January 2014 Favorites

Love & Toast Hand Creme in Honey Coconut

Was shopping at Ulta after work one day and got sucked in by this brand’s completely adorable packaging.  Who doesn’t want cute little birdies on their tube of hand cream?  Luckily, and more importantly, the product is awesome.  The honey coconut scent is not overly sweet or heavy.  I really want to try more from this brand, particularly their sugar grapefruit scent.

Dior Crème Abricot Fortifying Cream For Nails

Confession: This cuticle cream is my first ever Dior product.  But it has been around since 1963 and women everywhere have sworn by it for decades, so I think I picked a good product to start with.  I have been using it every night as I go to bed.  I use the tiniest bit and massage into the cuticle/nail area.  It’s very goopy and takes awhile to sink in, but it works wonders on my nails.  I actually forgot to use it a few nights in a row last week, and I could definitely tell the difference when I stopped.  Peely, dry hangnail city!  Ugh.  A couple nights later, after remembering to use the product faithfully, everything was back on track again.  Oh, and it smells great!  So as long as you can get past the goopy, sticky texture (which is why it is recommended to use it right before bed), then you will love it as much as I do.

Downton Abbey

I love everything about this show.  Acting, writing, story, sets, costumes, characters, everything.  Similar to Mad Men, this show does an amazing job with weaving tidbits of real, factual history throughout the story; from the sinking of the Titanic, to WW1, to the fads and fashions of the Roaring Twenties, to the introduction of various inventions and conveniences to the house (electric lights, sewing machines, refrigeration, the telephone, etc).  My favorite character in the whole show, hands down, is Carson, the overly stuffy but loveable head butler.  His utter disgust at anything being out of order, or any kind of change at Downton, just cracks me up.  Second would be Violet, the Dowager Countess, who is the perfect mix of “prim and proper elderly noblewoman stuck in her Victorian ways” and “feisty, witty, and wise grandmother who tells it like it is”.  It helps that Violet is played by the incredible Maggie Smith.

New episodes of Downton Abbey air on PBS on Sunday nights, but you can stream prior episodes via Amazon Prime Instant Video.  And if you haven’t, I suggest that you do.  Even Tadd loves this show!

Manicure of the Month

My favorite manicure combo of January was this navy & gold striped look achieved with Butter London’s Big Smoke (navy) and Orly’s Luxe (gold).  Love both of these polishes, and together they are gorgeous!  Lately I have been loving all things nautical, and I felt like this was a good representation of that look without being too in your face about it.  I had intended to have small gold anchors stamped on my thumbs, but the image plate I have just wasn’t working well.  I have more nautical-themed image plates on the way from MoYou London!  If you want to keep up with my nail stamping adventures, follow me over at Sunshine And Some Polish!

Candles of the Month

This month we have been burning Yankee Candle’s limited edition Boston Strong candle (which is no longer available, but I believe is the same or similar scent as their Home Sweet Home candles) and a Bath & Body Works’ 3-wick in the scent Gelato.  We usually have 2 candles to choose from at any given time, and after finishing our post-holiday candles (Vanilla Snowflake and Champagne Toast), I wanted to switch to some fragrances that kind of bridged the gap between winter and spring.  Winter doesn’t last very long here in Florida, and I tend to like my scents to follow the weather and/or season.  Boston Strong is spicy with a bit of a tea backnote, which I think is a perfect cozy scent for cooler weather.  Gelato smells like berries & cream, which is perfect when we are in the mood for something a little lighter and more spring-like.

What have you been into this month?

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December 2013 Favorites

Trying something new here… I have been thinking that at the end of each month I am going to share some things that I have been loving.  Here’s my list for December:

Lush Snowcake Soap

This is one of Lush‘s seasonal items (and it is currently BOGO!).  It’s definitely a favorite of mine this time of year.  It’s a super creamy soap, so it tends to melt really fast, but the smell is ahhhhhmazing!  It smells like sweet almond fabulousness.  It’s super moisturizing and the scent lingers on your skin.  My bar is sadly already gone, which is why I was so glad I got this for Christmas:

Lush Snowcake Perfume

Every once in awhile Lush will release limited edition perfumes based on some of their most popular products, and this time one of the perfumes they released is Snowcake Perfume!  I was so excited to have been able to get one of these before they sold out.  Now I can smell like my favorite soap anytime I want.

EOS Lip Balm in Lemon Drop

I know I am late to the party and these things have been trendy for awhile now, but I picked one up at Ulta the other day and have kept it at my desk at work and with this drier air, my lips have quickly become addicted.  I also love the fun spherical shape and the lemon flavor.  I think I need a few more to leave around…One for the car and one for the house would be nice.

Nail stamping

For awhile now, I have been fascinated with nail stamping.  It started with YouTube videos like this one:

So, inspired by this, I asked for some nail stamping supplies for Christmas.  I ended up with a stamping tool, scraper, and 76 different image plates!  I also got a ton of new nail polishes.  After some trial and error, I discovered that it’s really important, especially when you are first learning, to have the correct type of nail polish for stamping.  The consistency needs to be slightly thicker than standard nail polish so that it is easily visible with one thin coat, and it can’t dry too quickly on the image plate so that the image transfers to the stamping tool properly.  I have ordered some stamping polishes in white and black and I am currently waiting for them to arrive.  In the meantime, some metallics can work well, so that is what I have been experimenting with.  Below was my first try.  Base color is Germanicure by OPI and I stamped the fish scale pattern with Luxe by Orly.

Definitely far from perfect, but I need to practice more.  Not too awful for a first try though.

Bath & Body Works 3-Wick Candles for December

I am always burning Bath & Body Works 3-wick candles.  I tend to rotate between two different scents at any given time.  In December I cycled through one set before Christmas and one set after Christmas.

Before Christmas, it was Fresh Balsam (Tadd’s favorite) and Twisted Peppermint:

“With the first big snowfall of the season comes the delightful scent of balsam and fir trees, layered with notes of fresh eucalyptus”

“Merry and bright peppermint celebrates the season with notes of vanilla and sugary musk in this cheer-filled scent”

After Christmas, it was Champagne Toast and Vanilla Snowflake:

“Pop, clink and sparkle with an effervescent blend of Champagne, juicy nectarine and blackcurrant”

“A delectable blend of creamy vanilla, winter mint, and a touch of coconut.”

Boney Bunch Preview 2013

I know it’s still summer, but who is in the mood for some fall-themed topics???  I know I am!

The first Saturday of August is always the preview event for Yankee Candle’s Boney Bunch collection.  I have attended this event for the past few years and have been collecting Boney Bunch figures for 5 years.  The first year I collected (2009), I really just bought one figure, the pirate seen on the left in this picture:

We were in the process of buying our first house and I knew I would be in some stage of packing/moving during the month of October, so I really didn’t want to invest in much seasonal decor at the time.  But I just couldn’t resist this guy!  He really kicked off my Boney Bunch habit.  At the time I really knew little to nothing about Boneys, and I didn’t get him at the preview…I just happened to be walking by my local Yankee Candle at some point in early September, and he was on a display of Boneys that hadn’t sold out yet at the very front of the store.

2010 was my first year attending the preview.  I think this was my favorite year, because I feel like they were in their heyday of creativity that year.  They had such a variety of items, including several non-candle things.  That was the first year that I got a candy dish promo-with-purchase item, which I LOVED!  I also had to get the adorable salt & pepper shakers.  PLUS as you can see in the photo below, they gave out small jar candles that were Boney Bunch-branded.  I believe the small jar candle was free, and the candy dish was $10 with a $30 purchase.  I wish they still did things like this.

I ended up skipping the preview event in 2011, because I was in the midst of my No Spend August Challenge.  But I was right back to it for 2012.  Last year was the first year they had a kitty Boney, which of course, I love.  They did another kitty figure this year, so I am hoping that they will have a new kitty Boney every year from now on.  I also got the light-up submarine (Tadd’s favorite), and the “Dead and Ferried” rowboat.  I also got another promo-with-purchase candy dish (which you can see in the below pic from last year’s Halloween decorations).

THIS year, the only promo-with-purchase was a generic non-Boney pumpkin plug-in with your choice of scent refill for $5.  It’s definitely cute, and I did buy one (we got the Autumn Leaves scent if you’re curious), but I also thought it was kind of lame.  If I am at the Boney Bunch preview, I want the special promo item to be a Boney item, you know?  I didn’t take a picture, but you can see this year’s preview promo item here.  See what I mean?  Cute, but nothing special.

We also got the “Bone White and the 7 Dwarves” jar holder with a medium jar in Witches’ Brew.  I think this might be my favorite Boney item of ALL time!  It’s SO cute!  I love that Bone White is holding a black apple.  Nice touch!  The jar candle is adorable too.  It’s hard to see, but the candle itself is black glass, and it has all these cute Halloween images in white around it.  Really fun!

We also got the “Bone Dry” tea light holder, which unfortunately broke before we got it home.  We brought it right back to the store and were able to order another one before they sold out (it was already sold out at my store, which is why they had to order one for us), so it should be on its way to us shortly.

And, of course, we HAD to get the kitty tealight holder!

Ever since we adopted our own Halloween black cat, Jacoby, I have been REALLY into black cat Halloween decorations.  Some of you may remember last year when Yankee brought out their black cat collection at Halloween, and I could not resist ordering the tea light holder, because it looked JUST like my Jacoby!

Well, they brought back that same collection this year, and I could NOT resist this little jar clinger after Tadd pointed it out to me.  So this was a total impulse purchase, and not a Boney item, but I love it!

After taking pics, I sadly packed everything back up and put it all away until September.  Because August 3rd is too early, even for me, to start decorating for fall & Halloween!   Soon enough, my pretties!

This totally put me in the fall/Halloween spirit all weekend.  I wore my skull scarf on Saturday, burned one of my more fallish summer candles (Summer Boardwalk by Bath & Body Works…it has a very foody, bakery/cinnamon/caramel/popcorn kind of scent that reminds me more of fall than summer), and let Tadd talk me into buying a Sam Adams Harvest Collection variety pack.  I drank my first pumpkin beer of the season last night!

Are you getting into fall-mode like me?  Or are you holding on to summer a little longer?

Favorite Things Link Party!

Melissa at 320 Sycamore is hosting a Favorite Things Link Party today!  What a great idea for a link party…We all have those little things that we have discovered recently that are worthy of sharing.  Here are a few of mine:

1. Kindle Fire HD

I had been hemming and hawing for awhile on getting a tablet.  My cheapie $300 laptop was starting to show its age, and I had decided about 6 months ago that instead of replacing it, I would keep it as long as possible and use it just for things like photo editing and blogging, but get myself a tablet for more daily use and for travel.  I went back and forth for awhile on iPad vs. Kindle Fire HD, and was anxious to see the price point on the iPad Mini, but as soon as the Mini was announced (starting at $329…way higher than I expected), I made up my mind.  A few weeks later, I had my brand new Kindle Fire HD and I couldn’t be happier.  More power to you iPad users, but there’s no way you can tell me that for twice the price, you get twice as much.  Kindle Fire HD blows iPad out of the water when it comes to value.  At least for me!

2. Amazon Prime

Piggy-backing on my previous mention of the Kindle Fire HD…I also elected to enroll in the Amazon Prime membership, which so far has saved me a ton on fast shipping for my holiday shopping (one of the perks is FREE 2 day shipping on most items they sell).  I also love all of the complimentary content (books, and streaming movies and TV shows) I can get on my Kindle!

3. White Barn Candle Company – French Baguette candle

I recently stopped in to a Bath & Body Works store to stock up on a few of their holiday items, when I came across this French Baguette candle.  Neither Tadd nor I can get over how realistic it smells!  Like real, true fresh-baked crusty french bread.  I couldn’t resist and bought myself a mini candle, and have burned it in my electric tart burner a ton the past few weeks.  We both adore it.  As a matter of fact, Tadd worked from home the other day and when I got home from work, he told me he had burned this scent all day.  It’s just incredible!  Even if you are not interested in buying it, at least give it a sniff next time you are in a Bath & Body Works store.  You will be amazed!

4. One Love Organics Aromatic Body Serum

I got a sample of this in my November Birchbox, and it has become one of my favorite items I use daily.  It’s a scented body oil, which is great for dry skin (especially this time of year!), and the chamomile scent is lovely and soothing.  It’s the perfect blend of floral and herbal.  I don’t like scents that are perfumey and overly floral, and this is none of those things.  I spritz a tiny bit on my wrists and neck in the morning in lieu of perfume, and keep it in my purse for use here and there throughout the day.  I sometimes get patches of dry skin, and this helps with that immensely.  And the sample size I received is perfect for the cosmetics bag in my purse.  It also comes in Lavender (which I would love to try!), Neroli, and Rose scents.

5. Walt Disney World FL Resident Seasonal Pass (and the monthly payment option)

disney-world-annual-pass

Ok, so this item is only available to Florida Residents, but it is definitely one of my favorite things, so I am sharing!  It’s no secret that Tadd and I are fans of visiting Walt Disney World (which is about a 40 minute drive from our house).  We both have passes, as do many of our friends.  We try to go about once per month, and tend to go more often during the October thru December timeframe, when all of the fall and winter holiday events are going on.  A Florida Resident Seasonal Pass is currently $318.44, but Disney has an option that allows you to break up that cost into 12 months.  There is no additional fee for choosing this option.  All you do is pay a one-time down payment equal to a 1 day ticket ($94.79) and then pay $18.64/month over the next 12 months.  Keep in mind that the Seasonal Pass has blackout dates and does not cover the parking fee (as opposed to the Annual Pass, which is a little more money but has no blackout dates and free parking).  However, if you know someone with an Annual Pass, you can catch a ride with them into the parks.  And I honestly don’t think the blackout dates are all that bad.  Usually they are the last 2 weeks of December, the 2 weeks surrounding Easter, and mid June thru mid August.  They are all the times where either the crowd level or weather (usually both) will be too miserable anyways.  We have been passholders for years, and still find that they are a great value to us, and I love that it’s something we enjoy doing together.  And even after all these years of visiting the same parks, Disney still comes up with new stuff for us to see and ways to keep the parks interesting!

Jacoby’s Halloween Doppleganger

When I got home from my trip, there was a package waiting for me from Yankee Candle.  I had seen this black cat tea light holder in the 2012 Halloween catalog and absolutely fell in love.  But it wasn’t in stock when I attended the Boney Bunch preview back at the beginning of August, and when I tried to order it online, it said it was out of stock.  A few weeks later, I checked the website again and it was available, so I snatched it up (along with a small jar candle in the Pumpkin Pie scent so I could use my $10 off $25 coupon…it’s my FAVORITE of all the pumpkiny Yankee Candle fragrances).

When I opened the candleholder, I was absolutely delighted with how much it reminded me of my Jacoby-kitty.  Don’t they look like they could be twins?

So happy with this purchase!  And even though I haven’t pulled out the rest of my Halloween & fall decor yet, this one is already on display.  I just adore it.  And so does Jacoby!

Tuesday’s Tip: Wax Tarts and Tart Warmers!

I know I took a little break from Tuesday’s Tips, but I’m back with another one today!  I’m sure you are beside yourself with excitement…  Heh.

I think I have a slight addiction with home fragrance.  I absolutely love scented candles (especially this time of year!), but those large jar candles can be SO pricey!  And then you have to commit to one scent when you buy them.  No way can I afford to buy several $20 or $30 jar candles.

My solution to this dilemma is this little baby:

My handy-dandy electric tart warmer!

I’m sure most of you know how these work, but if you aren’t familiar with tart warmers, they are designed to melt wax potpourri or tarts, and fragrance the air much like a scented candle would.  But instead of spending $20+ for a large candle, you spend a buck or two for one of these:

So you can spend the same amount or less than your big jar candles, but you get to pick out 10 or more different scents!  I tend to like to pick my scent based on my mood, so this works really well for me.

To use, you just unwrap your wax tart, pop it into your tart warmer and turn it on!  As the wax melts, scent fills your room.  Mmmmmmm…cinnamon!  If you have a regular, non-electric tart warmer, you have to light an unscented tealight underneath the warmer.  But I much prefer the convenience and safety of being able to warm the wax without an open flame.  The electric warmers get warm, but never hot, so it’s a really great option for those with pets and children, although I would still suggest keeping it out of reach, of course.  And there are some really pretty electric warmers out there too.  They have some to match just about every decor.

One great thing I have found to use with the electric warmers are that you can use them to safely melt the wax of smaller candles without having to light them.  In particular, I have been loving those new 1.6 oz mini candles you can get for fairly cheap at Bath & Body Works.  Like this one:

Instead of lighting them, I just pop them on top of my electric tart warmer and the heat melts the wax and releases the fragrance the same way it does for the tarts.  Right now these B&BW mini candles are on sale 3 for $5.  Very economical way to get a variety of scents.  Maybe get yourself a fall collection with pumpkin, cinnamon, and some kind of outdoorsy woodsy fall leaves scent (those are always Tadd’s favorites).  Then you can swap them out based on your mood!  This same trick also works great for any of the smaller glass jar candles (Yankee, Bath & Body Works, any brand).  You can also use a knife to cut up a votive into chunks of wax and put them into the warmer bowl and melt them that way instead of lighting them.  It’s very versatile.

BONUS TIP: People sometimes aske me how I get the melted wax out of the removable bowl on the top of the warmer.  Simple simple simple!  When you are done, turn off your warmer and let the wax fully cool and solidify.  Then put the bowl in your freezer for about 5 minutes.  The freezing temperatures shrink the wax and it will just pop right out in one big chunk!

What are your favorite methods of home fragrance?  What are your favorite types of scents?  I tend to like seasonal scents (like cinnamon, apple, and pumpkin), tropical fruits, and fresh/herbal scents (like mint, sage, etc).