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

Friday, September 12, 2014

Welcome Fall

Pomegranate Pear

Sweet nashi pear garnished with violet petals, pomegranate seeds, and curls of orange zest.

I was an avid reader as a young girl, and I vividly remember the Pooh stories that always began something like....In Which Pooh Learns...

This review should be prefaced....In Which Suz Learns, Yet Again, that Melting a Scent Changes Everything She Thought She Knew About It.

The delicious woody character I detected in Pom Pear on cold sniff was undoubtedly due to the violet petals. Yet violet petals become decidedly perfumey and floral when melted. How quickly I forget. Another scent I had so much hope for, only to become something I don't particularly care for when warmed. I'm oh-for-two in the fall scent trials.

It's not that this isn't relatively pleasant. It is okay. But, the name is misleading, because this is really meant for floral lovers. I like the soft florals, not the violet petal florals. In fact, I still have a lot of Violet Leaves from last year's scent of the year that I just can't bring myself to melt. I just wouldn't be inclined to ever seek Pom Pear out because it is not my thing. I was picturing a fall cornucopia overfilled with pomegranate and late season pears surrounded with vining fall leaves on a crisp fall day. Pom Pear is an old-fashioned perfume spritzer on my grandma's vanity.

Scent Rating: 5

Scent Throw: 9

Scent Lasting Power: will update

Tomorrow's trial? Sno-leil! Marshmallow never disappoints.

In Family News

September really is the best month in the Pacific Northwest. After a long, hot, dry summer (this year anyway), the mornings are crisp and cool, yet the days are still sunny and warm. Perfect. Please stay like this forever!

Our Little Buddy will be 8 months old tomorrow and Wee Elf will be 16 months old just a few days after that. Little Buddy is sooooo close to crawling. That boy is just one big ball o'happy--just about the most cheerful little dude you're gonna run across, but when he does cry. Oh My! The drama involved about melts your heart. The little little lip pouts out, the wide blue eyes pour wee tears, and then the saddest cry known to man comes pouring out. Way to manipulate Grandma, Little Guy! And of course, he's a genius. Here he is--already learning to drive the tractor. See how he's reaching for the shift knob?

Of course, we all know Elf has had Grandma wrapped around her little finger for a goodly while now. Girlfriend is a wee version of a Mad Scientist these days....what happens if I stick this in the cabinet? Will it be there when I open the door back up? Why Yes! Yes, it's there! Oh wait! Hey, it's me in the mirror! Look, I can spear watermelon out of the serving bowl myself! Her Mom and Dad are amazing at letting her do things for herself, and she does! She handles a fork better than most adults, fergoshsakes. Here she is sitting on her favorite "chair"--a FoodSaver box, lol.

I'm looking forward to enjoying a few more weeks of this delicious weather with my babies. Got to get them outside while the getting is good.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Where's the Cedar?

Cedar Cider


An autumn medley of the reddest apples, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla beans nestled among fragrant white cedar branches.

Nope.  Cedar Cider is another pleasantish apple/cinnamon combo with maybe a HINT of cedar that, to me, smells just like all the other apple/cinnamon combos that Scentsy has trotted out over the past few years.  I was really hoping for lots and lots of cedar with a hint of apple and cinnamon, but that just isn't happening folks.  This is apple and cinnamon for the apple and cinnamon lover, though, because the throw is great!  This is the Big Apple; I can smell my downstairs warmers throughout the house and back again.

I just wanted something different.  Something more like Yankee's Apple Wreath, which has a strong woody component that screams "It's Fall!  Put out the pumpkins!  Break out those sweaters."

Cedar Cider just says "bapple...."

Scent Rating:             6
Scent Throw:            10
Scent Last:               8

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

First Impressions

Scentsy's New Fall Scents

Just got in my shipment of Scentsy's newest scents in the fall catalog.  This is my impression of them on cold sniff.  Totally could change once they are melted.  Individual reviews forthcoming once I've melted these.  The description in italics is how Scentsy describes them:

Ambrosia (the September sotm):
    The sweetest fruit salad ever: tropical pineapple, mandarin orange slices, juicy pears, and ripe concord grapes with hints of jam and fruit nectar. 
   Very, very sweet.  I get lots of pineapple and grapes on cold sniff.  Did I mention it is SWEET?  Not sure this is up my alley.

Autumn Blaze Maple
     A bountiful harvest of crisp apples and earthy pumpkins with golden maple syrup, warm cinnamon, and a ribbon of smoldering oak.
     Cold sniff detects a LOT of maple with a bit of cinnamon.  Not getting much else.

     A bohemian fragrance of clove-studded winter apples entwined with juicy black plums, candied mulberries, and cinnamon sticks.
     Very interesting scent.  Think this will be a keeper.  I get just a tiny dab of clove, lots of plum and berries, and something just a little bit earthy--maybe the cinnamon.  A little apple, too, but not gobs.  I'm not an apple scent person, so that's a bit of a relief.  

Cedar Cider
     An autumn medley of the reddest apples, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla beans nestled among fragrant white cedar branches.
     This was my most looked-forward-to scent of the whole bunch.  A little disappointed in the cold sniff.  I mainly get apple and cinnamon.  Really hoping the cedar develops when warmed because I love cedar scents.  Not unpleasant, but not what I had hoped for.  C'mon cedar!!!!

Crumb Top
     The perfect blend of oats, butter, and brown sugar to top your favorite dessert.
     Smells like melted butter and brown sugar.  Very realistic.  Not unpleasant, just not what I usually choose to melt.

Everything Nice
     Sugar and spice and everything nice: deep caramel and swirls of butter with roasted pumpkin and glazed pecans.
     Well, kudos to Scentsy for photorealism in their scents this year.  Boy, they have been spot on with their bakery scents.  Smells just like the description.  It is very sweet, and not my thing, but I can see that bakery-scent lovers will go wild for this one.  Buttery caramel, lots of glazed pecans, and a smattering of pumpkins and spices.

Love you Berry Much
     A fragrance to crush on: bursting red berries, dreamy white peach, and tart cranberry finished with a splash of vanilla.
     Not sure why Scentsy places this in the Romance category--it is one of the least romantic scents I can imagine.  .  Not loving it at all.  I really can't pick out any one scent note, just an overall impression of very sweet fruit that has been made into perfume.  Perhaps warming it will warm it to me.

Orange Amber
     An alluring blend of bitter orange and clementine, exotic wild ginger, cozy cardamom, and sultry amber.
     I definitely get the orange and the cardamom.  Not much else, but I am hopeful that warming it will bring out the ginger and amber and get rid of that "I'm an orange cleaner" impression.  We shall see.  I am very hopeful and wanting to like this one.  A strong maybe.

Pomegranate Pear
     Sweet nashi pear garnished with violet petals, pomegranate seeds, and curls of orange zest.
     A totally surprise like!  From the description, I thought this would be a strong "No", but wow, am I very surprised.  This is a very well balanced blend and none of the scent notes overpower the others.  Excited to melt this one.  Not a sweet fruit, but almost gives a barely detectable woody note that is fallish and extremely pleasant.

Salted Caramel Cupcake
     Creamy golden caramel with hints of cocoa and delicate pink sea salt crowns a buttery cupcake.
     I've never had a salted caramel cupcake, so I can't say whether this smells like it or not.  It is a very very sweet bakery scent with lots and lots of caramel, and I can definitely smell cake.  It doesn't repulse me, but not being a sweet lover, I can say with certainly that warming it won't be my thing.  

     Get your girly-girl on! Sweet cherries, velvety apricots, and sensual white musk crowned with a tiara of shimmering spun sugar.
     This reminds me of those fruity perfumes that are so popular in places like Victoria's Secret.  It is not at all unpleasant, and actually, I find myself drawn to scents like this at times.  It is like a cross of Surfer Chick and Flirtatious.

     A merry mélange of sparkling citrus, iced nashi pear, and decadent marshmallow mousse.
     Everyone has to have secret indulgences--you know, like watching (and loving) b-grade disaster movies, or eating red licorice, or loving marshmallow scents.  This reminds me a lot of the now-gone My Wish, which was a secret indulgence of mine.  In spite of my distaste for sweet scents generally, I love love love marshmallow scents, and this is a really really good one.  What makes it different from My Wish is the strong citrus note.  Yum!  This reminds me of baking goodies at Christmas time, and I'm looking forward to melting it.

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


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:

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.....