Thursday, July 20, 2017

July 20 - Ludwig's Turning In His Grave

It's back to work on the east wall of the barn now that the cement has had plenty of time to set and harden.  It's hard to tell from this pic because the tractor is in the way, but they've started framing in the new wall.
There was nothing really picture worthy to report yesterday because they'd mainly just been cleaning up the pile of debris that had accumulated in that interior corner to the left, where the boards are now laid out.  They've broken two hammers, lost another hammer, and lost a pry bar so far in this project.  lol

Yesterday was a so-so day at work.  My mood wasn't quite so dramatic.  Today, my day off, was pretty mellow.  I had no plans, no place to be, no one here to bother me, and I loved it.  I puttered on small little things that needed to be done, played with the kitties, watched some murder shows on TV, did some stamping and coloring.  When things slowed down or when I sat at the computer too long my dark mood started to creep back in, so I had to talk myself into getting up and getting busy on something else again.  Overall though, a pretty good day of finding some inner peace, at least for the moment.

I finished reading my Ludwig book last night and posted my review this morning.  I finished watching that Neuschwanstein DVD today.  While it was really cool to see all the castle stuff, there were some things that made me feel sick to my stomach, made me feel so bad for Ludwig.  Let me explain.  His castles were meant to be his private sanctuaries.  They were not for prying eyes or guests or conducting business.  During the standoff at Neuschwanstein that final night, he told his last few loyal people to keep those rooms private, like his final plea.  And yes, we all know that Neuschwanstein was opened to the public within months of his death and that it is now one of the biggest tourist attractions in Europe.  I've been there myself!  But to see on the DVD just how many people go there, and how packed the courtyard is with people milling about, and the different lines for guided tours set up according to language . . . I seriously almost wanted to cry for poor Ludwig!  I think it said thousands of people tour the castle each day.  Each tour group has 65 people at a time and lasts about 35 minutes.  Some people have complained they feel rushed when they take the tour, but I suppose it's so they can keep groups moving through.  I think it would have been a tiny bit better if the staging areas for the tours wasn't *in the courtyard*.  If they'd have the gates and turnstiles and overhanging signs and things outside the actual castle, maybe it wouldn't seem quite so disrespectful.

Another thing on the DVD was a little news story about one of the tour guides.  He said he'd lived for five years at the castle and I was like "Whaaat?!"  Apparently his father had been a tour guide there for many years and had actually lived at the castle!  In some rooms in the gatehouse, or gardener's house on the grounds or something?!  Now this guy was a tour guide and lived there.  Gah!  Again, disrespectful!  Poor poor, Ludwig.  I must admit though, it was neat to see this guy's story because it showed him cleaning things in the castle, getting ready for another day of work.  It was neat to see things besides the usual rooms and views that you usually see when they show anything about Neuschwanstein.  He was also talking about how almost all of the people that visit the castle know nothing of its history or of Ludwig, they just come because it's a tourist site.  He said the rare person that comes through that is knowledgeable about it and asks questions, he always stops and chats with them.  That was kinda cool, but still . . . poor Ludwig!!!!

Anyway, I'm not sure what to read now.  I really want to go back and read the second book I'd read about him again, but I also want to get to some other stuff that has been gathering dust here.  I'm pretty sure my mind would be distracted though so I'll probably just grab that Ludwig book.

And I'm totally nattering here.

Tomorrow I'll have a little craft haul.

What are you reading?

Book Review - The Swan King (Ludwig II of Bavaria)

The Swan King (Ludwig II of Bavaria)
by Christopher McIntosh
1982 (but last updated in 2012)
307 pages 

'The Swan King is the biography of one of the most enigmatic figures of the nineteenth century, described by Verlaine as 'the only true king of his century'.  A man of wildly eccentric temperament and touched by a rare, imaginative genius, Ludwig II of Bavaria is remembered both for his patronage of Richard Wagner and for the fabulous palaces that he created as part of a dream-world to escape the responsibilities of state.  In the realization of his fantasies, he created a ferment of creativity among artists and craftsmen, while his neglect of Bavaria's political interests made powerful enemies among those critical of his self-indulgence and excesses.  At the age of 40, declared insane in a plot to depose him, Ludwig died in mysterious circumstances.  What truly happened on that fateful night has never been discovered.'

This is the third book I've now read about Ludwig.  While it is my least favorite of the three, it is still a very good book.  Author Christopher McIntosh was a Wagner fan first, then became interested in Ludwig through that connection.  The fact that McIntosh was a Wagner fan first shows in this book.  It seems to show Wagner in a much better light than all other accounts I've seen about the man.  And because there can be no story of Ludwig without Wagner, there is a lot of time spent on the whole subject in this book, as there always is.

This book relies heavily on referring to other books about Ludwig, and has tons of quotes and passages from diaries and memoirs and things from many different players involved in Ludwig's life.  I do like how the author seems to look at things almost as an investigator, mentioning something and then breaking it down slightly to see how accurate it might be.  Keep in mind, a lot of the information about Ludwig, especially in his later years, comes from those who held grudges against him and were glad to see him fall.

There are very few pictures in this book, which is a bummer.  Even among those few pics, only one or two are actually of Ludwig.

The translations are a little easier to follow in this one than in the other books I've read.  The others seem to have more literal translations, where this one seems to be phrase things in more easy to understand way of English speaking.  (Does that make sense?)

The author addresses different subjects in their own chapters, and not so much an overall chronological telling of Ludwig's life.  This is both good and bad, for me at least.  It's nice to have everything about, say, his building phase addressed all in one chunk, but it doesn't give you a clear picture of what else was really going on in his life at that time.  For instance, the chapter about his homosexuality is very interesting and has some emotional entries from Ludwig's own diaries included, but I kept wondering 'Ok, at what point was this entry made and what might have gotten him so worked up?'  I found myself browsing back through the book or Googling things to try and match up a timeline.

I liked that the author spent time showing Ludwig wasn't always 'crazy.'  There is plenty to show that he did try in the beginning, that he did take care of business, and that he was devoted to trying to save his beloved Bavaria.  The author presents Ludwig's decline in a way that you can follow, and you really feel for the guy as things get out of his control and the depression and isolation build.  While it does touch on his unpredictable temper, this book seems to show him as a slightly more mellow and thoughtful man.

While I like all that about this book there is just something that still felt to, I don't know, thin.  It didn't quite pack the punch of the other two books I've read.  Maybe because there is nothing really new presented here?  This is interesting because just yesterday someone asked me that.  At work we have contractors that come in and service our filler machines.  One that is often there is from Austria (although lives in the States now), and I've known him many years.  He happens to be at the plant this week and on one break yesterday he saw this book sitting by me on the table.

Johan - "Ah, the crazy king!"
Me - "Yep, you're boy."
Johan - "Heh, yeah . . .  [and proceeds to read the back cover]."
Me - *dreamily reveling in hearing that Austrian accent talk about Ludwig*
Johan - "Oh, Wagner?  Yes, the composer.  Hmm."
Me - *thinking 'Read the whole book to me.'*
Johan - "Did you know that Disney modeled their castle after this one?  *pointing to Neuschwanstein on the cover*"
Me - "Yes.  I've been there."
Johan - "You have?!  I have never been there myself."
Me - "Whaaat?!  It's, like, just down the block for you?!"
Johan - "I know.  I should go."
Me - "I'm obsessed with Ludwig right now.  This is the third book I've read about him."
Johan - "And have you learned anything new from one book to another?  Or is it just all the same stuff?"
Me - "It's all pretty much the same stuff.  The only thing that changes is what theory the author subscribes to about his death."
Johan - "It was poison."
Me - "Was it suicide, or was it murder to remove him?"
Johan - "Either way, it was poison."

Okay, well, obvious Johan from Austria isn't up on his Ludwig history but the conversation made me chuckle and does bring me to my next point.  In the author's preface of this updated version of the book, he states that he believes in the suicide theory.  In the actual part of the book that covers Ludwig's death, it is presented neutrally, going over facts and letting the reader decide which camp they fall into, the murder camp or the suicide camp.  Where do I fall?  I'm still not sure.  Before reading my first book about him, knowing very little coming into it, I thought I was a firm believer in the murder theory.  That first book opened my eyes and I jumped over to the suicide camp.  Since then, I lean more towards the suicide camp but I still have way too many questions and doubts.  The murder scenario seems more and more unlikely to me though.  They already had him in custody, declared insane and unfit to rule, already had his replacement, had carried out their plans.  Why murder him and get themselves into even more trouble?  I would like to think it was the lesser talked about escape theory, but again, there are still so many questions.  I guess we will never know.

That is, until the Wittelsbach family consents to having Ludwig's body examined by present day examiners with modern techniques.

All in all, a good book if you're interested in learning about King Ludwig II, but not the best out there.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

July 18 - Sick Day

Hubby and Friend went to work early this morning so they could get home earlier to have more time to work on the barn.  They're plan is to do it that way the rest of this week.  Today they poured cement in this section where the old gutter actually ran under the east wall of the barn.  They can't do any other work on this wall until the cement is set, so they moved on to another area.
This is the southwest corner, the front, the side that faces the house, where the main door was and will be again.  Just from these two pics it doesn't seem like the did much in all the time they worked today.  Maybe they did some other stuff inside, I'm not sure.  And this evening hubby said their boss from work is even going to get in on helping with this project.  He's going to help with the electrical stuff that needs to be done out there.  How cool is that?

Well, I sort of fell back into my dark place today.  I've felt like I've been dancing around the edges of it again for a while now but when I woke up this morning I found myself deep in it.  I'd had a horrible dream just before waking up, actually it IS what woke me up, and my anxiety was sky high.  Just thinking about all the problems I'd be facing when I got to work was too much and I called in sick.  UGH!!!  My morning was miserable, wallowing in it all, and I knew I had to get busy on something to reroute my mood.  Started feeling much better around 10am and actually considered going to work.  Then it all just whacked me in the face again and I spent a chunk of time moping around on the verge of tears before I managed to get myself distracted with other things again.  I'm in a sort of neutral territory mood-wise right now as bedtime approaches.  I know I need to get my butt to work tomorrow.  It's just something that needs to be done.  I can't quit just yet.

One of the happy distractions I managed this morning was this addition to the craft room.
Not long after our trip to Germany back in 1999 I'd gotten these puzzles.  Hubby made the frames, and then for whatever reason these were never hung up anywhere.  They'd gotten set aside and moved around over time and I'd eventually forgotten about them.  Until now.  I founded them in behind stuff in our hall closet and knew exactly where I wanted them to go.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of the puzzles is Linderhof!  I'd remembered them both as Neuschwanstein.  I also moved my three little King Ludwig II pics from their shelf over to this wall.  I think it looks pretty darn cool!

When hubby came in from working on the barn this evening, he had a package that UPS or FedEx must have left on the porch.  It was this Neuschwanstein DVD I'd ordered just the other day.  Woohoo!  I haven't watched all of it yet but even so, it's not quite what I'd thought it would be.  I had thought it would be more of a tour of the castle, showing a lot of the inside.  While it does show some stuff from inside, it also has a lot of stuff about the general area of the castle, about Hohenschwangau (the little yellow castle nearby), and some other things.  It's really cool to see the Hohenschwangau stuff, but still, this isn't quite what I'd hoped it would be.

I also did some coloring today, playing around with different markers on different papers.  I didn't think to take any pics though.  Just imagine some very colorful fairies and unicorns.

Alrighty, I'm going to drag my delicate mind up to bed now to read more about Ludwig and hopefully have some peaceful sleep tonight.

What is your biggest stress right now?

Monday, July 17, 2017

July 17

A bit more progress on the barn today.  The tractor kinda blocks it in this pic but they now have the center portion of this east wall completely knocked out.  It actually looks weird and a bit scary with it standing open like that.  I was so surprised to find them out there working this morning BEFORE work too!

My sister is back in town for a while and went over to my (our) mom's today while I was there.  I got to see my nephew/godson Julius again, which is always fun.  For some reason, no pictures were taken during this visit.  Usually everyone is snapping pics because it's only a couple times a year that we actually get to see each other.  Hmm, she'll be back at Mom's again next week so I'll try to get some pics then.

Guess what!  My sister is going to borrow the Blu-ray copy of my Ludwig movie so she can see what I'm obsessed with.  The box set of the movie has a set of Blu-ray discs and a set of DVDs.  Since I don't have a Blu-ray player it's easy for me to lend out that version of the movie and I'll still have my DVD version to watch endlessly.  Hehe!  I don't expect her to love it.  I just hope she actually watches the whole thing.

***SPOILER-FREE***  The Game of Thrones season premiere was interesting last night, but I wasn't overwhelmingly wowed.  The opening scene was predictable.  Jon and Sansa arguing was interesting.  I think she'll end up quite evil.  The end of the episode was pretty darn cool.  But why the heck was Ed Sheeran on the show??  Ugh.

Well, back to work tomorrow.  Another big UGH.  This weekend seemed to fly by, yet it doesn't seem like I really did anything.  Why can't I just retire now?  Ugh ugh uuuuugh.

How was your weekend?
Looking forward to anything this week?
Tell me about it!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

July 16 - Mish Mash

Hello!  I haven't posted in a while so I thought I'd touch base a bit.  Things are a mix of up and down, stressed and mellow.  Things could be so much worse though, so I guess I'll take this.

Work is still a mess.  A huge downer was that another girl quit because a certain pair of problem employees made her workdays miserable.  This girl was promising, and smart enough to know the crap from the trolls wasn't worth it, but the other side is that the trolls once again win.  I've complained about these two people to all of my supervisors, our production manager, and the plant manager.  All just sort of sigh and nod and agree these two are trouble but nothing ever gets done.  So yeah, let's just continue to let them drive good employees away.  On a better note, my supervisor told our plant manager that I've been doing a really good job with everything lately, that I go out of my way to help maintenance and struggling coworkers, and that just by dealing with the endless crap out on the floor is a huge help.  I almost cried.  LOL  Recognition and acknowledgement is rare at work these days.  It doesn't always take raises and material rewards to make someone's day.  Those few simple praises were enough to boost my morale for while.  The same day, a brand new supervisor (still in training) had commented to my supervisor that I seem to work really well with some of my people, that we seemed to accomplish things together without words and he felt like 'What did I miss?' when he witnessed it.  LOL!  I don't know specifically what he saw but it was cool to hear anyway.  There is one coworker, she and I are a pretty good team.  We fight like cats and dogs but we're also pretty good friends and have worked together long enough that yeah, we do just kinda know what each situation needs.  In general though, work is still a huge mess.

Casey's roommate says he's moving out.  Yes, this is the second roommate.  He says it's because he wants to be closer to his new job.  Casey's kinda bummed.  I'm sure there must be a bit of 'Why doesn't anyone like me?' but we'd told him all it's probably best to have his *own* place and hopefully he'll see how must better it can be without the drama of roommates.  Not sure when the guy is moving though.  He doesn't seem to keep jobs very long so he might lose this new job before he even finds a new apartment.  *snort*  I'll be bummed for Casey because he'll really have to cut back his spending if he's living there alone.  He's so used to just buying things when he sees them or when he wants them.  He's never been great with money discipline.

Work on the barn project continues.  Hubby and his friend are out there nearly every day after work, and then out there again on the weekends.  They have the crappy ceiling completely pulled down inside, all the old straw from up there disposed of.  They still need to do some cleaning of the rafters and whatnot but they've moved on to working on the actual walls now.  This pic shows the east wall (away from the road) that they've mostly torn out.  They've made space for a larger door, although I don't know if it will be a garage door type or a older style sliding doors.  I think they're making it tall enough for the yard tractor to fit through, because all other current doors on our out-buildings have very short doors/low rooflines.  They're actually at Menards right now with the truck and trailer, buying wood to get this wall rebuilt.

Back to school stuff is out everywhere now that the 4th of July is past.  I was browsing yesterday even though I really don't need anything and laughed when I saw actual Happy Planners there at Walmart.  My sister has very recently sent me a couple online deal notifications about Happy Planner sales and we keep laughing that I have no use for one but want one.  Well, I did not get the one I actually had in my hands yesterday, but I did end up with another journal I'll probably never write in.  LOL!!!!!

Ludwig is still my obsession these days.  I've been embracing all the German things I come across, especially Ritter Sport chocolate bars.  I was introduced to these in 1999 when we were actually in Germany.  I've seen them here and there in select stores over the years but usually just the same boring one or two flavors.  I was thrilled when I started see the yellow one, which is cornflakes, because that was my favorite one while in Germany.  Now I'm seeing more and more flavors in more and more stores, so I'm going to go ahead and indulge.  Mmmm!

I did get a chance to thoroughly search the wax aisle at Walmart yesterday.  Remember, I'd found a couple fall scents already earlier in the week?  I was excited to find quite a few more scattered in among the regular summer scents.  They don't have any official fall displays out yet, but just seeing these starting to pop is exciting.  Most of what I saw yesterday was just the same old stuff from last year, but there were a few new ones.  I'll just do a quick list of names for now . . . 
- Apple Bobbin'
- Apple Wood
- Warm Apple Pie
- Apple Butter
- No Place Like Home (cinnamon and clove)
- Red Hot Cinnamon
- Cinnamon Apples
- Pumpkin Spice
- Spiced Pumpkin Pie
- Harvest Moon

Better Homes & Gardens
- Fall Leaves
- Spicy Cinnamon Stick
- Sweet Candied Apples
- Farm Apple Pumpkin
- Sliced Apple Cinnamon
- Sueded Cinnamon Woods
- Cinnamon & Spice
- A Thankful Harvest
- Cranberry Mandarin Splash

- Sweet Apples

Yes, some of those are everyday scents, available all year, but I've included what I find to be fall scents in these lists.  I was tempted to grab one of each but talked myself out of it in the end for a couple reasons.  First, I still have a bunch from last year and wanted to check those before I go hog wild.  Second, since stepping back from wax blogging I had to remind myself I don't need to get everything and compare and come up with scent notes and posts.  Ahhhh!

I did grab my beloved A Thankful Harvest though.  I was so relieved to see this one back once again.  It's been my favorite for years now, an absolute must-have.  It's just a perfect late fall scent, with creamy pumpkin notes and just a hint of spice.
And I grabbed this Pumpkin Spice because it's just a fall staple.  This is a little more spicy, and not quite as creamy as A Thankful Harvest.

I haven't done much of anything crafty in the past many days.  This weekend I've been busy on a bunch of other little projects, and my mind is just so locked onto Ludwig that card making is sort of 'meh' to me at the moment.  I do have one more order coming but then I need to try and slow down my spending because more money will be going into the barn project now that they're at a point to actually start rebuilding.  This is probably the wrong time for me to try and stop ordering though, since fall is right around the corner and all the new fall/winter designs will be coming out soon.  In fact, Lawn Fawn is having their sneak peek this coming week for their new seasonal stuff!  Gah!  Hopefully it's all ugly and I don't want any of it.  Ha!  Yeah, right!

Okay, well I'm off to putter around on one thing or another on this gray and chilly day.

Oh!  Game of Thrones returns tonight!
Will you be watching?!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

July 12 - Blah Day

Today was one of those days where you wonder why you ever got out of bed.  I didn't really have any plans, had nowhere to go, nothing urgent that needed to get done.  I was looking forward to a mellow day of whatever.  Ended up fighting with my computer all day.  That's not what I had in mind as far as 'whatever.'  Ugh.  I still don't have it back to normal but at least it's functioning.  It all started, I believe, with a stupid AVG update a few nights ago.  UGH.

Anyway, I did go to Casey's for a little while this morning.  I haven't seen or talked to him much since he got back from his trip.  I went over there to discuss and warn him about some things going on at work. 

Yeah, work.  That drama filled, mismanaged pit of anxiety and stress.  It seems our plant is in crisis mode now.  I think the bigwigs at corporate are finally sick of the crap going on and have told our management there will be some 'cleaning house.'  I've heard that nobody's job is safe anymore, not even mine.  I don't know how true that actually is but there is definitely something going on.  There is a lot of upper management presence on the production floor, a lot of swift discipline where before there was an air of 'Yeah yeah, we'll get to it.'  Something is going on.

Yesterday was one year since my mom's hip surgery.  She's doing great, walking around more and more without the walker but still not confident enough to switch over to a cane.

I think I'm going to go ahead and keep the birds around here.  We thought we had raccoons or something back because of some weird looking evidence of nighttime activity around the feeders, but now we think it was just deer pawing the ground around there.  Still not sure what to do about all the frikken little chipmunk type rodents but . . . I can't seem to give up feeding the birds.  I'm becoming my mother.

Well, the Suits season premiere is on shortly so I'll get this posted and shove the cat out of my spot on the couch, and watch some lovely Harvey Specter.  And then I'll go read about the lovely King Ludwig II.
This new-to-me pic has become my current favorite of ol' Ludwig.  He looks relaxed, almost a smile on his face.  They say he was a handsome man, a 'beautiful young king,' and in this pic I would tend to agree.  (Too bad there are so many other pics that just make me cringe from how cheesy he looks.)

So anyway, will you be watching Suits?
What is your current favorite show?

The Bathing Garden Haul

I go through phases with body scrubs.  Sometimes I love them and sometimes I'm too lazy and can't be bothered with that extra step in the shower.  A couple months ago I finished the only scrub I had on hand, a Bathing Garden sugar scrub that had been gifted to me.  Ah, no biggie.  I'll just order more.  Except, oh yeah, there is long TAT and you know I'm impatient when it comes to that.  Still no biggie, I'll just buy this retail brand instead.  Except, wait, turns out I don't like that one.  So I searched some indie bath and body shops I used to be familiar with but it seems many of them have gone to the same annoying open/close/long TAT style that wax vendors live by.  I gave up in frustration, figuring I'd probably phase out of using scrubs soon anyway.

But it kept nagging at me and I'd recently gotten the email about the new Bathing Garden release so decided place an order, even with that long TAT.

It's just a small order but I thought I'd show you anyway.

Mid-Summer Song (Shea Oil Sugar Scrub) - 'Sugared vanilla, candied lemon and orange, and sweet dark berries.'
I never know what I'm going to get with TBG.  The scent descriptions always seem like they'd never be my style, but then I'll get something from a bloggy friend and I'll be surprised that I love the scent.  So I had to just sort of pick notes I thought I'd like and hope for the best when I ordered this time.  I knew it would still be summer when I received this order so I wanted something fun and fruity.   This very pretty scrub smells very nice.  I would not like it for home fragrance but I do like it for body products.  It's sweet and fruity, with those dark berries really presenting themselves in the blend.  It's also a 'thick' sort of scent, somewhat creamy and full.

Pink Sugar Pie Crust (Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub) - 'A layer of sweet pink sugar under sugared pie crust.'
I wanted something a little less fruity and bright for as the summer winds down into fall so I thought this might be okay, that added bakery note maybe warming things up a bit.  It really does.  This is the familiar Pink Sugar scent with just enough bakery to tone it down and make it yummy.  I wonder how this would be in home fragrance?
Blackberry Jam & Lemon Curd (Mango Butter Sugar Scrub) - 'Tart, ripe blackberry is layered with delicious London lemon curd.
I *think* this might have been the first scent I ever ordered from TBG, years ago, in wax form.  I don't remember what I thought of it then but this free sample reminds me of Flintstone vitamins.  I'm not sure if that's good or bad!  LOL  It's a fun, sweet scent though and I'll probably dive into this little guy first.

Cemetery Keys - [no scent description]
The website said 'All Summer orders will ship with Halloween samples,' and sure enough, this looks pretty Halloween-y to me.  It's a gorgeous little pumpkin shaped tart, gray wax with a dusting to black shimmer over it.  I really wish I knew the scent description because I suck without something to guide me.  Whatever is in this blend, I do not like it.  Hubby thinks there is something citrus in it.  I think there is something very sharp and bug spray-like in it.  I will be passing this on to someone who will enjoy it more.

Even though I might not always like the scents, I *always* appreciate free samples with orders.  They really can open your eyes to scents or items you might otherwise overlook.

That is my little scrub order.
The 8 oz. scrubs cost $9.00, and shipping was $7.50.  I ordered on May 24 and received it on July 10, so it was around the 6 week TAT stated on the site.

I'm curious to see what's in the next release as far as scrubs.  I'm pretty sure the one is Halloween release since we're getting Halloween samples.
Anyone know what that release will happen?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

July 11 - First Fall Scents Spotted!

When I did my regular shopping last Friday at Walmart I had noticed they were getting the Back To School stuff all set up.  It didn't really surprise me since the 4th of July had passed and yeah, it's time to shove all that school stuff out.  In a way it did surprise me though, in that it's really hard to believe we're that far through the year already.  Of course the faster the school stuff shows up means the faster the fall stuff will soon be showing up right behind it.  Woohoo!  I did a really quick and casual glance in the wax aisle that day but didn't really expect to see any fall stuff yet, and there wasn't.

So today I was back at Walmart while my mom did some shopping and of course I had to just breeze past the wax aisle again.  At first it just looked like all the same summer scents so I continued on my way.  But wait!  What is that on the endcap, among the picked over summer scents?!
Harvest Moon - 'Pumpkin kisses & autumn wishes.'
I saw the colors, I saw the name, and I snatched it up to be sure I wasn't crazy.  Popped open the cover and shoved my nose in and . . . oh glorious apples and pumpkins!  This is more of an apple scent, slightly spiced like maybe a cinnamon apple cider type, but the pumpkin notes are there, sitting quietly behind the excitement.  I'm pretty sure this is no different than whatever pumpkin-apple scent they had last year but that's not the point.  Fall scents are showing up!!

I quickly looked at what else was on that end cap shelf and at first thought the rest was just summer scents.  But then again, as I started to leave, my eyes fell on this next one.
Spiced Pumpkin Pie - 'The scent of fresh, roasted pumpkin illuminated by spicy accents of warm nutmeg, aromatic cinnamon and rich clove wrapped in a delectable, vanilla-infused accent of sweet golden molasses baked into a sweet pastry crust.'
Again, nothing new here scent-wise, but just the fact that another fall scent is on the shelves had me insanely excited.  This is a really good pumpkin pie scent, not too spicy, with nice crust notes mixed with that sort of tang from the pumpkin puree.

So of course I had to go back down the main wax aisle for a better look.  There was someone parked right in the middle of everything with her two kids so I couldn't get a great look, but I did see at least one more new fall scent, and that was Apple Butter.  Wheee!  I know the full release was not on the shelves of my store yet today because I was seeing way too many of the summer scents, but it still has me really excited to get back there on my own again so I can have a proper look.  And since I'm planning on filling out my fall scents stash with retail wax this year, I will happily allow myself to buy a bunch of these gems as I see them start popping up.

And when I was done tending to my mom's affairs and got back home later today, I found my free 2018 calendar from the Humane Society in my mail so yes, fall is definitely right around the corner!

Are you excited?!
Have you seen fall scents popping up in your local stores yet?

Sweet Fixations Haul

It's become my tradition to order my favorite fall and winter wax scents from Sweet Fixations.  This year I went minimal on my order, only getting my absolute must-haves.  This order looks so tiny!  That old tendency to overdo it is feeling a bit twitchy as I look at these few cups, but I'm also reminding myself that yes, I always overdo it when it comes to fall scents.

So let's just dive in and see what my must-haves are!
There is absolutely nothing new about any of these choices, and they've all been reviewed to death here on this blog so I'm not going to spend much time talking about them now.  Just know that they are fabulous and you need to have them.

Cozy Nights - '(SF Blend) Cozy fall spices and a cup of hot apple cider.'
I've had SF's Cozy Home before too and enjoyed it but something in my notes leads me to believe I enjoyed this one more.  I think it might be deeper, more full bodied.  Now I wish I had the other to compare.
Pumpkin Souffle - 'Butter, sugar, spices, vanilla cream and pumpkin.'
This was THE absolutely must-have for Thanksgiving for me for a long time.  A lot of people find this one too rich and savory, and smelling it right now in July when it's mid80s and humid, yeah, I feel that way too.  But come fall, especially November, this will be making me happy.
Pumpkin Patch - 'Sweet and creamy pumpkin pie with butter, pecans, and a hint of spice.'
A very nice pumpkin scent, not too much bakery or spice.

Pumpkin Pecan Waffles - 'Sweet pumpkin, maple syrup, and buttery crunchy pecans.'
I'm sure everyone knows this scent by now.  It took me a while to come around to this one but now it's a fall tradition for me.

Apple Harvest - 'Apple mixed with fruity notes and touches of spice.'
A wonderful apple scent for early fall, with only the slightest hint of spice to keep it from being plain ol' juicy apple.
Bobbing for Apples - 'Crunchy toffee chips and apples dripping with buttery caramel.'
Gotta have a caramel apple scent for fall!

Cranberry Orange Spice - 'Tart cranberries, orange zests, and spiced apples.'
I go back and forth on this one as to whether I prefer it for fall or for Christmas.  Right now, sniffing it in July, it screams fall to me with it's deep spiced fruit notes, like a hot spiced punch.
Cranberry Cobbler - 'Sweet and sour red cranberries baked in sugar and lightly browned pie crust.'
This one is a newer favorite of mine, and perfectly compliments the heavier scents like Pumpkin Souffle to help round out your Thanksgiving day scents.  This is a brighter, tart cranberry instead of the darker, warmer spiced cranberry scents that I prefer.  What makes this one okay is that touch of bakery mixed in with it.
Spiked Eggnog - 'A yummy holiday drink with vanilla, rum, and nutmeg!
I've tried a lot of different eggnog scents but this is the one I keep coming back to.  This is the one that is how I think of eggnog, with those familiar sort of 'sour' notes and that touch of rum and spice to warm it up.

Candy Cane - 'Sweet cool mint candy. Great holiday scent.'
And finally, a good vanilla-mint scent is my favorite Christmas scent.  This one isn't quite my ideal but it's fabulous nonetheless.

Snow Fairy - [no scent description]
I received this as a free sample with my order.  I don't see it on her website so maybe it will be a new scent . . . ?  Anyway, it is a dupe of a very popular Lush scent, which is bubblegum and vanilla.  I'm not wild about this as a home fragrance so I might pass this one to someone else.

Fruity Pebbles - 'Just like the cereal.'
I also received this free sample.  Everyone knows this scent by now, the fruity cereal scent that I can take or leave.  It reminds me of Easter.  Maybe I'll hang onto it until then.
That's it!  Those are my absolute fall/winter must-haves from Sweet Fixations.  The scent shots cost $1.75 and mine ranged in weight from 1.4 - 1.6 oz.  I ordered on Thursday morning, June 22 and received it on Saturday, July 8.  I can handle a 16 day TAT!  Shipping is charged separately, at the time your order is completed.

Looking at this order, I'm once again thinking it's too small.  I think I might go back and order more of the Spiked Eggnog and Candy Cane at least, because those are two scent the retail wax options seem to skip each year.  Other than that though, I'm going to wait and see what Walmart has this year for fall scents and hopefully find some good ones.  I also still have a bunch of wax left over from last fall.  So even though I'm feeling a bit twitchy about going minimal this year, I think it'll work out okay.

What are some of your fall must-haves?
Have you ever tried Sweet Fixations??

Friday, July 7, 2017

July 7 - Triplets & Cards

I finally finished reading that beastly Shadowhunters book yesterday!  Did I mention that in yesterday's post?  I can't even remember.  Anyway, I posted my review of it earlier today if you're at all interested.  I had mixed feelings about it, but enjoyed it enough that I will go ahead and read the next one despite my sore points with this one.

Yesterday evening I was sitting here at my computer and noticed a deer out in the yard.  No biggie.  Happens all the time.  I noticed it seemed quite interested in something off in the field so I moved to get a better look, and saw more deer.  Again, no biggie.  Then those field deer started running towards the one in the yard and it took me a moment to realize they were fawns.  Awww!  We often see moms and babies around here too, and it's not uncommon to see a mom with twins, but when I saw this . . . oh my gosh!
It was so cute!
Oh, ha!  Are these Lawn Fawns?
*crafty kneeslapper*

My big ambitions for spending tons of quality time creating cards on my days off once again failed miserably.  I played around with new techniques and new items yesterday, but didn't actually create anything until way later in the day when I started to get frustrated with myself.  And then today I'd planned on spending a lot of time creating but once again just kept coming up empty.
This is the card I made yesterday.  I'd been wanting to use this particular set since I got it, and I thought my new Perfect Pearls powders would look awesome on a dark nighttime background.  Heh, it's not as easy as it seems though, and I was quite disappointed in the end.  I was immediately thinking of things to change about this if I should happen to do it again.  And one of those changes was to not use plain black cardstock again.  Luckily, while shopping this morning, I found a really cool looking pack of colored cardstock and it included some dark purple-black blended designs that I thought would be excellent for night skies.  So once I got home and got a few other things done, I headed into the craft room to try the starry sky design again.
And I'm quite happy with this one!  I did not use any Perfect Pearls powder this time.  Instead, I went back to coloring and die cutting.  The foxes are popped up with foam tape.  I colored them with my one little pack of Copic markers although you really can't see any fabulous blending because I still don't know what I'm doing with them and I'm still not seeing what the wonder of these markers is.  Maybe on a different type of paper??  But anyway, happy with how this turned out but frustrated at all the time and fumbling it took to accomplish it.

And then there is this one that I made several days ago, but don't think I've shown yet.

I wanted to make more notecards today after coming across a die set I'd forgotten all about.  I had these great ideas in my head and happily sat down to bring them to life, and then remembered I don't have orange cardstock.  I have orange notecard envelopes, but not orange cardstock.  Ugh!  I suppose I could have tried on white cardstock but the beautiful ideas in my head involved orange.  Now that particular idea is on hold until I go shopping again, and I called it a day in the craft department.

Well tomorrow is back to work, so I'll get this posted and head off to bed.  I started reading my new King Ludwig II book last night.  I only got maybe ten pages into it though, and it's boring so far because it's just briefly going over some pre-Ludwig history.  Looking forward to getting more into it tonight though!

How was your Friday?
Any weekend plans?

Book Review - Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices - Book Two)

Lord of Shadows
(The Dark Artifices - Book Two)
by Cassandra Clare
699 pages

'Emma Carstairs has finally avenged her parents. She thought she’d be at peace. But she is anything but calm. Torn between her desire for her parabatai Julian and her desire to protect him from the brutal consequences of parabatai relationships, she has begun dating his brother, Mark. But Mark has spent the past five years trapped in Faerie; can he ever truly be a Shadowhunter again?

And the faerie courts are not silent. The Unseelie King is tired of the Cold Peace, and will no longer concede to the Shadowhunters’ demands. Caught between the demands of faerie and the laws of the Clave, Emma, Julian, and Mark must find a way to come together to defend everything they hold dear—before it’s too late.


 Okay, well, first of all that description above is from Amazon and is quite misleading.  The description from the book jacket is a novel in itself and is your first clue that there is waaaaaaay too much going on in this book.  In my review of the first book in this series (which I loved!) one of the first things I mentioned was that author Cassandra Clare seemed to have gotten better about her overly complicated and cluttered storylines.  Well she completely fell back into her old ways with this book.  And that was a huge letdown.

I admit I don't remember a lot of details from the first book.  I recalled the very basics, like Mark was back, Malcom Fade was killed, and Emma broke up with Julian in that annoying writers tactic of 'I'll pretend I don't love you so you'll be safe.'  I remembered Cristina was a new character but didn't remember much else about her.  Just a lot of smaller things that I didn't retain, and a lot of those things popped up in this book's busy-ness and had me either wracking my brain trying to remember or just skipping over because I couldn't see why it was important.

There is SO much going on in this book!  I hated *that* about it but didn't hate the book overall.  The main thing in this book is that the most powerful of all dark magic spellbooks, the Black Volume, is missing and being hunted by several parties.  I never quite understood why though.  Julian wants it because the Seelie Queen says she can break the parabati bond with it, so Julian and Emma can live happily ever after in love.  But it won't only break their bond, it will break every parabati bond in the world.  Julian and Emma agree they could never do that.  So why do they continue to look for the book?  The Seelie Queen also wants the book to use against the Unseelie King, so she can gain power and unite the whole fairyland.  The Unseelie King wants the book so he can use it against the Shadowhunters, and is already dabbling in ways to kill their magic, causing blight and destruction in some areas.  I can't even remember who else wants the book or why.

The Centurians have arrived at the LA Institute to help clean up the mess after the battle in the previous book, and to help locate Malcom Fade's dead body.  Why are there lingering traces of dark magic in areas associated with him?  Why are the Centurians so snotty and secretive?  Oh!  There is a secret smaller group within the Centurians that are actually trying to seize power and control the LA Institute!  They're taking credit for the accomplishments of others, and they're ready to expose some of those secrets that are being kept within those institute walls.  Oh yeah, and Cristina's ex happens to be engaged to the worst one of them all, their arrogant leader.  But wait, it's not what it seems.  He's not really in love with her.  He *had* to do it, if you'd just let him explain . . . 

But wait, Cristina has accidentally become bound to Mark after a trip into Faerie to rescue Mark's former lover Kieran.  This will be inconvient, huh?  What's that?  Kieran was tortured and doesn't remember events from the previous book, like Mark breaking up with him?  So now Mark has to keep that part secret because Kieran is not only in danger, but is now a key pawn in the Seelie Queen's plans.  Well this just got a lot more messy.

Kit is now staying with the Blackthorns at the LA Institute.  I'd totally forgotten who the heck he was from the first book, and only vaguely remember that his father was killed by demons.  He's become best friends with Livvy and Ty now as he slowly embraces his true Shadowhunter roots.  A lot of the book has you wondering if he'll end up as couple with Livvy . . . or Ty.  Cassandra Clare is not shy about gay characters in her books.  And that leads to one of my biggest complaints of all.

Can we stop with trying to work every current hot topic into the story in an effort to be relevant?!?!  Seriously!  In this book we have autism, gay couples, gay couples adopting children, race wars, mixed race couples,  gay couples adopting children of other races, body image (a chubby Shadowhunter), registration and restriction like the Nazis did to the Jews (certain Nephilim trying to do it to Downworlders), and oh yeah, let's now bring transgender into it all.  Some of these things can still be worked into the story in an effective way, like the Downworlder registry, but others have absolutely no point in the overall story.  The character who is transgender?  WHAT does any of that have to do with anything?!  No, it's just a weak way to bring a new current social issue into it.

The story shifts from the LA Institute to the London Institute, where for some reason they all have to wear 100 year old clothing that was left behind there.  Why?  I thought it would come into play later when a certain important character finally emerged from hiding but nope.  Just like the whole story of the binding spell between Mark and Cristina fizzled out with a very underwhelming resolution.  Why even waste pages on these things?  And if I could count the pages of endless babble about how hot Julian is to Emma, and how hot Emma is to Julian, and how painfully deep their love is for each other, and endless explanations of how their feelings came to be . . . probably at least 100 pages could have been cut from this book, if not more.  We got the point a long time ago about how attractive they are and how attracted they are to each other.  We don't need yet another description of her hair falling loose in a golden cascade, or his long lashes fluttering against his cheeks as he sleeps.  Ugh.

I really do think more than half of the things going on in this 699 page beast of a book could have been eliminated.  If there are things coming up later, then streamline those storylines and bring those things in when they are needed, not buried somewhere a thousand pages ago where we'll never remember them.  The main plot of *this* book could very easily have been stripped down and still gotten to the same point in the end, with probably a much stronger story in the process because we're not forced to bounce all over the place.  And of course new things were added right at the end of this one so I'm pretty sure the next book will probably be about 800 pages of chaos.

Despite all that, I did not hate this book.  I still like Mark's part of the story, and wish there had been more of it in here.  I am still curious to see how Julian and Emma's forbidden romance will be resolved.  I am curious to see how the battle for the Black Volume ends up.  I just don't care for all the drivel and attempts at social relevance we're forced to endure along the way.  Just give us a good solid (and shorter!) story!

If you're okay with long stories and epic adventures, you'll probably love this book.  If you like a faster paced, more on-point story, you might want to skip this one.  If you love the Shadowhunter world but don't want to commit to this beast, look for a summary online and hope that the next book is better.

Let me know what you decide!
Are you a Shadowhunters fan?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

July 6 - Craft Haul

Well I did not quite finish that book last night before bed, so I've been trying to finish it today but keep getting distracted by things.  Like the mail arriving, which brought me a crafty package, which means I can finally do this haul post.  I thought I'd go ahead and post this early enough in the day, so I can still go play with my new crafty things.  Or, you know, go finish reading that book.

This is a simple bar magnet.  These are all the rage now for use in the Misti stamping tool.  Small, circle magnets have been the usual style to hold the paper in place but last fall or winter a big name crafter mentioned these bar magnets and of course everyone has to have them now.  I thought it would be so handy to just have one magnet instead of those little ones that like to snap together because I forget and move them too close to each other.  But actually, I don't really like using this one for some reason.  It also seems to be just a hair too thick, like the Misti cover won't close and stamp completely.

I gave in and got my first set of Distress Inks.  These are the mini cubes, just one set so I could just try them out.  I still don't know all the finer details about different types of inks but it seems this is the preferred style for creating your own backgrounds, and they react with water so it's common to see crafters doing a water droplet splatter effect type look.  I have not played around too much yet but my first attempt was nothing impressive.  I was like 'Why are these so great?'  But I'll play with them more and see if it eventually clicks for me.

Bought a pack of these ink applicator/blender tools too, thinking I'd eventually have a full collection of the Distress Inks.  The little foamy end things are removable so you can have one dedicated to each ink color, and just pop one off and the next one on as you work.  These also fit in the bottoms of the mini cubes for storage, so it's easy to keep each colored applicator with its proper ink pad.

Got this boring hardboard for when I do watercolor painting.  Any hard, flat surface would do but hey, get what the pros use, right?  This is like a clipboard type material.  You tape your paper onto this while you paint.  Taping the edges helps minimizing the warping of the paper.

Of course I had to have this die set because, well, it's a castle.  You cut the pieces out of whatever paper you're using and build your castle how you want it.  I saw some really cute example pics online.

Bought this small stencil with that castle die in mind, but I think the bricks will actually be too big to use with it.

Florals are not my thing in wax or in stamps but after trying watercoloring, they seem like an easy thing to color and a versatile image to have on hand.
Got this mini set just for added sea creatures.  I've seen some cute summery themed cards that include this set.

I've wanted this set for a while but keep passing it up whenever I'm ordering things.  I have the winter fairies version of this already.  I recently saw the most colorful and adorable card made with this set and that's what made me decide it was time to get it.

I seem to be collecting a lot of background stamps lately.  I just like this gingham design.

Yes!  Fall stamps!  This isn't new but I'm finally getting it.  The site I ordered from did not have the coordinating die set in stock, but I will get it from somewhere soon.

And Halloween!  This one seems quite versatile, and I have sets of notecards in mind.  Again, the die set was out of stock at the time.

I saw this set some time ago when it was all the rage but for whatever reason was not interested in it.  Now that I'm playing around with watercolor painting and embossing and shimmer, these unicorns are suddenly of interest to me.  There are also wing stamps in the set, so I can change the unicorn into a pegasus if I want.  Oh yeah, and there is a castle stamp in the set.

Finally got myself a jar of super fine clear embossing powder.  Many of the crafters prefer using clear powder over black ink instead using black powder, which is very finicky and messy.

Of course I then had to get some black sticky ink.  This stuff is different than regular stamping ink, in that it stays wet and sticky longer, which allows you to dump the embossing powder on it.

Annnnnd finally, I went crazy and bought every color of Perfect Pearls powder I could find.  I already had four colors (pearl, bronze, copper, and gold) and it was playing with those that I fell in love with the look and imagined myself using the technique for everything.  So of course I needed color options!
There are a couple different ways you can use the powders.  I prefer this dry method.  You stamp with sticky ink and then just brush the powder over the stamped areas.  It leaves a shimmery, sort of metallic or foiled look.  Most people talk about using it on darker colored paper to really get the full effect, but I think it looks awesome even on white paper.  I *love* this but need to practice setting the powders after application.  People say to use a fine mist of water or hairspray.  I'm still learning how to not glob on too much mist.
You can also mix a tiny bit of the powder with a tiny bit of water and use them as shimmery paints, which is what I've done in this example pic.  See all that shimmer?  This example also has the clear embossing powder on black sticky ink.

So yeah, I think I have plenty of things to play with now, don't you?!
I need to practice these new techniques though.  I have all these ideas in my head but get so frustrated when I try them and fail.  Baby steps, dear.  Baby steps.

That is my collective craft haul for now.  I'd like to say I'm done ordering for a while but we all know that would be a lie.  With the excitement and plans going ahead for our little crafty hobby farm, and with new fall items probably coming out soon, I'm sure I'll be ordering plenty more, plenty soon.

What do you think of the Perfect Pearls looks?
Are you familiar with Distress Inks?
What should I make first?!