I'm sorry for the barren wasteland that my blog has been recently. G and I have had a tiresome month, literally. We've been dealing with that age-old adversary, a noisy neighbor. We have lived in our apartment complex for almost seven years now and have never had a real neighbor problem. It's only a four unit, condo-like building, so with only three other possible tenants in our building at one time, we've had pretty good luck so far. It's not a fancy place, and not many of the folks are what you'd consider progressive, but they're pleasant enough and don't bother us, which is how we like it. We like being right by a stream and woods, being able to hear water and birds in the morning, and see the occasional deer.


However, this past month or so the most prevalent noise we've heard has been....bass. Pounding, incessant, intrusive, bass. Given our relative inexperience with such neighbors, and general reluctance to be confrontational and loathsome of conflict, we haven't known how to handle this horrible noise pervading our home. It's been a little stressful, and G, being a musician, has been extra sensitive to it and resentful of it.

It started when our new neighbor moved in over the summer, a single lady whom we barely knew was living there. She was totally fine and not a problem at all.
Then, a couple months later, her adult son suddenly moved in.
He's probably in his early or mid-twenties, has a young daughter whom I believe he isn't paying child support for. This is far more than I really want to know about my neighbors. I don't want to know when they go to bed, when they go to work, when they come home. They should be seen and not heard. Like the good old days. Kidding, but you get my drift.

They have a big screen TV, and Bassboy, as we call him, likes to play music on it. Horrible stuff like ICP. All day long, and well into the night when he usually switches to video games. And then it repeats a few hours later. The mother works two jobs, I believe, and works at night so he has been able to run amok since he doesn't work regularly. So basically this dude is a spoiled, enabled brat. The noise was getting to us, and G finally went over to talk to him one day, in my view very generously giving him a chance to improve before moving towards formal complaints. He was actually nice about it, and seemed agreeable, and G felt like maybe it would improve. Ah, but it didn't. Bassboy was either just clueless about those living around him, or simply didn't care.

G went over again, and in a conversational, friendly way brought him over to our place so he could hear what it sounded like from our end. Our bed's headboard is right up against their bedroom wall, and their huge TV at the time was in their living room, and loud enough that you could feel the vibrations through the wall. Again, he seemed apologetic and nice about it.

And then he moved his big screen TV into their bedroom, flush against our bedroom wall.
It was loud all day, loud until one or two in the morning. We could hear it in our computer room, our living room, our bathroom. We felt like our home had been taken over by this parasite, feeding off of every good feeling we ever had there. It was stressful going home, and it's not supposed to be like that. We had had enough, so we called our apartment management, and very nicely explained our predicament. We told the office lady that we liked the mother a lot and had no problem with her, but the son was a menace. Plus, he wasn't even on the lease. Is that OK? He was never checked out prior to moving in, who is this guy, is he some crazy psycho who could go off at any time? We were nervous about potential retaliation for complaining. The management devised a plan. The owner of the complex and our maintenance man went over and talked to the mother and told her that maintenance had heard noise from outside and if things didn't improve, "heads were going to roll." I must say we felt relieved that they took us seriously and went into action the same day as our complaint. We were thankful for that indeed.

Things were better for a few days, mostly because we think Bassboy left for a while. We were almost able to start breathing easily again. And then, it started again. It got progressively worse until the last straw-the noise didn't stop until 5 AM. G said it was so loud he could easily hear what Bassboy was watching. Being forced to listen to King of the Hill at 4 AM is a special kind of torture. I went to work the next day looking like death, barely able to speak coherently. G called management again, and they decided to serve the mother with an eviction notice. But there was a condition. She could stay, if she kicked Bassboy out. We heard that she was actually amenable to this, that she hadn't intended for him to stay so long and was ready for him to go. So the way we look at it, we did her a favor, and gave her the little nudge and excuse she needed to send him on his merry, bass-blasting way.

It has been quiet for several days straight now, and we have hope. G saw the mother the other day and she smiled and waved, so either she doesn't know it was us, or knows and doesn't care. Bassboy was over there yesterday and G says he smiled at him too, so maybe (though I don't see how)he doesn't know either. We spent a few days quite convinced we would find our tires slashed or worse over this, so we are relieved nothing has happened. We aren't ones to count our chickens, however, so we are cautiously optimistic this ordeal will be behind us soon.

Anyway, all of this sort of sapped my energy for blogging, and I'm trying to get my motivation back. I have several companies to do First Impressions on, but I'm just not feeling doing them in my usual verbose, uber-in -depth way. The only way I'll ever get them done is by giving myself permission to keep those reviews a little more concise and brief. Maybe they will just end up being Mini-First Impressions. We'll see what happens.


I haven't carved a pumpkin probably since high school, and G and I decided to carve one this year. I think I tried to be too ambitious and wanted to do a Maisy face. I got to her eyes and then admitted defeat.



We turned him around and instead ended up with a slightly deformed pumpkin a second grader could have carved:



Have an awesome Halloween everyone!

Autumn at  Solstice Scents is a pretty big deal. This year the collection was huge, and the concept behind it just about blew my mind. Manor was a very popular scent last autumn, and it remains at the top of my list of favorite Solstice Scents perfumes. It perfectly captures the essence of an old, abandoned, regal estate and invoked so many wonderful memories of old-house exploring with my family when I was young. So imagine my glee when Angela revealed that she decided to take it a step further, developing a collection bringing to life various rooms in her mythical Manor!

Yeah, rooms captured in scent.

Squee.

All my life I have been fascinated by mysterious houses, especially slightly odd ones, the more rambling and massive, the better. Secret passageways are a definite plus.

The first time I read about the Winchester Mystery House as a child I was utterly amazed and entranced that such a place could actually exist in real life. Then the houses in movies like The Haunting and Stephen King's Rose Red, in which the physical structure of the houses were a lot more interesting to me the the somewhat flimsy plots. Rose Red, which by virtue of being a Stephen King miniseries alone, simply had to be totally cheesy, but also featured a house inspired by the Winchester House, so it was alright by me. The scenes in which the house's curious aspects were explored were most intriguing to me: a huge mirrored library, an office where all the furniture was suspended upside down, a solarium, a disorienting perspective hallway. I love things like this! When I heard about the Manor Collection, my mind immediately flashed on houses like these. Not necessarily the creepy, haunted aspects, as Angela explains that the Manor Collection represents the Manor before it was ravaged by time and the elements, but rather the idea of a house imbued with its own personality and life. As if it is a breathing entity where each room is another unique facet of the whole.


And check it out: Doesn't the Manor look just a little like Thornewood Castle, where parts of Rose Red were filmed?

 


So anyway, this is my first order. I call this my reconnaissance mission order, you know, search and evaluate, and then return with the heavy artillery. I'm already plotting my real order, and it is a whopper (at least for me, on a library technical assistant's budget), because not only do I need a couple of the Manor Collection scents in full sizes, I also need full sizes of perfumes from last year that I really wanted but didn't have a chance to get before. So I will likely share that order once I get it as well.

This order just consisted of samples of the entire Manor Collection and a Witch's Cottage Whipped Soap and perfume sample. The Manor Collection is:

Attic
Library
Kitchen
Solarium
Master Bedroom
Cellar




I'm sure I sound like a broken record, but there wasn't a single scent in this collection that I disliked. There were a few that I gravitated more to aesthetically as far as scents that I'd be likely to wear often, but I can imagine times when I'd enjoy sniffing all of them. Just like the mysterious mansions I envision, each scent/room seems connected, but also totally unique. Another aspect to this collection that I like is that they are all compatible with the original Manor scent. So, hypothetically, you can wear the bright, shiny new Library, and then layer it with Manor to create the slightly sweet, musty, aged Library!

And...onto the scents!


Attic
Vanilla Accord, Western Red Cedar Heartwood EO, Osmanthus Attar, Sandalwood EO

Cedar. Cedar. Cedar. It reminds me of when I had the responsibility of emptying the huge manual pencil sharpeners located in the corners of my grade school classrooms. I loved doing this, watching the fluffy, dusty piles of shavings sprinkle delicately into the metal trash cans below. It's strong cedar at cold sniff, but it's not simple. It's as if those pencils of my memory contained cores of incense sticks instead of graphite, rich with sandalwood and vanilla. I imagine the scent filling the air and the notes melding as they're passed through the grinder, turning into something rich, nostalgic, soothing. The scent is meant to evoke an antique cedar chest and that works as well, but for me this one will always be the scent of pencil sharpeners, only with really nice pencils.

Kitchen
Pumpkin, Sugar Cookies, Peach Preserves, Spice Breads, Danishes, Caramel, Vanilla & Sweet Wood Smoke

Some people have wondered how this compares to Witch's Cottage, and in my opinion they are different enough that I am buying full sizes of both. Witch's Cottage is far more herbal-y, but comforting, warm dried florals and hints of things baking. Kitchen is totally foodie, but made more interesting by a delicious wood smoke dry down. I get a lot of peach upon cold sniff, maybe a little more than I'd prefer, because I was hoping for mostly pumpkin. It reminds me of a warmer, more autumnal version of Chantilly Cream at first. But then it has a yummy caramel-y note as well as pumpkin and light spices emerging quickly after. This will certainly make you hungry!


Master Bedroom
Soft Musk, Sandalwood EO, Amber, Clove EO, Myrrh EO, Vanilla, Aged Patchouli EO, Champaca Absolute & Aged Sandalwood Attar

I don't know what's up with me, but this is another one of those funny mood-inducing scents. Despite the name, this isn't a sexy bedroom smell, but rather very creamy, delicate, powdery-spicy smell. It's more sensual than anything. One of my co-workers smelled it and said it reminded her of waking up in the morning and the way the sheets smell. I'm guessing she means in just a fresh, comforting, soft way, not a fabric softener way. The clove is very prominent for me, but it's not the super spicy Christmas-y kind of clove than I normally associate clove with. Actually, the clove in this scent reminds me of the carnation in Lace Draped Spectre, and that scent, while really beautiful, smells kind of melancholy to me. It just puts me in a strange, sad little mood. That element is not as strong in Master Bedroom and I've enjoyed wearing this scent quite a bit despite it, but I can't quite escape that feeling entirely. Oh, just ignore me and my quirkiness, and try it for yourself!


Solarium
Rhododendron Leaf EO, Fern, Amber, Sandalwood EO, Geranium EO, Violet, Orange Blossom and Absolutes of Lavender, Oakmoss & Mimosa


This is a perfect fall-floral scent, and I was surprised by my liking it. I wasn't quite sure I would. Angela describes this scent, if it were as color, as "primarily purple and green tinged with gold." This appealed to the synesthesiac in me, because it works perfectly. Because not only did I pick up on the lush, regal tone of this scent, it smelled quite a bit purple. I would say, almost fruity-grapey on cold sniff, which upon contemplation seems to be the mixture of lavender absolute and rhododendron. I can pick up on the lavender absolute from Courtyard if I think about it intently. But the similarities end there. This is fresh, cool, but also a little humid, like everything has been soaking in the sun's rays under a vast glass roof, water beading on the various blooms and ferns after having been watered from an rusty watering can kept close at hand. Quite complex and very evocative of its namesake!

Cellar
Damp Earth and Stone, Wooden Casks, Cool Fall Air, Crisp Apple, Pear and Broom Corn

This one is a lovely little journey. First there is a cool rush of air as if you're descending stone steps into the cellar, and then the smell of apples and pears, the earthen floor beneath you. It's a fresh, atmospheric scent; it reminds me of a cold autumn night. It also gave me one of those funny nostalgic feelings, and I was so surprised the answer wasn't clear as day to me at first sniff and took me a while to place. My childhood home was a double house, and my parents and I lived on one side and my grandma lived on the other. Each had huge basements. The one on our side wasn't finished and was sort of creepy and cavernous, so we only used it for storage. But the one on my grandma's side had a concrete floor, so my mom used that basement as an arts and crafts studio. She made potpourri and painted ceramics, and created floral designs and topiaries. I even used it as a place to get away and do homework or dabbled in crafts like potpourri making myself. We didn't store fruit down there, but the cold smell of the floor and the smell of bunches of herbs hanging from the ceiling came back to me when I smelled this. Then after my grandma died years passed when we didn't really use it anymore, so going down there felt a little lonely and bittersweet. So, another happy/sad scent for me.


Library
Leather Bound Books, A Carved Rosewood Mantle, Dying Fireplace Embers, Wood Wainscoting, Cedar Shelving and Aged Paper


Can I please have the library I work at smell like this? It's not too much to ask, is it? This here, folks, is the library of my dreams. Quiet, reflective, bursting at the seams with knowledge and exploration, the dust of ages, and the thoughts of all those who have passed through its doors. It's also, honestly, a sexy library. Leather, the memory of fire, paper on which great thoughts have been written...you really can't go wrong. It's a strong, forceful scent, dark and dry, and it really does go well with Manor, which lends a little softness and sweetness to it.


So, there you have it. The Manor Collection. A really brilliant idea, wonderfully executed. Once I get my main order I'll be back to show you all what I got!







As the sudden chill in the air and the rain pouring outside has reminded me, summer is officially over. So that means it's time to share some of the products I finished using this summer, which ones I liked enough to repurchase, and which ones are going bye-bye, birdie.

Here they are:


Solstice Scents Whipped Soap and Sugared Amber Whipped Cleansing Scrub
I probably finished more than just these two, but these are the containers I saved for sharing. You could also add some Haus of Gloi soaps finished earlier in the summer as well.
Re-purchase?: Of course. These are absolute givens.

Revlon Photoready Foundation in Vanilla
One of my favorite liquid foundations. Some consider it a more affordable dupe to MUFE's HD foundation. Having tried both, I think I actually like the Revlon a little better. 
Re-purchase?: Yes, already have.

LUSH Silky Underwear Body Powder
I totally loved this powder when I bought it, but towards the bottom of the canister the scent started smelling a bit faded and musty, and I was reminded that I spent a fairly hefty sum for that body powder, which now failed to excite me. I can get a huge container of Shower to Shower for a third of the price.
Re-purchase?: No

Avon Anew Clinical Luminosity Pro Brightening Serum
I've raved about this product a gazillion times, and I still love it. If I don't use it for a while, my skin lets me know, loudly and fervently. I always buy it on Ebay as it is a little expensive. The retail price on the Avon website appears to have been lowered from $54.00 to $39.99, which is much better, but it can be found even cheaper elsewhere. I hope lowering the price does not mean they're considering discontinuing it, because I really, truly need it in my life.
Re-purchase?: Yes

Revlon Color Stay Blemish Clearing Concealer
This is my favorite creamy concealer, hands down. Blends easily, doesn't get cakey, and conceals well.
Re-purchase?: Yes, already have


Maybelline Mineral Power Finishing Veil
This is my go-to setting powder.The container lasts a long time and is very affordable.
Re-purchase?: Yes

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream
I bought this during the summer for hot days or days when I was going to the water park and wanted some coverage but nothing too fussy. I intended it for just that purpose but I ended up wearing it non-stop for about a month. I still need concealer with it but I think it does a great job at evening my skin out and looks natural. I love that it has SPF 30 as well. It's more of a tinted moisturizer than a true BB cream in my opinion, but I still like it a lot.
Re-purchase?: Yes, already have

The Morbid the Merrier Lip Balm in Funnel Cake
This sweet little lip balm left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. This was from my second and final order from the now defunct TMTM. I suppose I was lucky to have gotten it at all, because a lot of people did not get their final orders and the whole thing was a totally disappointing and disillusioning disaster. It's still a mystery to the best of my knowledge as to what went so badly wrong. I hope the owner is okay, but I also feel terrible for all the customers that lost their orders and their money.
Re-purchase?: clearly and regretfully not



Random body washes (Bath and Body Works Rain-Kissed Leaves and Softsoap)

During the hot months Haus of Gloi suspends selling whipped soaps due to possible melting, so during this time I rumaged through my massive underground bunker (kidding) full of bath, body, and cosmetic products to find some body washes I could use up. Actually, it's just my bathroom closet, but since there are a good three shelves packed to the gills, it feels like I'm planning for nuclear fallout. It'd been a while since I used commercial body washes, and it struck me how artificial they smelled, more chemical-ly. Not bad, not like I'll never ever buy from major brands again, but I just really love the whipped soaps I've tried from indie brands. The texture and scents just leave mainstream products in the dust.
Re-purchase?: only if necessary

Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation

I got this face cream earlier this year as an awesome promotion from Sephora. The one ounce size cream only cost me 100 Beauty Insider Points. It was a great basic face cream, and I was more than happy to use it up. But the 1.7 ounce size retails for $45.00, and I don't think I'd ever be compelled to buy it again for that price.
Re-purchase?: No

Giovanni 2Chic Ultra Sleek Shampoo

I've always had pretty good luck with Giovanni products. I tried their body washes and body lotions four years ago when I wanted a new smell to take with me on my vacation to NYC. Now whenever I smell their Bamboo Birch scent I always think happy New York thoughts. I've actually already repurchased this shampoo once already. It's sulfate-free, contains argan oil, and helps keep my hair from getting staticky without weighing it down.
Re-purchase?: yes, already have.

So what have you used up lately?

I hesitated even posting about these, as Haus of Gloi Reverie items sell out so quickly (and indeed, they are all sold out as I type this). But it's always possible they will be brought back at some point, so I will share a few thoughts for posterity.

Regardless, temperatures are down and autumn whipped soaps are back! I had missed them so much during the summer. If you haven't tried Haus of Gloi whipped soaps, I highly recommend you check them out.



Ghost Puffs (Buttery popcorn and marshmallow goo orbs, presented on a wooden stick)
is one of the few autumn scents I hadn't tried yet. Based on the description, I was pretty sure I wouldn't care for it as a perfume, but figured it would be fun as a wash-off product, so I got a sample sized bubbling scrub. Cold sniff smells like Rice Krispie Treats. Not the Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Buttered Popcorn scent I was sort of expecting. In use the popcorn note comes out a bit more, but it isn't overpowering. Playfully sweet and ideal for foodies.

Pumpkin Chai Latte (Hot frothy milk, black tea, chai and pumpkin spices mixed with golden brown pumpkin syrup)
Three really wonderful words all on their own, and when you combine them you get a pretty delectable scent. This smells sort of like Sweet Potato Treat got mixed with Haus Chai, with just a touch of coffee. This is delicious.

Willamette Autumn (The last days before the rains arrive: dry leaves, distant wildfire smoke, crushed fir cone, supported by white patchouli and oakmoss). This scent has such atmosphere. I haven't used it in the shower yet, but cold sniff is a smokey, leafy scent with a touch of earthy patchouli. The fir note adds a sort of clean white coolness to the blend. Easily unisex.

It's been quite a while since I ordered anything from Meow Cosmetics, so when they recently had an awesome anniversary sale I went ahead and replenished my foundation and also picked up some eyeshadow samples from their Summer Spirits, Castaway, and Joys of Summer collections.

Here's my haul:

Top Left to Right: Conch, Iced Coffee, Beachcombing, Brazilian Lazy Days
Bottom Left to Right: Bahia Solano, Turtle Bay, Flamenco, Mint Julep, Elizabeth S.
Sorrow
Foundation in Sleek Sphynx
Blush in Forest Flame
                       



The shadows swatched over bare skin:

Lazy Days,  Brazilian, Beachcombing, Iced Coffee, Conch


Bahia Solano, Turtle Bay, Flamenco, Mint Julep,  (free samples) Elizabeth S. and Sorrow




All of the shadows are lovely, not glittery but more with smooth sparkling sheen. The thing I've found with Meow's shadows, however, is that no matter how much primer I use or how carefully I pack the shadow, the looks always end up looking very soft and sheer. This isn't a problem, of course, if that's what you're looking for! But for me, even the darker, more seemingly intense colors sometimes look a little muddied on me, which is frustrating when they swatch so prettily. I don't think they photograph very well for me either. I just think that for ease of use and maximum color payoff, I really have never been steered wrong by BFTE. They are just a little easier for me to useEven knowing this, every time I order from Meow I can't resist trying at least a few shadows! I am a huge fan of the mineral foundations, concealers, and blushes, however, and those always work fantastically for me.

Here are a couple of looks I did using these colors:

Lid: Conch
Crease: Iced Coffee
Highlight: Brazilian


And I'm just now getting to posting about this, but my camera miraculously started working again after going all wonky having had water spilled on it during the summer. I gave it to my dad (since it was a gift from him) and he was going to look into how to repair it or return it. One day I was at my parent's place and decided to just turn it on and try it, and lo and behold, it started working again! I was very happy about this. And also, last month I got bangs! It's taking a little getting used to but I like them.


Another look, a lot more subtle than I'd hoped it be:

Lid: Lazy Days
Crease: Flamenco
Highlight: Brazilian




And of course an obligatory car shot, because I had places to go.

That's all for today, thanks for reading!



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