I apologize for neglecting this blog for a WHOLE YEAR! But I swear I have had good reasons. One, my new job at my new library has been a huge adjustment, but I'm happy to say I have indeed adjusted and I am doing surprisingly well at it. We are a large branch and luckily the merging of three separate branch staffs went much more smoothly than I expected- I for the most part LOVE my co-workers and feel very thankful for that. Our jobs are not easy- we are tech help, reference librarians, baby-sitters, customer service representatives, and social workers all rolled into one, and if we didn't have supportive co-workers to lean on, it could have been an awful place to work. But even when things are crazy and stressful, we can still make each other laugh, and that makes a HUGE difference.

And TWO! I have been busy, busy, busy creating my own Etsy business. Yes- all these years immersed in indie has rubbed off on me, and I will soon be opening my own wax melt business, and the name is Willow WaxCraft. I am opening with 26 general catalog scents, and 4 spring/summer seasonals. I will be selling clamshells and scent shot samplers. My focus is creating unique scents that you can't find anywhere else- inspired by nature, books, film, my own experiences, etc. I am not creating fandom collections- my inspirations are not always obvious and you don't have to be a fan to enjoy them, but if you pick up on my references, we shall share a knowing wink and a nod, yes?

Why Willow WaxCraft? Well- I love willow trees-they have an airy, cool mysticism to them, and while I'm not hugely into astrology, my Celtic tree sign is the willow tree, and I've always gravitated more to that symbol than my solar sign of Aries. And WaxCraft because I've always found scent a little magical, especially the power it has to create new and evoke old memories. So, my brand aesthetic is very nature-focused with a hint of magic without being quite witchy, goth, or dark. I wanted Willow WaxCraft to be lighter in style, somewhat serious and perfect for the book-lovers and nerds among us but with hints of whimsy and peculiarity. I aim for a nostalgic yet timeless look, using only vintage public domain art, often from before 1900, for my labels, and they are all carefully researched and chosen to represent the scents well.

My scents range from unique but accessible to those accustomed to traditional candle store scents ( I have an all apple, all the time scent called Walnut Creek Orchard that is a perfect example) to scents that those familiar with indie perfumes may appreciate for being rather strange, mercurial, and nothing at all like what you'd find in stores (my Balm of Gilead scent as an example, is: lipstick (powdery violet, orris, and rose), fresh baked bread, glossy magazine pages, and sweet buttercream). I use a para-soy wax blend that is a dream to work with and melt- it has great scent throw and retention, and pops out of the clamshells, cups, and melters really easily and cleanly.

I am hard at work wrapping up the final details and getting my shop prepared, and I will be opening very soon!

Updates on the shop and a note with the full scent list can be found on my Facebook page HERE!

Today I have for you a haul from Eden Botanicals! If you've been toying with the idea of exploring essential oils for aromatherapy/skin care/perfume/whatevs, this is an awesome time to do so as Eden is offering free shipping in the continental U.S. until Sept. 23rd, no order minimum! I am already plotting another order. Er, and by that I mean I've already placed one.

I have recently read Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume and Fragrant: the Secret Life of Scent, both by artisan perfumer Mandy Aftel, and I've been trying the collect the ingredients needed to create the perfume formulas provided in both books. I figured it's good to experiment with my own ideas, but truth be told, I have no idea if what I've made so far is any "good." Nothing has been scrubber-caliber awful, but stripped of all branding, aesthetic design, and creative copy, I'm left simply to trusting my rather amateur nose, and it has me feeling a little uncertain. So I figured I need to start simple, and that testing some compositions that a professional has created and formulated would be a worthy endeavor for learning how the materials work together.

 I really enjoyed both books, but be aware neither is a very technical "how-to" book, they are both rather poetic, with emotive language that focuses on the transformative and magical qualities of scent throughout history, with some formulas inspired by certain materials, and only small sections with clear cut guidelines/ charts/ lists, etc. Especially in the first book, there is a minimum amount of info on safety concerns and also highlights materials from questionable origins, i.e., mysore sandalwood, civet,  etc. that are worth some further research. Just keep in mind that her first book was published in 2001, and things have changed a lot since then. 

What I like about the books is that the formulas look like real perfumes, not one of those generic "100 recipes for Aromatherapy" type books that seem to re-hash the same tired recipes, using super basic essential oils in typical energy/sleep/romance type compositions. I like that Mandy uses more interesting materials that I am used to seeing in my favorite indie perfumes: fir absolute, neroli, blood orange, vetiver, tobacco absolute, jasmine sambac- conveniently, all items you can get from Eden (I'll be getting to that shortly!) So, despite their limitations, they are the best, most refreshing and inspiring artisan perfumery books I've seen around.

Another limitation to their scope, however, is that Ms. Aftel's stance and POV is pretty anti-synthetic, which is totally fine, I appreciate her devotion to natural materials. However, I do want to explore aroma chemicals too, so I can understand what they can and can't do, the way in which they are building blocks composing impressions of complex natural aromas. Finding info on their usage (and especially sample formulas) has been a little trickier-but one blog I like is Her Two Scents,  which goes into detail profiling various materials. I have checked out THIS perfume recipe site, which is a really awkward website to navigate, but if you can ignore the terrible layout, there are some legitimately interesting formulas available presented in a way I haven't seen anywhere else.

I also have an interlibrary loan request pending for Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin, by Steffen Arctander, which is a hefty 700 page tome cataloging pretty much every natural perfume ingredient imaginable. It's available to view online HERE but I really want to look through the physical book. It looks like a really useful resource.

For my quickly expanding collection, I'm working on a spreadsheet for my materials to help me keep straight any limitations on maximum usage (especially with the aromachems), solubility, other compatible notes, etc. This should help me see at a glance possible combinations for scents and any issues that may arise with blending them. Once I get it the way I want it I'll share it with you!

Alrighty, now moving on to my Eden haul:

One of the best things about Eden is that you can choose a free sample for every twenty dollars you spend- I got two with this order!

Fir, Balsam Absolute-( Abies balsamea ) 10% in FCO: Don't be fooled by the 10% dilution-this stuff is intense! It is sweet and balsamic, with hints of rich strawberry jam, which sounds strange but it's so lovely! When you see Fir absolute described as "jammy"- that description is spot on! It's deep and calming, like standing in the middle of a cool, shadowy forest. It could go in a Christmasy direction but it doesn't have to. The possibilities are endless. I sort of wish I'd bought the undiluted version so I could use it in alcohol based perfumes, but ease of use and my budget hindered me. Still, I am so excited to use it.

Lavender Maillette-(Lavandula angustifolia):This lavender is smooth, sweet, herbal, slightly grassy/woodsy. There is no sharp medicinal smell here-it's warm and gentle, the quintessential essential oil for relaxation. 

Lime, Expressed (Citrus aurantifolia): This is utterly delicious! It makes me think of cherry limeaid slushies (minus the cherry, of course) during a hot summer day- invigorating and refreshing. It is only a little tart, not sour or bitter. Mostly sweet, zesty, fresh. Not cleaning product-like at all. I seriously want to drink this. I feel like this will work as such an interesting top note- will I use it to brighten a woodsy, incensey blend, or cool off something more warm and tropical? Decisions!

Peppermint Essential Oil, USA (Mentha piperita): As a baker, I've used peppermint extract once or twice. This stuff blows extract out of the water! It is mint to the absolute max, minus the alcohol bite of extract. But strangely, as intense as it is, it is surprisingly smooth, warm, and mellow. It's VERY potent, but not as sharp as I expected. I made a batch of chocolate mint ice cream last week, and instead of using mint leaves, I used literally *5* drops of this potion in the whole quart of ice cream-and that was enough to imbue the ice cream with a clean, fresh mint flavor. In scent, I anticipate a little going a very long way, so use this sparingly.

Rose Absolute, Morocco, 10% in FCO (Rosa damascena): I am amazed by these dilutions! Again, no watered down rose here, this is lush, fresh-picked, sweet rose-not heavy or powdery. Just a tiny hint of spiciness. 

Frankincense, Somalia ( Boswellia carterii): This makes me think of church! Rich, balsamic, resinous scent with a slight camphorous bite to it on cold sniff. There is a hint of pepper and citrus too. Meditative, reflective, a link to the past.

Patchouli, Light, (Pogostemon cablin): I'm not a HUGE fan of patchouli, especially when it is at the forefront of a scent rather than weaved into the background. But I figured I should have a sample on hand just in case. For a "light" version, this still packs a punch! It is bracing, slightly medicinal but also sweet and earthy, vaguely smokey?  This is a clear oil and while I don't have the "dark" aged version, I suspect this one would be the fresher, sharper, cleaner of the two. Still, dilute, dilute, dilute!

Osmanthus Absolute (Osmanthus fragrans): This is another scent I've seen listed in blends before, but never smelled on its own or gravitated to because supposedly it smelled a lot like peaches (which I have a tenuous relationship with). But for my free sample, I thought it would be worth a try. Glad I did! This is one of Eden's tiny samples-six precious drops of really expensive materials so the average consumer can try them. And luckily these six thick, syrupy drops will go a long way, as I think I can dilute this heavily and still make an impact on a blend. This is an intense floral, with a cooked peach or apricot nuance, something rich, heady, almost leathery. Reviewers on Eden's site say they smell tea as well, and I can appreciate that too. It is gorgeous as is, and I can't wait to dilute it so it can really shine.

I am on vacation this week, first days off since April when my dad had a stroke (which don't really count, obviously), and it's more of a staycation so I've been able to work on my spreadsheet and things I don't normally have time for. It's been good so far!

Today I'm going to do a quick and dirty round-up of indie scents that I reach for time and again during the summer. Some are old favorites I've loved for years, others are new that I'm just now falling in love with. Here we go!

Coquina (Solstice Scents): Sandalwood, Orange Blossom, Clementine EO, Beach sand, Plumeria Absolute, Coconut, Ginger EO, and a Splash of Seaspray.

Warm, tropical coconut with a hefty dose of fresh orange blossom anchored with a woodsy drydown. Pretty much one of my all time favorite summery, beachy scents. Vacation in a bottle.

White Feather (Solstice Scents): Estate Vanilla, Jasmine Absolute, Gardenia Enfleurage, Saffron Co2, Sandalwood, Spices, Amber, Oud, Patchouli, Ylang Ylang

 I have a mini spray of this that I bought last summer- I don't think I could ever spring for a full size bottle but I will most likely repurchase a mini. This is such a gorgeous scent, and a miraculous one at that-it's a jasmine heavy scent that I actually love. It's a little indolic upon first spraying it, but it settles quickly into a stunning white floral with creamy, spicy-sweet and incense notes. I wore it several times this week to work-one of the perks of a new, huge building is that I don't feel as self conscious trying my more intense scents-and I got compliments on it every day!

Tenebrous Mist (Solstice Scents): Musk, White Amber, Sea Spray, Sandalwood, Bay Rum, Tea, Smoke

 A badass ocean scent-this one is salty, musky, sweet, woodsy-complex and darker than your typical aquatic.

Moon Dog (Haus of Gloi):   Solar storms erupt: cracked coconut, dry sandalwood essense, heated with nutmeg and clove

For those looking for a non-sweet coconut: this is dry and tinged with spiciness. It has a tenacious warmth to it.

Beguiled (Haus of Gloi):Lemon cake made with the tang of fresh buttermilk and raspberry coulis-an otherwise innocent cake corrupted by cardamom and deceptive pink peppercorns

THE lemon cake scent. It's sweet lemon cake, a hint of jamminess. Utterly addictive. Ya'll know I made a real Beguiled Cake several years ago. It's yummy.

Neroli XXIII (Alkemia): neroli (orange blossom), wild bergamot, mandarin, french lavender, lemon myrtle, rosemary, petitgrain, marigold, Sambac jasmine, parchment paper, amber santal, angelica root, palmarosa, tonka, and rosewood.

This is one of Alkemia's really magical scents that smells super expensive and fancy- lots of orange blossom with a little clean soapiness- this makes me think of swimming all day at the pool as a child, then taking a warm shower in the locker room with whatever soap and shampoo my mom brought, and how I always felt a million times cleaner and fresher than on an average day. Raising the ordinary to extraordinary.

 Sun Dried Laundry in Summer Rain (Alkemia):Stonewashed linen and clean, sun-dried cotton billowing gently on an old fashioned clothesline spattered by the first gently ozonic drops of a summer rain

 Fresh laundry smell, but better. Hints of rain-soaked stone, and an almost airy fruitiness. Soft, inobtrusive, good work or hot weather scent.

Desiderata (Alkemia):The exquisitely simple beauty of an evening stroll on a warm June evening. Fresh honeysuckle blooming under a rising full moon, ivy vines, dew dampened grass, riverbed clay, old barnwood, and earthy vetivert root. 

 Warm july evenings, catching fireflies in the backyard. Watching the sunset. Green earthiness, heady honeysuckle- just gorgeous.

County Fair (Alkemia):The nostalgic scent of an old-fashioned American carnival midway - pink cotton candy, hot kettle corn, freshly fried dough, candied apples, and saltwater taffy.

 It's not summer without a trip to the carnival- this is popcorn and sugary dough, festive and warm. A good choice for "pink sugar" type scent lovers, but looking for something deeper and more complex.

Mishigami (Darling Clandestine): Inspired by that greatest of lakes, Lake Michigan, my very favorite lake in the world, and all its moods and shores. Much more than an "aquatic" fragrance, this has indescribable, sandy depth

One of my favorite aquatics- somehow it actually IS more of a fresh lake than a salty ocean. How does it do that? And it really does have a slightly gritty sandiness to it as well.

Cloudswing (Darling Clandestine):A tumble in the hay! Lemongrass and vanilla and resiny wood and marigolds and new-mown clover and sun. A summer favorite---especially since the lemongrass gives it the added bonus of discouraging mosquitos.

I don't normally like lemongrass- it either reminds me of savory Thai food or cleaning products, but this is a creamy, earthy, sunny-sweet lemongrass. It is a decidedly happy scent-makes me think of long summer days playing on my cousin's farm, hiding in the hayloft, then wandering the fields, searching for adventure.

Athena (Sugar and Spite): Dark vanilla, patchouli, pepper, ivy, sea spray

Another favorite aquatic, this is a darkly sweet seaspray scent with a base of patchouli, but it doesn't smell like patch really, it's not super obvious and not at all heavy. I get compliments on this every time I wear it, it just grabs people's attention. The vanilla/aquatic combo is unusual and should defiinitely happen more often.

New Radio (Sixteen92): Vanilla milkshake accord, maraschino cherry, pink lemonade, grass clippings, waffle cone
This has a festive carnival feel to it, and smells more like an orange creamsicle to me than cherries, which is fine with me. I layer it with Haus of Gloi's Satyr (dark vanilla and orange) and they really smell quite complementary. A generally fun summer scent.

Tahitian Monoi Cake (Cocoa Pink):Vanilla cake batter injected with candied citrus, moist white cake smothered in whipped buttercream icing touched with nuances of Polynesian Monoi oil.

This is a weird one- a flower should not smell so edible! This is creamy, waxy gardenia and rich, dense yellow cake. Strange but so, so delicious.

Surf (Arcana):Orange blossoms with beach coconut, skin musk, and warm sand.

If you like orange blossom, you kind of have to try this one. It has a similar vibe to SS's Coquina, but this is a little cooler and fresher, not as deep or heady. It's a fresh-from-the-ocean tropical scent. Adore it.

Halo (Deconstructing Eden):Moonlight, sea water, lilacs, wisteria, honeysuckle and moonflower

If this scent had a color, it would be a cool lavender- a relaxing scent that makes me think of twilight on a boat, falling asleep to the bobbing of waves. Gentle white flowers and watery notes- pretty, and it smells expensive, to boot!

I'm sure I've missed some but if you're on the prowl for some awesome indie scents for warm weather, these will be a good place to start!

Today I feel pretty accomplished- I actually managed to start two perfume blends that I've been thinking about for a while. I recently got an order from Eden Botanicals for my skin oil supplies, and also got some essential oils and absolutes for blending, and I've been itching to use them. It takes a lot of time though, and that has been lacking lately with everything going on. But today while working on laundry, I got two scents started!

I'm still just throwing things at the wall at seeing what sticks and working on a SUPER small scale. I wanted to do a kind of boozy mocha scent for G, and something tropical and bright for me. Everything for these scents was from Eden, so everything is an essential oil, absolute, or Co2. A little more risky and ambitious than using fragrance oils, but I live on the edge.

I have a tiny 5 ml glass beaker, and I basically just used enough drops to reach the 2 ml mark, and once I let them sit for a while, I'll tweak them if need be, then dilute with fractionated coconut oil. The first time I made a couple scents last year, I only made 1 ml of concentrate for each 5 ml perfume, and they ended up being way too faint. Some of my oils are pre-diluted so I needed to take that into account; I feel like I over diluted because I was worried about the oils being too potent or unsafe. And I fussed too much about having certain percentages for top, base, and middle notes. Today I just went with what felt/smelled right, and didn't care about having everything fit a particular formula. Playing is a better way to learn than fretting over things being perfect.

For G's Boozy Mocha, I used:

20 drops Vanilla Bourbon Co2 (30 % dilution-still REALLY strong, smells a little like tobacco-yummy)
16 drops Coffee Co2
15 drops Cocoa Absolute (only soluble in alcohol, so it will have those funky looking lava lamp droplets)
10 drops Tonka Bean Absolute (20% dilution)
5 drops Butter Co2 (smells a little weird at full strength from the bottle, but hoping it will just add a little creaminess/richness with only a few drops. I don't know how to create a whipped cream note so maybe this will suffice!)
2 drops Balsam of Peru (for a touch of fixative, with a deep vanilla, resinous tone for some added dimension)

I totally didn't follow any rules with this, there aren't even any top notes! I hope it ages nicely, it has some potential to smell like a fancy coffee drink that just might make you a little tipsy.

For my tropical scent, I went with:

10 drops Blood Orange essential oil
10 drops Neroli Extra (10 % dilution)
5 drops Ginger Co2
30 drops Coconut Co2- (omg this stuff smells SO good, like fresh, meaty coconut. But it is VERY delicate, so I added a lot so it will hopefully not disappear)
3 drops Sandalwood, Royal Hawaiian (I wanted to use more but I only had a tiny sample and ran out. I used some agarwood to augment it, but maybe later I'll add more).
7 drops Agarwood Co2 (5% dilution)
2 drops Ylang Ylang, Fine (I was going to leave this blend at the agarwood but it smelled primarily of citrus and neroli in the beaker, so I added a couple drops of Ylang for some floral, creamy depth. I think it was a good choice).

They both smell pretty good so far-not reinventing the wheel or anything, but still, not a disaster. Progress!

I recently finished one of my favorite eye shadows, Shade 154 from Inglot. I mean, finished. FINITO. The pan was hit and then some. Which is kind of crazy because that baby has lasted me since 2013 when I went to their store in Chelsea Market in NYC (sob-three years ago already!) So I was considering buying a new Inglot palette online, as I've always wanted to try more of their neutral shades. I was about to pull the trigger when Fyrinnae dropped their new Edwardian Collection, chock full of neutrals and pretty, dainty colors. It's been about a year since I've ordered from Fyrinnae so I took that as a sign, and things were bought.

Heads up, my swatches are rubbish and can't capture how shimmery and multi-faceted these are!

I also picked up one of the new lip lustres, Demure, and I love it. It's not too bright or too pale, just a perfect, perky pink.

Two that I think are especially hard to capture are Art Nouveau, which is a metallic emerald green that has some blue/gold shift that brings to mind a peacock, and Brocade, which is a denim blue with a golden overlay.

Swatches on bare skin- expect more intense results with primer, though these all have excellent adhesion as is.

Here's a look I did the other day with it, using Art Nouveau on the lid, Marry Money in the crease, and Sunlit Boudoir as a highlight. Eyeshadows were applied over Coastal Scents Step One primer. I used Demure on my lips.

Here's a flash pic so you can see how beautifully shimmery these are:

While I was buying the new collection, I went ahead and picked up a few other minis- including one of my all-time faves, Beyond Binary, which I also recently finished. It's a gorgeous, my-lids-but-better neutral with a gorgeous blue glow, and it can also double as a crease shade to blend out lid colors or can also be used as a highlight.

Swatches on bare skin again, Coffee and Chocolate and Intergalactic Bookstore were a little sheer but I haven't had a chance to test them with primer yet, I'm sure they'll be great. I wore Illusionary today and really like it- it's a not-too-out-there, subtle pinky-violet with some pink sparkles, and it shifts rather dramatically to a more muted greenish-gold depending on the angle. I'm not even going to bother trying to photograph the shift, but it's gorgeous!

I went to a food festival yesterday and this was my LOTD- I used Faust on my lid, which is a molten, metallic bronze, Aristocratic Scandal in the crease, and Beyond Binary as a highlight. Also wore Demure again on my lips.

That's all for today, hope this was helpful!

Sixteen92's Summer 2016 collection drops on May 27th, and I have had my mitts on it for a couple weeks since I renewed my Circle subscription. With the 30% off seasonal full sizes and a standing 10% off other items codes, it was just a good deal for me to renew. And I really ended up liking a few of these so that 30% off code will come in handy.

This collection's theme is a throwback to  90's girl rock and the riot grrl movement. I never got into it much, I'm not sure why, but I was and still am a HUGE Fiona Apple fan, and quite like Tori Amos too, though I haven't listened to her as much as Fiona. She was my muse through my tumultuous high school years and as a recreational closet singer she was always my go-to for practicing. Nothing is more cathartic for the tortured soul than belting out some Fiona, people. I highly recommend it.

Anyway! Onto the scents:

Bells For Her (Tori Amos)

Sweet basil, dandelion, star jasmine, green vines, mandarin, ozone, green tea, crushed mint

I pretty much knew going in that this would be a winner for me. It seems like most Sixteen92 collections have some sort of green/earthy/watery/or herbal scent, and they almost always work for me. The Grass Harp, Eternal Return, the Primrose Path, I love all those, and if those work for you I suspect Bells for Her will too. This starts will a blast of sweet, herbal basil, quite like The Grass Harp, but minus the orange blossom that might have been too "cleaning product" for some noses. The jasmine is not heavy or indolic. Overall this scent is very green and dewy, a refreshing garden scent-like ivy winding up the brick walls of a regal estate, supported by subtle florals. I can't quite make out the crushed mint as a separate note, but I suspect it just lends a a cool, uplifted vibe to this, and there is a hint of fresh green tea. I would wear this on hot, humid days to feel clean, dainty, and non-sweaty. Very pretty, and full size for sure.

Bruise Violet (Babes in Toyland)

Red lipstick accord, dusting powder, white iris, violet leaf, Damascus & Bulgarian rose, red grapefruit zest (premium)

How weird! This one smells so nostalgic, it's triggering some sort of memory, though I'm not sure what it is. It's supposed to smell like lipstick, and it really does, but I can't tell if that is the memory it's tapping into. Some other product I used growing up? Not sure, but it makes me happy. It's a creamy, sweet, almost candied rose, iris and violet-powdery but not heavy. It sounds like it could be old fashioned,but there is something edgy about it, like it's lipstick not perfectly applied with a brush, but smeared and venturing defiantly outside the lines, a fuck it kind of lipstick. I suspect the grapefruit adds some punch and lift to this and is what makes it smell both powdery and bright at the same time. Nostalgic yet modern. Liking this one too!

Doll Parts (Hole)

Rhubarb, white cake, white peach, cassis, osmanthus, ginger flower

I was pretty certain this would be a no-go. Sixteen92's stone fruit scents don't really work for me, and I wasn't sure what rhubarb smelled like, but I was pretty sure it wouldn't help matters. But this isn't bad! I don't think I'll get a full size, but I kind of like it. It smells like a combination of super fruity gummi candy, and some kind of medication I might have encountered as a child- a cough syrup but not a traditional cherry one, something else I can't put my finger on but I find strangely compelling. It's an intensely sweet, syrupy, creamy, cakey, peachy scent. I like this most on cold sniff and first applying-after it dries down it starts to do that peachy-body odor thing which is the bane of my perfume existence. But those initial minutes are perversely delicious!

New Radio (Bikini Kill) 

Vanilla milkshake accord, maraschino cherry, pink lemonade, grass clippings, waffle cone

This one drove me crazy folks, because I knew I'd tried something very similar to it before, but I couldn't figure it out. Not a memory of something else, but another perfume. It took me a week or so before I figured out it smelled a lot like Haus of Gloi's Satyr ( Italian blood orange drizzled with blackened vanilla). It was hard to pinpoint because they don't really have anything in common so it wasn't a natural connection, but yeah, this smells so much like Satyr. It's got a creamsicle vibe to that I really like-even though I normally don't like cherry, this is more a general sweet, creamy vibe that keeps it from being sharp or medicinal. It has a festive, carnival-like feel to it- like fair foods. I very occasionally get a faint whiff of grass, but it's very subtle and sometimes I can't pick up on it at all. Another winner!

Rid of Me (PJ Harvey)

 Magnolia, Sambac jasmine, ylang, white pepper, grapefruit blossom, ambrette, satin musk, Oudh (premium)
This reminds me a little of  La Llorona, but instead of being a peppery, citrusy rose, this is a peppery, citrusy white floral. Usually there is a scent in each collection that I'm sort of "meh" about, and this is that one. I don't have strong feelings about it either way. I don't dislike it but it's not moving mountains for me either. But it's perfectly nice if you like white florals with a little pep!

Shadowboxer (Fiona Apple)

Jasmine fleur, May rose, blond sandalwood, mango flower, praline (premium)

 I had high hopes for this considering the inspiration, but this is the one that just didn't work for me at all. There is something very acetone-like upon cold sniff, like sharp, alcohol-y nail polish remover. Upon application, it's like nuts steeping in nail polish remover. A few minutes after that, I get more of a pungent, bordering on too-indolic jasmine and woodsy scent with something fruity? It morphs a lot and once it finally dries down it's almost manageable, but the journey with this is too fraught with peril for my blood.

To recap!

Love: Bells for Her, Bruise Violet, New Radio
Like: Doll Parts
Meh: Rid of Me
Nope: Shadowboxer
So I was thinking of something to call this post that wasn't some boring, lame apology-for-being-gone-so-long title. And then I thought that 2016 has me feeling a little like Season 3 The Walking Dead character Milton (spoiler warning I guess if you haven't seen it?) after he got beaten, pummelled, and stabbed by the Governor, and locked in the torture chamber to die, turn, and inevitably kill handcuffed Andrea. So they talk, share heartfelt feelings of regret and hope, and he periodically tells her "I'm still here...I'm still alive," helpfully reminding her to get her ass moving to free herself, but instead she just keeps rambling on and on with no real urgency considering her impending demise. But I digress...

So I feel like 2016 has been my personal Governor, but despite feeling pretty run down, I'm still here, and still alive. In one of my last posts, I talked about work changes, dealing with my anxiety, and starting medication for it. All of that has been challenging enough, but in mid April, a week before my 35th birthday, my dad had a stroke. And a week after that, the new library opened, and all the chaos that has come with it. So this past month or so has just been me trying to deal with these changes and keep myself sane.

My dad has been in the hospital almost a month, and is supposed to go to a nursing home for rehab this week. When he had his stroke (he got a blood clot, fell in the bathroom, and my mom had to call paramedics and they had to tear the door down to get him), I wasn't very hopeful. The surgeon couldn't remove the clot manually and he made it sound like he wouldn't get any better and said we needed to prepare for him to have a worse and more debilitating stroke. His bedside manner was lacking and had me basically mentally planning dad's funeral, and freaking out over what my mom would do. But dad survived, they dissolved the clot, and has improved so much more than I imagined- it affected his left side and speech, swallowing, ability to control that side was affected. He has progressed to eating regular food and can speak pretty clearly and can turn his head. He can stand for almost a minute though he is in pain and needed a double knee replacement before this. He still is having trouble with left hand/arm coordination though, but still, he is in good spirits considering everything and is focused in getting better. I know walking will be the biggest challenge for him, but I'm just happy he's alive.

My parents have always had health issues and I was no stranger to hospital waiting rooms as a child, but this was the scariest experience, the one where death was truly staring me in the face. I have NEVER cried at any of their health crises, but when that surgeon came out, I did break down. I think the medication I've started has actually helped me a TON with all of this, and has also helped me express myself without the crippling fear and anxiety that had me holding back for much of my life. I don't find myself getting worked up, anxious, overwhelmed, or angry over things as much, with far fewer fight-or-flight responses, but I don't feel emotionally flat either. I feel more comfortable saying things, expressing feelings without second-guessing myself as much as I used to. My mom is, as I've mentioned before, pretty much mentally ill and at times very self-centered and difficult to deal with ( I was emotionally abused growing up, no two ways around it) but G has been amazing taking her to the store, getting the rent paid, running errands with her, even though she hasn't always been super nice to him. I am grateful he's taken this on board as work as sucked up a lot of my energy.

I am also grateful I started the meds back in February when I did, as all of this would have been so much harder without it. Work has been crazy busy, so much more so than I'm used to, and adjusting to the huge new building, larger staff, and generally different way of working as been challenging, but I am...dare I say it...doing OK? My new co-workers are really nice and friendly for the most part and it's kind of nice spending time with some fresh blood, though we don't have much time to talk yet and get to know each other. It's been a lot of trial by fire and just fumbling our ways through, but there hasn't been a lot of drama or head-butting yet.

 I am out on the floor almost all day now, spending time "roving" with a walkie-talkie and a tablet, which means walking around, asking people if they need help, assisting with check-out and returns, computer help, etc. Then I spend an hour on the desk doing general circulation/reference work, then an hour "greeting", yeah, pretty much like a grocery-store greeter. And around and around like that. I'm in charge of supplies so my off desk time is mostly spent keeping track of that. I feel more productive/competent in a way, and patrons have been excited and mostly positive about the new building. I still get to see my favorite patrons from my original branch. A few naysayers have been grumpy about using the new technology for self-check and have claimed we staff now "have nothing to do" (yeah, right) or saying the building is "soulless" compared to the old branches, but mostly people think it's cool and have been super impressed. We have huge wall mounted TVs for kids to play Wii and Playstation, a recording studio, meeting and conference rooms to reserve, a cafe, so this has been major culture shock, but somehow in the midst of everything I'm adapting.

I have a lot less down time at work now, so getting any blogging done is going to be strictly an at-home venture, but I really want to get back into it as I have so many new smells and it would be a pity to leave them un-reviewed. Now that I'm starting (fingers crossed) to get my bearings and hopefully dad will continue to improve I hope to start posting again. I don't even know if anyone reads this anymore, but I will try to keep doing it at least for myself, so I can keep connected to the things that make me happiest.

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