Monday, May 18, 2015

All About My Stupid Eyeballs

2015 has been a hell of a year so far, dear reader. Multiple family deaths, car troubles, and weird health issues for yours truly. I had fully intended to start reviewing a lot more (and I've been on a creative streak, so more DIY posts too) but I've had a totally bizarre health scare this month, and it's not resolved quite yet. I doubt anyone is particularly interested in this unless maybe you've been having a similar issue and stumble across this post, so basically I'm writing this out so I have a record of my experience with this.

About a month ago, I started noticing that when I'd help patrons on the computers, I was having trouble seeing what they were working on. I was used to getting occasional computer eye strain, but my vision was actually starting to get blurry. I had to really strain to help people, and a couple times when they needed help with their phones, I had to get a co-worker to do it because I simply couldn't see clearly enough. I noticed I was getting a lot more floaters in my right eye, and most of the blurriness seemed to be originating from that eye. I have severe myopia, and my eye doctor always told me to be on the lookout for the signs of a detached retina, which I would be predisposed to because of that. So I was pretty damn worried something serious like that could be going on. I tried making an appointment with my regular eye doctor, but I couldn't get in until after G and I returned from vacation. I already had a small trip planned and a week and a half already scheduled off work, but I didn't want to wait that long to get in. So I called a different practice, and they were able to get me in the day before we left for our trip.

The doctor was super nice, and did LOTS of tests. The standard eye charts I failed miserably. I couldn't get past the top largest row of letters now matter how she adjusted it, with glasses or without. I paid a little extra for this new test, a machine that takes a picture of the structure of your eye. You can see your optic nerve, everything. She said it wasn't a retina issue, I wasn't going blind or anything. WHEW. 

But. My corneas were really inflamed, which is what was causing my blurriness. She diagnosed me with Superficial Punctate Keratitis. What the hell is that, you ask? Well, I guess my corneas are covered in tiny little spots/lesions that are causing the blurriness, sensitivity to light, double vision. The doctor described it as "like looking through a stained glass window." And that's what it feels like. Everything's distorted, text and computers are especially problematic, and even if text is magnified, it's still blurry. I couldn't even get through watching a movie. I haven't presented like other descriptions I've read- I don't have any pain (aside from the photo sensitivity and achiness from eye strain, and I didn't have any redness or outwardly visible irritation. She suspects it could be contact lens related, so no contacts for me until this is resolved. There are a lot of potential causes though, and it's hard to know for sure. And the extra shitty thing is, this may be a chronic condition. If it goes away it could come back again, perhaps over the span of years. I personally suspect it's immune system related. I was feeling really stressed out and run down around the time it started (hence the planned vacation) and I've been having some painful eczema/dermatitis flare ups too. It just seems related to me, though I don't know exactly how. 

So, she told me to use preservative free eye drops often and come back after a week to see if it would resolve on its own. No such luck.
We went on our trip, and it was fun, but my sight did hinder my enjoyment. I couldn't see all the nature on our hikes. We saw a family of deer in the woods, but all I saw was a blur when they moved, otherwise I couldn't see them at all. I told G that I'm like a T-Rex, my visual acuity is based on movement. Ha ha. But it wasn't funny in the moment. I was disoriented, and felt detached from everything. I couldn't see people's faces clearly (or my own in the mirror), and couldn't see expressions, nuances, details. Signing forms for our car rental reservation and lodge rental was difficult. I just felt kind of adrift, not like myself. I haven't worn glasses for so long since I got contacts in 2008, and while I don't mind them at home, they just don't feel like me anymore. And doing my regular eye makeup was an exercise in futility, since I was using eye drops every couple hours. So on top of being pretty scared and frustrated about my vision, I was feeling kind of self-conscious and not my best. I made the best of the situation though, and we still had a good time. 

The rest of my time off I had a zillion craft projects planned. I only managed to get a couple done. But I am proud of them considering, and I hope to get some posts done about them. I went back to the eye doctor the Friday before I returned to work, and she said it was no better, and seemed to have gotten worse, as my left eye was now in bad shape too. She gave me a sample of steroid drops and Restasis. She warned me that the steroids were "hit or miss" and my own research suggested that they may prolong the disease in the long term, so I'm glad it was just a sample, as I didn't really want to continue them. Going back to work last week was not much fun, I was feeling like I was only partially refreshed, and kind of like a failure for not getting as much done as I'd hoped. The lights are so bright in the branch, with tons of natural light too, so I was constantly squinting and uncomfortable and struggling to help people. Feeling generally helpless. I went back to the doctor AGAIN last Friday, and she said my right eye had marginally cleared (fewer lesions) and I could mostly get the top line of letters on the eye chart. But it hadn't improved to her satisfaction, so she made me an appointment with a cornea specialist, and I'm going to see him this Friday. 

Over the weekend I feel like it's improved a little, but I'm not ready to get my hopes up just yet. The chronic nature of the condition is weighing on me and keeping me from getting too excited. But I'm able to type this post (hopefully not too many typos), so that is an improvement for sure. A couple weeks ago I simply couldn't. Even if it gets totally better, I'm still going to see the specialist, because I want to know if there are any other new treatments out there, especially if it happens again. My doctor told me about something called Autologous Serum Drops that may be an option for me. They're basically eye drops made from your blood that has been centrifuged to isolate the plasma. They're supposed to be regenerative and great for dry eye syndrome and other ocular diseases. Sounds weird, but it seems like they work. And since it's made from you, you can't really have an allergic reaction to it. But I will have to ask the specialist about them, as they're outside her realm of knowledge. I don't know if they're cost prohibitive or if there is a lab nearby that can make them. I'll see soon. LOL. I hope.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Oh, The Horror! Sugar and Spite Wax Sampler

I'm amassing quite a collection of wax, it seems. I may even get through the summer without having to buy any candles at Bath and Body Works or Yankee, and that's saying something. But despite not really needing any more wax, the collections that Lysa from Sugar and Spite has been releasing lately are just too much fun to resist. Seriously, I've gotten a lot of impressive packages from a number of indie companies over the years, and I should probably be desensitized by now to the artistry and care so often put into their work, but this one maybe, just maybe, takes the cake.

This collection, based on classic horror films, was not a pre-order.I ordered on April 11th, and received it on April 15th. Super fast TAT! The collection included eight 2 ounce cups of wax, and cost $16.00. Each scent was a different color with various unique "garnishes" that often brought to mind the movie it was referencing, which made it all just a generally colorful and fun package to open. 

This is the bag the goods came in:

When I lifted this up and realized the tie was a noose, I knew I was in for a treat. How cool is that?

What horror collection would be complete without postcards all the way from snowy Sidewinder or the Bates Motel?

These are totally going on our fridge.

I also got a menu of all the scents and I had also ordered a soap in Ah, Miss, which smells like refreshing tea with just a hint of floral. Sugar and Spite has really great tea notes! 

I got two sample shots from a potential future release. She was thinking of doing a New Wave collection, but online polling instead led to the new collection being Villains. She Bop is super sweet and cutesy- kind of a Pink Sugar type smell. Lips like Sugar smells like buttermints to me.

And here's the Horror Collection!

I would say my favorites from this collection are Thorn, Overlook, Candyman, and His Father's Eyes, though I didn't dislike any of them. Thorn I got as a sample in my last order and liked the cold sniff-but wow, it really bloomed on melting! G remarked that "this place has never smelled better" when I melted that one,which is good I guess! It looks super cool, with a wax skull looking up at you when you open it.

 Overlook has a kind of chilly musk vibe, sort of like Solstice Scents Snowshoe Pass, and it's neat that the bottom white layer has little red drops of "blood." Candyman is sweet and rich honey with sprinkles and lavender buds, and His Father's Eyes is a delicate, soft lavender with hints of vanilla and even what appear to be mini marshmallows. I haven't melted them all but while the smells don't necessarily morph much, they do bloom when melted and you can get more of the nuances. London is a rugged, more "masculine" scent-a little smoky. Pennywise, I can now pick up on lemon and honeysuckle, though I understand why I initially thought it was a tutti frutti bubblegum type scent. The ones that are more muted to me in the cups, Mr. bates and Evil Ed, I suspect may improve and reveal their true colors with a little more cure time and upon melting. 

This collection is currently sold out and  I'm not sure at this time when/if some or all of the scents will return. The next collection is Villains and includes one of my personal faves, Jareth the Goblin King. This is nostalgic for me as Labyrinth was the very first movie I ever remember seeing in a movie theater at the tender age of 5, and I remember crying and wanting to leave because the fire guys scared me. I stuck it out though to the end and it became one of my all time favorite movies. My childhood friends and I may have worn out our VHS copy when freeze-framing certain moments in order to fully appreciate the bounty contained within Jareth's super snazzy gray pants. 

Here is the scent lineup and a LINK to the preorder (which will only be active for a few days as of today, April 22nd).

Maleficent - Jam, swimming with overripe blackberries and currants, tea, butter cookies, patchouli and sinister florals.

Ursula - Ice cold waves, ocean floor, kelp, orange blossom and driftwood

Hook - Black leather, sandalwood, creamy pumpkin, and vanilla pods

Jareth - Black cedar, vanilla bean, aged patchouli, teakwood, and a delicious drop of candy apple.

The Joker - A ridiculous blend of sweet amber, vanilla ice cream, pumpkin pecan waffles, day lilies and lemon balm

De Vil - Dragons blood, toasty marshmallow, sweet cream and spice.

Scar - Blueberry orange muffins drizzled with fig syrup and an afterthought of wood smoke

The Evil Queen - Shiny red apple, dark chocolate, sprinkled with pink and blue sugars.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mini Review: Sixteen92 Supercell

To me, one of the best smells in the world is rain-drenched earth. That electric, heavy smell in the air when everything feels vibrantly, unabashedly alive. I'm always on the look out for scents that claim to bottle that amazing scent. Sixteen92 is definitely one of my favorite newer indie perfumeries, and their limited edition (and sadly, now sold-out) scent, Supercell, was on my must-buy list. I feel a little bad reviewing scents that may not return, but hope does spring eternal, so on with the review!

This scent is intended to be an atmospheric, sensory journey through the course of a thunderstorm: the unsettled air, grass, the wind, damp florals, soaked broken branches, the whole experience. You might not think such a scent could be wearable, but I found it to be easily so, and most interestingly, found that each stage that owner Claire outlines are distinct and detectable.

☾ The Calm Before (Top Notes) ☽
Electric ozone, sharp green grasses, asphalt

☾ The Storm (Middle Notes) ☽

Petrichor, windblown hay, damp florals

☾ The Aftermath (Base Notes) ☽

Crushed stems, soaked earth, cracked branches

The first thing I smell is a sharp, almost peppery grassy scent, with hints of cool stone. It does feel unsettled- on the precipice of something big! I'm reminded of some of Darling Clandestine's super green scents- Fisticuffs, Curiosities' Ball, La La La All Right, among others. I'm also reminded of one of my favorite green, earthy, Sweet Anthem scents, Walden, with notes of Petit Grain, White Pepper, Vintage Florals, Ambergris, and Oakmoss. If you like such green scents, this is one for you.

After a few moments I get more wetness and earth, which must be the petrichor. This does morph quickly for me. Most Sixteen92 scents don't last a very long time on me, but I believe Claire is changing her carrier oil formula to increase longevity. There is a freshness to it, and an unexpected lightness. The floral notes go a long way in making this a wearable scent. There is nothing identifiable really, no particular flower, just a sense of a garden being windswept and ravaged by rain. The drydown is more grounded in woodsy notes, a little green and wet still, but more tranquil and skin-hugging. This makes me think of scents like Solstice Scents Hand of Darkness, which utilizes an interesting contrast between murky, dank wet note and warm wood uplifted by a tangy lime note rather than florals- the calm after the storm.

I've worn this on stormy,rainy days, and while it's not an exact replica of my area's weather, it is wonderfully evocative and it is probably the closest I've found to really bringing to life that wet earth and ozone smell. 

For a small consolation prize since Supercell is not available, here is another Sixteen92 scent that I am loving this spring, and it IS still available: The Grass Harp. This is just the happiest scent to me, and perfectly embodies spring. It makes me think of cute pudgy puppies rolling down verdant, clover-covered hills, soaking in sunshine. In more literal terms, it's super fresh and intensely orange blossom without being actually orange-y, or worse, turning into bitter baby aspirin. This is the floral orange blossom I love, combined with grassy notes and hints of green, spicy herbals.

☾ Notes: ☽
Orange blossom, clover, hyacinth, ruby red grapefruit, sweet basil

Grapefruit is one of my least favorite notes, but it's not really detectable on its own- it's just adding to the bright, invigorating quality of the blend, maybe adding a hint of tartness but nothing too strong. Without any heavy base notes that I can see, this one wears closer to the skin and only lasts maybe a couple hours on me, but I don't mind reapplying. I have seen this one described as both hotel soap and cleaning products, but to me this is just all spring, all the time. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sugar and Spite Wax Melts

Sorry for the radio silence lately. Things have improved since my last post. Oddly enough though, on the day of my aunt's funeral, our computer totally crashed. Now, the timing of this was good and bad. Good because we had already been planning on getting a new one and actually had the funds to do so with my tax refund. Bad because I was planning on getting a new PC in a couple weeks, once I'd had time to back up a bunch of pictures, music, etc. that I had been woefully negligent in maintaining properly. So because it decided to check out a week early, I lost a lot of stuff. I certainly learned my lesson! Now our new computer has arrived and I can get back to blogging.

Last month I participated in a wax melt pre-buy from Sugar and Spite. A regular TAT doesn't really apply here as it was a pre-buy. The owner, Lysa, had to order supplies, receive them, make the melts, and moved house at the same time. All in all the process took about a month. These were worth the wait!

I bought three 4 ounce bags of wax at $4.50 each, and received two shot-size samples free from what I believe is an upcoming release. When G got my package for me from the mailbox, he declared it "the best smelling package ever." And it did smell amazing!

These were packaged so nicely with wax seals, a cute fortune card, and labels with the notes and the pour dates listed, which I found handy. You could let these cure for two weeks from the pour date, but mine smelled plenty strong and nuanced a week in.

My first bar was in a bar soap shape, which was sturdy and held up perfectly in transit. This format is probably the prettiest for gift giving. Fortune (blood orange and amber) smells just like those things. It's a deeper, richer creamsicle, with a little bit of the tart raspberry notes that make blood oranges my pick for the sexiest fruit ever. I haven't melted this one yet but I will probably need a knife to cut into into chunks, it's too tough for me to break by hand.

OMG. The Prophetess (fluffy white cake, clotted cream, white musk, candied lemon slices and a wee dollop of raspberry jam) is my favorite, I think. It smells a helluva like Haus of Gloi's Beguiled, the scent I loved so much that I created a recipe a few years ago to simulate it. I actually made my Beguiled cake for Easter with G's family Sunday, and it went over very well!

Anyway, these melts came in thinner bars,  with a white "glaze" on top with glitter. They are more fragile and got a little broken up in the bag. I'm not sure which format I like better, maybe Lysa is still experimenting with it.

This one I have melted a few times already, and it's wonderful. Exactly like the description. It's potent and the scent fills our living room easily, even after three meltings. I like wax to be strongly scented, and these are. I've noticed these melt clean and true even after multiple meltings, and the scent lasts longer than other commercial wax melts I've tried. I don't get any weird, waxy base scent from these at all.

The last scent I ordered was Destiny (hot baked bread, caramelized pralines, coconut shreds, and a steaming cup of black tea.) This is just a nutty, rich, sweet bakery type scent with a hint of smokiness, which I'm guessing is the tea. I've never reviewed wax scents before, it's different because what you see (smell) is pretty much what you get; there's no dry down, no morphing, no changes due to body chemistry. From what I've tried so far, the scent in the solid bar smells the same as the melted wax.

Finally, regarding these two wee fellows, I have no idea what the notes are. These are from an upcoming release and the notes haven't been posted yet. I'm going to guess, and I'm betting I'm going to be way off. I'll update this post with the notes once they're released. Pennywise smells sweet, sort of like cotton candy or tutti frutti/ bubblegum, which I normally don't care for but there's something else there keeping it from being cloying. The only hint I have that I might be on track with this is the name, Pennywise, which means it's just got to be some sort of evil clown scent, right? Thorn is even more tricky. I want to say it's deep, sweet, and woodsy. Maybe a type of berry in there? There's something floral that reminds me of a freesia body wash I had a long time ago. I'm going to laugh when the notes are listed and I'm sure it will be totally obvious then what they're supposed to be!

EDIT: Just as I suspected!

 Pennywise - It (1990) Boozy buttered rum, toasted marshmallows, lemon gumdrops, and honeysuckle blooms. We all float down here.

Thorn - The Omen (1976) Warm zucchini bread, dead wood, maple, and tonka bean.

If you're interested in indie wax, I highly recommend trying these! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Not My Lucky Day

It seems like 2015 has not been the best year for my family thus far. Since January, I've had one aunt die, an uncle died a couple weeks ago, and my dad was in the hospital last week with what may have been a mild heart attack. On Monday I was at my parent's house and their rambunctious dog accidentally ran into me from behind, made my knee buckle, and I fell hard and weirdly to the floor. It was an excruciating, screaming pain and it took a while before I could get up. I have already been having general trouble with my right knee before this, and the knee I hurt Monday was my left one, so I haven't been able to walk very well at all. I also bruised my tailbone nicely too. I went to the doctor yesterday, got x-rays done, and nothing is fractured so they just gave me some muscle relaxers and pain meds and sent me on my way. 

Oh, but not before while G and I were waiting in the examination room for the x-ray results, and I got a phone call from my dad letting me know that another aunt had died, my godmother who was the wife of my dear uncle H that died a couple years ago. Pretty horrifically, he said she had fallen and hit her head in the bathroom, and no one found her until a few days later, when she missed meeting someone and they called the sheriff to check on her.They had just found her yesterday morning. I'm utterly devastated about that; it's haunting me. No one should go like that. 

I have to look on the bright side or I'll go nuts, so one good thing is that my employer has been withholding local taxes from a city I don't actually live in for years. To keep it simple, it looks like I live in a certain locality based on the zipcode (I thought they were right), but for some reason they finally researched it and realized according to zoning maps, I'm actually in a tax-free township. And I work in a tax free township as well. So I've been paying this other city a hefty chunk of change needlessly for..let's say, multiple years. My last living uncle (fingers crossed for a long time) helped me fill out some refund request forms for 4 years, as far back as I can go. They didn't even seem too surprised when I turned them in, I'm guessing this may be a common issue. And I got a check from them already! So, barring any catastrophic illness or any other crap the universe wants to hurl our way, we're going to be able to get some new things, a new couch, new computer, a weekend away, among some other things I always think about but never have the extra cash for. So, there's the sunny side.

And Maisy. Maisy is my sunny side, too. Don't you just want to reach out and rub her belly? Go on now, she won't bite. 

Ah, there you go. A little kitteh belly rub makes everything better.

To better, sunnier days ahead. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sugar and Spite Samples and Soap

Today I've got a sample order from Sugar and Spite to share with you all!
Look at that cute little parcel!

I bought a soap in the scent Forever as Now, and sample vials of The Whispering Woods, Annabelle, She Stole the Blush, Meadow, Sparrow, and got a freebie of Apple Sugar.

I've been down with bronchitis for the past week and am just now getting back to normal, so I'm going to make these reviews rather quick and dirty, just so I can feel a sense of accomplishment.

The Whispering Woods
Crunchy leaves, damp soil, Incense smoke, a bitter snap of clove, and caramelized brown sugar 

Upon cold sniff all I get with this is a pretty acrid, strong woodsmoke with a hint of caramelization. It reminds me of a custom Haus of Gloi scent I made a while back that contained woodsmoke, caramel, marshmallow, and pumpkin, and I asked for way too high a percentage of woodsmoke. The dry down loosens the blend up and it smells pretty much like everything in the description, but the woodsmoke is still more intense than I'd like ideally. It's more of a fall blend to me, as well.

White Carnation, Clove, Sandalwood

This is a scent brought back from The Morbid the Merrier. I had a sample of it once years ago and could have sworn it had a honey note too, but I could be wrong. I like Lysa's carnation note a lot-especially in Mala Suerte (a limited edition that contained carnation, musk, and amber),and I think I prefer that one to Annabelle. I miss the honey note (imaginary or otherwise), and without it I find Annabelle a solid scent for carnation lovers, but it's too similar to other scents I already have to need more of.

She Stole the Blush
Raw honey, black pepper, beeswax, and sandalwood

Hmm, this one was originally a soap and I suspect it probably shines best in that format. I just get a hefty dose of beeswax and honey in this, and it's a little cloying. Maybe this is where the honey in Annabelle went! G rarely hates scents I wear, and this one he literally demanded I wash off. It was quite dramatic. If I recall correctly, he also didn't like Sweet Anthem's Joan on me either(beeswax, coriander, peony, tomato leaf, white mint) so maybe he just hates beeswax or maybe I amp it to an unpleasant degree. YMMV.

Fields of green, green grass, and a hint of sweet soil

Looking for a straight up grass scent? This is grass. Green, sharp, fresh. It would almost be a single note if not for the faint hint of earth once the grass note finally fades (and it takes a while on me, it's potent). This was also originally a soap, and again, this may be useful for layering, but it's just too sharp for me to wear on its own. I think in a wash off product it would be lovely though, it's quite realistic.

Green melon, coconut shreds. ozone, white lily, amber and sandalwood

This is a major departure from Lysa's usual scent style- I have never, not ever, seen "melon" listed as one of her notes. But she wanted to do something different and off the beaten path for spring, and I actually really like this. It's not reinventing the wheel, but it's pleasant and pretty, and the sample I've used the most of. Cold sniff reminds me of a blend of some discontinued Bath and Body Works scents like Coconut Lime Verbena and Violet Lily Sky, and the dry down makes me think of Darling Clandestine's Small Saga. It's springy/summery without being super tropical, even with the coconut and melon. This is just a fresh, wearable, easy-going scent to me. For when you want a little something, but not too much.

Apple Sugar
Delicious, juicy apples and a heaping spoonful of pure sugar. Wonderfully sweet, yet somehow all grown up.

This is sweet, sweet apple. That's about it. I'm guessing if you like "sugar" type scents       (Sixteen92's Black Sugar, Aquolina Pink Sugar, etc.) you will like this. 

Forever as Now
Lavender, Tonka, French vanilla, sandalwood, Egyptian musk

Oddly enough, this is my favorite scent along with Sparrow. It's a smooth, relaxing, delicately sweet lavender, and a little something else which adds some depth, which must be the Egyptian Musk. Lysa's soaps are really beautiful too-this one is purple with pale creamy swirls and mica shimmer. It reminds me of a vintage marble top dressing table, and smells like something a classy Victorian lady might wear. I am not a huge lavender fan (I like it but never intentionally seek scents out containing it) but I would really like this as a sleepy-time lotion. I think it would be perfect before bed.

Just to let you know, soon after I got this order, Lysa decided to suspend with samples and instead lowered her full size bottle price from $13.00 to $10.50. It's a little more of a gamble, true, but if you have a good feeling about a scent, for an 8ml dropper bottle, that's a really good deal.

And finally, just because, here's a picture of Maisy taking a sunbath, basking in her own magnificence.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

First Impressions: Deep Midnight Perfumes

I've been trying to avoid trying new perfume shops all willy-nilly, as I have perfume coming out of my ears. But I had a good reason for trying Deep Midnight. G's birthday was on February 2nd, and as I browsed for potential gifts, I found that Deep Midnight (a name I had heard mentioned in reviews occasionally and favorably, but still fairly obscure) had a set of scents based on characters from The Walking Dead. G and I have just started getting into it in the past couple months, and he is totally obsessed. I'm not usually into fandom type things, but the descriptions seemed well-developed and thoughtful, like the owner wasn't just tossing some random notes together and slapping it with the character's name. So, I decided to take the plunge and order the sample set.

The owner of Deep Midnight, Cat, has a pretty huge scent selection on Etsy, and it's kind of overwhelming. There are lots of fandom collections, gothic scents, seasonal/holiday, steampunk, scents inspired by different times and places. The overall tone is a little more edgy/gothy/dark than other shops I've tried, but there is a wide variety of scent styles to choose from. When you order, you're allowed a free sample per purchase, and you can choose your own or let Cat choose for you. There are themed sample sets or choose-your-own, which vary in cost according to the number of scents included. All of the full size bottles are 9 ML cobalt blue roll on bottles, and are $17.00. After much deliberating, I left a note in the comments that I would like White Moon, or Lady of Light if that one was unavailable as my free sample.

I ordered on January 21, and my order shipped on the 28th. I got it on February 2nd, just in time for G's birthday. Everything was packaged securely in a little black bag, with a business card. Immediately I noticed that I got both White Moon and Lady of Light, and the included invoice said as a new customer with an order of $15.00 I got a second free sample. So that was a nice surprise.

For something a little different, since this haul was mainly for G, I'm going to share his thoughts on the scents. He doesn't know notes, so he went with some general impressions, how the scents made him feel, because that's how he rolls. My thoughts will be after. He knew the inspiration behind each one going in, and he was impressed with how well each one meshed with his perceptions of the characters for the most part.

Angel Rising 
 Inspired by the character of Daryl Dixon. Virtually abandoned by his family and abused as a child, Daryl was a survivalist from birth, perfectly suited for the end of the world; he assumes the role of hero after finally finding family among the group. He is known for his iconic angel wings vest and crossbow.

Main notes of leather, vetiver, oakmoss, red cedar and a touch of spicy clove, combine with Maplewood, yellow jasmine, and mountain laurel to create a scent that is woodsy, spicy, and warm. This unisex scent borders slightly on the masculine side of the scale.

G: It's goooood. Fresh, ethereal, comforting. Nuanced, like the character. Comfort and safety.

Me: It's a little dirty and grimy in a leathery, peppery way. Like a worn leather jacket smeared with engine oil. The leather and spiciness of the clove makes me think of Sixteen92's Salem. It is a stoic, comforting scent, like G said. I would feel pretty safe in the arms of a guy smelling like this. But that might be my own personal Daryl bias talking here...

Cherokee Rose
 Inspired by the character of Carol Peletier. Carol was a loving mother who suffered abuse at the hands of her husband. After losing her both her husband and daughter to the zombies, Carol grows to be strong and independent survivor capable of making her own hard decisions. When the search is on for her missing daughter Sophia, Daryl Dixon gives Carol a Cherokee Rose.

This feminine blend contains main notes of: Cherokee rose, tuberose, and other soft florals.

G: Pretty, gives me chills. It's feminine, a moving scent.

Me: I get creamy tuberose and a light, pink rose from this. It's not an in-your-face red rose, but more like a delicate, dewy Victorian tea rose. It's really pretty. Because G is awesome and open-minded, he's worn this a couple times and it always takes me aback. It flips the script for me- what smells so good? Oh, it's you. You smell like roses. It's pretty, but also kind of sexy now. It's a trip! This one actually had the strongest sillage of them all- I could tell G was wearing it when I got in our car with him. With the others he had to hold his wrist to my nose.

Elderberry Alchemy
 Inspired by the character of Hershel Greene. A quiet farmer and veterinarian, who believed in the good of people, had to learn long and hard lessons when the word fell apart. He always believed in doing the right thing and helping people. When illness comes to the group of survivors, he takes an unimaginably bad situation and turns into something transcendent with his hope in simple, natural healing and his faith in the ability of the human race to continue on.
Main notes of sweet elderberries, twigs and leaves, combine with a dry and sweet wood note, and a faint touch of patchouli. This scent borders on the feminine side of the scale.

G: Smells like something a little girl would wear. Sweet, almost treacly.

Me: Yeah, so I have to agree with G here. I don't like many berry-centric scents, and this one on cold sniff is almost cloying berry-scented-candle. The dry down is more earthy and incense-y however, and makes it a lot more wearable and interesting. But still, I think this was the most underwhelming of the bunch for both of us. EDIT: well, I checked back with him just now that he's had it for a while and he says he likes it more now than he did initially. My opinion stands- not much for the cold sniff, but dry-down is a vast improvement.

Samurai Surprise 
Inspired by the character of Michonne. Forged in the aftermath of the disease that swept away civilization, Michonne is a hard edged katana-wielding warrior hiding a gentle and childlike heart (and a candy bar in her backpack).

Her scent is comprised of: Nag champa, amber, rich chocolate, and a light dusting of citrus and florals. This is a unisex scent.

G: Smells like a mysterious Tootsie Roll pop. Hmmm...not just one thing. Strength and playfulness.

Me: This does have a Halloween-y Tootsie Roll chocolate note on top, which made me nervous. But as G said, there are more layers. The fake chocolate fades, and I can pick up a faint citrus bite, and I can definitely get some incense too as it dries down. It's got a dusty, musty kind of new age shop thing going on, too. This one I like better on G than myself.

Walking Paradox
Inspired by the character of Rick Grimes. Is the memory of light enough to save him from the darkness? Struggling to maintain his humanity in a world where goodness and a trusting nature can get you killed, Rick is forced to find balance between the peaceful life of a farmer trying to rebuild some semblance of community with his group of survivors and the brutality of a man who will stop at nothing to protect his family.

Masculine woody notes of red cedar, sandalwood, amber, and bergamot entwine with the calming notes of tomato leaves, cucumber, and herbs to create a scent that is both strong and warm and green and cool. This unisex scent borders slightly to the masculine side of the scale.

G: Makes me feel like life is a good thing- like being in the woods on a spring day, earthy.

Me: I'm usually not much for cucumber in perfumes (usually paired with cliched melon), but this one is garden fresh, herbal, kind of like a men's cologne, but much more interesting. I'm not sure if it qualifies as a fougere, but it has that ambiance to me. I really, really like this. I get hints of wet soil, with sunshine soaking in. It really is cool and warm at the same time. This may be my favorite. 

Bonus samples: 

Lady of Light
Beautiful main notes of orange blossom, vetiver, and oakmoss combine with light and complementing notes of honey, azalea and woods.

This is inspired by the Tolkien character Galadriel, and it works for me! I adore orange blossom, and this is how I love it best- where it is more floral, less citrusy. It's elegant and earthy, with a coolness almost reminiscent of tea. I love this.

White Moon
 The Moon of Light. The palest, most sensual amber envelops notes of mimosa, orange blossoms, ginger, and finishes with delicate notes of lighter florals, ozone, and woods. Sensual, bright, and magical!

This has a similar vibe to Lady of Light, but it's warmer, more heady, and just a little bit spicy from the ginger. If Lady of Light is a cool spring morning, White Moon is a sultry summer night. 

So, Deep Midnight really exceeded my expectations. I had just hoped to give G a neat, quirky birthday gift, but instead I found a shop that I'm really interested to explore more! I was really quite pleasantly surprised. The scents were all thoughtfully blended, and had plenty of depth and nuance. Some of them really needed to be be worn to show their true colors, but the complexity and quality was there. I'm already plotting my next order!

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