Eden Botanicals is one of the companies I've purchased from this year while exploring various ingredients for perfumery for my own education and blending attempts. Eden has some really precious, rare, and high quality ingredients that the average consumer can afford to try as they have samples available for the price of the average indie perfume sample, 2-3 dollars. They do have some REALLY precious ingredients that come in itsy bitsy size samples, about 6 drops, and also some materials that have been pre-diluted. They have carrier oils, hydrosols, organic essential oils, co2s, absolutes, all kinds of goodies. I love that when you order, you get a free sample for every 20 dollars you spend, and each sample vial has useful information about the ingredient: what it's made of, where it's from, etc. 

While I was exploring the perfume side of things, I noticed they had some excellent oils for skin care. I love skin oils but they can be really pricey (for example, Josie Maran's argan oil is 48 dollars for 1.7 ounces). I decided to whip up my own using Eden's ingredients, which allowed me to customize specialty oils for my own benefit.  I purchased 1/2 ounce of organic Argan oil from Eden for $7.00, 1/4 ounce of Rosehip seed oil for $9.00, and sample vials of Sea Buckthorn oil and Pomegranate Seed oil for $2.00 each. The site has lots of info on each oil's benefits and usage guidelines too. I composed  my blend to focus on healing and nourishing, with good for sensitive skin, anti-aging, and high in anti-oxidant ingredients.

For my face oil I used a base of Argan oil, about 50% of a 5ml pump bottle, and added Rosehip Seed oil until the bottle was about 75% full. To that I added 10 drops each of Pomegranate Seed oil and Sea Buckthorn oil. Sea Buckthorn oil has a scary orange tint due to high levels of beta carotene so you want to use it very sparingly and in dilution as it can stain skin. Even with only 10 drops this blend is pretty orange but it blends out easily. If you're nervous about it, add fewer drops. 

After that, I added some essential oils to scent the oil. You don't have to add any, the oil is fine as is, but I enjoy some aromatherapy with my skincare, especially when I get to decide what's in it. I used 5 drops of Frankincense co2, 5 drops of Geranium, and 10 drops of Bulgarian Rose absolute that was already pre-diluted to 10%. This makes a pretty strongly scented oil, it smells spa-like and relaxing! Kind of Aveda-like, if you've been in one of their shops. But definitely sniff after each addition to tailor the scent to your liking. I've made another one I enjoyed replacing the Geranium with Lavender Maillette, and that was also really lovely.

I've been using this oil as my primary leave-on skincare (aside from some Aveeno moisturizer) for about a month now, and I adore it! It soaks in so quickly and is super gentle. My skin has been extra sensitive the past few years and prone to nasty allergic reaction type rashes, and this doesn't trigger those for me and it also hasn't caused any major breakouts. Any breakouts I get seem to be soothed and healed more quickly when I use this. I use a few drops at night and in the morning, and I do think my skin is happier for it. 

I really think Eden is a great resource and I'm definitely going to buy more supplies for my skin oil when I run out. This is going to be a staple for me! Your mileage may vary, and this post isn't meant to diagnose, prevent, or treat any conditions, illnesses, and all that jazz. Your mileage may vary, and be sure to do patch tests when trying something new like this.

Hope you all have a great day, and let me know if you have any questions!
Recently I got my final Sixteen92 Circle order for Spring 2016. New subscriptions will be accepted starting April 1. Will I renew? I really want to! If I have the funds, I definitely will. Sixteen92 can be hit-or-miss for me, but I usually find at least one or two scents that I love from each collection, and the coupon codes make the investment well worth it. Plus I love knowing that I have a guaranteed collection of samples coming to me every season without worrying about saving back for it, or deliberating about which ones I want to try. 

So- onto the scents! I took this picture on the greenest spot I could find in our yard, which is sort of feeble and sad, but we've had a couple of sunny, 60 degree days lately so I have gotten some use out of these scents already. I'm kind of boring in that I tend to only want "springy" scents when it actually feels like spring. 

Blanket of the Dark
Narcissus absolute, two Jasmines, yellow Champaca blossom, coffee bean, bergamot, oakmoss, benzoin

This was the one major miss of the collection for me, and G didn't like it either. He pretty much insisted I wash it off, and I was happy to oblige. So this assessment is only from cold sniff and immediate application. Cold sniff was akin to burning rubber. Sixteen92's blends with  heady florals like jasmine don't often work for me- they are just too indolic and heavy. This one has two jasmines, so nope. nope. nope. It has a potent dose of heady, vaguely mothball-y and indolic florals and is also kind of bitter (from the coffee?) that makes it translate to a burning rubber smell for me.

Merely a Madness
White sandalwood, clover honey (vegan), sweet orange, rosewater, blond patchouli, cedar heart

This reminds me of a lighter, more wearable version of their Blood and Honey scent, which was too cloying and sticky for me to wear. This is more brighter and more delicate, with a softer woodsy finish. I don't really love it, but it's pleasant enough.

The Primrose Path
Soaked earth, lichen, ancient oak roots, grass, water lily, heavy stone, a tangled garland of faded spring blooms

I told you I can rely on loving at least one or two scents from each collection, and this one is it. Yes! Something to get excited about! This one smells strongly of fresh green grass, with some wet earthiness and soft florals in the background. It smells like a rain-spattered garden, when the sun comes out and starts warming up the raindrops still clinging to the leaves and petals, making them sparkle. Ugh, this is gorgeous and happy and I am pretty sure you can tell that Sixteen92's earthy/garden/rain scents are most likely to be winners in my book. Full size for sure! 

Storm of Fortunes
Star jasmine, orange blossom, tuberose absolute, hyacinth, ambergris, Mysore sandalwood

What's this? A most unexpected hit given my previous railing against the evils of jasmine. I actually really like this! It's got some of my favorite notes supporting it, (hyacinth and orange blossom) which seem to temper and tame it for me. Without them I may not have liked this so much. This is not aquatic per se, but it has a bright, sparkling, watery quality to it that I really like. It's almost sweet/juicy: fruit-but-not-fruit.  The dry down is more woodsy and sexy- yeah, there is something sexy about the drydown- something animalic in a good, not-overpowering way. The ambergris maybe? It reminds me a little of one of the other few jasmine scents I enjoy, Juliet from Sweet Anthem.

A Thousand Times More Fair
Honeysuckle nectar, magnolia blossom, passion flower, white peach skin, ripe plum, bright vanilla bean, delicate musk

This one I see as being likely the most universally attractive scent, the most popular. Just not for me, sadly. For a peachy scent, it's not bad, but peaches and plums as well as white florals- the cards were stacked against it. It's more summery and almost a little humid/tropical than light, springy and breezy to me, Truth be told, peaches often just end up smelling like funky body odor on me, so it's just not a good match. I'm guessing if you like their Lolita scent you may like this, though this is a more "mature" peachy scent. I'm contradicting myself here, but I actually do sort of like Lolita, as that smells more like sweet boozy gummi bears than actual peaches.

All the World's a Stage
Rum-soaked apricots, dark chocolate, hazelnut liqueur, praline, amber, bourbon vanilla

This was an exclusive scent that came with Circle subscriptions, so unless you find it in a swap, you won't be able to get this. This is sweet, rich, and boozy, with a fair amount of apricot, which is only marginally better than peaches in my book. This has fun little droplets of cocoa absolute suspended in it, and has a similar vibe to the winter 2016 scent This Is Just to Say, with the combo of chocolate and stone fruits. It makes me think of something a classy gentleman or lady might drink in a Victorian era parlor/smoking room, it's refined yet festive and indulgent. I don't often go for chocolate in perfumes, strangely enough, but this one is nice enough, and the fruitiness isn't too pervasive for me.

Winners: The Primrose Path, Storm of Fortunes
Meh-to-Like: All the World's a Stage, Merely a Madness
Dislike: Blanket of the Dark, A Thousand Times More Fair

Ah, I was doing so well there for a while, posting all over the place. I have so many new scents and things I could be reviewing, but finding the energy to write lately has been hard. Because now of course the holidays are gone, with nothing to distract me from the elephant in the room that is looming over me and sitting on my chest. Most of this is work related. Our library system is undergoing a MASSIVE overhaul, and everything is changing. It's becoming LIBRARY, with one of those little trademark sign thingies next to it. Branded everything. Job titles changing, have no idea what exactly I'll be doing. Our little run-down branch is closing and we're merging with two other small branches into this huge shiny new branch with state of the art technology, a cafe, and virtually no personal spaces or proper desks to call our own. I have spent considerable minutes fretting about only having one staff restroom, despite having 3x the staff . I guess all the money they've spent on new gadgets and fancy furniture, they forgot about the fact that we are in fact human (not automatons) and do need to pee on occasion.

The one thing that made my job enjoyable is doing displays and artwork, making flyers, signs, etc. Will I be able to do this at the new library? While I've been assured that "every effort" will be made to allow staff to continue doing special tasks they prefer, with all the new branding and homogenization, I have come to the conclusion that this too will be taken away. It's going to be loud, busy, stressful, with no where to hide. A lot of our time will be spent on the floor as "greeters." My blood pressure is rising just at the thought of this. In addition, the only real acquaintance/ friend I had here got a gig at another branch just recently, so I am quite alone here now, with no one to commiserate with over all this nonsense. Just me and the few marbles I still have rolling around in my head. So it seems silly that I would cling to something that doesn't benefit me just because it's familiar and somewhat comfortable. I feel like when Red in The Shawshank Redemption talked about longtime prisoner Brooks being an "institutional man":

These walls are funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That's institutionalized.

I guess some days I feel like I'm institutionalized too. I loathed these walls when I came here 9 years ago (where did the time go?!), then I got used to them. Now I'm being forced to leave and start over with new staff, and new walls, and I'm scared shitless. It seems so pathetic, doesn't it? Change can be good, it can be cathartic, it can shake the cobwebs from your eyes. I really wish I could be one of those people who is super optimistic and YAY! GUNG HO CHANGE! But some days I can't see those possibilities at all and feel nothing but dread and skepticism and immense loneliness and fear that I'm the only one crazy enough to feel this way. Some days it feels like nothing more than impending doom for someone like me. Even though I've been around the block long enough to know that sooner or later I'll accept these new walls like they've been there all along, and I'll become institutionalized all over again.   

EDIT (a few weeks later):                            

All this stress and anxiety has literally been causing my blood pressure to be high, so recently my doctor put me on a medication to help me with the anxiety rather than start me on blood pressure meds. It's extremely new to me as I've always dealt with my anxiety on my own with varying degrees of success. It's been a difficult adjustment so far and I had a lot of side effects at first that were concerning. But I think it's finally starting to settle in and I'm starting to feel human again and like myself for the most part, not a zombie.The big work changes are going to be happening in the next few months so I won't make promises to post a ton during this time, but I really want to keep up with all the great scents I've been trying and do them justice. It just doesn't help me to put pressure on myself to post, only to feel like a failure when I don't come through-as it's only my own expectations, no one else's.

Hope you all had a great holiday season and New Year! I had a pretty good one, and on New Year's Eve G and I went to our favorite Thai place and went to see a movie, Room. I've been wanting to see it for months and it finally came to the small arty theater in our area, and it was so. so. good. If you can, see it. Anyway, it's time for my post in which I document all the baked goods I made for the holiday season.

First up- I made THESE sugar cookies and made royal icing as well. I am not even a huge sugar cookie fan but these were quite good, they have almond and vanilla extracts, and lemon zest, so they don't taste as boring as sugar cookies sometimes can. I had all these big plans for more elaborate decorations for the cookies, involving swirling different colored icings together with toothpicks-and that so didn't happen. I had to accept that border and flooding icing and sprinkles was as fancy as it was going to get, and they didn't turn out too bad! A little rustic (messy), but charming and tasty enough.

For gifts, I made little cookie parcels as usual- I did all new-to-me projects, and often used Smitten Kitchen's recipes. I tried to do those super cute Christmas Tree meringues, and while very nomtastic,  looked a little sad and droopy, so I called them "Charlie Brown Meringue Trees," so it totally looked intentional. 

I think my favorite things were the chocolate dipped candied orange peels and the toffee walnut cookies. I don't even like walnuts much but these were delish, and also from Smitten Kitchen. I've never made spritz cookies before, but I got a pristine, vintage metal cookie press from my cousin when she was cleaning out my aunt and uncle's house this past spring, and it was nice and nostalgic to use something my uncle (who got the baking gene) must have gotten lots of use from.

I wanted to do a vintage style Christmas "menu" for the goodies, so I found free clip art from The Graphics Fairy and they turned out nicely.

On Christmas morning I made (yes, again) Smitten Kitchen's Gingerbread Waffles. OMG, guys. These are so sweet, with crispy outsides and soft insides, and they don't need any toppings except maybe a pat of butter and sprinkling of powdered sugar just for show. They are SO good. Make them, I implore you.

Finally, a little furniture rehab! My dad found this wood laminate bookcase on the side of the road and it was in good condition, so he picked it up and gave it to me. The laminate was ugly, so I decided to paint it. Now, painting laminate can be wrought with complications (it's not really wood, so paint tends to not stick properly and bubbles up, I've heard), but I didn't have too much trouble. Long story short, I gave it a coat of Zinsser white cover primer in spray format, and then a couple coats of a  sandy beige chalk paint. I used Michael's brand because it was a bit cheaper, but I think I prefer Americana's Chalky paint a bit more, it seems to have better coverage. I used chalky paints to do some stenciling on the back on the bookcase, just for a little color, and then sealed everything with a polycrylic. Maisy likes heights, so she's adopted the top of the bookcase as her own personal perch for looking down upon her kingdom, and since this wasn't a very pricey project I don't mind. 

See that Christmas calendar there? I've had that since I was little and I remember imagining living in that tiny, cozy little house, and playing with the toy mouse that marks the days. I love that thing, and Maisy does too. We caught her on multiple occasions reaching up and grabbing the mouse from its pocket! So maybe she doesn't love it so much as want to destroy it. Anyway, enough chatter for one day. Until next time!

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!

Today's haul is my Winter 2015 order from Solstice Scents. A lot of these are new additions to the EDP line-up or returning scents, so if you want to see my reviews for previous years' scents please check out my posts HERE and HERE. I bought Lemon Ginger Creams ganache and a mini Snowshoe Pass EDP as gifts and my full size Snowmint Mallow oil is a scent I've tried before, so the reviews for those items are in old reviews (some of the things in those reviews aren't available anymore-sorry!)

Onto the new stuff!

I bought mini EDPs of Desert Thunderstorm, Estate Carnation, Manor Fire, and my free sample was Wolf Spirit. I somehow got an extra sample of Conjure Dark, which was a pleasant surprise.

Check out the gorgeous artwork of the Manor on Fire- it kind of makes me sad to see it go up in flames, and then I have to remind myself that it is a fictional place, after all-but there is a kind of perverse guilty pleasure in enjoying the scent of the poor place being destroyed. Feelings are weird.

Estate Carnation
Estate Vanilla, Sweet Opium Smoke, Carnation, Rose, Olibanum, Orris Root

When I think of carnation scents I tend to envision lightly spicy, kind of haunting, melancholy florals- think SS's Lace Draped Spectre and Riverside Hayride, Posset's Silver Carnations, Cocoa Pink's Fear of Cemeteries,  or dainty and mildly foodie like Winter Dove, that sort of thing. Estate Carnation is NOT like those scents. It's spicy carnation, but turned to 11, and bolstered by deep, resinous, sweet vanilla incense smoke (not gourmand) and rose. On cold sniff this reminds me just a little of Estee Lauder's Beautiful, and I mean that in a good way- when I first started getting into perfumes I really loved that one. I truthfully haven't tried many of the classic perfumes that may have inspired this one so Beautiful is the one my memory latched onto- it must be the rose/carnation combo, but Estate Carnation is much warmer and richer, to my nose. It's a very classic, strong, sexy scent- not as much as Edge of the Night, but it is potent and wafts quite a bit, so for me it's more of a night out or day off scent- I probably wouldn't wear it to work unless I had applied it well beforehand and it had already faded alot. It's not necessarily heavy, per se, but it does make its presence known. It's gorgeous and I love it.

Desert Thunderstorm
 Desert Sage, Pinyon Pine & Resin, Petrichor, Sweetgrass, Creosote Bush, Sand, Ponderosa Pine, Smoke

 I am a sucker for thunderstorm scents, and this is a unique one as it's got more of a woodsy and herbal element to it. Usually thunderstorm scents seem like they take place in a lush forest or on the ocean and are cool and watery, but this one clearly takes place in a dry, parched desert, and it creates that atmosphere vividly. I've never been in a desert but I can imagine this is a good representation of what it would be like. On cold sniff I am greeted by the familiar blast of dry sage that I got from High Desert, but this is lighter and smoother somehow, more palatable to me. It's very fresh, cleansing, and invigorating. It's got the memory of wetness- rain falling but immediately soaking into the cracked desert floor, leaving nary a trace. There is realistic ozone, but it's like heat lightning, not a typical thunderstorm. I will reach for this most probably in the spring and summer for actual wear, but it's nice to just steal a sniff every so often- it's invigorating but also kind of calming, too-much like real thunderstorms.

 Manor Fire 
Manor, Smoke, Charred Wood, Melted Beeswax, Wood Resin, Dry Wood, Burning Leaves, Worn Leather

This is the Manor I love, just charred a little around the edges. It's actually not as strong as I expected as far as the smokiness goes- it's not as smoky as Smoky Mountain Mallow but it does have a similar aura to it. I can pick up on a hint of leather and some creamy beeswax- I'm pleased this isn't acrid or jarring at all- it's quite smooth and wearable. I would love wearing this hiking in the woods- I bet it would mingle perfectly during the winter with cold air and real woodsmoke on the breeze. 

Wolf Spirit
Desert Sage, Pinyon Pine & Resin, Conifers, Cedar, Palo Santo, Soft Incense, Vetiver, Frankincense, Fur, Juniper

I knew this would be an iffy one- I have some Palo Santo essential oil from Eden Botanicals- and I don't like it at all. There is something terpenic about it-sharp, uber-fresh, bitterly citrus or like turpentine, it's a common element found in conifer-centric scents, and it's not very pleasant to me. So Wolf Spirit smells a lot like that Palo Santo on cold sniff, and it sticks in my throat, like it's a physical thing I'm trying to swallow. I wore this to bed- and while it's not my favorite SS scent by any means, I do appreciate that after a few minutes the Palo Santo recedes and mellows, and I'm left with a serviceable soft incensey, woodsy scent that I probably will use as a nighttime scent as it is sort of meditative after the first few minutes.

Conjure Dark
Amber, Frankincense, Sweet Incense Smoke, Dried Rose Petals, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Woods, Oud, Vanilla

Despite the name, this doesn't smell much like the original Conjure. The longer scent description mentions this, but I thought it worthwhile to reiterate. Whereas Manor Fire clearly has Manor interwoven with other notes, Conjure Dark is, I'd say, inspired by Conjure, but definitely not the same or merely layered upon. It's not overly dark to me either, but it's smokier than the original Conjure for sure. It is a deeper resinous incense blend with hints of agarwood and vanilla. Any sweetness is extremely muted.  It also has a churchy vibe to it with the frankincense- it makes me think of soft incense smoke, just a bit edgier. Nice!

Whew- posting this a few minutes past midnight so it's technically Christmas! Hope you all have a wonderful day :)

Today's Holiday Haul is from Sugar and Spite's Yule collection! First off, it's not a secret that I am a sucker for the branding and packaging- it's always so quirky and irreverent. All the Yule scents were throwbacks to classic films or stating uncomfortable truths about the holidays (you know, Santa is a bit of a creeper). So the artwork was kitschy and snarky and lots of fun. I really enjoyed it!

I got-

A perfume sampler including:
Gnome for the Holidays
It was an Ugly Tree Anyway
Dysfunctional Family Christmas
The Horseman Rides Again
Santa is a Creeper

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out sugar scrub and Bath Truffles (gifts)
Fruitcake for One Bath Truffles
Gnome for the Holidays Lotion
(Eat me Drink me bar soap-freebie)

Gnome for the Holidays
Mmmmmmm. Creeeaaaamy. Egyptian musk, four vanillas, and a smidge of bright white mint.

I picked this up as a lotion as I don't really have any minty, wintry lotions and I recently got a full size of Solstice Scents Snowmint Mallow perfume, so I figured they would layer well. And it makes me think of There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays by Perry Como, which I remember hearing a lot when I was little around Christmas and it made me nostalgic. Anyway, at first the perfume oil has a buttery note to it that I don't care for, but it does fade quickly into a more musky vanilla mint, in that order. It smells sort of like SS's Snowshoe Pass. I really like the lotion, it's a kind of neutral scent that layers well with a variety of other scents.

Dysfunctional Family Christmas
pumpkin, rosewood, vetiver, tea, nutmeg, clove

I don't really get pumpkin in this, it's mostly a lightly spicy tea scent with perhaps a touch of smokiness. It clings pretty close to the skin and I can't quite make out all the notes. It's pretty, I love Lysa's tea scents- this one is a little "same-y" to me though. I'll definitely use up the sample but it's not wowing me enough to require more after that.

Santa is a Creeper
 Lock your windows. A (quite possibly) felonious blend of incense, leather, amber, patchouli, licorice, clove and black tea. He sees you when you're sleeping.

This is pretty heavy on the licorice, but also a large amount of leather and then some incense. I think I can pick up some tea as well. This has a similar vibe to Solstice Scents Black Leather, Red Lace, with other notes added. It's a lot of licorice though so it's not my favorite, but if you like licorice and leather you're golden.

The Horseman Rides Again
 leather, leaves, fir, pumpkin, vanilla, incense, oud wood

I don't remember if I've sampled the original Horseman so I can't compare the versions- this one is nice though- leather is in the forefront-there is a sweetish vanilla woodsiness- if I sniff really intently I think I can make out the oud- it's actually quite nice. I've only tried this once or twice, I should spend more time with it. It's a good unisex scent-maybe I can get G to try it on.

It was an Ugly Tree Anyway

baking spices, a roaring hearth, sweet breads, faint cigar smoke, and the warm glow of a Christmas tree........ on fire.

The label and inspiration for this one cracks me up! This one was also my favorite, and I did order a full size of it. It's an interesting sweet baked goods/ fir tree scent with a faint smokiness. It sounds a little weird  but it works for me. I like the scent of this wafting around me more than huffing straight from my wrist, and I have gotten compliments from G on it, so it's G approved.

Everything else is intended as gifts- I did sniff the You'll Shoot Your Eye Out lotion- it's a straightforward delicious lemon cake. I don't smell any violets, but then again I didn't actually try it on. I'm not sure why A Christmas Story scent is lemon cake really- but it's well enough, considering the alternative would probably be Lifebuoy soap, boiled cabbage, and Ovaltine. I'll take the cake.

Have a great day everyone!

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Today I've got a First Impressions review for you! This is based solely on the scents offered by Arcana, as I didn't have any experience with their customer service. Arcana is one of the companies I've sort of avoided, not because their offerings don't sound awesome (they do!) but because they sell mostly through third party vendors, like The Rhinestone Housewife and Pretty Indulgent. They do sell some scents on Ebay as well. That's fine of course, but mostly I've avoided them because they don't do samples. That's their prerogative, and whatever helps them run smoothly is totally cool. But for me personally, samples are kind of imperative, especially when their full sizes are a little pricier than others in the 5 ml size range, around $18-$20, which is simply outside my budget for blind-buying from a new-to-me brand.

Recently a user on the IMAM subreddit, /u/worldwidethrowaway, was kind enough to host a general catalog decant circle for Arcana, and I thought it would be a perfect time to give them a shot and get a feel for their style. I've never done a decant circle before but everything went smoothly-it took about a month and a half, which was understandable as the response for this circle was overwhelming (I'm guessing I'm not the only one who laments the no-samples thing). The package I got was sealed perfectly, each vial was wrapped with plumber's tape, the vials were neatly labeled, and there were even a couple soap samples included. Everything was fine on that end and I'd feel comfortable doing another circle with that user in the future.

So, onto the scents! Since this was a GC circle, there is kind of a range of scents here-some I would gravitate more towards during the summer for sure, so even though I liked them a lot, I'm not as excited right now about them as I am the more fall/winter type scents. But check back with me later on that.

Leaves Falling Like Rain
In honor of our beloved Pacific Northwest and the best time of the year. A comforting base of brown sugar, caramel, gingersnaps and cappuccino is sparked off with hints of vintage patchouli, hyssop, mullein and white pepper.

Of course I will start with the one that has lately been discontinued due to a component issue. But, for posterity and if you find it available for swaps, I will still comment on it. On cold sniff it smells sweet, almost maple-y, but there is a bite of spicy ginger too- it's not sickening sweet. There is rich coffee and a fair amount of earthy patchouli grounding it. It smells like a toned-down version of Solstice Scents' Jack and the Devil to me, It's a very warm, cuddly, sweater-weather type scent. I am going to pretend that I don't like it at all. Blech. 

Vampire's Garden
For vampires and other dark souls addicted to topsoil, the sweetly herbaceous scent of freshly turned earth, blood oranges and staked tomato vines under a midnight sky

This is fresh and vivacious, oddly enough, considering it's named after the undead! This opens with a blast of juicy, astringent orange. It's almost cleaning product-ish but there is peppery,green tomato leaf and dirt notes too so it's not that simple. It's a little sharp and pervasive for my taste, but it's possible I will like it more in the spring.

The ancient Roman goddess of summer: Madagasgar vanilla, yellow cake, soft peach nectar, golden musk, black musk and a hint of patchouli.

I knew it was a long shot, but I ordered this hoping for more cake, vanilla, and musk. Nope, lots 'o' peach. Peach and I don't get along so well. It's a deeper, earthier, more grounded peach with a hint of sweetness, but still, peach. If you like scents like Haus of Gloi's Peach Mama or Solstice Scents Chantilly Cream (which I actually do like somewhat), you may gravitate towards this.

Filthy Viking
Between the sea voyages and the pillaging, it must have been difficult for Odin’s henchmen to stay fresh. Too bad they didn’t have this ferocious blend of scents from the Viking world: bracing Norwegian juniper, frigid Icelandic mint and the hardy wood of a longship 

One word sums this one up: bracing. Oh wait, that's already in the description. So I can't use it again. Argh. Okay. Um. Shivery. Biting. Almost-fruity juniper and evergreens. Icy mint. But it morphs rather dramatically after applying, when it suddenly becomes woodsy, like you're tucked deep in the lower levels of the longship, wrapped in some kind of toasty fur, surrounded by warm wood planks, a hint of slightly sooty smoke in the air.

Philtre Consumed
In its wake, this potion is said to leave a trail of ravenous longing and insatiable lust. Three gingers (fresh ginger, ginger extract, and gingerbread) are blended with a cheesecake accord, French cognac, butter co2 extract, caramel, black pepper, sugared milk, copaiba balsam, a pinch of ho wood, and a shameless slap of cassia

This is some deliciousness, right here. It's powerfully spicy ginger at first- more dry than sweet but still decidedly edible. It's tangy too- it IS like cheesecake. But a deep, mysterious, sexy, spicy gingerbread cheesecake. This is winner winner chicken dinner for me. 

Orange blossoms with beach coconut, skin musk, and warm sand

Talk to me about this one in about six months, as it's really lovely, I'm just not woo-hoo excited about it right now. The scent is reminiscent of Solstice Scents Coquina- lots of orange blossom (and I love orange blossom!), light coconut and ocean spray notes. It's fresh, airy, sweet and summery and so not on my radar right now. Soon though. Very soon.

The Sweet Trade
This laid-back tropical tangle celebrates the less black-hearted side of piracy. With heady notes of caramel, honey, orange blossoms, rich coconut cream and dark Indonesian patchouli.

This is Surf's older, sexier, edgier wild-child sister. It's Surf with the lights turned down lowwwww. Wear this on a hot, sultry summer night and watch the magic happen. It smells a lot like a Haus of Gloi custom scent I made with orange blossom, mahogany, coconut, and red musk, and it has always been my favorite one, The patchouli is not heavy here, don't worry about that. It's mostly rich, almost syrupy orange blossom and coconut. Very heady stuff, and quite swoonworthy.

Philtre: Adoration
An aphrodisiac believed to draw one's beloved to the greatest heights of receptivity and indulgence. Three vanillas, sweet cream, banana custard, white pepper, exotic amber, pearl musk, black pepper, and cardamom. 

Somewhat like Philtre: Consumed, but this has a kind of sharp,boozy banana thing going on. It's another blend that is foodie, but also musk and amber and spice, and keeps you guessing. Of the two I prefer Consumed, but this is quite delish as well.

Song of Songs: Comfort Me with Apples
Honey-sweetened cider, green apples, vanilla, buttermilk, amber resin, and a hint of cinnamon bark. 

This is definitely a tangy, lip-puckering green apple, and there's not a whole lot of spiciness to my nose and it's not particularly creamy or resinous either. Just a lot of apple. One second I think it smells really realistic, the next it's like a green apple Jolly Rancher. Not bad, but not over the moon about it either.

Apples Crave Vanilla
Wild apples and green apples with delicate vanilla, sensual musk, and white amber

This is a more subtle red apple, not too sweet and not spicy. It's a little lackluster on cold sniff, but enjoy the drydown when more muskiness and depth starts to peek out and it behaves more like a my-skin-but-better type scent.

Holy Terror
There are utterly somber and fearsome spirits which are known to haunt certain long-deserted chapels, monasteries and abbeys. An unsettling, austere blend of burning frankincense, sandalwood, deep myrrh, and dusty beeswax candles. 

Holy moly! I really love this one. I thought it would smell like Solstice Scents Basilica (ultimate church scent), but it stands on its own. This has a lot of dusty, creamy beeswax candles and the most gorgeous incense smoke, not too strong but just acrid enough to feel that old familiar Catholic guilt kicking in. Full size material.

Bonfires at Dusk
Woodsmoke, sweet beeswax, Oregon lavender, sandalwood, charred juniper, and the scent of swiftly appearing stars. 

This smells like smoky lavender- a very potent, sharp herbal and coniferous element at first, It does have an atmospheric, eerily quiet twilight feeling to it. The drydown is similar to Holy Terror to me with the smoke and beeswax, but I think I prefer Holy Terror as is.

Will I try Arcana again? Sure! Everything was well blended and interesting, Consumed and Holy Terror were definite full size candidates, and Surf and the Sweet Trade might start tickling my fancy more come spring. I have actually have purchased from Arcana again- I recently blind bought a full size from the Ebay store, Vanilla Craves Bread- because I adore bread scents and it just sounds fantastic, I couldn't resist. I'm glad I went ahead and gave Arcana a chance!

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