Friday, September 30, 2016

Fall Fun Series: Fall Bakery

As far as fragrances, bakery scents are my absolute favorite! I love fall bakery for all things home fragrance, body care, and of course to eat, so this post will include all three.

I have a huge selection of bakery wax melts so I chose a few favorites to highlight. I tried to focus less on pumpkin and apple scents since those will be specifically highlighted in other posts and more on other types of fall bakery. 
Starry Skies Dezzie's Brownies: Chocolate Chip Brownies + Vanilla Pumpkin Marshmallow 

Starry Skies Bonfire Nights: Chocolate + Toasted Marshmallow + Pie Crust

The Scented Squirrel Love From The Oven: Vanilla Pumpkin Pie & Toasted Marshmallow 

Cleanse Your Soul Oktoberfest Cake: Apple Cake with caramel filling, topped with candy corn buttercream icing

Country Lane Keepsakes Sweet & Salty Zucchini Bread: A bit of salted caramel chews baked into a zucchini bread and drizzled with maple syrup over the top

I'd also like to share a few chocolate and marshmallow body care favorites.

SW Basics Cocoa Lip Balm available at Target.

Bath & Body Works Beach Nights Summer Marshmallow body cream and fragrance mist: Top Notes: Toasted Marshmallow, Sea Salt Breeze. Mid Notes: S'mores Accord, Ginger Flower, Coconut Orchid. Dry Notes: Creamy Vanilla, Beach Driftwood, Soft Musk.

Haus of Gloi Ghost Puffs Pumpkin Butter and perfume oil: Orbs of buttery popcorn and marshmallow goo, presented on a wooden stick.

My favorite fall treats definitely include chocolate and marshmallow. Since I don't have a bonfire to roast s'mores around, I decided to make these delicious s'mores cookies instead. This recipe was pretty simple and the directions excellent; my cookies turned out perfectly! I have copied the text of the recipe for your convenience, and you can view the original recipe here.

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs, divided
  • 18 large marshmallows, cut in half
  • 36 HERSHEY’S KISSES chocolate, unwrapped

Combine the butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl. Mix with an electric mixer on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix just until combined.  Then slowly mix in flour, salt, baking soda and 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs. Mix just until combined.

Refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Roll the cookie dough into 1 1/2 inch balls (could use a medium cookie scoop) and then roll into the remaining graham cracker crumbs. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the bottoms are lightly golden.

Remove the pan from the oven and turn the heat to 450°F. Place the marshmallow halves on top of the cookies or broil and then cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes, or until the marshmallows are lightly toasted. Then remove the pan from the oven and press down the marshmallow lightly with a HERSHEY’S KISS chocolate.
Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.
These cookies taste best (and like a real s'more) when warm. To warm, place in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds.
These cookies are absolutely scrumptious! I highly recommend this recipe.

Do you like fall bakery scents for home fragrance or body care? Do you have any favorite fall baking recipes?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

OOTD: Summer/Fall Transition

Kimono Jacket:
Dress: Walmart 
Sandals: Payless 
Bag: Target, thrifted
Necklace: On Trend Boutique 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fall Walmart Beauty Box

I'm very happy with this Walmart beauty box. It's so convenient; you only have to sign up once and you receive a box once every 3 months for only $5 shipped! It has become my favorite subscription box for the value. This Fall 2016 box contains: 

Recent Wax Reviews

Can Do Pink Coconut: This was a nice vaguely sweet pink sugar and creamy coconut blend. Pleasant but not a standout. Moderate throw for about 6 hours. Overall grade B. Probably wouldn't repurchase.

Can Do Sugar Beans: A yummy VBN dupe! Moderate throw for about 6 hours. Overall grade B+. Might repurchase.

Starry Skies Starburst (orange + cotton candy + vanilla smoothie). This actually did smell just like an orange Starburst candy! Quite yummy. Moderate throw for about 8 hours. Overall grade: B+. Might repurchase.

Up The Creek French Lavender & Honey + Taffy: a spot on BBW fragrance dupe! A lovely, sweet, perfumey lavender. Fairly strong throw for about 8 hours. Overall grade: A-. Might purchase.

SGA Creamsicle Satsuma Marshmallow Fluff: This is absolutely delicious! A great creamy orange and vanilla ice cream aroma with a hint of bakery. Strong throw for 12+ hours. Overall grade: A+. Would repurchase.

Chrislan Candles Pumpkin Creme Brûlée: This was heavy on the pumpkin spice; I didn't really get that rich caramelized sweetness of Creme brûlée. The spices started to smell a little burnt after a while, so it wasn't my favorite. But it did perform well, strong throw for 10-12 hours. Overall grade: B. Probably wouldn't repurchase.

Starry Skies Cinderella (salt water taffy + fruit slices + cotton candy.) A very nice sweet fruity blend. Moderate throw for about 6-8 hours. Overall grade: B+. Might repurchase.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

NOTD: Zoya Azalea

I placed a recent Zoya order and interestingly enough they were all spring and summer colors rather than fall. I love them though, and I have tons of other fall colors anyway. 2 coats of Zoya Azalea, a smooth shimmery pink.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Fall Fun Series: Random Act of Kindness

Remember those pumpkin coffee cozies from my previous craft post? Well, they were all a part of my master plan to send a little fall care package to my fellow bloggers that are participating in the Fall Fun Series. I am having such fun blogging about these topics and reading posts from other bloggers with similar interests that I wanted to say thanks. Each of the bloggers that wanted to share their address received a handmade pumpkin cozy along with packets of two of my favorite fall drink mixes and a handmade fall greeting card.
The ladies that helped create this blogging series also received a special thank you of a travel mug.

I had so much fun planning this project and making theses cozies! I got my mom in on the fun as well; she made the gorgeous greeting cards. Here are a few of them.
She received a mug and coffee cozy as well as a thanks for all her help!

I have received many nice gifts and words of encouragement from friends online as well as in real life, and it brings me joy to be able to give something back.
  1. Do you enjoy sending out seasonal greeting cards? Have you ever sent or received a RAOK? Can you think of something nice you could do for a family member, friend, or even a stranger? I challenge you to share your random acts of kindness stories in the comments below!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

NOTD: Acorn Nail Art

1 coat WnW I Moss Have It with accents of Bonita Golden Girl. Acorn vinyl from Polished Vino.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Recent Wax Reviews

VCS Sunny Side Of The Street ("lemon coconut butter cake"): This is a delightful blend of sweet lemon with vanilla cake and a hint of creamy coconut. It had moderate throw for about 6-8 hours. I wish it was a bit stronger as it smelled delicious. Overall grade: A-. Might repurchase.

Handmade Prim Blood Orange: It was a very tart citrus, almost bitter, but I liked it. It had fairly strong throw for about 8 hours. Overall grade: A-. Probably wouldn't repurchase.

VCS Delphine's Macabre Mansion ("Beignets Powdered Sugar Cinnamon Gooey Caramel"): this was a warm, indulgent bakery scent with hints of spice and caramel. Love the leaf shape! As is pretty typical with most VSC scents for me, it had a moderate throw for about 6-8 hours. Overall grade: A-. Might repurchase.

TBG Belle Morte (Beautiful Death- "Scented with black fruits that are balanced with creamy vanilla notes and a hint of ozone and crisp greens." I loved this one! It smelled of vanilla and plums to me; very tantalizing. It had strong throw for 10 hours; very impressive. The shimmery lady skeleton shape was so cool too. Overall grade: A+. Would repurchase.

BHG Fall Into Autumn: For me this one had opening notes of fresh, juicy apple, middle notes of fresh air and pine, and bottom notes of warm roasting chestnuts. I like it a lot! It had fairly strong to moderate throw for about 8 hours; a little less strong than I'm used to from BHG. Overall grade: A-. Might repurchase.

Cosmic Gems Tea Time: This vendor makes one of my favorite tea & cakes blends; it's so warm and rich with strong throw that lasts all day. Definitely a repurchase. Overall grade: A+.

Kitty's Konfections Virgin Who Can't Drive (cotton candy + iced lemon cookie): I was disappointed by the scents in this cotton candy sampler overall; I don't think it was a very strong fragrance oil, but this is the strongest of the ones I've melted so far. It was a yummy lemon bakery scent with fairly strong throw for 6 hours. Overall grade: A-. Probably wouldn't repurchase.

Fall Fun Series: Favorite Fall Item

I can think of no better way to spend a fall afternoon than curled up with a cozy blanket, a good book, a warm beverage, and perhaps a sweet goodie. Here's some photos from last fall of my favorite pastime.

Another important part of my fall habits is a change in wardrobe. We get extremely hot summers in my area, so I probably don't wear socks for 6 or 7 months out of the year. However, when the fall chill finally nips the air, there's nothing I love more than slipping on a cozy pair of fuzzy socks. They're like hugs of happiness for my feet. I probably have about half a dozen pairs of fuzzy socks, but if I were ever in the mood to pay $8.50 for a pair of socks; I'd like to get these shea infused owls or foxes from Bath & Body Works.

Are you a fan of fuzzy socks? What are some of your favorite fall things?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

NOTD: 1st Day Of Fall

This is one coat of OPI German-icure. I freaking love it! So glad I picked it up recently. I also have Oktoberfest; I can't wait to see how they compare. These gold leaf decals are from Vinyl It Up and the gold glitter is LA Colors Dizzy.

Fall Feels

I woke up today on the first official day of fall and the weather was absolutely perfect! Two nights ago we heard the season's first pitter patter of fat rain drops on the roof, and today is the first day in over 6 months that the daytime temps will be in the 70's; hooray! (I refuse to think about the fact that it will go back up to the high 90's later in the week.) 

I feel like nature handed me a gift of perfect weather here on the autumnal equinox and it's got me feeling nostalgic. To celebrate I would like to share a little poem I wrote back in high school about this glorious season that's always captivated me. I took photography classes back in high school and I loved walking around the campus in the fall especially and taking cool photos of things like blazing fall foliage from an interesting perspective or reflections in puddles, so that's kind of what this poem is about.

The Electric Hues of Truth

Autumn foliage 
Ablaze in glory 
As I attempt 
To tell my story 

The young photographer 
Strolls alone
Searching for 
A truth of gold

Working to define
A higher life
Has always helped 
To soothe my strife

Won by pen or lens
My creations 
Have become 
My salvation 

Mirrored reflections 
Of lofty heights 
Digging beyond 
The average sight

Ensconced in what 
We think we see
Many take 
No time to be

Pathway to heaven 
Grand as a throne
Tree and puddle
Shine like a stone

Lift your eyes 
To the truth within 
Beauty that lies
In everyday things

- Amanda Culp

I'll leave you with this little gem I poached from Facebook.
What are some of your favorite fall memories, photos, treasures? What feelings does fall evoke in you?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

NOTD: Picture Polish Meow

I couldn't resist a cat named polish.
This is a one coater too! I didn't have very good lighting for pics though because it was overcast.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Fall Fun Series: Fall Craft

I have a nifty little talent I like to whip out every now and then, which is that I crochet. When I say that "I crochet," I mean that I took exactly 3 lessons as a child in 4-H and learned a couple of the most basic stitches. I have no idea how to read a pattern or do complicated stitches, but I know enough to get by. When I see a project that interests me, I just wing it and look at the photos and try to achieve a similar effect with the stitches I do know. So when I saw a bunch of photos of cute crochet pumpkin coffee sleeves popping up on Instagram, I thought "I can make that!" And I did. My finished product is rather "shabby chic," but I like it.
I have never written a crochet tutorial before, but I will attempt to describe the steps in case anyone would like to make one for themselves.

Allow 1-1.5 hours per cozy.
-medium weight yarns in your choice of colors
Medium sized crochet hook (I used size "I ".)
-yarn needle
-scotch or masking tape (optional)

Step 1: Crochet a chain of approximately 22 single stitches. This will look a bit smaller than your average coffee cup, but keep in mind the yarn stretches a lot and the cozy will slide off if too loose.

Step 2: Connect the beginning of the chain to the end of the chain and crochet 5 rows of half double crochet (or 8-10 rows single crochet if you want a tighter weave). For the last 3 rows, skip a stich at the seam of each row so that the circle will get slightly smaller and fit the taper of the cup.

Step 3: Tie your two loose ends off and trim excess yarn. Now you have the main sleeve part done, yay!

Step 4: For the pumpkin decoration chain 5 single stitches.

Step 5: connect the beginning and end of the chain, adding 2 single stitches in each existing stitch as you go around the circle so that it will expand and lay flat.

Step 6: Stop crocheting and tie off the end when the circle is the desired size to fit on your cozy.

Step 7: Thread a yarn needle (it will help to wrap the tip of your yarn in tape so it doesn't fray and is easy to thread) and sew the pumpkin onto the sleeve, hiding your knots on the inside.

Step 8: Thread the needle again and sew a couple small stitches at the top of your pumpkin to make the stem. Tie off the ends.

Slide your gorgeous new creation on a travel mug and enjoy a yummy beverage!

Have you ever made or used a handmade coffee sleeve? What are some of your favorite fall themed crafts?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Recent Wax Reviews

Starry Skies Alice (pink sugar + peppermint + birthday cake):
A delightful sweet bakery blend with a hint of peppermint. Fairly strong to moderate throw for about 8 hours. Overall grade: A-. Would repurchase.

Candy Panda Aphrodite's Mirror: This is a tart mixed fruit and herbal tea blend. It had moderate throw for about 6-8 hours. Overall grade: B+. Probably wouldn't repurchase.

VCS Jackie O Supreme (rich vanilla marshmallow birthday cake VBN): 
For something that had so many yummy vanilla blends in the description, the throw on this was not as strong as I would have liked. I melted half a coin and then the whole coin but still only got a light throw of an ordinary vanilla scent for about 6 hours. Overall grade: B-.
Might repurchase.

Kitty's Konfections Rollin' With The Homies (cotton candy + strawberry raspberry guava).
Had a moderate throw of a mixed fruit scent for about 8 hours. Overall grade: B. Probably wouldn't repurchase.

CLK Strawberries & Rhubarb: This had a lovely sweet strawberry scent with a hint of tart rhubarb. Fairly throw for several hours. Overall grade: A. Would repurchase.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

NOTD: Navy & Gold

All these colors have fabulous formulas. 1 coat OPI Russian Navy, 2 coats each SC Koko-Nuts and Zoya Tomoko.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Fall Fun Series: Fall Music

I thought this was a really interesting topic for a blog post, because it there really such a thing as "fall" music? Not really in the same way that there's Christmas music for example, with thousands of ubiquitous Christmas songs. Other than perhaps Monster Mash or maybe Thriller playing on the radio this time of year, I can't really think of a specific anthem or genre of music that represents the fall and Halloween season.

This inspired me to think a little deeper and interpret "fall" music as something that can evoke imagery of fall or feeling that one would relate to fall. I came up with two songs that give me that almost melancholy autumn vibe of wide open spaces, colorful foliage and mercurial weather.

The first is of the old school country variety that the hubby and I developed a taste for during trucking a few years ago. It's basically mandatory trucker music, but a lot of it really speaks to my soul. Whenever I heard John Denver's Country Roads, I'd get pretty homesick. I'm from the country in California, not West Virginia, but I really connect to the imagery in the song. Especially these lines-
"Radio reminds me of my home/far away/And driving/down the road/I get a feeling that I should have been home yesterday, yesterday. Country roads/take me home/to the place/where I belong."

We went through a lot of beautiful rural areas in state back east; winding roads with gorgeous fall foliage, and it always made me think that if I followed these roads long enough they'd lead me back to the ones I was familiar with. Since I've called a certain area home almost my whole life, I have images burned into my mind of those familiar back roads I would drive, where every tree, field, house and bend in the river is, and the feelings of longing, coziness and familiarity evoked by those images are synonymous with fall to me. Admiring the natural beauty of the season always made me feel connected to home no matter where I was, if that makes sense. 
Here are a few photos that help capture some of my fall memories.
This first photo is my ideal "Country Roads" image. It was taken in September 2013 in the village of New Berlin, New York. That area really captivated me; it's been my phone's home screen photo for years.
These two photos were taken in my parent's yard in December of 2014.

I have actually been to West Virginia too; it was quite nice. I didn't find any great landscape photos, but this selfie was taken in March 2013 in a cool 50's style diner in Fairmont West Virginia. We look so young!

The second of the two songs that gives me super moody fall vibes is Make It Rain by Ed Sheeran. It was actually debuted on the series finale of Sons of Anarchy, which was a show I followed. Not only was it the perfect soundtrack of the tumultuous end of this series but everything from the angst ridden opening guitar solo to the weather metaphor driven lyrics, this song really makes me think about a beginning of fall thunderstorm that washes away the heat of the summer.
"And let the clouds fill with thunderous applause/and let lightning be the veins And fill the sky/With all that they can drop/When it's time/To make a change/Make it rain"
Very fall like, don't you think?
Not to mention that even though the town of Charming where SOA takes place is fictional, it is set in central California and mentions many nearby to me cities that are real, so I have that extra connection to it.

What do you think of these songs? What would you consider "fall" music? Does any particular song evoke images of fall for you?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September Target Beauty Box

The most recent Target beauty box offered at the beginning of September was $10. I prefer the $5-$7 dollar boxes, but I do like most of the items in this box quite a lot. The cocoa butter lip balm is probably my favorite of the contents. I've been using it like crazy and it smells and tastes just like cocoa powder. Ineiobe doing a full review on it in a later post. The Revlon lipstick is also a nice plummy/burgundy shade for fall and glides on smoothly. I am excited to use the hair deep conditioner; it seems very luxurious. The Organix coconut milk conditioner is already a product I use and love, so it's nice to have a travel size. I feel like some of the products are just repeat filler though. I received the same Biore face wash and Laneige moisturizer in previous boxes, and while I like and have used them, I would rather receive an assortment of different products every time. I also have several unopened mascaras because almost every box has included a mascara and it's not something one goes through very quickly.
With almost every Target beauty box I find that I usually really like some of the items and feel rather meh towards the others. Usually if I want most of the items in the box I will go ahead and purchase it, but I have skipped a few boxes I wasn't that interested in. I do hope they offer the lower priced $5-$7 options again in the future; the cheaper the better in my opinion when it comes to boxes of samples.
Have you ever purchased Target's beauty box? How do you feel about sample or subscription boxes in general?

Product Review Country Mermaids Earrings

Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this post. I am not affiliated with this company and all opinions are my own.

Like a lot of things that catch my interest, I first ran across the jewelry company Country Mermaids on Instagram. They specialize in handcrafted earrings and rings, and their faux druzy designs really captivated me. I love the iridescent shiftiness of druzy, so when I saw they were having a flash sale I decided it was time to make a purchase. Select earrings were $3 (reg. $5) and shipping was only $3 whether you purchased 1 or multiple items. I got these gorgeous blue/green faux druzy stone studs.
They shipped out the day after I ordered and arrived within a week in a small padded envelope in a small plastic baggie and stuck in this packing peanut. One of the posts was slightly bent, but it was easy to straighten out and didn't end up causing a problem. Overall I am very happy with the quality of the product for the value and the quick shipping. I think the earrings are absolutely gorgeous and make me feel like a glamorous mermaid! They are just the right proportion for my ears too; they sell several different sizes on their site.

What do you think?

Country Mermaids has a large selection of lovingly made earrings and other jewelry, which you can browse here. They also have a current Instagram giveaway going and a discount code! Follow @countrymermaids on Instagram and use code 1000 to take 30% off your purchase!

Are you a jewelry wearer? Do you like to purchase handcrafted jewelry from small businesses? Please share your thoughts about Country Mermaids or other jewelry companies in the comments below!