lots of vanilla to warm it up.  I'm not sure if I'll keep this or share it with someone else.

Pistachio Pineapple Salad - 'A holiday favorite with my family. Pistachio nut pudding, fresh crushed pineapple, almonds, vanilla, whipped cream and marshmallows.'
This is interesting!  Different sniffs give me different notes.  I think the pistachio and almond blend together to be the strongest note, but even so, it's not an inyerface almond scent.  There is sweetness, and I think the marshmallow really tones it down.

Sweet Sugar Cookie - 'The sweet scent of sugar cookies being taken from the oven. Warm Sugar cookies with a dusting of those large sugar drops across the top.'
The picture doesn't really show it but there is a cute cherub on this tart.  This is a lighter, brighter version of sugar cookie compared to a lot of the rich, buttery ones I've had.  This is quite light on cold sniff.

Jen's Orange Juice Cookie - 'A wonderful baked cookie topped with a fresh orange juice and buttery confection frosting.'
 Orange juice is the strongest note in this and it has that almost choking zestiness to it.  There is a bakery note close behind, toning it down a bit but that orange is just pushing it out of the way.  I'm not fond of this one and will probably share it with someone.

Annie's Apple Pie - 'Annie's apple pie has a crumb topping giving this a less pie crust
Scent and touch more vanilla/cinnamon topped pie.
'
 The Fall Slut in me got a little excited when she pulled this one out of the bag.  This is a nice apple scent.  It's more apple than pie.  It's softly spiced, not a heavy fall spice type, and could probably be melted any time of year.  I'm still tucking it away for fall though.

Lemon Ice Cream Scoop Bread - 'Delicious blend of our yummy ice cream scoop bread. Blended with our zesty lemon, a marshmallow topping and sweet ice cream.'
Isn't that a gorgeous tart?!  The detail and edges are so delicate.  So anyway, the scent is what you want to know about.  I'm always leery of scents that have 'bread' in them, ever since I found out some vendors use zucchini bread as their 'bread' note.  I detect no zucpukey in this though.  *phew*  This is actually a very delicious lemon bakery scent, like a happy lemon cookie.
 
I ordered the 4 oz. bags option and those are $3.95 each in the Country Lane Keepsakes Etsy shop.  I paid $10.00 shipping but was refunded $1.00.  I placed my order on Monday, Apr. 11, and received it on Thursday, Apr. 14.  Heck yeah!!!  You can not beat that TAT!  And with honest shipping, a shop that's always open, and generous freebies, I will definitely be back.
 
Have you ordered from Country Lane Keepsakes?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Haul - Smell Goods (wax)

Smell Goods is a wax vendor I know very little about.  Owners Stephen and Rachel had found me on Instagram and I had browsed their shop a couple times before finally placing a small order.  They have different shapes and sizes of wax, from $1.00 scallops to $3.25 clamshells and other options.  The scent list is small and manageable, a lot of common scents.  I'm not sure if they do house blends.  It was easy for me to find a handful of familiar scents to try.

Blueberry Muffin - 'This scent is very potent and smells like the real thing. Use this scent and you will have guests thinking you have made some muffins when you haven't!
On cold sniff, I'm getting a blueberry note but not much of the bakery notes.  Hopefully it blooms fully when melted.
 
Maple & Brown Sugar - 'The rich, sweet smell of maple syrup, sugar and cane molasses. A cozy and warm fragrance.'
Again, light on cold sniff but I think I'm getting the brown sugar notes.  I don't get any maple yet.  Another one I'm curious to how it does when melted.
 
Orange Creamsicle - 'Dreamy combination of orange and a creamy vanilla. Sweet and potent!'
 Now this one smells authentic, even on cold sniff.  That familiar creamy orange scent that screams summer treats.

Banana Nut Bread - 'Banana, walnuts, and bakery notes. Smells unmistakeably like the real thing.'
Hard to tell on cold sniff, but I seem to be getting the nutty notes most of all.  I do smell banana nut bread when this is just sitting on the desk though.  lol
 
Pineapple Upside Down Cake - 'This is also a new scent that is a blend of birthday cake and pineapple. It smells mainly of pineapple with sweet cake undertones that is not too overpowering.'
I get a bit more of the cake on cold sniff but the pineapple is there.  If this is strong it could be very nice.
 
Beachy Air - 'Close your eyes and dream that you're on the beach with this scent. This scent is as clean as it gets. Think of fresh, breezy, ocean air coming off the waves.'
 This was a freebie in my order.  (Thank you, Stephen and Rachel!)  I'm an usually not a fan of the clean, spa type scents.  This one is okay though.  There is a bit of a clean laundry note in there.  Since I'm not a fan of this scent category, I won't even try to figure out what the other notes are.  Laundry and something outdoorsy.  It's nice.  And strong.  I think this little guy scented up the whole package.

That is my little order from Smell Goods.  They do include the pour date on their labels so I know that these are plenty old enough for me to start melting right away.  In fact, Blueberry Muffin is already in the warmer.

I placed my order on Friday afternoon, April 8, and received it Wednesday, April 13.  That is a TAT I can live with!  Shipping was $3.35 and the tarts arrived in a padded yellow mailer.  Since this is my first order, I'll have to wait and see how these perform when melted.  While their scent list is small compared to a lot of other vendors, there is still a decent variety and I did notice fall and winter scents that of course interested me.  Plus, a shop that's always open and has a quick TAT is something that will draw me to it.

We'll see how these work first!

Are you familiar with Smell Goods?