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


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Didja See?

Yankee Candle's Scenterpiece


I just love this idea so much!
That is Yankee's new Scenterpiece system, which is a lot like Gold Canyon's meltcup system.  I had tried Gold Canyon many years ago, but didn't care for the behemoth warmer and I never really connected with the scents that I tried, which I found very "perfumey."  So, I was very excited to see Yankee come out with the idea, since there are several scents in the Yankee line that I just haven't found a dupe for in the Scentsy line.

Yankee is soooo clever.  They emailed out $20 off $45 coupons with their introduction, and that was enough to make me want to give Scenterpiece a try.  I ordered one of the smaller warmers and five different scents to try.  Gotta say I'm pleased with my purchase.  I ordered Autumn Leaves, Pink Sands, Sage & Citrus, Silver Birch, and Harvest.  The throw is very good on all of them, they seem to last much longer than the stated last time of 24 hours, and changing out the scents really is a breeze.

Scentsy needs to jump on this bandwagon!






 

New Catalog Season

In spite of my cheating ways, I'm very excited for the new Scentsy catalog season starting in September!  Lots of yummy sounding scents a'coming.  I'm really hoping they'll soothe my disappointment over some of the scent of the month offerings recently.  Out of the last six, I really only liked one and loved one.  The others were only meh, or, like Mystery Man, a downright dud in my book.

The like?  It is a surprise like, for certain....Vanilla Bean Buttercream!


When I warmed Vanilla Bean Buttercream, the Mister entered the house, sniffed the air, looked at me a little incredulously and asked, "are you baking something????" 

He shoulda known better. 

Vanilla Bean Buttercream smells exactly like you've pulled a fresh vanilla cake from the oven and slathered it high with decadent buttercream frosting.  Yummy!  This one is soooo out of my box, but I think it works for me simply due to its realism.  It is not fakey sweet smell.  It is the real deal, and while it is not a scent that I personally would go to a lot, it is worthy of a rare "10" for a bakery scent.  Throw is excellent--another 10.  Last is the same.  The reason I give a "like" a 10?  Yeah, I know.  A little cognitive dissonance there, but the reality is that, although this is the most excellent bakery scent I've ever run across, I just am not inclined to melt them all that often.  Melting this would make me want to whip up a pound of butter, throw in a pound of powdered sugar and a healthy splash of vanilla and bury my head in the bowl.  Not good.

I'm more inclined to melt something like Fuzzy Blanket.  Fuzzy Blanket is a rather weird name for what is really just a lavender/honeysuckle blend. 
Snuggle up to the soft scent of lavender, sandalwood, and sweet honeysuckle.


It is a very comforting scent, so I suppose the name does have a certain sort of sense.  This one is a very balanced blend of lavender and honeysuckle, with just enough sandalwood to give it a soothing undertone without being incensy.  I really like it, but I tend to like scents like this, so that should be no surprise.  I have had good luck with the throw and last, although others have reported it is a little light for them.  My sensitive nose doesn't like those really big scents, though, so keep that in mind if you are thinking of trying this one.  Fuzzy Blanket is the perfect transitional scent--I wouldn't be very inclined to use it in the full heat of summer, but it is a wonderful Fall/Winter/Spring scent, and I'll be stocking up on this one over the winter.  Another 10 all round.
 

 

Family Update


We have had a bit of Mr.Toad's Wild Ride here at Chez Winter this summer.  I had happily started doing just a bit of a facelift on our 20 year old home--replacing doors, doing a little painting, when I noticed that the carpet in my master bedroom closet was soaking wet.  The short of it was, shoddy construction in our master bath had led to a major leak requiring the entire---and I mean ENTIRE--bathroom to be torn out.  Poor Mister.  Underlayment and walls needed replacing, the closet floor was replaced, tile was installed in the bath.   Watching two men lug a 350 pound cast iron tub up a flight of stairs was pretty awe-inspiring (go Mister and Jacob!!)  Currently, we still have a shower surround and shower to install, cabinets to reface, and painting to be done.  It will be beautiful.  Some day.

In the meantime, a complete stairway rebuild has simulaneously commenced (it was knocked wonky in our 2001 earthquake and we've lived a little dangerously ever since).  I've done as much of the work as I can myself--including lots and lots of painting, finishing of stair retreads, and so on.  Phew.  Lots to go, but it sure will be nice when it is finished.  Two years from now. Phew.

We were blessed mid-projects with a visit from John's Mom, who, at 89, came up from California to visit us as well as three of John's siblings who also live in Washington.  Here's an adorable pic of her meeting Soren for the first time.


After Helen's visit, my parents came to town as well, although John doesn't have those pics at the ready yet.  After visiting us, they went down to Bend, OR, where, sadly, my dad was hospitalized for nine days (!!!) with pneumonia.  Currently, we have their little adorable Westie, Traveler, staying with us, along with their truck.  John and I will be taking a little trip down to Arizona to return them to their rightful owners.  Dad and Mom flew home on Monday, where Dad finally seems to be making some headway in his recovery.
 
My babies are growing oh so fast!  Soren has two teeth now, is sitting like a champ, and is very close to crawling.  He chats all the day long and is just a happy little fellow.  Here is a recent pic of the little guy with his big "sister" Miss Edie.
My angel Alice is also in an amazing stage.  She is 15 months and the very picture of curiousity and ingenuity.  She has been walking since 11 months, and knows a great many signs in American Sign Language.  She hasn't been a big talker up to this point, although just now she has really begun chatting it up verbally.  She has an amazing head of bright curls, loves her dollies, her books, and her little Soren.

Sure do love these babies lots.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Stand Up

I am Standing....


In one of my favorite movies, a senator of Rome entreats his compatriots to stand up in court in support of the heroine of the movie.  "Stand up!" he cries out to them imploringly, "Stand, or if no one will, I will stand alone."  At first, no one stands, and a horrible silence descends.  Finally, after the moment has passed, and it looks as if the judge will proceed, a lone man lifts himself from his seat.

"Minister," asks the judge, "Do you have something to say?"  The minister looks around the courtroom, and finally utters,

"I am standing."


If there is one thing I know in life, it is this, it is so hard to be the person who lifts themself from their seat and stands. 

In the wake of all the looting in Ferguson recently, there was a video of a man standing in front of a store imploring his fellowman to quit the looting.  He was standing. 

Sometimes standing is a very lonely pursuit, and yet, we must stand in order to combat the wrongs in this world.  It can be a very simple thing to stand at times---as easy as turning off the television when a smutty reality television show comes on.  Or it can be very difficult--standing against a professor who tells you that the only race capable of being racist is caucasion.  That happened to my daughter last year, and she had to stand.  For people who suffer from depression or other mental illness, standing can mean just showing up to life every day.  Or, standing can mean the ultimate sacrifice,  as Dan Foley found when he stood against ISIS.

It is an increasingly difficult world we live in, and it can be exhausting standing for all of the causes we know are right.  Sometimes we have to choose our battles, just to have enough energy to stand the next time. 

I often ask myself, am I standing when I should be, either alone, or with friends and family who need my support? Am I standing to represent right, even if it means so-called friends will desert me, or the crowd will jeer me?

Are you standing?

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.