Forgot I had written this, some years ago. It's full of allusions to my favorite poems.

shattered stance, blurry sway
like green winding through the cracks
creeping ever upwards
steady now
i grab tiny fistfuls of thought
whenever i'm not being grabbed
and pulled like taffy where they want me to
into what they need
what do you need
can i help you
who will help me
i can take those
as if those stained and empty pages
those scratched and dirty discs
are gifts
and i just must have them
or i could die
i'm wading through coffee spoons
i am lazarus still sleeping

unable to wake
no way to do so
i am on the side of the dark road
waiting to be rolled into the
they can't feel the red pulse inside
the ringing
it must be answered
it simply must

as it always has been
no one cares to measure my grief
or wonder how hard i have to try
the coffee tastes the same
the spoons are cold

and rusting slowly
the floors are broken cups
tea is over
and will begin again tomorrow
what if i could ask you

where did your soul go?
oh to tell you all
i don't care
i pull precious threads of life
from pages when they can't
see me
great thoughts allowed to flow and go
towards some inevitable conclusion
long ago when some stopped to listen
i am trying to stop
if not in snowy woods then HERE
in this skin
for a moment
just a moment please
let me think
the legacies of my kin
and the bliss of art
cushion me from this appalling lack
let me wrap the words tightly around me
wind them around me so
you can't get in
so i can perform for you once again
so i can live with my liar's voice
and my whore's soul
i am lulled to sleep by the
dishwasher's roar
i am locked inside the lecture hall
and the stars have never been further away
My February Birchbox was already pretty cool-the highlight being the beautyblender, which I'm still using and liking a lot.

Then I got a notice recently that my bonus box had shipped, sponsored by Vichy, a skincare brand I had never heard of. How awesome is that? Select Birchbox members were chosen to receive this bonus box based on their beauty profiles. I suppose I was chosen because I had selected "face cream" as one product that I would consider splurging one, and also indicated that my skin was sensitive. This box was totally free!

This box included a cleansing milk, an eye makeup remover, a firming night cream,  a day face cream, and a packet of anti-cellulite cream. The sizes were very generous too, except for the anti-cellulite cream, which is sort of silly because there's no way to see results with that sort of product with such a small amount. But .5 ounces for each face cream, and an ounce each for the remover and cleanser! I love the face creams so far, they aren't making my skin freak out and have a pleasantly fresh, sort of aquatic scent. The cleanser is a non-foaming milk, so I would use this as a quick refresher, not for hardcore cleansing, and the remover is okay but not really strong enough to remove all my eye makeup without considerable effort.

But this was a wonderful, unexpected surprise, and it makes me love Birchbox all the more. I would have been pretty bummed to not get this box though, so I'm hoping they will do similar bonus boxes for people who indicate, say, haircare or makeup as their favorite things.

I had stated earlier that I'm still liking my beautyblender alot. The only problems I've had with it are that it does stain, even after cleansing, and cleansing causes the pink color of the blender to run. This is just an aesthetic issue though, so what if it doesn't look pretty after a few uses? I'm not about to spend extra money on the beautyblender brand cleanser, so I am making do with some gentle shampoo. My skin is not used to wearing liquid foundation apparently, and it wigged out for a while last week, and I was worried I might not be able to continue using the Revlon Photo Ready. The blender managed to make what would have been horrendous skin days into fairly decent ones, without having to really pile on the foundation and concealer. Now it is clearing up so I think it was just a regular skin temper tantrum rather than a reaction to the foundation.

Here is my makeup today, totally unretouched (yeah, I do clean up minor imperfections occasionally, especially with eye shots because I don't want anything competing with showing the colors/ eye look as a whole). Nothing was done here, so while you can see that the coverage is not perfect, it feels pretty good to me. Usually during the winter I feel really washed out and blah, but this routine is working to combat that at the moment.
I may have to find another routine for summer because I do
get shinier faster with the liquid foundation. I'm also trying my hand at doing more neutral eyes and bold lips, and I'm liking that as well.
Stepping out of my comfort zone!

What I used:
Lid: BFTE Dusty Rose
Crease: Fyrinnae Snow Leopard
Liner: Fyrinnae Steampunk
Highlight: Fyrinnae Polar Bear

Benefit Porefessional (a Birchbox sample!)
Tarte Amazonian Clay Illuminating Serum
Revlon Photo Ready Liquid Foundation in Vanilla and Concealer in Fair
NYX blush in Pinched
Bare Escentuals Flawless Radiance
Maybelline Power Finishing Veil

Lips: Morgana Cryptoria Coraline's Doppelganger Gel Lipstick (review to come!)
And closeups of the eye:

That's all for today. Thanks for reading as always!
I got my Birchbox early this month- on Valentine's Day. What a sweet little surprise, as I usually get it around the 17th-18th. Birchbox ditched Streamlite (hopefully for good but at least for this month), and I think that really helped with delivery times.

And the Birchbox gods smiled favorably on me again in that, out of 22 possible boxes this month, I got the EXACT one I wanted most! I actually controlled myself and did not peek at my box's contents online before opening. I was standing over my box when it arrived, hoping I would not get one of the few boxes that I would have considered duds, muttering "ok, no whammies, no whammies..." while G looked at me like I was nuts.

And lo and awesome Birchbox for me!

Here's what I got:

I haven't tried the Eye Rock liners, but they seem interesting. Possibly disastrous, but maybe fun. We shall see. The sample size was good, four pairs:

I can't really wear tinted moisturizer on its own and call it a day, so the (admittedly tiny) Jouer sample is something I'll use as a quick illuminator over my primer but under my foundation. I already have Tarte's Amazonian Clay Illuminating Serum though which I use for that purpose and I don't see the Jouer as working any better than that, but luckily the color was not too dark for me. It blended in quite well:

I love me some exfoliation, so I was very excited to try the Microfoliant. It's a unique delivery system, a shaker, like a container for baby powder, meant to be mixed with water into a paste. That means, do not take this into the shower or you will have a big mess on your hands, which makes it a little inconvenient. It has a citrusy smell, which I'm not sure if I like or not.
I've tried it a few times and it really doesn't seem abrasive enough for me. After using it my skin feels pretty smooth but also a bit dry. Not irritated, but I need moisturizer afterwards. It's not bad but not something I'd purchase a full size of.

There were also two extras: a heart shaped nail file (last time I checked I still have no nails, so this will just be for smoothing out my rough feet) and some indie band dowloads.

Now, the Beauty Blender. I did not know I NEEDED this until I tried it. A lot of people were hoping to get this, and while I was mildy intrigued, I have been wearing mineral foundation for a long time now so it didn't really blip on my radar. I did buy a liquid foundation on a whim a couple weeks ago, Revlon Photo Ready, and after using a regular foundation brush I wasn't all that impressed. It seemed cakey and not worth the effort when my Meow Cosmetics foundation was working just fine. So when I got the Beauty Blender, I thought I'd try it again, and the difference is HUGE. I did not expect it to apply so evenly and smoothly, and I feel like I was able to use less, or at least look like I used less. I was really skeptical that the sort of sponge-painting motion that I used to apply the makeup would look good, but it did! I have used it just three times, so it's always possible it will lose it's luster.The first two days were already good skin days, so the blender had an advantage that way. But today was a relatively bad skin day and I had some pretty angry red marks to cover, and it actually worked.I don't want to jump the gun, and I will stick with this routine to see if it continues to impress, but this little beauty could be holy grail material.

Birchbox was definitely worth the ten bucks this month!

So, I get to play against type once again. I really can't afford to keep loving all the scents I'm trying lately. I expected this time of year to be very "meh" in regards to my perfumery and save me a little moolah, but I keep getting Valentine's Day orders full of win. Stop it, Solstice Scents, just stop it. Can't your products suck, just once, ever? No? Well, thanks a lot.

No, really, thanks a lot, because my order rocked and made me rethink my Valentine's Day scent stereotyping.

I'm poorer for it, but I can live with that, because I smell yummy.

Anyway, here's what I got:

Whipped Body Ganache In Violet Truffle
Whipped Soap in Cherry Cordial
Perfume Samples in Violet Truffle, Cherry Vanilla Amberosia,
Nightgown, and Black Forest

Check out the packaging for this order: dried rose petals as the "garnish." I love how Angela chooses some garnish that corresponds with the season. This package was muy romantic.

Cherry Cordial
Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Maraschino Cherries & Black Cherry. Contains Cocoa Absolute.


I am not really a cherry kind of gal. Give me a box of chocolate covered cherries for Valentine's Day and you will likely get it heaved at your head. The texture is just weird to me. I have food texture issues. Remind me and I'll tell you about them sometime.
Still, the concept of them in soap form was not inherently offensive to me. I thought I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did. The scent is straight-forward (cherries and chocolate)and definitely only something I'd want in a wash-off product, but it serves its purpose well. It's fluffy, airy, and whipped-creamy, and foams up very well with a bath poufy thing.

Violet Truffle
Dark Chocolate, Violet, Violet Leaf & Vanilla Absolute

So often chocolate scented products smell artificial and simplistic, but this one shakes things up by combining it with a floral note. Violet Truffle, you rebel! I got this as both a perfume sample and a body ganache. It is soft and delicious in the ganache because the cream already has a cocoa butter scent to it. The perfume is more nuanced. At first I smell something powdery and chocolaty, almost like a brownie or cake mix. Sniffing closer to the skin I can detect a wet, earthy scent. It doesn't scream "Violets!", nor does it really scream "Chocolate!" after it's been on my skin for a while. It's decidedly delicious and sweet and vaguely foodie, but neither note really dominates. They meld surprisingly well together, and it just smells interesting, unusual, and good.

Cherry Vanilla Amberosia
Sweet Cherries, Rich Vanilla, Amber & Mandarin Orange Slices

I ordered this scent precisely because it was one of the scents in the whole SS line that I would normally NEVER gravitate towards or expect myself to like. A bit of an experiment, if you will. I wanted to see how much I could actually hate a scent. And curses, I did not hate it. Cherry in this scent, while fruity, manages to not be cloying or cough-syrupy, thanks to the warmer amber notes. I would describe this scent as "sparkling". It has a bit of effervescence to it, almost like you could drink it. But you probably shouldn't.

Vanilla, White Chocolate, Tuberose & Tiare Flowers
Heh. Heh. I can hear it now:

"That smells good. What are you wearing?"
"Um, aren't those jeans? What are you wearing?"
"I told you, Nightgown."

This is a damn pretty scent. Because our brains are wired to seek out similarities between new things and things we already are familiar with, I instantly labeled this scent as a mixture of SS's Snowshoe Pass and Haus of Gloi's Odette (my current favorite from them.) So, it is a perfect transitional scent, from winter to spring. There is the cool vanilla accord (thankfully, it does not smell like actual white chocolate, which is a horrible confectionery abomination, in my book), and then the springy floral note from tuberose, which I apparently like in my scents. Not sure what Tiare flowers smell like, but it all ends up smelling delicate, silky and beautiful, just like a...say it with me now...yeah, you got it.

Black Forest
Agarwood, Nagarmotha EO, Tobacco Absolute, Dark Chocolate, Chocolate Mousse, Cocoa Absolute, Maraschino Cherries, Black Cherries, Hay Absolute, Sandalwood EO, Whipped Cream & a drop of Pink Peppercorn Essential Oil

Upon smelling this, my immediate reaction was "damnit, damnit, damnit." Why? Because I knew I should have just gotten the full size smell unsmelled, I just knew in my heart of hearts I would love it. And indeed, I did. Did you read that ingredient list? I mean, really. Even being a non-cherry lover as I am, I knew with all the accompanying elements it would be brilliant. At first I smell Outpost from the Christmas release, combined with chocolate. It doesn't make much sense because they have no notes in common that I can see, but there it is. I have seen it compared to Manor and Jack and the Devil, and I can see that too. It is like Jack and the Devil in that it is a very dark foodie scent, and I have found I really like those, especially when combined with wood and tobacco notes. I just smell Outpost and chocolate first. But then, then, it morphs into this dry, woodsy, dusty, fruity,  chocolaty, creamy, dark and mysterious scent. Again, it's masterfully blended, no one element dominates. It's woodsy, yet edible, so the dual concept of this scent is totally achieved. It is only available as a perfume right now due to the cost of ingredients, but I would LOVE it in a glace, or ganache, or soap. I want to be totally immersed in this scent. Please, Angela, please?????

That's all for today. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Believe me, I know what I'm talking about. G's birthday was this week, and what did we do to celebrate? Drunken shenanigans resulting in day-after amnesia? Nope. We had the amazing privilege of seeing a traveling exhibition of Norman Rockwell's artwork at our local art museum. It was much more awesome than any silly night of inebriated birthday revelry. Much more.

G and I have always loved Rockwell's work, so actually seeing his paintings in person was a bit overwhelming. Many people, when they think of him, just picture his work on the Saturday Evening Post, depicting idyllic, whimsical, wholesome representations of everyday life in a generally white, middle class America. Most don't consider though that the conservative Post placed many limitations on what Rockwell could portray, and once he left their employ to work for Look magazine, his work really evolved to include some extremely thought-provoking and poignant commentary on the social issues of the day, especially Civil Rights. I think earlier in his career he was of the mind that "I paint life as I would like it to be." Then later on in life he portrayed how it really was, ugliness and all.

The exhibit we saw was a chronological study of his work, from his first pieces for Boy's Life Magazine, his work for the Post, and finally his work later in life. The exhibit had a huge gallery with every single cover he made for the Post, all 323 of them!

I just adore his ability to tell stories with his work, to portray facial expressions so vibrantly and realistically, to use so many small details to add extra layers of meaning to what may initially be seen as simple illustrations. I never understood the perception that he was not a "real" artist. He was indeed popular, and I admit I myself may scoff at times at what is popular or mainstream, but he was also incredibly talented.

I wish I could have taken pictures, but they were very strict about their no-photo policy.
One of my favorite paintings from the Post era is Girl at Mirror. There is something so sad about it, those early explorations into self-doubt, personal identity, and comparing oneself to others. I think it is a piece that a lot of young girls today could resonate with.

Another one, The Problem We All Live With, literally made me shudder to see it up close and in person. This painting just this past October was hanging in the White House, and we got to see it. Inspired by the experiences of young African American children like Ruby Bridges during school racial desegregation, it was simply stunning and devastating. I mean, the departure from his work in the Post in incredible. This piece was printed in Look Magazine in 1964. I can only imagine the controversy it stirred, such a piece from whom you might consider "America's Sweetheart" artist. It surely had the power to shame, anger, and inspire his fans in different ways. There is so much symbolism, from the use of the racial epithets on the wall representing the voices from the crowd, to the headless U.S. Marshals, the wooden yet deliberate posture in the young girl's stride.  Looking up close, I could see that the red paint splattered on the canvas, the thrown tomato, is thicker and protrudes from the canvas a little. I could also see faint marks and words that I couldn't really decipher, things you can't see just on a computer screen or in a book. To see that hatred and malice represented in three dimensions like that...

A piece that I had not been familiar with prior to the exhibit was Southern Justice (Murder in Mississippi). Again, it's hard to believe it's the same artist. This piece was based on an incident in 1964 when three young Civil Rights workers (two white, one black) were murdered by a group of KKK members. There was a large area devoted to this piece in the exhibit, showing initial sketches, photos, studies, and news stories of the day (including the issue of Look magazine in which a version of the piece appeared). We learned that Rockwell used his own son as a model for Michael Schwerner, who is depicted as holding up a wounded James Chaney. This piece, in mostly sepia tones, looks like a barren alien landscape to me. I can imagine it must have felt like one to be so isolated and surrounded by such violence and hatred. The only real color is the vivid blood on Chaney and staining Schwerner's shirt. I was so moved by how Schwerner is shown staring unwaveringly towards certain death, the way the two men cling to each other in a way that transcends any racial divides, and the way the mob is only shown as bestial, looming shadows on the edge of the painting.

I love Rockwell's works from the Post, but I do wish more people knew about his later works, and the brave way in which he drew attention to societal injustice. It was just a wonderful experience to see these works of art!

Oh, on a lighter note, they did have a Saturday Evening Post scene for visitors to take pictures of, I think this one turned out pretty well :) Hardcore? Well, maybe a little.

If you ask me on a typical day what my favorite season is, I would normally respond autumn. I resonate most deeply with crunchy leaves and wet earth, shockingly blue skies and apple cider. Give me a season of perpetual autumn, and I could probably live quite happily.

But catch me on the tail end of a miserable, cold, and light-deprived winter, and I will probably tell you that I am most relieved when spring arrives, when you can finally inhale without feeling the breath catch in your throat like tiny shards of ice, when something defiant and green appears underneath all the frozen decay. That moment, too, comes with its own rewards.

I would also typically respond that Valentine's Day is not a favorite among holidays. Show me love, happiness, and appreciation the other 364 days, and I will consider that something to celebrate. For me the whole enterprise usually brings to mind sickly sweetness and cream centers, shrieking notes of cutesy flowers, bloated hues of fruity pink, overblown and tacky, sticky, gooey, ugh. No, not on the top of my list, especially in the realm of scent. Give me dark, mysterious, serious, brooding. Somewhat like my general perception of myself. But still, sometimes our self-images can be nudged ever so slightly in new directions, some as simple as, "yes, I may actually like flowers too." Not merely that, but there may just be a part of me that can be light-hearted, refreshing, comforting, delicate, delectable, hopeful. Huh. Imagine that.

Leave it to Haus of Gloi for unexpected life lessons delivered via the olfactory pathways!

First, let's bid adieu to Yule at the Haus.
Here is my final order from the Yule 2011 collection:

Hearth Bubbling Scrub
Plotter's Breakfast Pumpkin Butter
Parkin Bubbling Scrub
Free sample in Peach Mama

Yule items were marked down during the last few days of availability, so I did not get my first choice product, the Hearth Pumpkin Butter, as they went fast. I managed to get the scrub though, so that will have to tide me over until next year. There is something so comforting about this scent. It has the dual nature of being the epitome of the hearth: apples, bread, orange zest, roasted nuts, and also this awesome scent memory of me going to the movie theater as a child, which I describe in more detail here.

Plotter's Breakfast is funny in that it's such a literal smell. It smells so distinctly of smoke. Wood smoke and oatmeal. I'll use it up at home and enjoy the concept and story behind it, but it's not a scent I want to actually smell like out and about.

Parkin in Bubbling Scrub form is wonderful, but smells more cinnamon-spicy than the ginger cake-spicy of the perfume and pumpkin butter. Even so, I haven't had any bad reactions to it, so that's good. It is slightly less nuanced than the leave on products, but still lovely.

The jury is out on Peach Mama, my free sample. Normally peachy/citrusy/grapefruity smells are anathema to me. They often descend into smelling like body odor. I know, gross. I just don't like them for the most part. Though my experience with indie perfumers is revising that assessment and I am trying to train myself not to judge before trying, whatever the dominant notes may be. So, while I was reluctant to try Peach Mama, I tried. Upon cold sniff it smelled quite non-peachy. Warm and somewhat incense-y, with just a touch of fruity bite. On the skin after a few minutes, it mellowed considerably into a peachier scent that smelled more candle/air freshener than I'd prefer, but there was still something pleasant about it during the final dry down. I'm still not sure what my verdict is on it. I may try it again in the future in another product form, but it seems like new seasonal products are always being released so my attention is usually fixed on them! If Haus of Gloi can get me to consider a peach scent at all, then they are really quite gifted.

Now, onto Valentine's Day. As I explained earlier, I anticipated sitting this release out, not expecting to find any of the offerings appealing. I was, I admit, quite mistaken.

I got:

Who Needs Love Whipped Soap
Come Hither Bubbling Scrub
Come Hither Pumpkin Butter
Odette Pumpkin Butter
Odette Perfume Sample
Free sample in Spring Tonic #2

I don't believe I've ever mentioned it, but HoG has an amazingly fast TAT. I ordered on January 27th, the day the collection was released, and I had my order in my hot little hands by Monday the 30th, from Oregon to Ohio. My order shipped mere hours after submitting. I don't expect such quick shipping, especially the day of a release, but it certainly is appreciated!

Who Needs Love
A mahogany box filled with chocolaty orbs, coated in crystallized coffee - filled with a pomegranate and raspberry filling. Who needs love when you have something this decadent?

Now, I think I was correct in my assumption that I would like Who Needs Love best as a wash-off product, not a perfume I'd wear out. And indeed, it is a delicious novelty scent. It smells chocolaty and berry -fruity,with a wisp of coffee that keeps it from being cloying or uber artificial. The coffee note emerges more clearly when warmed up in the shower. Plus, it seems like every scent I get in the Whipped Soap, I want to eat. The texture of the soap can be visualized as a dense buttercream frosting, fluffy whipped marshmallow over hot cocoa, a fruity mousse filling hidden in the darkest bittersweet chocolate. It lends itself well to such imaginings. It is just a wonderful formula. Please try it.

Come Hither
Based off of traditional herbs and roots used in Hoodoo to draw and attract a lover, or entice the one you've already ensnared! Bourbon vanilla, tonka bean, a touch of rose oil, Queen Elizabeth root, three threads of saffron and a touch of honey to sweeten the whole deal. 

As far as flowery scents go, I'm fond of rose, and this is an interesting take on it. It's soft and delicate, but there is something suggestively edible about it, perhaps the tonka bean or the bourbon, I'm not sure. The word that comes to mind is tangy, but I'm not sure if that's right. Whatever it is, it rounds the scent out. I do smell roses, baby powder, vanilla, and honey. It sounds overwhelming, but it's not. G unfortunately didn't like it, so he is not coming hither when I wear it. But, he changes his mind often about my scents, so perhaps he'll come around. If not, oh well. I'll still wear it.

Clean sun dried linens, tuberose, ginger lily and white musk.

I expected to like this scent, I like lily and white musk, so it intrigued me. I did not expect to lovvvvvvvvvve it. This is, like, a happy scent. Liber Vix just doesn't do happy scents. Or does she? And so, the mind is opened. I suppose it helps that the weather in Ohio has been hovering near 50, teasing us with the prospect of the first of February! Smelling this scent was like walking through the early spring garden, sun warmed but still cool in the leafy shadows, clean laundry catching the breezes on the line and billowing in the wind. It is a beautiful scent, and while it has a classic quality that doesn't reinvent the scent wheel, it has a very positive effect on me. It is simply invigorating and uplifting, magical. My mood is always affected negatively during the winter, and this scent made me feel like spring had already arrived, and the clouds literally lifted. This will be my first full size perfume purchase. I've planned to buy full sizes before, like Samhain, but just never got around to it. This one, I'm going to buy in the next few days.
'Nuff said.

Spring Tonic #2
Fresh cucumber, parsley and dandelion greens.

I was really excited to get this as my free sample, as I contemplated buying it out of pure curiosity, as it is definitely not a scent I'd usually go for. Cucumber scents usually come in the cucumber melon combination, which always strike me as somewhat generic, cliche and pedestrian, and simply not appealing to me at all. Upon opening this vial, all I could think was green. Fresh, and cool. Very authentic smelling. Like slices of it over my eyes. It was bright and refreshing, cucumber without the melon element, and it was good. It really is a tonic! I want this during the heat of the summer, you know, after that one perfect day of Ohio spring before it all turns disgusting and humid, when I start sweating the second I get out of the shower. I will want this in a spray bottle in the fridge, and I will want to spray myself with it in front of a fan. Oh yes, that is what I'll want.

Huh. Imagine that, indeed. Well done, Haus. And so, the final verdict after this epic post? Clearly, a hit, a very palpable hit. the form of nomtastic offerings from Solstice Scents ! Make a note everyone, the Valentine's Day Collection will go live on Monday 2/6 at 7 PM EST. Check out the scents/products here!
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