I haven't really shopped at Bath and Body Works much in the past year or so, I've been so enamored with indie bath and body companies. But money has been tight and I've lately rediscovered some scents I liked as well as been stocking up on candles, all while taking advantage of the awesome sales and coupons and whatnot.

For Christmas I got a Twilight Woods gift set from G's dad and stepmom. That scent isn't bad, but I knew with the semi annual sale coming up for the price of that single 3 item set I could probably get more items that I would get more use out of. So I went ahead and returned it, and fully expected to only get $18.25 for it, since the price online had literally decreased overnight from $25.00. But the store prices must have not changed by the time I returned it, as I got the full $25.00 in merchandise credit, so that was cool.

 Friday I went back for the SAS, and scored a pretty impressive
haul for what I spent. Here's what I got:
Mini candles in
Pumpkin Cupcake
Fresh Balsam
Frosted Gingerbread $1.75 X 4= $7.00
3 wick candle in Winter Night= $10.00
Small candles in Marshmallow Fireside and French Baguette: $5.00 X 2=$10.00
Black Amethyst Body Wash: $2.75
Black Amethyst Body Butter: $3.75
Honey Vanilla Dream Body Wash (travel size): $2.50
Coconut Lime Breeze Body Scrub: $7.00

  I of course had a coupon, for 10 dollars off 30, which took my total down to $35. 03 with tax. Then I applied my merchandise credit for $26.76, which means I only paid $8.27 out of pocket. So, less than 9 dollars for 11 products which
 retailed for $98.50 is not a bad deal in my book.
I am a dork so,yes, I added it up and gained a perverse sense of pleasure from it. Please don't judge.

I must say that as odd as it sounds, the French Baguette candle is amazing! It smells just like fresh, hot, crusty bread. It's just a really homey, comforting scent. The same goes for the Marshmallow Fireside, which I also own in the fragrance oil. The oil especially has excellent throw, and is a delicious balance of gooey marshmallow and a touch of woodsmoke.

If you're curious, the decoration under our tree is from the infamous flagpole scene from A Christmas Story. It actually plays a recording of the whole scene when you push a button. I love this thing!

Getting back to my Bath and Body Works roots made me think of when I first started going there, my very first visit being on my seventeenth birthday in 1998. I remember being totally overwhelmed and spending all my birthday money there. Then I wondered what kinds of BBW products might still be lingering in my bathroom closet, pushed to the back, replaced by newer items, things I can't quite bring myself to throw away.

Here's a small selection of items I rounded up, labeled under the "fairly old" category. I would guess these are circa 2007-2010, given the styles of the bottles and some I don't think are around anymore at all. I wish years or expiration dates were on the bottles!These all smell fine though.

And here are some that would fit under the "Older than Dirt" category, given the old school Bath and Body Works logo and I would guess most of these are from the late 1990's to early 2000's.

I actually recall wearing the bright yellow glittery roll on scent to my high school graduation rehearsal in 2000 and liked it because it smelled like fruit roll ups. No accounting for style, and I loved me some glitter.
It smells pretty wretched now, but it still has a place in my little scent museum. The Beauty is Only Skin Deep Peel Off Mask is from the first True Blue Spa incarnation around 2000 or so, I think.
I never threw it away because I loved the mask so much (it was a matte white mask that dried tight enough that it actually felt like it made a difference when peeling it off). I kept it around just to remind myself to always look for a comparable mask. I did find one in Boscia's Black Mask, but I still can't bring myself to throw this tube away! The Plumeria and Moonlight Path body splash and lotion still smell fine, oddly enough, but I keep them just for posterity.

Do you have any scents or bath and body items you can't bring yourself to throw away? Do you remember any of these products?
And now for something totally different.

Steampunk inspired jewelry-making is one of my favorite hobbies, one that I don't get to indulge in too often, unfortunately. Sometimes it seems impossible to just set aside an hour or so to devote entirely to a project, but recently I did one that I'm pretty proud of and wanted to share the process with you. I employ some general techniques that are useful for jewelry making in general, especially anything altered-art, distressed, Victorian, etc.

People tell me so often that I should start selling my pieces, but I tend to fall on the same old excuses: I'm not very business-savvy, I don't want to turn a creative outlet into work, my pieces, while durable enough for my use, may not be things I'm comfortable selling for profit.... blah, blah, blah. Though I admit sometimes all those excuses feel pretty lame and I would love to have my own wee business.
It's been a pretty quiet Christmas for G and I. We only had one family function to attend since my parents weren't up to having anything (meaning a combination of no money and predictable mother meltdowns). So we got to spend Christmas on our own at home, only venturing out to take a short walk through the woods. Good thing we got our walk in yesterday, as we had a fairly substantial snowfall today and the library actually closed. This has been my first snowday in ages, and for it to come at a time so as to extend a long holiday weekend, well, that was a lovely gift indeed.

Sometimes I feel a little melancholy that our holidays are somewhat solitary aside for one or two family get-togethers. Part of me wishes we were dressing up, swishing from function to function, catching up with old friends and making new ones over drinks and hors d'oeuvres with barely enough time to catch our breath. But then I think just sitting with G, watching the snow fall outside while we play board games, Maisy knocking around her new catnip ball lazily, isn't such a bad thing at all and is a lot more than many have. And I set those nagging regrets aside.

I did a ton of baking last week for G's family. I like to bake a variety of goodies and give each family group their own little box of treats to take with them, which they seem to like and appreciate. Sometimes I worry that it's not worth all the hassle and stress, as I admit I had a few meltdowns of my own last week when recipes or time frames went awry. I think I try to do too much sometimes, but it's a challenge, and I do enjoy making nice things for people, despite the headaches it sometimes causes.

It was also a good distraction from financial worries. G has been laid off for a while and the impending fiscal cliff is a concern if unemployment benefits don't get extended. The library has been another source of stress for me, as contract negotiations between the administration and the staff association (our pseudo-union) have gone pretty shockingly bad, so for the first time ever I'm a little concerned about my own job stability. Just a lot of changes, a lot of uncertainty. I'm afraid once again my creative energy has been sapped by it all, but I am proud of my finished baking products, so I figured I could at least share them here for posterity.

I like to do a variety of items and tried to stagger my preparation throughout the week so I would do one or two items per night when getting home from work, and paired easier items with more time consuming ones.

Here's what I made:

Jam thumbprints with lemon curd and raspberry jam (cookie dough from a mix though)

Cinnamon coins (little icebox cookies with cinnamon chips in the dough, rolled in turbinado sugar to give it a nice crunchy crust)

Coconut macaroons (baked with chocolate kisses inside)

Pumpkin pecan tassies (these were so stinkin' cute and pretty easy. I used prepared pie dough but the filling was from scratch)

Almond crescents (I'm not a huge almond fan so I'm not sure what possessed me to make these. They turned out well though.)

Apple Cider Caramels (made with an apple cider and mulled spice syrup reduction. These turned out yummmmmmy.Cut them and wrapped them in wax paper and everything.)

Gingerbread drop cookies with chocolate chips and dried cranberries

A chocolate/banana/cinnamon chip cake

I also attempted, in one of the most scary cooking projects I've ever tried, to make homemade Violet Crumble. Also known as Crunchie bars, or in the states as seafoam, honeycomb, or sponge candy. Basically involves heating a sugar/corn syrup mixture to about 300 degrees, and then adding baking soda to aerate it and give a lofty, fluffy yet crunchy texture with a hint of molasses flavor. The mixture foams up like mad, as you know what happens with science project volcanoes. Seeing boiling hot sugar rising towards you like the Blob with such feverish determination is rather terrifying.

 My mixture set properly and looked/tasted pretty much like Violet Crumble, but I think my temperature went too high and the baking soda didn't get totally incorporated as it ended up slightly burnt/salty tasting. Not good enough to use for gift giving, but for my first try, I was pleased. I'm pretty confident next time I can get it totally right and get to the final stage of breaking it into pieces and dipping them in chocolate. This is what the stuff looked like after dumping it in a huge foamy lump from the pan:

The Blob

And finally, here are the little gift boxes that I made up for the family:

Well, I'm suspecting it will be back to work for me tomorrow, so it's time for bed.
 To all, a good night!
Peace on earth? Good will? Hearth and home? P'shaw...who needs it?

'Cause I got the most awesome gift that I'd been wanting for quite some time, one that shall bestow upon me much more joy and merriment than any of those other lofty notions and sappy sentiments.

Ok, you know I'm kidding, right? For the most part. Because I have been wanting this for so, so long. And finally when Black Friday rolled around I found it could be obtained for an amazing price (and price right now definitely matters), and I told G that it was what I wanted for Christmas.

"That's not very romantic though, is it? If you just tell me what to get you and it's not a surprise?"

Oh, sweet, sweet man. How little you know. This is the most totally romantic gift ever.

Because with this gift he was able to transform all of this (shudder):

into this:

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