Friday, December 12, 2014

Santa Jar

Just a quickie post to show you the cute Santa jar I created this morning. C wanted a gift for his hairdresser. He approached me with an empty pickle jar and asked if I could turn it into something that looked like Santa. A quick Bing search yielded tons of ideas. Having not crafted in ages I wasn't sure what kind of supplies I had around. But luckily I had everything I needed. I wrapped the jar in red felt and hot glued it on. Black fold over elastic provided the belt with a little glitter paint for the buckle. I found the perfect buttons in my button jars. Some fiber fill for the collar and more felt and a pompom for the hat. Totally adorable. Now I just need some candy to fill it!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Lake in Wood Campground

It is a well known fact that C and I are homebodies and rarely venture out. See Webster's entry for homebody and you'll see our picture (just kidding). But for the last 2 years we've been dreaming of a lakeside cabin getaway for vacation. We tried last year, a place in Mount Grenta's Chautauqua, but it was a bust. Not to be deterred, we kept looking and this year settled on Lake in Wood Campground in Narvon.
We rented a cabin right by the lake for a few days the end of October. Being the end of season, the place was nearly deserted. However, it was peak for fall foliage in Pennsylvania that week and the colors were gorgeous.


 
Our view was perfect and I spent most of the time just staring at the lake.
 
The cabin was clean and cozy and had all the amenities of home (heat, tv, internet, kitchen and bathroom). We are very much looking forward to going back again next year and would recommend them to anyone looking for a nice getaway.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Moona Lisa haul

I heard of Moona Lisa years ago when I was big into BPAL and other eccentric indie perfumers. There was talk of how great her scents were, how gorgeous her presentation, but mostly how damn hard it was to get a hold of. I looked at the site a few times but it was always closed so I gave up and forgot about it. But recently I ran across a few MoonaLisa hauls on YouTube and it piqued my interest again. Again, the site was sold out. So I asked around and found out the scoop. Moona only opens up a few times a year with limited edition releases. Pretty much the only way to know when this is going to happen is to follow on Facebook. So this is where I heard about the Halloween release. Halloween was live for about a week starting August 30. I didn't know how fast things would sell out so I made sure to get my order in on day 1. Not sure what is typical since I've only participated in one sale but it looks like you wouldn't necessarily have to be there during the first few hours. From then, its been a long wait. She is very up front about the turn around time. If you are in a hurry, don't even bother. It is my understanding typical TATs are around a month. Since Halloween is one of the bigger sales it runs longer. I received mine Oct 18, so about a month and a half. Was it worth the wait????
I picked up 2 soaps, 2 perfume oils and a leave in detangler hair spray. She also had body lotions, salt soaks, shower gel, body scrubs and wax tarts.
The two soaps I picked up are Late Harvet and Pumpkin Clafouti. The bars are IMMENSE! One is 8.5 ounces and the other over 9!! That's nearly double the size most handmade soapers offer. They are stunning. There is little information on her website so I was leery of ordering soaps...would they be cold process or melt and pour? These are definitely cold process. Very hard and well cured. The scents are outstanding. Very strongly scented. I can not wait to use them but they are too gorgeous to use!
Next up are the perfume oils. I know I've said I have pretty much moved on from perfume oils but the 'weens always suck me in. I chose Sleepy Hollow, (her description: Experience the legend with this solid perfume flying Ointment reminiscent of smoldering seasoned oakwood fires, warmed leather from fierce riding through the eastern woodside and the distinct aroma of roasted spiced pumpkin flesh and smoldering marshmallows). At the top I get raw pumpkin (no sweetness or spice) and as it dries more wood and smoke come through. Of course I had to get Smoldering Havana Charmer (a new Amber Tobacco Chocolate scent, I made a new version of the Duchess but much more complex , grown up and edgy.) This comes off exactly as she describes it...chocolate, amber and tobacco. Fantastic. Loved that it came wrapped in a tube to look like a mini cigar. Too cute.
And lastly I got her detangler spray in Durga (Gingery, buttery, spicy brown sugar and a hint of grounding earthy patchouli & Neroli. Smells like the MOST delicious Halloween cookies baking and a breath of Autumn Graveyard air. Hmmm, Sweet Haunted Home). The scent seems rather faint to me compared to the detanglers I have from Alchemic Muse which leave my hair scented for hours. But I've only smelled it from the bottle, not sprayed in my hair. So I'll have to report back after I've had a chance to give it a good try.

There was a little goodie bag included as well with a collectors card, a piece of candy and a soap sample. Again, the sample is quite generous and comes in a little sealed cup. This is going with on vacation next week!

So, was it worth the wait? Hell yeah. If you are into this kind of indie bath and body stuff, get on her Facebook and start saving your pennies!! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

eSalon product review


A little over a month ago I received a hair coloring kit from eSalon as part of a BzzAgent campaign (see my initial post here.) The campaign is ending this week so I wanted to get my thoughts posted. While I haven't had a chance to try the color kit yet, I have been using the "Tinted Love" color enhancing glaze and the "Shining Armor" oil treatment.

Tinted Love ($15) is unlike most color glazes I've tried in the past. The product is quite thin and looks like liquid gold. You use the product between shampoo and conditioner. The odd thing is that it lathers like a shampoo. It doesn't seem to be a cleansing product in that my hair does not feel stripped. It is also not conditioning, I still use my regular conditioner after. I just use a quarter size amount, work it into my wet hair and let it sit for 3 or 4 minutes before rinsing out. I've been using it twice a week. It does add a nice shine to my hair and maybe some golden highlights. I would not say that it has prolonged my color at all, though. So, color enhancing, yep, color extending, no.

Shining Armor ($18) is a lightweight leave in oil treatment. It has a faint citrus smell that fades quickly. It did a fine job smoothing my hair and keeping frizz at bay. I've used it on both wet and dry hair with equally good results. I've used it at least 4 or 5 times per week and it feels like the bottle is about 2/3 gone.

As I said, these products were sent to me free to try with the campaign....Would I buy these products with my own money? Probably not. They ARE fine products but I feel like there are equally good products out there for a fraction of the price. I'm still looking forward to trying the color when I get to the point I need it and will post my thoughts on it then.


Monday, September 22, 2014

September 2014 Goodebox

I received my bi-monthly edition of the Goodebox last week. September's box is curated by Sadie Lincoln, founder of Barre 3.
The main item in the box is a free 30 day membership to Barre3.com, an online fitness site. The workouts are based on ballet, yoga and pilates moves and range from 10 to 60 minutes. The site also includes recipes and weight loss programs. I'm planning to start my free month over my long weekend next week so it will stretch into vacation the end of October. I am excited to try the workouts as I love both yoga and pilates. A "field guide" with food tips, exercise schedules and tracking charts was included along with one of those tacky stretch bracelets. Since I'm already using Atkins.com to track my fitness/weightloss I doubt I'll use the booklet and the rubber band is going straight to the trash. (value $15)

Next up are 3 sample packets of Weleda Skin Food. I love that they included 3 since most foil packets don't contain much product. Skin Food is a rich moisturizer for dry skin. I do believe I've tried it a long time ago and liked it. I'm sure it will be perfect for the the inevitable dry skin of winter! (value ?, maybe $.50)

A tin of Jacobsen Salt Co. salt. I must admit, I'm pretty cool with plain old kosher salt. This flake salt comes in a cute tin but otherwise, tastes like salt to me. I'm sure I'll use it but wouldn't go out of my way to purchase it. (value $2.95)

A full size All Natural Face cream blush in Dusky Rose. I already know and love this brand. I have 2 of their cream blushes already but this is a new color for me. These blushes are easy to apply and give long lasting color. The brownish red color should be nice for fall. (value $5.75)

SquareHue nail polish in Canon Drive 08.14. SquareHue is a monthly subscription box that includes 3 limited edition colors. Cost is $14.99 plus shipping (total $19.99). The polish I received was a gorgeous purple color. Unfortunately it chipped on me in less than 3 days. I'll give it another try or two to make sure it wasn't just a bad week. (value $5 plus there's a coupon to receive a free surprise box with your first month's subscription, value $15).

SkinnySkinny Dry Shampoo in Jasmine. I love the idea of not washing my hair everyday. And in that respect I am fortunate to have dry hair that doesn't get oily. Ever. So dry shampoo is a complete no go for me. However, this is a quite generous sample and I'm sure for someone that likes dry shampoo it would have been a great item. (value $7)

And finally a Coconut Cleansing Bar from Homespun Northwest.This is a small sample of a plain white coconut soap. It has no smell and, quite honestly, feels like a block of melt & pour soap. I use all the soap samples I get and I'm sure this will be a fine soap. I just prefer some bells and whistles in the soaps I buy so I don't think I would purchase this. (value ?, $1)

The Goodebox runs $18. So long as I actually use the Barre3 workouts I'll get my money out of it this month.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Latte

If there's one thing that just screams "fall" it's Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Something about cool weather brings out the craving for this spicy creamy drink. I don't have a Starbucks nearby so I've never had the original, but I have had various versions from local coffee places and they are all quite good. But pricey. And loaded with sugar. Since going back to Atkins this year I'm really trying hard to limit my carbs so I decided to make my own PSLs and see if I couldn't do it low carb.

I found a copy cat recipe for Pumpkin Spice Latte syrup and tweaked it a bit. Here's my version:
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups Splenda
4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbl canned pumpkin puree

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often. Cool. Remove all but one cinnamon stick. I do not strain my syrup (why waste that healthy fiber!?) but you could if you prefer a super smooth coffee. Transfer to a clean bottle and store in the refrigerator. Shake well before using. I use 3-4 tablespoons of syrup for my jumbo coffee mug (I like my coffee pretty sweet).

Next time I would use less cloves or maybe just leave them out and up it to 3 tablespoons of pumpkin. This syrup is delicious and makes a darn tasty PSL. The original recipes says it should last a month in the fridge, but at the rate I drink these I don't think I'll be pushing the shelf life! Using Splenda instead of sugar and adding real pumpkin greatly reduces the carbs and ups the fiber of this treat. Now I can enjoy one of my favorite fall drinks without the guilt!



1
  • 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar[4]
  • 4 cinnamon sticks[5]
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • - See more at: http://www.copycatrecipeguide.com/How_to_Make_Starbucks_Pumpkin_Spice_Syrup#sthash.F2LcFaG6.dpuf

    Sunday, September 14, 2014

    Vintage Created Soy Candles

    2nd post today but I really wanted to get this one up too.

    I recently discovered Vintage Created candles on Etsy. I picked up two of her woodwick soy candles for fall in Tobacco Caramel and Fireside.

    They come in beautiful, heavy glass jars that she says can be washed and reused when the candle is used up. I'm all about reusing my candle jars and these are beauties. The wicks provide a lovely glow and gentle scent throw. I was afraid the woodwick would be hard to put out but I found it easy to blow out. Tobacco Caramel smells reminiscent of Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille, yummy and cozy. Fireside is more of a woodsmoke scent than the sweet smokey scent of B&BW's Fireside, wonderful on a cold day. The only downside was the scent names weren't marked on my candles (perhaps an oversight, perhaps just the way it is). However, there are paper labels on the bottom of the jars where I was able to right on the name.

    Recently the owner, Elaine, posted a contest on Facebook to suggest layered candle scent combos of her fall scents. The contest didn't have much response and I won! As a prize I received a candle in my suggestion, Hayride over Mulled Cider.

    This is a traditional wick candle in a square mason jar. I love how the layers are a bit tilted so I should have a period when both scents combine. So excited to burn this one but I think I'm going to save it for October.

     If you are a candle lover I highly recommend checking out her Etsy shop. She offers several sizes and varieties of candles in a bunch of scents and her prices are quite good. Right now (through Monday 9-15-14) she is offering a sale of 10% off your pumpkin scented order using the coupon code PUMPKIN.

    Library sale book haul

    Yesterday was the annual Myerstown Library book and bake sale. It was a cool rainy day. But attendance still seemed good and we sold a lot of books and yummy baked goods. I didn't find any of the specific books I was looking for but still managed to fill my bag with some good finds.

    I've read a few Susan Wittig Albert and Janet Evanovich books in the past and enjoyed them so I added these five to my collection. Pumpkin Muffin Murder, The Lord is my Shepherd, Jeneration X and Talking to girls about Duran Duran have all been on my Kindle wishlist so I was happy to snag copies. Sugar Solution was recommend reading by my doctor a few years back. I'm a firm believer in cutting sugar and high glycemic foods so this should be interesting reading. Pirate Latitudes is a complete wildcard. I've read some Michael Crichton when I was younger, I love pirate stories so it could be good. Looks like I may have lucked out this year and didn't purchase any books that were already on my shelf! C also picked up a big pile of books but I didn't get a picture before he put them away.

    Now if I can just find time to read!!!

    Monday, September 01, 2014

    North Coast Organics - new HG natural deodorant

    A few years back I talked about my ongoing quest to find a good, natural deodorant. At the time, Lavanilla's Healthy deodorant had become my go to. And I do still love it. It's a bit pricey but it doesn't irritate my underarms, smells good, lasts most of the day.

    For the last year and a half I've been alternating between it and Crystal Deodorant Stick. Crystal is dirt cheap, works exceptionally well and, even after all that time I'm STILL on my first stick. It can be a little messier to use since you have to wet it to apply. I find it easier to just apply right after showering while my underarms are still wet. It can also sting a bit after shaving, hence I alternate between the two.

    Even with two go to deodorants on my shelf, ever fickle me still likes to try new stuff as it comes around. This summer I tried 2...the first was Nourish Organics. It was ok. Price was decent, smell was good. The product comes in a standard deodorant twist up tube. I found it to be quite soft and it left a lot of product residue on my skin. It did keep me fresh about as long as the Lavanilla, 8 hours or so before needing to reapply. No irritation after shaving. Because of the soft nature of the product I blew through the tube in a little over a month. Probably wouldn't repurchase this one.

    The other was buzzed about a good bit in the natural beauty community on You Tube and piqued my interest. I started following North Coast Organics on Facebook and when they ran a sale a while back, I took the plunge and placed an order.

    I picked up a sample of Revolver (a slightly masculine, woody scent), a full size of Death by Lavender (duh, lavender) and this totally awesome tee shirt because you KNOW I can't resist the skulls.

    This deodorant has quickly become my hands down holy grail. The scent is light and fades quickly for me. The product is firm and applies without leaving a bunch of gunk in your pits (or on your clothes). I don't find it irritates my skin at all even though it does contain baking soda. The best part, the tipping point that makes this one number one, is that the odor protection lasts more than 24 hours for me. Seriously. Even after working out and getting all sweaty and gross, I don't stink. Now, granted, it's not a huge problem for me to begin with (fortunately, I know). But still. I'm incredibly impressed. 

    They currently offer 3 varieties (the third is unscented) plus some lip balms and lotions. They are available in a few stores but ordering online is easy and shipping is fast. Definitely worth checking out.


    Monday, August 25, 2014

    New fragrances - Summer 2014 edition

    The arrival of my fall SA perfume box got me to thinking I should probably talk about my spring/summer perfumes before it's time to talk about fall!

    As I've mentioned before, I've greatly cut back on my perfume purchasing, trying to sample before purchasing full bottles. I'm also trying to stick to one new bottle per season. I slid a little these last few months but only a little.

    My first acquisition was Replica Lazy Sunday Morning from Maison Martin Margiela. I did sample this one first and fell instantly in love. At the time it was sold out everywhere but I snapped up a bottle as soon as I could from Sephora. It is a light, airy rose. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. This one has been in heavy rotation. I wore it for days on end when I first got it. The bottle is immense, thankfully, because I could bath in this stuff. Signature scent worthy.

    Next I purchased Fleur en Fleur from West Third Brand. This was a blind buy. I can't remember exactly what spurred me to buy this one...I was craving florals and it was dead cheap is my guess. Happy accident to be sure. This is another gorgeous scent. Super-girly, sweet floral. And the bottle is so retro cool. Don't let the label "body spray" fool you, this is a real perfume and lasts for hours.

    The third bottle is Avon's Today Tomorrow Always Together. I heard about this one on Fragrantica and really wanted to get my hands on it. Every time a new Avon catalog came out I scanned the pages only to find it not there. Diligent watching on Ebay led me to a bottle from Poland (I'm pretty sure this is still the only place you can get it at this time). Avon perfumes are really hit or miss for me. Most end up smelling exactly alike and not very good. This one, however, is an exception. For one, the bottle is stunning. Heavy, pale blue glass, delicate gold designs and a cap that looks like molten crystal. The scent is wonderful, white florals with a hint of peach and aldehyde. This one has gotten me the most complements when I wear it.

    There was a fourth purchase...another West Third Brand called Amber Bound. Another blind buy that didn't work out. The notes sounded so promising to me...sandalwood, tobacco leaf, amber, vanilla, and on and on. But the scent was liner, uber sweet amber. At least WTB is inexpensive and I was able to pass the bottle on to someone else who will enjoy it more.

    So those were my perfume purchases this summer. All in all I'm quite happy with the three. These could possibly be year rounders depending on the occasion.

    I'm already sampling scents for fall and think I have my single bottle picked out already. Hoping for Labor Day sales.