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Family, Fun, and my love of all things smelly....


Monday, April 21, 2014

A Productive Weekend and Pretty Pears

Productivity

Happy Belated Easter to all of you.  We had a low-key weekend with lots of productivity.  It all started out on Good Friday with Maura's new bee hive.  Here's what 10,000 bees look like:

 


I'll be honest, that many bees scare the heck out of me, but it didn't seem to phase Maura at all.  They are all now installed into their hives on Miss Edie Farm (Leah and Scott's place), and hopefully will be providing us with delicious homemade honey in a year or two.

Maura also dried some nettles over the weekend in our dehydrator.  I'm really hoping that nettle tea (along with locally-purchased honey), will help my allergies out a bit.  It's been a bad year for that!  Our nettles came from an agriculture share box from a farm near Leah, and with the two batches of nettles received, Maura has made a nettle tincture and so far, one batch of dried nettles.  Fingers crossed on herbal cures!

On Saturday, I churned my first batch of cultured butter.  Although butter can be made in a blender or using a mixer, I thought it would be way more fun to use an old-fashioned hand-cranked churn, which took about 50 minutes for 2 1/2 quarts of cream.  Culturing the butter (using "friendly" bacteria to make the cream a little more sour, in our case) is supposed to give it a more old-fashioned butter taste, but it was a little chilly the night I cultured it, I'm not sure the bacteria really was warm enough.  When I make yogurt, I use my husband's bread-proofing box.  It's a great invention--you can set the proof temperature to a specific temp.  I'm going to use the box this week to culture my cream in this hopes of a little more flavorful butter.  We're super lucky to have local dairy delivery from a milkfarm that doesn't use Ultra High Temperature pasteurization (their products are also BHT free).
For more information on making cultured butter, check out this article:http://www.cheesemaking.com/Butter.html

Nonetheless, even though the butter could use improvements, it was still delicious on Mister's homemade dried cranberry/pecan scones on Saturday morning, and later, on the two round crusty loaves of bread he baked while we were babysitting Alice.  I've probably mentioned it before, but Mister makes ALL of our bread products---from scones and biscuits to baguettes, bagels, sandwich loaves, crusty french breads, crusty sandwich rounds, panini, ciabatta,Thanksgiving rolls---you name it!  He tries to source local (non-GMO) mills, although he depends pretty heavily on Bob's Red Mill and King Arthur Flour as well.  Next month, he and I will be heading to Utah for some national park fun, and along the way we'll be stopping in beautiful Logan, Utah because they have a grainery where Mister can load up on flour.

Along with a little sewing (me) and bike-riding (Mister), we had a very satisfying weekend!

So, on to the reviews...

Scentsy Pears

After my last post (rant?) about my disappointment with the man scents, I figured I better trot out something a little more positive.  Pear scents are big this year, and Scentsy has plenty to offer.  I've already praised my two faves of the pear bunch---Sparkling Citrus Pear and Simply Nashi Pear, but there are two more that deserve a sniff, although I definitely like one better than the other: Nashi Nectar and Pear Blossom.

Pear Blossom is:
Sweet nashi pear tossed with light florals and cool berries.

Personally, I think Pear Blossom is the sweetest of all of the spring pear offerings Scentsy has right now.  Nonetheless, it is not toooo sweet nor heavy, and still does strike me as a pleasant scent for a spring or summer day.  I don't really smell any floral in it, and perhaps it is the berry that tempers the pear sweetness, but I can't pick out the berry per se.  Although I don't love it, it is a reasonable like.  It places third in my pear line-up and deserves a 6 + for a rating, a 7 for throw and last. 

My least favorite of the bunch is

Nashi Nectar 
Sparkling citrus and crisp nashi pear balanced in perfect sweetness.

Nashi Nectar sounds so good on paper.  Unfortunately, this one strikes me as "perfumey" instead of citrusy or fruity.  Unfortunately, that quality gave me a bit of a headache when I tried Nashi Nectar, so while the scent itself isn't wholly unpleasant, I ultimately had to toss it.  I hate when that happens, and luckily, I don't find myself in that boat with many of Scentsy scents.  I do wonder if I got a dud bar, so perhaps some day I'll re-order and try again, but until then, I need to give it a 5 scent rating.  It was fairly strong---a 9 on the throw scale, but since I tossed it out, I'm not sure of the last.

All in all, except for the devastatingly sweet Caramel Pear Crisp, I think Scentsy does right by pear.  Sparkling Citrus Pear, Simply Nashi Pear, and Pear Blossom are all ones I'd keep on hand for a sunny day.  They may have even converted me to a pear fan...
 
 
 
 
Until next time....

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pretty Critical

Man Scents--Mystery Man, Business Casual, Shaka and Atlas Cedar


(warning--strong opinion just around the curve...proceed at your own risk)

I like man scents.  I really do.  Call me a snob, but my man scent preferences fall along the lines of Creed Aventus or Ormonde Jayne Zizan rather than Axe (fine if my man was 16---and I was too) or Old Spice (okay, I confess a fondness for Old Spice, but only because it was my beloved Grandaddy Ray's signature scent, and that man played a large part in my happy childhood memories.  Sure do miss him.)  I even have a little nostalgia for that incredibly cheap, heavy musk my first boyfriend used to pile on back in the musk-loving 70's, but dang, I don't want it in my house fergoshsakes.

Lately, Scentsy seems to think their man-scent demographic falls into the Axe-loving crowd rather than the Creed crowd.  And maybe they do.  There seems to be a lot of consultant love for  Business Casual, and now, Mystery Man, that, frankly, I find mysterious.  Throw Shaka and Atlas Cedar in with that lot, too.  For me, they are mood killers, rather than mood enhancers.

Yesterday I received Mystery Man, and while it doesn't make me run straight to the trash can, it also doesn't make me run straight to my warmer.  To be fair, I did pop a cube in just to give it a fair warm-scent trial.  Nope.  Yuck.  Cheap man's cologne/aftershave/deodorant.  Why, Scentsy, Why?  Scents like this just end up making me feel perplexed. It's the same feeling I have gotten with all of the recent Scentsy man-scent releases--Business Casual, Shaka, Atlas Cedar, and now, Mystery Man.

They're so disappointing to me that I find myself harkening back to days of Scentsy old---when fabulous scents like Zeppelin, My Dear Watson, and Route 66 were the standard bearers.  Throw in a little Vanilla Suede, and I was good.

But ho!  What do I know?  I often find myself on the wrong side of scent fashion as it is, with my aversion to the really sweet stuff, and love for woodsy, earthy scents that don't seem to enjoy any popularity. I swim up the scent stream, rather than with it.  Mark Twain said,

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”


That really has been my life motto, and it appears to apply to scent along with just about everything else.  Go with the flow?  No thanks.  Ask my mother.  She'll verify the facts for you.  However, consider for yourself that my opinion is just that--an opinion--that may vary wildly from your own.  Mystery Man, Business Casual, and all the rest seem to enjoy a dedicated following, if The Forums are any indication.  By all means, consider trying them for yourself, if for nothing else, the satisfaction of telling me how wrong I am :)

The bottom line is, however, I dislike them so much I just can't bear to give the recent batch of man-scents a real review with ratings and all.  I'll stick to what Scentsy does best--fruity/floral or earthy/woodsy.

Until next time.....

Friday, April 18, 2014

Disclaimer

Just wanted to let you all know that Scent Review is my personal blog with my personal opinion on scents, life, and other matters.

It is not associated with any business endeavors, nor am I trying to sell you any of the products I review, all of which I purchase for my own use.

You are welcome to look up your nearest scent consultant, retail provider, or product purveyor to buy (or not buy) any of the products I review.

As always, I love to discuss scents of all types, so feel free to leave a comment on any of the reviews.  I always love hearing how beautiful my babies are, too!

Blessings to you all and Thanks for stopping by!

A Different Sort of Smelly...and Baby Updates

Babies!
My adorable babies are growing fast.  Soren just passed the three month mark and Alice hit eleven months.  Where does the time go?  Grandma-ing is the Best.Thing.Ever.
Here's some updated photos for ya:


Perfume!
I've mentioned before that my love of smellies isn't limited to Scentsy.  I've been a longtime Yankee Candle fan, as well as a dedicated perfume fan.

One of my favorite things to collect is perfume samples, that I generally get from a GREAT online sample shop:  www.surrendertochance.com  They allow me to test out things before committing, and to be honest, even then, a 5 ml sample will be enough of a commitment, lol.

I have many "favorites", because like home scent, personal scent depends on a mood or an occasion, but I gotta say, one of my current frequent go-to's is Guerlain's Cuir Beluga.  It was even worth a full-bottle splurge.  Other faves?  Amouage Honour, Ormonde Jayne's Ormonde Woman (well, her whole line is fantastic!), L'Artisan Dzing!, and Neela Vermeire's Bombay Bling.  Something for every mood.

If you're a lover of home scent, give the perfume world a try.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I'm Polynesian Dreamin'

Polynesian Dreams

 I've had so much fun trying out the new scents this spring--a really yummerz bunch--but I think I've found one of my faves (to be fair--I haven't tried them ALL yet.  Still working on it).  Drum Roll, please!!   These days, I'm loving Polynesian Dreams!


Pure island indulgence: lush honeydew, kiwi, and papaya with blossoming hibiscus.

 I'll be honest, I can't really pick out any one of the scent notes by themselves.  They're just that amazingly well-balanced.  Lightly fruity, lightly floral (and do I detect even the slightest bit of smooth vanilla??), Polynesian Dreams is a delight to my senses.  It's like wrapping myself with sunshine or crawling into a spring cornucopia.  I can imagine myself spread out on a beach towel in the tropics, eyeshades on, taking a big sniff of all the glorious sun-warmed fruits and flowers wafting their way towards my nose. Yum and double yum.  I can't get enough of it.  I'm even pleased that the scent seems to last and throw well.  Polynesian Dreams is destined to become a Scentsy Favorite, one that is sure to please just about everyone.  Even Mister likes it.  'Nuff said.
 
 Scent Rating:              10
Scent Throw:                8
Scent Lasting Power     8



 A Little Public Service Share (Off-Topic)

Ok.  I don't normally do this.  But recently, I've had a miserable experience with a company, and I feel the need to share in order to help others avoid the same misery.  We don't have much recourse with this type of stuff, so the power of the internet to spread the word is about it.  The company involved?  United Concordia Dental.

The 2 cent version is this:  The dental insurance offered through my husband's employer (we're blessed with EXCELLENT medical insurance) is HORRIBLE, TERRIBLE, and also NOT GOOD.  In short, they have denied over 70% of my family's claims in the past 2 1/2 years of being with them.  Anything that is not a simple cleaning has been wholly or partially denied.  Normal stuff--like fillings, a crown, and some perio work.  A quick check on their facebook page here shows that many others seem to be suffering the same fate.  Complaints and appeals have fallen on deaf ears, and we have been informed that their "dental advisor" has deemed the denied services unnecessary.  At this point, it would be cheaper for us to drop coverage and negotiate cash prices with our dentists.

Fillings are unnecessary.

A crown (for a cracked tooth) is unnecessary.

Seriously?

Funny story--I spoke with "Mike" from UC on 4/7, and on hearing the disappointing news, yet again, that they had no intention of paying, I remarked something to the effect, "With this type of service, you must talk to an awful lot of disappointed people like me."  His reply???  "All day long."  !!!!!

It is my opinion that this company is abusively, possibly even fraudulently, denying claims.  I've filed complaints with the BBB and the insurance commissioner, but you know how that goes.  I'm a little fish in a big pond.

My only power is to warn my friends, family, and acquaintances away from United Concordia Dental.  I've had many dental insurers over the past 30 years from various employers and have never experienced anything like the amazingly bad service we've received from them.  Please avoid them at all costs.

 



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring!

Spring has sprung....


Here in the NW, spring means rain, rain, and more rain.  This year has not disappointed in that respect.  As I write, I can peek out my window and watch the liquid sunshine melting from the sky.  It's not sad, though, it is entirely expected and cozy, and it gives me a chance to sit inside with a nice cup of decaf and sew or knit a little without offending my conscience.

I'm all done with my Intuit job for the season: they only allow seasonal works to work six months (otherwise, they're permanent workers, I guess, lol), so since I started back in September, it means I get to miss the crazy end-season rush.  That meant I got to trot on down to Disneyland with my little Alice girl for a week, and boy-oh, was that ever fun.  That girl was meant for Disneyland...she was good as gold the whole time....slept in her stroller without a fuss, loved the big characters without fear, and melted her way right into Grandpa Mister's heart by loving the Casey Junior ride almost as much as he did as a kid.  We also stayed at Disney (we usually stay with family in the area), which was a bucket list item for me, and it was so worthy.  Nice for us to go back to the room for a little rest here and there and then hit the parks again with renewed vigor.  While there, Miss Alice learned to clap, got a new tooth, and started signing "more" with a vengeance when she learned how yummy lava cake with ice cream on top is.   Here she is being adorable waiting in line:


While we were gone, little Buddy Soren learned to ham it up for the camera--he is quite the chatter now, and it amuses me that Alice is the doer (can that girl ever stop moving?) and it looks like Soren will be the talker.  His Mama got him an earflap hat for next winter, and here he is showing it off, in all of its largesse:



On to some reviews...

Between work and vaca, I've had very little time to try out my new Scentsy scents!  Just before I left for vacation, I received all the new scents plus two new warmers...the Travertine core and the Etched Core.  The Silhouette line is my absolute fave, and I got the Spokes wrap with Travertine core for my living room, the Dragonfly wrap for my old core for the entryway, and the Tulip wrap plus etched core for my kitchen/nook area.  So pretty!  Love that you can change out the wraps seasonally without a big dollar commitment. 

 

Sugared Blooms

Now that I'm home, I'm starting to melt new scents.  First up, I tried out the April Scent of the Month, Sugared Blooms.  Soft petals fresh with morning dew, sweet berries touched with a kiss of sugar evoke springtime to brighten your day.   This one is receiving quite a mixed reaction on the Scentsy forums, but I've decided I like this one pretty well.  It is definitely heavier on the floral than the fruit.  I think a lot of folks were hoping it was going to be similar to Scentsy's Sugar, which is not on my like list, so I was relieved to find it is not.  The visual that came to mind was a beautiful, pastel Easter bouquet, brimming with tulips, daffodils, and greenery.  It makes you want to fling the doors and windows open and yell, "welcome spring!" 
The most important thing, as with all Scentsy scents, is you must melt it before deciding.  Sugared Blooms is a moderately strong, spring floral that blooms when warmed, so if you're looking for a good basic floral to jumpstart your spring, this is it. Its potential downside is its lasting power--just average.  For the person who likes to change their scents frequently---ahem--not a problem.  
Scent Rating:                 7
Scent Strength:              7
Scent Lasting Power:    5

 

Zen Garden

A dewy-sweet bloom of ripe honeydew, soft freesia, and water lotus.  Zen Garden is the type of scent Scentsy does best--a creamy blend of fruit and floral that is perfectly balanced, soft and flowy, calming and delicious.  It reminds me a bit of retired Cerise, sans the vanilla.  This is the go-to scent when you want your scent to set the scene, not steal it.  It is an extremely pleasant scent in which none of the scent notes overwhelm the others, and I can see going to this time and again; it is perfectly suited to every room in the house, from guest bath to living room.  Again, it has just average lasting power:  expect a cube to last a day or two at most. 


Scent Rating:              8
Scent Strength:           7
Scent Lasting Power: 5


 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tax Season is Here

From the Front Lines


Ah! Tax Season!  It's the time when I feel like my life isn't really my own.  A lot of my "fun stuff" goes by the wayside this time of year while I work.  This year is better than last, because I only committed to part time, so even when I add extra hours, it hasn't gotten unmanageable.  But, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and I'm afraid I'm That.Girl.  The hobby girl.  The putter-in-the-house girl.  The play-with-the-grandbabies-girl.  I'm most definitely not a work 60-80 hours a week doing taxes and answering tax questions kind of girl.  I'm grateful to work for a wonderful company, but even more grateful they let me work part time.

But, regardless, there hasn't been as much time for scintillating scent reviews.  With the new catalog launching March 1st, that's going to be a problem, lol.  Today, I'm squeezing two reviews into one:  Sparkling Citrus Pear and the latest Scentsy scent "Thank You."

Sparkling Citrus Pear

Sparkling Citrus Pear is "Sweet nashi pear, enlivened by citrus zest and bright lemon verbena."   SCP, the February scent of the month, is a very fresh, springy fruit scent---not too sweet.  I mostly smell the citrus and lemon verbena, which I like, although one day I did pop in a cube of Simply Nashi Pear along with the SCP and that sweetened it up a bit and drew out the pear vibe substantially, so consider mixing if you like sweeter fruity scents.  Sparkling Citrus Pear is like walking out on my parent's Arizona patio on a cool desert morning and getting a big whiff of the citrus bushes in their yard.  I can see this as a go-to when I want to cool down a warm day, or get rid of some nasty cooking smells.  I do have to add, though, that it is fresh without smacking of lemon-scented cleaner.

Some folks have found Sparkling Citrus Pear to be a bit on the light side for them.  It hasn't been too light for me, although it is not a knock-your-socks off scent, in case you're the type who likes their scents strong.  I found it to have decent throw and lasting power.  All-in-all, it is a solid thumb's up for me, although I'll no doubt be using it more in the spring and summer than on a cold, rainy winter's day.

Scent Rating:                      7
Scent Throw:                      6
Scent Lasting Power:         6

 

Thank You

Thank You is March's scent of the month.  It is a celebration scent, since Scentsy is celebrating its 10th year this year.  Scentsy describes Thank You as being a mix of Chamomile, Lavender, Jasmine, and Vanilla.  That worried me a bit---talk about a powerful combo, but I was relieved to discover that Thank You is predominantly chamomile and lavender.    One of my favorite aspects of scent is their ability to affect mood--and for that reason I love calming, zen scents like this (especially during tax season).  This is a love for me. I know I'll will turn to it again and again.  Can you say aromatherapy?  Yay, Scentsy for anticipating tax madness and scending (sic) me a scent that is perfect for this time of year.

If you don't like lavender or chamomile, you won't care for this one :)

Scent Rating:        9
Scent Throw:        8
Scent Lasting Power:   8