I honestly wasn't even going to review this latest haul from Solstice Scents because there were only two products that I hadn't smelled before. But of course I was so in love with everything I got I just have to share it. Here's what I got:

Blackburn Farmstead Ganache
Blueberry Muffin Batter Whipped Soap
Conjure Perfume
Thornwood Thicket Perfume
Sample in Basilica

This order was mostly to get the Autumn scents I really wanted before they disappeared for the year(Autumn has gone by entirely too quickly. I think I could live quite happily in a perpetual state of Autumn-hood). I've also never considered myself a berry person, but this order was berry overload, and totally amazing!

The Blueberry Muffin Batter Whipped Soap literally looks and feels and smells like muffin batter. I REALLY wanted muffins after smelling this. The addition of blueberry seeds and flecks of vanilla bean just take this soap to another level of yumminess and authenticity.

The Blackburn Farmstead ganache is very light, sweet and berry-ish, but with a vanilla note that gives it the air of ripe berries topped with sweetened whipped cream. For me it's the perfect foil to Thornwood Thicket which has the darker incense note I love.

Finally, my sample of Basilica. I got this mostly out of curiosity. I attended Catholic schools from first to twelfth grades, so I spent my fair share of time in Catholic churches. I was the child who would defiantly tune out the priest's hopelessly boring homilies but was entranced by my childhood church's architecture, art, and scent. My eyes would wander over the displays of glowing prayer candles guarded by ancient, paint-chipped statues, the lingering smoky scent of incense, the stained glass windows, the mysterious Latin phrases adorning the impossibly high cathedral ceiling. I was fascinated by the mystery and the history much more than the doctrine. I haven't stepped inside a church in over 10 years, but smelling Basilica was like not a moment had passed, and brought back the things I loved about that time. It's the smell of antiquity, regal yet worn by the passage of time. It reminded me of Christmas Eve midnight Mass, the sounds of carols drifting down from the choir loft, and the huge nativity scene that emerged without fail every year. I remember looking up at the night sky after emerging from Mass, watching the falling snow illuminated by the streetlights and I was wholly awed and mesmerized and believed in magic. Or perhaps I was simply looking for Santa. Either way, this scent managed to bring all of that back for me. All of that, and that was my free sample. An absolute steal, I'd say.
I don't know why roulades have always scared me. Maybe I simply didn't trust my skill level, or believe that a cake could possibly be pliable enough to be molded and rolled without falling apart in one's hands without massive amounts of patience, energy, and confidence. But I really think it was just the preparation method that turned me off. The whole rolling-the-cake-up-in-a-towel thing. Yeah. A towel. Not smooth, harmless foil or parchment paper. Oh no. A towel. The thought of it terrified the obsessive compulsive in me, the one who inspects at eye level every baked good for the merest wisp of lint or stray hair, so intense is my fear of serving a contaminated dessert. This, dear reader, is the real reason why I've never made a roulade. I've always wanted to, secretly. They are so whimsical and fun and filled with luscious fillings. But the spectre of the damned towel and its' grotesquely fuzzy landscape loomed...oh, the humanity.

This Thanksgiving I decided to face this fear head on. I guess I figured it was time some fears got faced, and this one seemed most doable. So I went to the store and inspected towels to purchase for this endeavor. The recommended towel of choice is flour sack, and while they were pretty smooth, no fabric loops that can catch on the cake batter and make it stick, I could still see tiny little fibers that were entirely too easy to dislodge. That simply wouldn't do. So I found some thin microfiber towels that said "lint-free" on the label and upon much inspection and manipulation, I felt reasonably confident that my cake would not end up with a repulsive wool coat.

Since the whole concept of the cake was intimidating enough to me, I decided to simply use the classic Libby's Pumpkin Roll recipe. The only changes I made were to add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.

Upon spreading the cake batter onto the prepared pan, tap the pan against the counter firmly a few times to help pop any air bubbles.

The key to a cake the holds its rolled shape without cracking is to turn it onto a towel that has been very generously covered with powdered sugar immediately after it has finished cooking. The powdered sugar is what will keep the cake from sticking, and also, I guess, provide a barrier between the cake and any wayward fuzzies.

So, turn the cake onto the towel immediately and gently roll the cake up in the towel. The towel will literally be steaming from the heat of the cake. You also have to be patient and let the cake cool completely before unrolling, which will allow the cake to be pliable and re-rollable.

I was absolutely stunned when I got this far. It tried my courage, but technically the cake itself wasn't that difficult to prepare. It cooperated surprisingly well. I let the cake cool for a good hour or so, and did not encounter any cracking when unrolling. I also inspected the cake, up close and personal, and did not see any lint. I had expected at least some, but the powdered sugar protected it admirably.

 I prepared the cream cheese filling, and also added a dash of pumpkin pie spice and a handful of toffee chips for texture and sweetness. Be sure to not spread the filling to the very edge of the cake, because it will spread and smoosh out and not look so hot. Give it an inch border around the perimeter. I held my breath rolling it back up, but it ended up looking pretty awesome, especially for my first try. I cut the ends off at a slight angle, which looks nicest, I think. I garnished the cake with more powdered sugar, a salted caramel sauce I got from Trader Joe's, and more toffee chips. 

Since I didn't end up taking this to my parents for Thanksgiving, it was all for G, S, and myself. We polished it off in a day and a half, so maybe it was all for the best. It was decidedly nomtastic.

Is it sort of sad that I am blogging on Thanksgiving? Perhaps, but maybe this is something I've needed to write about anyway. I have the time to, because my Thanksgiving plans have gone slightly awry today. I don't have a happy, stable, golly-gee- let's- gather- round-the-turkey-and-give-thanks sort of family. My family is totally jacked up, and it sucks. G, a friend, and myself were supposed to go to my parents for dinner today. I conquered a culinary fear this week and made a pumpkin roulade for dessert, which I will post about eventually as well. Everything seemed to be all ready to go, but then my mother decided to have a meltdown and they cancelled the whole thing.

See, my mother is bipolar, and who knows what other issues she might have that are undiagnosed or have been mistakenly treated throughout the years. Being an only child, I grew up walking on eggshells, in constant fear, and was the recipient of utterly insane emotional, mental, what-have-you abuse and craziness. Sometimes I'd wished she would just hit me so I'd have some proof of what I was going through. Most of my friends growing up thought she was great and fun, if only a little eccentric, and thought I was just a brat for being depressed and sullen. There was no way I could explain if they weren't there to experience the whole cycle. I have a lot of trouble with duality and contradictions in people because my mother was often like two different people. For a long time I had immense trouble reconciling that the person who could take me to ballet class, help me with school projects, make Christmas magical, and be our homeroom mother could be the same person who would call me awful names, wake me in the middle of the night just to scream at me, lock me in closets if my presence offended her, look at me and smile viciously when the things she said made me cry, be the person I feared to be alone with when my dad went off to work and never did much to stop her. Sometimes I wondered if she did it on purpose, if it wasn't quite the mental illness talking, how she could turn it on and off at times to suit her purposes. This made it hurt even more. So many wrongs I've had to simply repress in my mind in order to maintain some sense of normalcy, because she will simply pretend nothing happened and if you don't as well, it will all start over again. And I really want a normal family, so I just push it down and attempt to move on.

It has been so much better since I moved out, at least now I have a choice and a way to get away if she flips out (which can happen at any time, for any reason, or no reason at all. Her paranoia and sense of entitlement knows no bounds.). She doesn't go off as much with me present because she knows I can leave. Much of the time she is "okay" as long as you handle her with kid gloves. But for whatever reason she decided she couldn't handle making dinner and probably invented some excuse to have a temper tantrum. So my dad came over last night, so miserable and downtrodden, in pain and barely able to walk from two extremely bad knees, telling me he was sorry but it just wasn't going to happen. I love my dad, even though he is a weak person and endured her cruelty for way too long. But while he has made his bed for the time being, I have not. I don't care if they call today and say she has calmed down and to come over after all. I won't do it. It's bad enough that I dealt with it for 30 years, I'm not going to expose her to G or my friend S. They've already seen too much already and I won't reward or enable her behavior. So G,  S, and I are on our own today. We'll go out to eat later, and have the desserts I made. And it will be just fine. Not the traditional, ideal family gathering, but I am thankful to have it. You can't choose your biological family, and sometimes they aren't the best for you. Sometimes you have to make your own family, a patchwork quilt of people that enrich you, accept you, and make you a better version of yourself. I can't let my past drag me down any more. Onwards and upwards.

I got my November Birchbox,and I must say I am pretty stoked about this one.
 Upon scanning the list of possible boxes here, I decided that #21 was the box I wanted to get most, so that part was a total win as that's the box I got!

Apparently I got one of the coveted Baublebar boxes. They also had a promotion recently where the first 10,000 customers to earn the most points during a set time range would receive a Baublebar bracelet. I hadn't even heard of it though, and didn't do anything but my usual quick reviews of everything I got in my Birchboxes. So it was very cool to have "won" this without even knowing it!

Here's what I got:

I have been needing a new eye makeup remover, so the Klorane came at a perfect time.
Love body scrubs, eager to try that. During the winter my hair gets ridiculously staticky so I welcome anything that might possibly get that under control...cue Oscar Blandi.
I know I've complained before that I keep getting nail polishes in my Birchboxes, which are of little use to me due to the pathetic state of my ragged bitten nails, but the one I received, Noel, is really just gorgeous. I'd like to wear it, so I may *try* to grow my nails into stubs just barely suitable for polishing. Plus my mom got Zoya in her Birchbox, and she didn't want it, so I also got Holly, which is this insanely festive metallic green. Green is my color, so I really want to try this one too.

And I also know I bitched in another review that Birchbox really shouldn't put food items in our boxes, due to possible allergies, possibility of melting/other grossness, etc., but I'm going to rock my inner hypocrite right now and add an addendum...no food products, unless they're exotic, spicy, salty, pop rocking chocolate! I have had a Firecracker bar before, and I am so excited that Birchbox has added them to their brands. I am very tempted to buy some of their Chocopod samplers from the Birchbox site. Firecracker is supremely nomtastic, and the other flavors sound divine as well.

Plus the Baublebar, while not something I would intentionally go out and buy myself, is actually pretty cute. I don't really wear bracelets, but this one is surprisingly wearable. The one sparkly bead gives it a little bling without being gaudy or over the top, and it's nice that the rest is kept simple. I will definitely wear this.

It feels nice to be excited about Birchbox again!

Hey everyone! Sephora recently had their Friends and Family sale and I thought I'd share what I picked up. Not a massive haul, but I'm pretty happy with this one. I got a lot for what I spent!

Too Faced Perfectly Pretty Set
Boscia Pore Essentials Set
Boscia Peppermint Blotting Linens
Bare Escentuals On The Spot
MUFE Aqua Liner #14
DDF Blemish Foaming Cleanser
Samples from Super Goop, Clinique, and Carol's Daughter

This cleanser is a hefty 6.7 ounces. It retails for $38.00 but if you enter "DDF" in the Sephora search box rather than using the brand drop down menu, as of right now you will come across a listing for the same product for only $15.00. That's a good trick to use for stumbling onto more obscure products or special deals. You never know what you'll find!

*EDIT* 11/9: Now this product is clearly listed in the weekly deals section of the site, but it had been available for quite a while using the trick I mentioned!

These do smell festive and pepperminty and are considerably larger than other blotting sheets I've tried. Also, a steal at 5 dollars for 100.

I knew I'd be needing some more of the Black Mask and figured I'd sample some other items while I was at it!

I've been lusting after the Aqua Liners for the longest time, but $23.00 for a single liner was a little painful for me. Every time I'd go into Sephora I'd swatch them and admire how long they lasted. I finally broke down and got the black multicolored sparkle liner, #14. The sparkles seem to be primarily green and pinkish/purple, so it looks good with my eye color and is quite versatile.

Here is a look I did with it the other day:

Lid: Medieval Haunting-Fyrinnae
Crease: Evocation-Fyrinnae
Highlight:  Dusty Rose-BFTE
Lower Lash Liner: Sake and Sashimi-Fyrinnae

If anyone wants to know about any of these items in more detail, just leave me a comment and I will elaborate!
What is it with me and finding out people died via Facebook? Today I saw on my grade school's Facebook page that one of my classmates died in a car crash last week. Granted, I haven't seen this person in about 15 years, but it still sucks. He was nice to me, and not many people back then were. He also gave me one my top compliments. One day in the 8th grade, during some quiet study time in class, I let a few classmates read from my
 ever-present notebook of poetry. He read some, then looked intently at me and in a very serious, non-8th grade boy way, said "damn, you're deep." For a second it was almost like he saw something good in me and understood me, and I was accustomed to being extremely misunderstood. It made me happy for days, and I never forgot it.

The last time I heard that someone died via Facebook, it was in 2009. That time it was the boyfriend I'd had right before I met G, and I hadn't had many, so he was important. He had died at 30 of a heart attack, and he had also given me one of my top compliments. He had once told me I was a mystery in the religious sense. I wasn't quite sure what he meant, because pretty much everything was religious with him and it was one of the key reasons we didn't work out. But the way he said it made him sound like he really got me. That he understood that there was a lot more to me than most people were privy to, that I didn't let many people in. Classic INFJ, that's me.

I guess when things like that happen, I'm reminded of my own mortality. That the people in my past, my memory, seem immortal in a way and by extension, a part of myself as well. So it's jarring and humbling to find a link in the chain of my life suddenly missing, suddenly empty. A reminder that another one of the few people in the world who knew me, even in such a fleeting and brief way, has fallen into nothingness, and I am one step closer to being forgotten. It makes me miss the few that are left out there that much more. I wish I could bridge that gap, fix it all somehow. But that's just a wish. So goodbye, J, thanks for reading my morose and self-indulgent poetry; it meant more than you'll ever know.
Yep, more Solstice Scents to share with you all today. I got this order a couple weeks ago and got a wee bit sidetracked, but now I'm ready to write all about it!

My order arrived amazingly quickly. I want to say I ordered on a Friday and received on a Tuesday. Packaging was darling as always!

Here's what I got:

Burnishing Glace in Gehenna and Jack and the Devil
Sugared Amber Whipped Cleansing Scrub in Fruit Cellar
Body Ganache in Monster Mash
Whipped Soap in Banana Nut Bread
Sample Perfume in Blackburn Farmstead

Yeah, I know, I seem to have acquired a little "problem". We won't speak of it.

So, in my last post I described the great time G and I had on our weekend minibreak. Here is where the story continues...

Walking in the front door after our 3 hour trip home, the second I set down my bag I heard a strange drip-drip sound coming from our utility/pantry/computer room. What do you think greeted me? Why, a water heater that was leaking all over the floor, dangerously close to computer cords, of course! NOT my idea of a swell welcome home. So, no taking off of shoes, no lighting a few candles and relaxing after unpacking, we had to march right out and track down our apartment maintenance people and let them know what happened. They shut off the water, which stopped the immediate problem. The other problem was that our ancient water heater (from 1980, I was later told) was installed on some ramshackle old wooden box apparatus, and the water had completed soaked through the box, and it was now falling apart and leaning to one side. The side of our computer desk was the only thing keeping the whole business upright. Excellent. So then we had to get my dad to come over, unhook all the computer equipment, and lug everything into the living room. My parents had been over to feed Maisy during the weekend and hadn't noticed anything, so I'm guessing it had only been leaking for a day or less. It could have been much worse.

I had already scheduled to take that Monday off, which was lucky because I wanted to be there for maintenance to come out and replace the thing that morning. It was supposed to be my day to sleep in, work on some other projects, generally have some Liber Vix time to myself. Instead, I got up around 7:45, expecting them "first thing in the morning". No shower for me either; I was not in the mood to boil pots of water to bathe. I had already had enough Amish-esque fun that weekend! So, "first thing in the morning" turned into noon, and they were out for about 5 hours or so replacing the monstrosity.

 So great, we had hot water again, which was awesome. But the maintenance guy decided that something was wrong with our toilet while he was working, and decided to fiddle with it. Why exactly, I don't know. It seemed to have been working fine. But afterwards, what used to take about 30 seconds for the toilet to stop running turned into a solid couple of minutes, and the whole tank practically would empty before the flapper valve closed, if it closed at all. It did this for almost a week until Sunday around midnight. G was in the bathroom, flushed the toilet, and as he described it, water overflowed from the toilet like a geyser, completely flooding the bathroom. I ran in there, saw that the damn valve hadn't closed, closed it, and the toilet kept on running until it was good and ready to stop.

So I'm flipping out, piling all of our towels on the floor, trying to keep it from moving into the carpeted hallway. I'm mad and yelling, pissed that all of these rotten things seemed to be going on with the apartment, and I'm cleaning up behind the door. G can't see me, and he pushes the bathroom door open to get in to help, knocking me straight in the head, hard. So now I'm crying, pissed, and trying to clean up the mess, taking the towels outside where it was quite cold, trying to wring them out and salvage them. This was NOT a good day.

Now I'm sitting here,taking a much needed day off, waiting once again for the maintenance staff to come over and fix something that they messed up, hoping that the water did not get under the tile or ruin anything. Gah. My head still hurts.

P.S.: Maintenance guy has come out and seems to have fixed the problem,no serious damage that he could see, and even fixed some kitchen drawers that had been broken. And this is all finished before 1 PM so I still have several hours of Liber Vix time to myself before G gets home. Feeling a little better now. Hoping that nothing else around here explodes or gushes water everywhere. For a while there I was feeling like I was in the middle of The Ring, and I was going to walk into the living room and see a puddle of water around the TV right before I bit the big one.

Now soon I can get back to fun beauty stuff!
This past weekend G and I went back to Mohican State Park, which is sort of between Columbus and Cleveland, and also in the heart of Amish Country. We went to the Mohican State Park Lodge this past April for my birthday, and really loved it for the most part. I had tried going on that trip without really planning it, in an attempt to be less controlling, overbearing, and anxiety- ridden. I wanted to be more spontaneous and carefree, but really all it did was leave us hanging out at some derelict, depressing mall because I hadn't properly researched other things to do. I was quite determined to not make that mistake again, and found out some fun things for us to do. So we actually visited Amish Country this time and had a surprisingly good time, as exciting as Amish Country can be, of course.

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