Ah, another season at Haus of Gloi. With summer I've completed my first full year with their seasonal releases, and this one does not disappoint.

Here's what I got:

Beguiled Bubbling Scrub
Beguiled Whipped Soap
The Brier Path Whipped Soap
The Brier Path Pumpkin Butter
Perfume samples in The Brier Path, Beguiled, Narcosa, and Zazz (freebie)
Lipbalm in Pineapple Fennel

Pineapple Fennel Lip Balm

This sounded like such an odd combination to me that I just had to try it. I mean, fennel has an anise/licorice-like flavor profile, so I wondered how that would pair up with pineapple. I was pleasantly surprised, this smells like the inside of a bag of classic jelly beans. The ones with all the fruity flavors mixed with the anise ones. Love it.

A thick haze of tonka and black vanilla, three jasmines, tuberose and ylang ylang.

A thick haze indeed. This is just far too heady, heavy and potent for me, especially for summer. I far prefer HoG's usage of tuberose in the Valentine's Day release scent Odette, which paired it with a "fresh laundry" type smell. On me this applies with a thud, and doesn't develop or go anywhere. Suffocating, it just sits there oppressively, like waking up in the morning with my cat Maisy on my chest, staring at me, about to suck out my breath or something.

The Brier Path
Sun drenched trail leading to a day dream of ripe berries and woods’ rose, rich forest loam, ozone, dark amber and cream.

Oh, sweet relief! I can breathe again! This is fan-bloody-tastic. It sounds so busy: fruits, florals, woods, resins, atmosphere, but it blends so well and is perfectly evocative of an afternoon walk in summery woods. I would say this completes a sort of season trifecta with Samhain and Ploughman, which to me are also like their respective season personified, the earth and air elements. If I could only wear one single scent this summer, this may be it. The rose refines it, the berries are sweet and playful, the woods ground it. This can go from day to night and back again. It's wonderful.

When something feels a bit lackluster, dull and boring, it obviously is lacking, zazz. To fix this we recommend something definitely zazzy and not overly complicated: Tart cranberry, pink grapefruit, sparkling champagne all shook up with crushed ginger root.

I just knew I would get this as my free sample, the scent I didn't order and would never consider liking. And OK, I actually don't like this much, but not for the obvious grapefruit reason. In the vial this smells like cranberry ginger ale, straight up. And I'm quite fond of cranberry ginger ale, so this is nice. It smells effervescent, like if I breathe in too hard I'll get bubbles up my nose. I don't get pink grapefruit, or whatever's there is upstaged by the cranberry. Fine by me. This is interesting, maybe promising. On my skin though, it goes all wonky and turns into hairspray or like some sort of cleaning product. It's just too fresh, too clean, sanitized. It doesn't belong on my skin at all. I let G smell it on me, and he said "eww, it's like soap. Get it away." You get the picture.

Lemon cake made with the tang of fresh buttermilk, raspberry coulis - an otherwise innocent cake corrupted by cardamom and deceptive pink peppercorns.

This scent makes my eyes roll back in my head while I make really inappropriate happy noises. Be forewarned, it's just one of those scents that smells like an insanely yummy cake and if you like cake, it will make you very hungry. But then, as it dries down, it softens and smells less like cake and more like a really delicate, soft perfume with just the tiniest touch of spice. I can't really say much else. It is simply glorious, and quite beguiling.

This month Birchbox teamed up with Gossip Girl to create Gossip Girl themed boxes. I've honestly never watched the show nor felt compelled to, so this wasn't really a selling point for me. I didn't feel particularly alienated though, as the boxes were pretty much the same as any other month, nothing really "Gossip Girl-y", as it were. The Birchbox extra was a notecard with XOXO on it, so maybe that's it? Beats me.

I sort of knew what box I was getting ahead of time, because 1. I tend to check the possible boxes when they are posted on Makeup Talk and 2. I have received a beautyblender in a previous box, so I figured the odds were pretty high that I'd receive one of the boxes containing a beautyblender cleanser.

 Here's what I got:


Considering that some subscribers received Stila eyeliners and Dior mascaras, I was a little underwhelmed. I already purchased a beautyblender set previously so the mini is  purely functional, not "woo-hooo, new stuffs to try!" The Color Club nail polish I really do like (if only for my toes.) The gold metallic color is fun and shiny without being gaudy. The Arquiste perfume is okay, better than some perfume samples I've gotten, but it certainly isn't worth $165.00. Gah. A grey Twistband headband...um...yeah.

I was looking forward to trying the Dr. Jart Water Fuse BB Cream, but I had heard there was a bit of an uproar over the product tubes. They look big enough to contain a decent sized sample of at least .25 to .33 ounces (common sample sizes). Instead, people were finding their tubes totally dried-out empty, or with barely any product at all.

If you look at the tube closely, however, the sample size reads .06 ounces. That is pretty damn tiny. I was lucky enough to get what I think was the correct sample amount according to the tube, even though it took a long time to get it all out, including cutting the tube open. It really should not have been that difficult. Considering that it was what I perceive to be the "big" sample of the box, the size of the tube in relation to its contents was misleading, and wasteful. That sample size was better suited to a sachet. Many people complained and I believe are getting replacements, but I decided not to since I did get a tube with enough to sample a couple times. Not ideal, or what I expect from Birchbox, but not really worth the hassle of fighting it. I think the error in this mostly lies with the supplier.

With a lot of effort, I got a sample size a little less than a standard Sephora sample-size clamshell container.

Which is a shame because I've used it once, and actually do like it. The other BB creams I've tried have been too dark/orange, felt too greasy, or did not have any coverage. This was close to my skin tone and while I still had to use concealer, gave decent coverage. I probably won't get this in full size, but it would have been nice to get more than 2-3 scant uses to make sure.

upon applying

blended in

Moving on now and hoping next month is better...

I admit it, I can sometimes have a wee competitive streak. Sometimes it's the only thing that can get me off my butt and compel me to do something somewhat challenging, that glimmering hope on the horizon that I can do such-and-such as well as so-and-so. And the resulting sensation of pure invincibility. So, this time marshmallows are the result. Not just any marshmallows, of course, and certainly not the tough, bland sponge variety that you come across at the grocery. No, today we shall be making Honey-Lemon-Ginger marshmallows. Would you like to know why?

Bye-Bye Birdies: products I have used up! I'm going to try to post these at least seasonally, so I can collect enough products to make it worth posting.

Here they are, and whether or not I'll re-purchase:

Solstice Scents Botanical Toner: Love this; it's gentle, full of beneficial herbal-y stuff and smells great.
Re-purchase: Yes.

Clean and Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser: I've been using this off and on for probably ten years. It's a good standby and doesn't dry out my skin too much.
Re-purchase: Yes, already have.

Boscia Black Cleanser: This is a sample size I got as a 100 point reward from Sephora. The gimmick is that it's black, and it warms up. The warming effect lasts mere seconds however, and didn't feel particularly useful. Felt like a basic cleanser and not worth the price.
Re-purchase: No.

Boscia Black Mask: This works wonders. Have been using this for almost a year and still love it. The only downside is that it irritates my eyes while it's drying, no matter how far away from the orbital area I apply it. The effects are worth it though.
Re-purchase: Yes, already have.

Aveda Rosemary Mint Shampoo: I have gotten this several times in the past and have always liked it. Towards the end of the bottle though it was starting to feel like it was stripping my hair color too much, while also leaving my hair a little limp and staticky. There are other versions of the refreshing mint shampoo I will probably try before getting this again.
Re-purchase: Maybe.

Josie Maran Bear Naked Wipes:  I liked that these contained 30 wipes. Seriously, how many face wipe packages only contain 25? Doesn't it make sense to at least have enough to remove your makeup each night for a month per package? I don't know why this bugs me. Other than that, these are okay, nothing out of this world, and I didn't like that the wipes started to tear and break down before I finished using it.
Re-purchase: Nah.

Haus of Gloi Whipped Soaps: Um, yeah. I go through these fast. I've been using them as shaving cream too, and they're wonderful for that, but it does make them go quickly.
Re-purchase: Must ALWAYS have whipped soap in my arsenal. Always and forever.

C. Booth Green Apple Microdermabrasion Scrub: I'm not sure if this is widely available anymore, as I bought a second bottle on clearance at Ulta. I love this scrub, it doesn't foam up and so provides a more intense exfoliating effect, which is what I need. May not be good for super sensitive skin, though. I hope I'm able to find it again.
Re-purchase: Yes

Lush Coconut Powder: Meh. Forgettable. The smell was a little musty and not what I'd hoped. Will probably go for their Silky Underwear powder next time.
Re-purchase: No.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover:  Nothing too revolutionary here, but it works well.
Re-purchase: Yes.

Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2: If I need a quick refresher, I like to use the Solstice Scents toner, but if I'm feeling particularly grimy or want to make sure all my makeup is off, this is a good toner. It is not alcohol-free, but it doesn't seem to be drying my skin out.
Re-purchase: Yes, already have.

That's all for today! What have you finished up lately?

Heads up, everyone! Haus of Gloi's summer release goes live tomorrow, 5/13, 12 Noon Pacific Time.

The returning scents are:

Beguiled - Lemon cake made with the tang of fresh buttermilk and raspberry coulis - an otherwise innocent cake corrupted by cardamon and deceptive pink peppercorns.

Narcosa - A thick haze of tonka and black vanilla, three jasmines, tuberose and ylang ylang.

Sanctum - A welcome respite: Muskmelon, coconut water infused with bergam
ot flower, kaffir lime, polished ho wood and sticky benzoin.

The Brier Path - Sun drenched trail leading to a day dream of ripe berries and woods’ rose, rich forest loam, ozone, dark amber and cream.

Zazz - When something feels a bit lackluster, dull and boring, it obviously is lacking, zazz. To fix this we recommend something definitely zazzy and not overly complicated: Tart cranberry, pink grapefruit, sparkling champagne all shook up with crushed ginger root.

And there are new lip balm flavors!

Strawberry Lime
Rose Cream
Oregon Blueberry
Pineapple Fennel

Plus they are doing something totally new and different: create your own perfumes! You will be able to choose up to four notes to create your custom scent for $20.00. I'm not quite sure if I feel comfortable enough with my scent knowledge to attempt this, but it does sound fun! The scent notes were just posted on their Facebook page:

Californian Lemon
Kaffir Lime
Red Mandarin
Green Tea
Black Tea
Blood Orange
Peach Skin

Orange Blossom
Ripe Banana
Ylang Ylang

Clean Musk
Red Musk
Vanilla Bean
White Vanilla Sugar
Dark Patchoui
Tonka Bean
Blue Hemlock Spruce
Wild Flower Honey
White Amber
So. Many. Smell. Wells.
I've taken to wearing one scent on each arm for several hours at a stretch before switching to another pair of scents, just to get my thoughts composed on all this goodness in a relatively timely and somewhat cohesive manner. It's been a little overwhelming.

Solstice Scents released their spring collection on 4/27. I of course ordered immediately, and received my order on 5/1. Excellent TAT, per usual. And the packaging for spring is too precious, flower petals and even a little nest.

Here's what I got:

Apple Mallow Sugared Amber Whipped Cleansing Scrub
Spirit Tree Ganache
perfume samples in (insert deep breath here):
Spirit Tree
Linen and Ivy
Devil's Millhopper
Garden Gate
Chantilly Cream
Cascade of Gold
Vanilla Pipe Tobacco
Cebobite (GC)
Patchouli Sweet Wood (GC)

My Apple Mallow scrub was very lightly scented, just the faintest whiff of apple, neither very marshmallow-sweet nor apple-tart. It seems to me that sometimes scents take a while to "age" a little, so perhaps over time this will develop more. This is pleasant, just not as strongly scented as I expected.

The Spirit Tree ganache in the jar to me smells quite similar to Spellbound Woods, which is a fragrance that Spirit Tree contains. Once the initial cocoa butter fragrance wears off the white flower component of Spirit Tree begins to come through. I'm glad I got this, as I'm really fond of the vanilla/amber/sandalwood/cedar etc. blends that Solstice Scents does along the lines of Spellbound Woods, Conjure, and Black Leather, Red Lace (which I initially disliked, but like I said, sometimes perfume oils take time to meld and develop).

And onto the scents:

Spirit Tree
Delicate White Flowers, Soft Vanilla & Sandalwood

Love it. It's got the soft woodsy, incense-y dry down of Spellbound Woods with a lighter white floral on top, subtle but fresh, making it a great variation on a theme I really like. I like jasmine in blends like this rather than on its own such as in Moonlight on the Grove, where it was just too strong for me. Spirit Tree is classic; it can go in a lot of different directions and be good for lots of different occasions.

Linen and Ivy
Fresh Sun-washed Linen & English Ivy

 An interesting spin on the fresh laundry scent, this is mixed with some bright green notes. I like this a lot, but I think I would actually prefer my laundry to smell like this rather than wear it as a perfume.

Devil's Millhopper
Heather, Oakmoss, Fern & Delicate Wood Notes

For a cool, fresh, green scent, this works on my skin better than Linen and Ivy. I love that this scent was inspired by an actual place, and I can imagine this is how it would smell: damp, mossy, with delicate flowers growing in the shady, mysterious areas. I can imagine the smell of the air even changing as one descends all those stairs to the bottom. Very atmospheric!

Garden Gate
Lilac, Wisteria & Grass Notes

This is a very straight-forward fresh floral scent, but surprisingly is not overpowering, nor old-fashioned smelling. The touch of green keeps it from being cloying. I just received a scent rooted in lilac (Agatha) from my last (sigh) TMTM order, so I *probably* won't get a full size of this, but considering my next few reviews I will never say never. This is something I might like as a soap.

Vanilla, White Amber, White Musk & Lemon Myrtle EO

So I'm going to happily retract all the many times I've mentioned that I don't do citrus scents, and I don't do super fruity scents. I've learned my lesson: to not judge prematurely or to exclude a whole spoke on the proverbial perfume wheel just because of a few chance encounters with citrusy scents that ended up smelling woefully like body odor on a hot humid day. I am open to *almost* everything now! Because I really like this. I had a little inkling I might, given my unexpected positive response to HoG's Honeysuckle Lemon Curd, and I was not disappointed. This dual concept scent is perfect for those who liked Manor, Snowshoe Pass, and Nightgown (like me!). Initially it's like lemon meringue pie, not at all like lemon Pledge. The drydown allows the creamy vanilla and white musk to take center stage, literally a play in two parts. First delicious, then delicate and beautiful. Full size material for sure.

Chantilly Cream
Whipped Cream, Peach Nectar, Vanilla & Yellow Mandarin EO

I was so close to not getting this. So close. I only chose it because I got a ten piece perfume sampler and needed an extra one, so I threw it in on a total whim. I should not like this, given my former self's assertions about what I do and do not like. I mean, peach. Right up there next to grapefruit in terms of potential fruity badness. I don't think I'm quite ready to consider a grapefruit scent, but I will admit defeat, I love this scent. It opens like a summery fruity drink made of peach nectar, sparkling soda, and topped with a crown of whipped cream. The creaminess controls the fruitiness, and after a few minutes on the skin softens completely, until only the faintest memory of fruitiness remains, hidden behind the sweet and pleasant vanilla whipped cream. There are no sharp edges to the scent, no room for the peach to become rancid or overpowering. It is kept firmly in hand, so I am thinking this is full size material too.

Cascade of Gold

Sandalwood, White Sandalwood, Honeysuckle, Champa & White Lotus

This is one of three new premium fragrances from Solstice Scents, made from more expensive essential oils, absolutes, attars, etc. and use either perfumer's alcohol or rice bran oil as the fragrance carrier. They are offered in 5 ML rather than 10 ML size
 roll-ons, and are a little more expensive ($17.50-$18.00), but they are also very complex and quite concentrated. 

This one here, befuddles me. In a good way.
Usually when I get a scent memory, the origin presents itself pretty readily, meaning, it doesn't take long for me to figure out why a scent smells familiar or evocative of something. This one does too, but I have no idea wherefore or why. I've been waiting a week for the answer to come to me, but it just won't. At first I thought it was the champa, perhaps an incense I've used before. But it feels a little farther back in my consciousness, and I can't even narrow it down to a person, place, or thing. A perfume I've tried before? A vacation I went on as a child? I have no idea.Torture, I tell you!

I know that makes for fascinating reading too. "Um, uh, this scent smells like...something. Don't know what. But it reminds me of...um....something." Wish I could do better, because this IS a gorgeous scent, quite exotic and sexy. Angela describes it as evocative of a deep, warm golden sunset, and I would say that's apt. She says it's humid, but to me it smells more dry, like the inside of an antique wooden trunk filled with aged precious incense. I can also say it doesn't morph a lot, but stays rather consistent and is also very long lasting. I clearly want a full size of this!

Vanilla Pipe Tobacco
Vanilla Absolute, Tobacco Absolute & Sweet Clover Absolute

I pretty much hated this on cold sniff. The tobacco smacks you right in the face and is very concentrated, thick, and pungent, almost bitter smelling to me. But as the scent description states, this does settle down very quickly and the vanilla takes over, making it seem like another scent entirely, far softer and much more palatable. Thinking more about it, even in the week since I've gotten it that initially overpowering tobacco note has leaned in favor of the vanilla, to where it has a very rich, dark vanilla bean aroma, almost like vanilla extract (real, not artificial!). Liking this a bit more now...

Lavender, Oakmoss, Sandalwood, Coriander, Lime, Labdanum, Gardenia & More

The lavender in this is sublime! If I hadn't known the components of this scent I might not have even recognized it. It has no sharpness, none of the herbal bite that is common in other lavender heavy scents. Like Angela's description, this scent brings to mind a stone fountain that has been soaking up the sun's rays all day, and yet is cooled by water running over it. This is a scent I wish I had in lotion form because I think it would be a really relaxing bedtime fragrance.

A Deep & Rich Vanilla

This is part of the General Catalog, but I needed an extra sample and this is one I'd been wanting to try. On cold sniff the boozy note smells kind of like Irish Cream to me, and I don't really like Irish Cream. On my skin though it does settle into an interesting, mildly dark vanilla, which veers a little into vanilla scented candle territory. For some reason I keep sniffing my arm despite this, so it is not necessarily a bad thing. Still, there are vanilla based scents from SS that I like much better.

Patchouli Sweet Wood
Patchouli Essential Oils, Vanilla, Amber, Sandalwood and Vetiver

Another scent I really like, this is like Jack and the Devil lite, minus the tobacco and pumpkin. The foundation of that scent, if you will. Jack is one of my top SS scents, but it is quite intense and best suited to cooler months. Patchouli Sweet Wood is a softer, lighter impression of it, so I could wear this during the spring and summer easily. The patchouli is gentle and smooth, not at all dark, dank or stereotypically hippie-ish.

All in all, a very successful release and there are several items I'm going to get in full size. I was really surprised by my reaction to some of these, I'm slowly but surely learning to keep my mind open! You just never know!

I don't know what it is. Every time I visit this place I'm compelled to take pictures of my food. Perhaps because it's always so damn pretty (and nomtastic), and it's not a place I can visit every day. This past week was my third visit to the Malabar Farm State Park area, and while it's technically in the middle of nowhere (notice the abundance of farmland photos) it is beautiful and peaceful and always a good time for us. The farm was started by novelist Louis Bromfield, and I suppose the location's claim to fame is that Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were married in Bromfield's home. The farm was also an experiment in natural resource conservation and self-sufficiency and also is all about utilizing green energy.

I love that the restaurant, which is located close to the farm, depends on local produce and meats to create seasonal menus that are clean, simple, non-fussy, and totally delicious and high quality. I think the most interesting thing about it is that it's so remote, and yet has so much history and atmosphere, very rustic and homey. After all, one of our waitresses at the Mohican State Park lodge admitted to us that the only thing to do for fun around there besides outdoor activities is to hang out at the Super Walmart. Poor girl. The first time we went there it was mostly out of necessity. And we keep going back because the Malabar Farm Restaurant is such a charming place, truly a diamond in the rough. Service has been consistently great, this time the manager came out to ask us how everything was, and we listened to her talk to another couple at a neighboring table for a good twenty minutes about how the restaurant runs, their recent renovation, where they get their ingredients, etc. We could tell there is a huge amount of pride put into the dishes. I mean, in such a remote area, you better be good if people are going to make the trip. And they are. Very.

Outside the window by our table. There is a patio for eating outside, but it was a little windy so we decided to stay inside.

I got pot roast, which sounds so humble, but it was so good. It was made with braised short ribs, and everything just tasted so fresh and cooked to fork tender-y goodness. I don't eat carrots, and I ate mine, because they actually tasted sweet and hugged the line between too firm and too mushy with expert precision, the same with the potatoes. For someone with food texture issues, it was a bit of a minor miracle. I told G, "look, I'm eating my carrots!" I was so proud.
And may I mention that this lunch was 12 dollars? 12 dollars! G got a flank steak with roasted beets and spring onions for 18, and it was also fantastic.

And then, for dessert, my customary creme brulee, this time, in maple.

And here, a very happy Liber Vix, stuffing her gullet:

 G digging into his tiramisu, which was topped with what I'm pretty sure was chocolate ganache:

Here are some shots of the farm, and me making various animal friends:

 We were also able to take a drive up to a scenic overlook:

A gorgeous view of the surrounding farmland:

And finally, the Shawshank Redemption oak tree, still standing!

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