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


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blessings

Food is pretty much what we do here at Chez Winter.  I grew up in a "foody" family; my Mom studied with some of the best chefs in the world, including Julia Child and James Beard.  My Dad is a fabulous cook in his own right, too, so it is only natural that that all that food love filtered on down through the generations.

Mister was a willing protoge from day one, and gotta say, I'm a good cook myself, but he is a great one.  I taught him everything I know,  but being the competitive guy he is, he just had to one up me!  Nothing, of course, makes me happier, since the dirty little secret in our household is that he does most of the the everyday cooking, and we eat like kings.  Have I ever mentioned that John makes ALL our breads--from sandwich loaves to baguettes, bagels, round loaves, tortillas, muffins, biscuits, rolls, etc. We source various wheat flours from non-GMO mills; there is a fabulous one in Logan, Utah that we have visited a few times, not to mention Bob's Red Mill in a Portland suburb.  I suspect we're the only folks in the neighborhood with a hundred pounds of flour in food-safe buckets in the garage!

We have to credit our oldest daughter, Leah, though, with bringing the idea of eating local home from college to us.  She went to University of Portland, and eating local is huge there.  It really is the yummiest way to eat, since if you buy local, your food is always fresh, and often, organic.  We support local farms through CSA shares, and of course Leah and Scott have a garden on their little farm that supplies us with so many delicious foods...from beets to eggplant to fennel, squashes and pumpkins of all varieties, plus the usual foods like carrots, tomatoes, chilis, peppers, and radishes.  Be still my heart.

Currently, I contribute things like cultured butter (I use buttermilk bacteria to culture the cream, and then churn it up after it has set for 24 hours), regular and greek yogurt, and occasionally, fresh cream cheese, goat cheese, and other soft cheeses to our food table.

You can imagine what our Thanksgiving table looks like!  This year, I'm in charge of the homemade cranberry sauce, some carrots with vinegar and oregano (an Italian recipe from Marcella Hazan--delicious cold, warm, or hot), and I'll help with the stuffing and turkey/gravy.  John is in charge of the turkey (he made three loaves of bread for stuffing and has it cubed and toasted in bread bags, ready to go), along with the homemade dinner rolls. He also made a crust for the pecan pie Sarah is bringing, along with a green salad.  Leah and Scott are bringing pumpkin pie along with mashed root veggies--potatoes/parsnips/garlic (all home grown).

Obviously, we'll be jogging around the block both before and after the feast.

All this food talk can only lead to one thing...the December scent of the month--Blessings.
Welcome the warmth of home, family gatherings, and holiday traditions with Blessings, a classic blend of aromatic spices: ground nutmeg and clove, cinnamon bark, sandalwood, and amber.

Have you ever grated a fresh nutmeg seed? (if not, you owe it to yourself to track one down and try it....Penzey's is one source)  It is the most heavenly scent ever!  Scentsy has captured the scent of freshly grated nutmeg along with some subtle clove, all mellowed out with just the barest touch of sandalwood (not sure I'm getting the amber, but, it is probably part of that mellow feel I get from this).  It reminds me a little of the old fashioned spice drops--you know, the real spice ones, not the icky sweet ones you get most of the time nowadays.  Yeah, the ones we walked 10 miles uphill both ways in the snow to get back in ye goode old days...

Blessings has gotten some weird reviews on the Scentsy consultant forum, with some consultants describing it as "Vicks" or "turpentine", or "campophenic".  All of those descriptions made me wonder if we're smelling the same scent.  To me, Blessings, IS the scent of the holidays--both Thanksgiving and Christmas--when the house is filled with the delicious scent of all those holiday yummies we love to cook and eat.  All I can figure is...maybe those folks don't cook with fresh ingredients?  I dunno.

Blessings is my most-loved scent to come along in a very long time (although Very Snowy Spruce made me do a happy dance, too).

I give it a very solid 10 in all departments.


And speaking of Blessings,

Where ever you are this Thanksgiving, may it be filled with the Blessing of family, friends, and joyful celebration.  As always, just a reminder that I don't "do" Black Friday, because I think the holidays are about spending time with loved ones, and being grateful for what we have, not focusing on getting more more more of the stuff we really don't need!  There will be plenty of time to shop between Thanksgiving and Christmas (or Hanukkah) , so take a little time to relax and enjoy the long weekend.

Whatever YOUR traditions are, be safe, be joyful, be grateful, be BLESSED.


PS:  Our latest Blessing is the news that Grandchild #3 will be debuting in June 2015.  Yay for sweet angel grandbabies!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Two Speed Reviews

Another twofer day.

Are you entirely sick of me posting, "well, it's okay..." or "I like it don't love it" or "it makes me gag" ?  Because I'm sick of me posting that.

Scentsy has finally listened!  (haha)  I've found two fall scents that I love.  Ironically, both are scents of the month: September's Ambrosia and November's Very Snowy Spruce.

Ambrosia

The sweetest fruit salad ever: tropical pineapple, mandarin orange slices, juicy pears, and ripe concord grapes with hints of jam and fruit nectar. 

Hyperrealistic fall fruit packed into a cornucopia.  It's big.  It's strong.  It's Scentsy doing what Scentsy does best: fruit!  Daughter number 3 came into the house, gave a big sniff and announced, "I'm strangely drawn to that."  Exactly how I felt.

While here, Ambrosia is loud.  But then, poof!  the fairy dust must fade off because suddenly, it is gone.  But while it was here, I loved it.  Way to go, Scentsy!  A big 10 on the scent, 10 on the throw, but a mere 5 on the last, 'cause I barely got a full day out of it.


Very Snowy Spruce


Imagine Scentsy made a dupe of Yankee Candle's Balsam and Cedar.

The End.

Scent rating is a 10 because Balsam and Cedar is an absolute fave of mine, and about time you duped it, Scentsy!  Throw is a 10.  Last is a 10.  If you like evergreen scents, THIS is the one you want from Scentsy.  They've been lagging in this department for a long time.  I'm glad they finally stepped  up to the plate.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Crumb Top

Spent a great weekend sewing, visiting with old friends and just generally hanging out.  Cozy Fireside (yum!  one of my faves!) and Yankee's Cozy Cabin were my scent companions.

Finally had a chance at the end of last week to throw that Crumb Top in the warmers. Hmmmm...not bad.  The perfect blend of oats, butter, and brown sugar to top your favorite dessert.


Although Crumb Top is decidedly out of my scent box, it is a lighter bakery scent that really does have that sort of coffee cake streusel topping effect that is pretty good.  Translation: a bakery scent that doesn't make me gag.  Good job, Scentsy.

Mostly I get the brown sugar and butter, but then I always have a hard time discriminating "oat" scent, ya know?  Bottom line, I'd warm this on a cold day on the rare occasion I have a craving for a sweet scent.   As I already said, I did feel it was a little on the light side, and its last was definitely below average; I put it in the warmers in the morning and by bedtime, I couldn't smell it any more.  For me, that's not a problem, but it is something to consider if you like your scents to last a super long time.

For scent, it is a strong 6, throw was a 5, but last, I'd give it a 4.  YMMV.

Today I'm melting September's scent of the month, Ambrosia.  I'd put off melting this one, too, because I wasn't sure I'd go for the grapiness of it.  Hint:  It's very good.  Very very good.  Full review in the next edition.  As for me, I'm off to finally dig out my Pumpkin warmer.  I've been procrastinating on getting out my fall warmers, but I'm determined that today is the day.  I'll still have six weeks to enjoy it until Thanksgiving hits and it is time to drag out the Christmas warmers.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ack!

I know, I said I was gonna review Crumb Top next, but when I got Very Peary Pumpkin in the mail I had to throw it in first.  So sorry I did.  Ick.  Nasty.  Gross.

Sweet nashi pear, freshly picked pumpkin, tart green apple and toasted spices are carried on a breeze of crisp autumn air.

Pear and pumpkin make for one disgusting combo.  I actually had to get rid of it before it was completely melted, it was that bad.  Mind you, I love Scentsy's Pumpkin Roll and Yankee's Spiced Pumpkin.  I love the smell of fresh pumpkin.  I was repulsed by the horrid Very Peary Pumpkin. It was pearish, and sweet, and appallingly unlike any real pumpkin I've ever smelled.  Who knows where the apple and spices were?  Fleeing for their lives, apparently.


'Nuff Said.

Scent Rating:  1
Last and throw:  Well, it sure seemed strong--say a 10 for throw, but who knows how long that ughness would have lasted??

Blech!  I promptly replaced it with a mix of Pumpkin Roll and an old bar of Embers.

Tomorrow, on a fresh nose, I really will try out that Crumb Top

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Love You Berry Much and Autumn Blaze Maple

I am getting behind on my reviews, so today I have a twofer.

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to give Autumn Blaze Maple a try.  A bountiful harvest of crisp apples and earthy pumpkins with golden maple syrup, warm cinnamon, and a ribbon of smoldering oak.

Gotta say, I was pleasantly surprised.  It reminded me just a little of my beloved Yankee Candle swirl, Cozy Cabin (a mix of Mountain Lodge and Autumn Leaves), only with the addition of maple.  Of course, any time maple is in the mix, it tends to become the predominate note for me, and Autumn Blaze Maple is no different.  But, it didn't make me feel like I was at a pancake breakfast either, and I wasn't overwhelmed with sweetness.

It's a pretty good blend, though, because none of the notes overwhelmed the others--I really didn't feel like it was screaming "apples!"  or "pumpkins"  or anything like that.  It just gave me the impression of walking outside on a crisp fall day in a grove of maple trees.  I like it.  My youngest daughter, on the other hand, gave it a sniff and announced how disgusting she thought it was.  Have I mentioned she doesn't like sweet scents, too, and she really abhors anything with maple, so there you go.

Autumn Blaze Maple is a 7 in my book, and the throw and last are amazing, at 10 for both.  It was still going strong on the second day.  If you do like maple, you'll love it.  Definitely the best maple scent I've come across.


Love You Berry Much


I'm just gonna say it straight out.  Of all the new fall scents so far, Love You Berry Much is my fave of the lot.

A fragrance to crush on: bursting red berries, dreamy white peach, and tart cranberry finished with a splash of vanilla.

At the risk of repeating myself for the gazillionth time, fruity scents are what Scentsy does best.  In fact, I was never a fruit scent lover until I started buying Scentsy, and they have made me a convert.  Very few Yankee fruits grace my stash, although, let's face it, no one does fall/winter scents as well as Yankee.  

Love You Berry Much is just an excellent tartsweet fruity blend, mellowed by a splash of vanilla .  I get way more red berries than I do peach, and the vanilla is very understated.  The bar I melted had just a tiny hint of powder to it, although I haven't heard one other person say that, so it may have been that bar or my nose, or both.   I give it a strong 8, and the throw is excellent at 9.  The last, however was average, at 6.  I couldn't really detect it much on the second day, but oh well!  Just a chance for a new scent in the warmer.

We're winding down on fall scents with only a couple more to go.  Next up is gonna be Crumb Top.  However, I am very much looking forward to trying out November's scent of the month, Very Snowy Spruce.  You know I love me some evergreen.

Also should mention that it is time to vote for January's Bring Back My Bar scents!  Go to https://scentreview.scentsy.us and click on the link for Bring Back My Bar and vote vote vote!!!


Monday, September 29, 2014

Shimmer

What happens when Cerise and Flirtatious have a baby?  Shimmer!  Actually, you might have to throw a little Lucky in Love to get the blend just right <g>.

Get your girly-girl on! Sweet cherries, velvety apricots, and sensual white musk crowned with a tiara of shimmering spun sugar.

When I melted Shimmer, I really couldn't pick out any of the scent notes.  It struck me as more floral than fruit, which is weird, because it doesn't seem to have a lick of floral in it.  It is a soft, floaty Victoria Secret-type scent--something a 16 year old would spritz all over herself after bathing.  Not that that's a bad thing, needless to say.  I enjoy a blast from the long-distant past myself.  

I tend to melt scents like Shimmer on hot summer days when I don't want something heavy or oppressive.  It also would make a great bathroom scent since the throw is a little softer than average.

Overall, I like Shimmer well enough.  Again, I haven't found my fall love. Maybe I'll find it in my next scent--Love You Berry Much.  I give this scent a rating of 7 (the highest so far!), but the scent throw was quite light--a 4, and the last was pretty average--a 5.

A little diversion into Scentsy' forumulation:  It sure seems like the wax is a little harder than usual lately.  I often rinse out my emptied warmers with very hot water to remove the wax traces, and it sure hasn't been as easy to remove.  I've also noticed that some scents have been giving me a little bit of an asthma reaction (which I tend to get with soy based candles and melts--I can't use Bath and Body Works scents for that reason, although I love some of their scents.  I had a horrible asthma attack with one of their candles once, because of the soy, and gave away all the rest of my stash.  So much for soy being the "healthier" alternative to paraffin.  It is a terrible allergen.  I also avoid the Yankee candles with soy.  Ugh)  Anyone else noticed that the formulation seems to have changed, or is this my imagination?


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Orange Amber

Got a hilarious note from a customer this week.  It said,  "I can review Orange Amber in two words: Mandarin Moon."

I could almost hear Orange Amber whispering, "I resemble that remark."

But all jesting aside, there are some similarities, although I personally think Mandarin Moon is way spicier.  When I first melted Orange Amber, my first thought was that it smelled an awful lot like an oldie, now retired, Two Harbors.

Orange Amber's description is:  An alluring blend of bitter orange and clementine, exotic wild ginger, cozy cardamom, and sultry amber.

Two Harbor's was:  Escape to distant shores with tart Meyer lemon and refreshing lime, warmed by sweet vanilla and golden amber rays.


As you can see, it is that citrus/amber thing. However, back to the original comparison.  All I can say is, if Orange Amber and Mandarin Moon were 20's movie characters, Mandarin Moon would be a wild flapper dancing the Charleston and Orange Amber would be the refined gentleman retired to his palatial library.  Gotta say, I do like both, but I'm a little less...well, enervated...by Orange Amber.

But, all it really boils down to is...do you like citrus scents?  Or not?  Does it hedge on orange cleaner, or is it better than that?

Orange Amber is just orange mellowed by amber--not too cleanerish--and just fine.  It is Two Harbors redux, Mandarin Moon only less spicy, Sunkissed Citrus, only, well, a little different.  In other words, we've been there, done that.  And the down side for me is that Orange Amber seems to fade into the sunset pretty quickly...I got a day.  So, the scent is a 6, throw is an 8, and last is a 5.

Next up in the Scentsy Fall 2014 review line-up:  Gonna switch things up and turn up my girly-girl with Shimmer.