Merry Christmas Eve everyone! Searching for a last minute baked good for your holiday gathering that is sure to impress? Try baklava! That almost magical concoction of layered phyllo dough, butter, walnuts, and sweet honey syrup that you find in bakeries or at international fairs as a representation of Greek cuisine is actually something you can make at home, and your family will marvel at your mad pastry skills, guaranteed. 

This version is extra festive because there is orange zest in the filling and the honey syrup the finished dessert is soaked in is infused with mulling spices and fresh squeezed orange juice. It's also not very technically difficult to make, but it does involve some assembly time. It's great though because it's a repetitive, relaxing assembly, during which your mind can wander and you don't have to be stressing out and super focused on doing each step perfectly.

I'm not a huge walnut fan; baklava is one of the foods I'll tolerate and even enjoy them in. So in this version I don't use a lot, and I process them pretty fine, since I don't care for huge chunks of walnut. But that's just my personal preference. Plus, nuts are pricey, and using a smaller amount worked great for me. A lot of recipes I've seen also call for a full 16 ounce box of phyllo dough, but I used the Athens brand which came with two 8 ounce rolls, and I used just one, which made for a slightly shorter baklava but sure cut down on assembly time and gave me an extra roll to make another one later. And these are plenty rich without the extra layers. I recommend the Athens brand because the sheets are the perfect size to fit inside a 9 X 13 pan with no trimming needed. I also had a minimal amount of tearing, which made things easier too.

Printer-Friendly Recipe

Here are some of the ingredients you'll be needing:

While you preheat your oven to 350 degrees, use a food processor to process 8 ounces shelled walnuts, the zest of two oranges (save them as you'll need the juice for the honey syrup), 1 tablespoon baking cocoa, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 2/3 cup sugar until the walnuts are finely chopped.

Prepare your work space. You'll need a 9 X 13 pan lined with foil, your walnut mixture, 1 cup melted butter and a pastry brush,  8 ounces of thawed phyllo dough and a slightly damp paper towel to set over it while you're working to keep it from drying out.

Brush the bottom of the pan with butter, and layer three sheets of phyllo dough in the pan, buttering each layer.

After you butter the third sheet, sprinkle 1/4 cup walnut mixture over the top. Keep repeating this process: single phyllo sheet, butter, walnut mixture. You will probably run out of the mixture with a few sheets left, just continue layering with butter until you're finished.

Butter the top sheet and score the baklava carefully into triangles. I got 30 pieces from the pan. Pop into the oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

While that bad boy is baking, make the honey syrup. Wrap up a tablespoon or two of mulling spices in some cheesecloth if you have it. You can add them loose, but you'll just have to strain the syrup before you add it to the baklava. Combine 1 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup honey, 3/4 cup squeezed orange juice from your oranges,  1/3 cup water, and two cinnamon sticks in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer to reduce for about ten minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and spice sachet.

Pour syrup over warm baklava after you remove it from the oven. Let cool, cover, and set for several hours or overnight. These taste best after they've had time to soak up all that spiced honey goodness!

And there you have it! Flaky, sticky, buttery- sweet baklava...guaranteed to make you a holiday hero!

For those in a crafty mood this holiday season, today I bring you an easy, fun, and perfectly giftable project: sparkly glass etched ornaments!

This project is divided into a couple of fairly simple processes that you can do over a couple of days as you're able, but it's easy enough to do in one sitting too: the glass etching, the glittering, and the metallic wax application.

What you need for the glass etching portion is a set of clean, clear glass ornaments (available at pretty much any craft store, make sure they are glass!), some Armor-Etch glass etching cream, some vinyl stencils, a paintbrush or foam applicator, some painter's tape, gloves (please be safe and wear them, glass etching cream on your hand would not a Merry Christmas make) and a bowl of rinse water with a sprinkling of baking soda to neutralize the etching cream upon removal.

I recommend using smaller stencils that don't have a really intricate design, especially for your first few tries. This is because it can be a little tricky to get the stencil applied smoothly over the curved surface the larger the stencil is. And it's imperative that the stencil not have any gaps underneath where the etching cream can seep through, or the design won't look as crisp and clean as it could. Using painter's tape does help keep the stencil down, and also keeps you from accidentally going outside the intended etching area.

Once you have your stencil secured, use a brush or foam applicator to pat an even layer of etching cream over the design. It doesn't have to be a really thick layer. Let the etching cream do its thing for a few minutes. I didn't process mine for more than five minutes, and it worked fine.

After a few minutes, rinse off the etching cream, peeling off the tape and the stencil. Make sure the ornament is rinsed clean. As it dries the etched design will begin to appear. It's pretty as is, but the design is a little too subtle. So, if you're ready, move on to the next step: glitterfying!

For this step you need some Mod Podge and some fine glitter. Put some Mod Podge in a cup and thin it with water. You want a thin, pourable consistency.

Carefully pour some of the glue mixture into an ornament and swish it around, making sure all surfaces are coated. Pour the excess back into the cup. Really drain it, because you only want the lightest of coatings. Any more and the glitter will get gloppy and clumpy and oversaturated.

Then, pour a small amount of glitter in the ornament and promptly cover the opening with your fingers and give it some good shakes (ornament-makin' shimmies are highly encouraged). It's pretty cool to see the clear ornament explode with sparkly color from the inside! Tap out any excess glitter once it's evenly coated.

Now you can see the etched design a little better, but still, it doesn't really pop. So we are going to use some Rub 'n Buff Metallic Wax to highlight the design. I just discovered this stuff, and it's pretty marvelous. I only got one color, Antique Gold, but it comes in a variety of colors, and can be used to give many surfaces an antique, varnished metallic look (great for Steampunk projects!).

You only need the tiniest dab of wax to cover your design. I just used a paper towel and buffed a small amount of wax over the design. It will only adhere to the etched areas of glass, but it will try to cling to non-etched areas if you don't quickly buff it off. The good thing is if any areas look messy, you can use an acetone nail polish remover to fix any mistakes and start again.

And when you are done, tie on a ribbon for hanging and this is what you have!

I'm going to hand these out to G's family as wee gifties on Christmas. Try popping these in festive take-out boxes cushioned with shredded paper fill as a quick and super simple gift.

And because Maisy must know what I'm doing at all times, a Christmas kitteh photobomb!

I hope you all have a wonderful day and thanks for reading!
Hi all, hope you all had a great Thanksgiving if you celebrate it. G likes to call it Thankstaking though, since it wasn't such a great dealio in the end for Native Americans. We went to his family's for dinner, which was nice. G's family is Scottish, and we tend to joke about the quality and nature of the food offerings. His experience has been that food is treated in a very perfunctory manner, viewed as merely sustenance, not really a source of pleasure or exploration. And, the blander, the better. For example, they serve roasted potatoes, but they literally are roasted potatoes. No salt, no seasoning, no butter, nothing. Perfectly edible, but meh. At least we had my maple cinnamon pumpkin pie with oatmeal cookie crumbles to liven things up!

I actually went out on Black Friday and did a little shopping. Very little, since money is tight. But I went to the craft store to get some supplies for making Christmas ornaments (hopefully I will get a tutorial posted soon!) and I got just a few small gifts. I'm not one to wait in huge lines for the latest gadgets, but I sort of enjoy shopping that day just in general, even if I only buy a sweater or a few things from Bath and Body Works. After a few hours though I had my fill and was happy to go home!

So...onto the tag! I don't do tags often but this one that Dee did sounded interesting, so here goes:

1. What was the first perfume you ever purchased?

I'm really not sure. The perfumes I got when I was much younger were probably gifts. Cheap scents my parents must have picked up at Big Lots. The first perfume I remember really loving was Jovan White Musk, and I wore that around the sixth grade. In high school I had a love affair with Avon perfumes. I wore Far Away my freshman year, I adored Perceive my senior year. It's possible I bought some of those myself, but I can't recall exactly.

2. What's your signature perfume?

I don't think I have one now since I'm so obsessed with perfumes in general, but in college I wore Revlon Ciara alot. Oh, I loved that perfume, and even though it's a pretty cheap one, it smelled amazing and super sexy on me. I also went through a phase of wearing Crabtree and Evelyn's Nantucket Briar on a regular basis. Also spent some serious time with Nina Ricci Nina, Juicy Couture and Prada perfumes as well.

3. What's your most recent perfume purchase?

Earlier this month I bought samples of Solstice Scents Foxcroft Collection, which I reviewed here. I've also bought bitsys of Big Top Train 2011 and 2013 and Galilee from Darling Clandestine, but they haven't arrived yet so I have no idea what they smell like. I may give Galilee as a Christmas gift as the little soapstone jar just begs to be gifted (plus a portion of the proceeds go to charity) but I haven't decided yet for sure.

4. What perfume would you wear at nighttime/date night?

Right now I am really loving Solstice Scents' Edge of the Night and Hex from Alkemia. They both have that bombastic, intensely in-your-face, classic sexy floriental thing going on, like Shalimar, Opium, or my beloved Ciara. 

5. What's your favorite spring/summer perfume?

This changes all the time, so I will just think of what I wore last spring/summer. Early spring (with just a touch of chill left in the air) is wonderful with Haus of Gloi's Odette or Solstice Scents' Lace Draped Spectre or Nightgown. Later spring/summer I wore Darling Clandestine's Small Saga, Haus of Gloi's The Brier Path and Milkmaid, and Solstice Scents' Tenebrous Mist and Coquina a lot. Also, Alkemia's Tryst of Grey and Neroli XXIII. But there are still so many I sampled I'm probably not remembering.

6. What's your favorite fall/winter perfume?

 That one's even harder since I am a fall baby at heart. This year I've been wearing:

Solstice Scents'  Witch's Cottage, Foxcroft, Jack and the Devil, Smoky Mountain Mallow, Kitchen, and Manor.
Darling Clandestine's Hellbender, Circassian, and Vardogr
Haus of Gloi's Samhain and Hearth
In the past week I've rediscovered my sample of Phoebe from Sweet Anthem, and I've really been loving it. So much so that I ordered a full size a few days ago during their Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale because it was a really awesome deal. I also picked up a solid scent in Anita for our family gift exchange. I've never tried it but the mocha/peppermint description seems like it might appeal to G's stepsister the coffee addict, whose name I drew. Hopefully she'll like it!


7. What's your favorite scent category? (fruity, floral, fresh, oriental, woody)

Since really getting into indie perfumes, I've learned to not limit myself and to not have knee-jerk reactions about certain scent categories. Even though I tend to not like fruity/super cutesy sweet scents, there are probably some that I do love. I do gravitate towards earthy, woodsy, resinous scents though, but I am a foodie, as well. 

8. What perfume are you currently lusting after?

I haven't been able to try any of Sugar and Spite's Yule Collection, but I did order two of Lysa's new scented tarts (one for me, one as a gift.) This might be my first foray into indie wax. Really excited to try them!

 9. What perfume do you really dislike? 

I really, really can't stand Clinique Happy, and am not much for Chanel #5. Probably a lot of the mainstream classics that a lot of people love. Those are two that come to mind.

I tag anyone who would like share! Thanks for reading! 

Today I'm going to share with you a totally different kind of haul- a grocery haul! I've mentioned that I've found myself on a very tight budget lately and have really had to jump back on the couponing wagon. I've always been thrifty and have been into couponing and getting great deals, but I've really had to step up my game lately. I thought I might share some of my shopping experiences and tricks of the trade with you all. Whether you are dealing with a lay-off or other reduction in income, would rather filter some spending into other long-term goals or find yourself stretched thin by holiday obligations, your food budget is one thing that is negotiable and workable. It's not necessarily easy, and anybody who tries to tell you otherwise is selling something. But saving 40-50% regularly is totally doable, and occasionally even higher savings can be had. There are a lot more resources and helpful coupon databases online now, and your local store may have a fan site created for posting coupon/sale match-ups, which does a lot of the work for you and is a key to successful couponing. 

I have been a very good girl lately and have really cut back on my discretionary smelly-spending. But I refused to pass up this new autumn collection from Solstice Scents. I was so excited about the Manor Collection last year and was even more excited to see that Angela has further developed her mythical Manor and expanded the concept into a whole town, inspired by the Foxcroft fragrance. There are so many places to explore in this cozy little hamlet, and if the detailed, hand-made map included in my order is any indication, we may be visiting more locations in future collections!

I got a sampler of all six locations in the collection, and also received a wonderful mini town newsletter highlighting all the current events-I was interested to learn that the Manor was unfortunately destroyed in a fire. 

And look at this map, made by Greg! It reminds me a little of the maps from Lord of the Rings. Really beautiful, imaginative work!

And onto the scents!

Maplewood Inn
Maple, Woods, Amber, Benzoin, A Roaring Fire & A Hot Cup of Frothy Vanilla Chai

I was positive that this would be the hands-down winner of the bunch, but at first I was really conflicted about it. My skin seemed to amping the cedar for the first few days I had it to where it smelled mostly like sweet pencil shavings on me. It was really weird! But as I've kept using it it's really improved and has indeed come to the forefront of my favorites. It's not a straight-pancakes and syrup scent, though when I've worn it to work I've heard people say "Who's got pancakes?" and "I smell caramel." I can definitely smell the chai element, the cardamom and other spices, and a woodsmoke that's smoother and less pervasive than Smoky Mountain Mallow. It's a perfectly cozy, slightly foodie but mostly woodsy/resinous autumnal scent. I'm being quite ruthless in what I will consider full size worthy, and this one makes the cut. I don't have anything quite like it.

Covered Bridge
Woods, Moss, Leaves, Wood Smoke, Dirt, Ozone, Fir Absolute

I love Wail of the Banshee soap, and this scent does remind me of it. Very earthy, leafy, and woodsy. Coniferous, but not too sharp. Leans more traditionally masculine cologne-y especially when it dries down, but still generally unisex, I think. I like this but I feel like I must have other scents that are at least similar, so I will pass on a full size.

Sycamore Sugarworks
Caramelized Pear Tarts, Banana Apple Muffins, Spice Cakes With Rum Glaze, Cream Puffs & Maple Walnut Pastries
I really like this one! Very sweet and foodie. Fruity at first, especially banana, but that quickly dissipates into a baked, boozy, creamy, delicious mound of yum. It clings rather close to my skin though, I wish it wafted a bit more. This is a scent I want to share! Part of me would like a full size of this. I think it would have to be in a glace though, since those typically have extra oomph in the sillage department, but I don't really use glaces much during the winter. Ah, decisions, decisions.

Maine Moon
Crisp Fall Air, Wood Smoke, Leather Seats & Concessions of Root Beer, Popcorn & Chocolate Covered Caramels

Now, this one took me by surprise! It sounded like such a quirky, throw-away novelty scent. But I love when this happens, I get an awesome scent memory from this one! It's supposed to be an autumn scent that brings to mind the experience of watching a drive-in movie-the root beer, the popcorn, the candy, the cool night air and distant woodsmoke. A seemingly discordant mish-mash of scents that seemed, to me, to have disaster written all over it. But, no, I love this! And it truly qualifies as a totally unique scent-I have never smelled anything like it. It's got a lot of foodie notes, but I don't think I'd classify it as a primarily foodie scent. It's quite the trip and a full size for sure!

I suspect this may be a divisively conceptual scent-you either love it or hate it. I can see how it might confuse or weird people out-it's very much everything in the scent description, but somehow, it all works together. I get a burst of root beer at first, sort of sweet and effervescent but also a bit birch woodsy, a touch of salty popcorn and creamy chocolate, laced with whispers of leather and smoke. All of these elements converge for me into a totally different image though, and it's oddly enough a great childhood Christmas memory.

In my neck of the woods in Ohio there's this great holiday attraction that I started visiting as a young child -Clifton Mill. It's legendary for its holiday light display and I'm pretty sure it's won some sort of award for it. The mill is set by Clifton Gorge, and every year the entire gorge is filled with twinkling streams of red and white light, mimicking moving water.  They have a light display choreographed to either Manheim Steamroller or Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas music, I can't remember which, but it's really fun to watch. They have a Santa's workshop too-you can peer through the windows and watch Santa at work, and every so often he literally goes up the chimney and comes out on the roof, waving at all the kiddies (and yeah, the kids at heart too.) There's even a life-size sleigh and mechanical reindeer on the roof!  At the Mill they serve hot chocolate and popcorn, and that's what first made me start associating it with Maine Moon, that smell of walking around in the chilly dark, illuminated by a gazillion lights, munching on popcorn and warming our hands around steaming cups of cocoa. They also have this expansive, animated miniature village, complete with model planes flying by on wires, players moving around the field at a football game, and a recreation of the house from A Christmas Story. If you look closely at the picture below, you can just make out the infamous leg lamp! A funny coincidence is that the miniature town has a drive-in movie theater (named the Blue Moon!) too, with actual footage playing on the tiny screen. 

Another couple shots of the mill- G and I went there together in 2011 and for the first time since I was really young, we waited in the incredibly long line to get into the Santa museum, which has an amazing array of vintage Santa figures, toys, statues, anything you could imagine. All are fascinating, some are sort of creepy. Like the "teacher Santa" in the picture below, I hadn't seen it for years and years but as soon as we entered the museum I remembered vividly how much it had always creeped me out! He's mechanical and looks back and forth with that evil Santa grin, turns the pages of his book, and raps against the glass with his pointer to get your attention. Oh god. Shudder.

Blackburn's Parlor
Vanilla Waffle Bowl, Vanilla & Chocolate Ice Creams, Sliced Bananas Smothered In Caramel Sauce & Topped With Whipped Cream

Moving on from memory-land, this is the only scent in the collection that really didn't do anything for me. It smells mostly like banana pudding at first, with a little vanilla, and dries down to a generalized sweet smell. It's not bad, but I found it a little one-dimensional. I don't need anymore than a sample of this one.

Sandalwood, Amber, Cassia, Elemi, Sweet Smoke & Somalian Frankincense

One of the few happy memories of church I have is the regal, exotic scent of burning incense, the reverential silences, mysterious dark corners and ancient-looking statues of my childhood church. This scent does a wonderful job of recreating those memories for me. This one reminds me of a mixture of Night Star, Basilica, and Conjure, all rolled into one. I think it's less obviously Christmas-y than Night Star and lacks the slight tang of citrus that makes Night Star a little iffy on me at times. If you don't care for patchouli-which Night Star has a lot of, you might gravitate towards this one. It also has the year-round wearability and woodsy smoothness of Conjure. I would ideally like a full size of this, but I think Maplewood Inn and Maine Moon will probably come first.

All in all, a really successful and inventive collection. I can't wait to see if we visit Foxcroft again with the Winter 2013 release!

I waited in the most sincere pumpkin patch I could find, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive Great Pumpkin (and to maybe snag a candy or two). Finally, my patience paid off because...guys...the Great Pumpkin showed up and gave me something even better...a massive, gargantuan cornucopia of olfactory delights...a Darling Clandestine order!!!

This order was the culmination of winning some sweet prizes and a hefty discount code from DC's photo contest a couple months ago, which I shared my contributions to here. I decided to use the code and do a big order with my freebies all at once, resulting in this:
Today's LOTD is inspired by grungy, rustic fall days spent traipsing about corn fields and pumpkin patches and maybe ducking into a quaint antique shop for some laid-back browsing. Super casual, soft, and cozy. My favorite sort of day.

Here's the look!

My makeup base included Meow Cosmetic's Mineral Foundation in Sleek Sphynx (my all time favorite mineral foundation), Revlon ColorStay Concealer, Bare Escentuals Clear Radiance, and NYX blush in Summer Peach. I wore NYX Butter Gloss in Maple Blondie on my lips. 

On my eyes I wore Sloth Snuggles from Fyrinnae on my lid (over Too Faced Shadow Insurance, of course). In the crease I wore Dusty Rose from BFTE and as a highlight, per usual, Mary Lou Manizer from The Balm. For my liner I wore NYX Slide On Eye Pencil in Jewel but went over it with Ulta's Extreme Wear Gel Liner in Perfection to darken it a bit. I brought Sloth Snuggles under my eye as a light liner too. I used Maybelline's Volum' Express the Colossal Cat Eyes for my mascara.

My OOTD was all from Mauriceswhich is where I buy most of my clothes. I was worried this would come off too Christmas-y, with the cranberry/evergreen combo, but I like it. If anything it reminds me of a plaid babydoll dress I had circa 1994 (grungyfacepalm). I think this works a little better, at least for me! I realized for some reason I don't own any colored pants that aren't jeans or black, gray, brown, or navy work pants, but I wanted these Burgundy cord jeggings as soon as I saw them. They fit really well and are comfortable, and they tuck into the new boots nicely (also from Maurices).

Here's all the clothing I've bought this fall, except for some jeans and a striped Henley shirt I got from JC Penny mostly because they've resumed sending out those handy-dandy  $10 off $25 coupons again and I was able to get those super cheap.

I adore the green floral dress and have been pairing it with brown or wine colored tights and boots.  The purple paisley print top is really sheer but the pattern matches with multiple camisoles I have. It goes well with teal, maroon, and purple especially.

This was my last big clothing splurge for a while. I've found myself back on a seriously tight budget so I'm going to try focusing on enjoying/reworking things I have in the clothing/makeup/perfume areas that I am so ridiculously fond of and keeping my indie orders more modest. I will try to not see it as deprivation but as a challenge and a reminder to be mindful and appreciative of what I do have! That's the plan, at least. We'll see how it goes! I still have some earlier fall hauls to share with you, so stay tuned for that!

Hi everyone! For our 11th anniversary last Saturday, G and I went to Bear's Mill for their annual autumn open house. It's this historical working mill, with lots of beautiful nature and art and gifts, and during the open house they have musicians and food, brats and pumpkin cookies and homemade caramels, all kinds of nomtastic goodness. They have lots of foodie gifts, too. We got some apple cider syrup, fresh ground coffee, and I picked up a pack of !chocolate! linguine (paired with a recipe for mole chicken).

We went last year and the weather was quintessential, picturesque autumn:crisp air, blue skies, bright leaves, smoke from the bonfires, the whole shebang. This year was miserable and rainy, but not even chilly, Sleepy Hollow-ish rain, but humid, icky, decidedly
 non-autumnal rain. We could have skipped it, but we are stubborn and went anyway. There was still a decent crowd, and the folk musicians were troopers, getting rained on while they played their guitar and hammered dulcimer while we sat under a tent and tried to keep the bees away from our coffees. 

I did an autumn leaves inspired look for the day:

Here's what I used:

Lid: Dragon Slayer from BFTE
Outer Corner and Crease: Inglot #12
Liner: Lucky Charmed from Fyrinnae/ Ulta Extreme Wear Gel Eyeliner in Perfection
Highlight: The Balm Mary Lou Manizer
Mascara: Maybelline Volum' Express The Colossal Cat Eyes 
Lips: Maybelline Color Whisper in I Crave Coral
For my face, I used Dr. Jart Premium BB Cream, Revlon Colorstay Concealer, Bare Escentuals Clear Radiance, and NYX Blush in Summer Peach. 

I didn't take many pictures at the mill since it was so dismal out. See here the lovely chalk sign they made, faded and smeared from all the rain:

The walking paths were too soggy to traverse, but they still had the outside decorated festively:

So, it was a good day though not quite ideal. Hopefully we'll get to do some other 
autumn-inspired activities this month and the weather will cooperate!

Today I bring you...wait for it...a haul! Shocking, I know. I had hinted in my last post that I had already ordered from Sugar and Spite Bathery again after a very promising first order, and I was not disappointed this time either! Check out the presentation here, isn't it just gorgeous?


I got: 
Full size oils in Mala Suerte
Kalopsia  Sugar Polish
Goblin Body Milk
Lothario Shaving Soap
Lothario Lotion (FREEBIE!!!)
Perfume sampler: Mathilda, Ichabod, and Kalopsia

This order also came with lots of candy, and had the same festive, quirky look that my first order had. Most of these scents I already reviewed in the last post, but concerning the body products:

The lotion has a really lovely formula. It has the texture of a creamy yogurt, but it feels very light and cool and soaks in quickly. It's not as heavy and thick as say, Haus of Gloi's Pumpkin Butter or Solstice Scents' body ganache, but it is still very moisturizing. I got mine in Goblin, which is a beautiful honey/floral/vanilla scent that goes nicely with lots of my perfumes. The fragrance is present but not overpowering.

I usually don't care for emulsified scrubs, I prefer clean rinsing bubbling scrubs. This one is a nice balance. It is more hard packed than some oil-based scrubs I've tried, but it's still pretty soft once you start using it. It's got a good abrasive scrub to it, I hate when scrub grains dissolve and disappear without ever feeling like they actually did anything. It does leave a bit of oil behind but it's not a greasy oil slick. The Kalopsia scent is yummy, smokey, spicy, honey. Very nice!

Mala Suerte
Spicy carnation, White Musk, and a top of the line Indian amber. 

This was a Friday the 13th exclusive scent, but I believe it will return in December. I have always had a strange relationship with carnations, and as much as I try to condition myself to perceive it differently-I just can't. I like it a lot, but it has a tinge of melancholy and haunting wistfulness that I simply can't shake. I can't think of any other note that consistently affects me the same way, it's very bizarre. But still, this scent is great! It's buttery and rich and a little spicy from the carnation, and has that creepy haunting edge that I am trying to embrace rather than shy away from. I am glad I took a chance and bought this!

Darjeeling teal leaves, polished wood, spice, and a spike of blood orange.

G and I will be celebrating our !!!*11th*!!! anniversary tomorrow and I was putting together a little gift for him and picked up this shaving soap. I haven't opened it so I can only smell it a little-but luckily Lysa was kind enough to give me a whole tub of Lothario lotion as a freebie! I can't wait to give G this! I also got him Loggia (formerly Monster Mash) perfume oil from Solstice Scents and a Timber Wood butterbomb from Haus of Gloi, so I think he will be a smelly happy camper. The lotion is a classic, woodsy/spicy scent that leans traditionally masculine but seems like it would be very easily accessible and wearable by women, too.

 a perfectly perfect marriage of juicy red apple, hay, sweet figs, and skin musk.

I was surprised I liked this so much. It's a super fresh, sparkling apple scent with a sexy muskiness to it. I think this would be a great choice for newcomers to indie scents that would usually go for the cutesy, fruity Bath and Body Works scents. This seems like it would be just a baby step outside that comfort zone, interesting but comfortable. I don't have my sample anymore to compare, but I think if you liked TMTM's Voix de Ville, you would probably like this.

Raw, sweet honey, amber syrup, ancient spices, and black tea leaves.

This is an amalgam of spicy/sweet honey and tea. It has a pungently dry, antique-store feel to it for me. I like this as a scrub but it may be a little too strong for me as a perfume.

Creamy pumpkin, 3 pines, moss and dark, raw vanilla.

This is another easily unisex scent. It makes me think of soft, dark, green beds of moss in shadowy, mysterious forests. But it is also creamy and a little sweet from the pumpkin and vanilla. This is beautiful but I think I would to smell this on G rather than myself. 

And finally, a closeup of the bottle Seymour arrived in!

It came sealed with red wax and I peeled off just enough to be able to open it, and left the rest attached to the tiny cork to serve as a wee handle. I am just in love with this bottle! It makes me feel like I'm some mad, brilliant apothecary in a chamber full of aged books, cauldrons and bubbling concoctions. That said, it's pretty impractical for someone who likes to tote way too many perfumes on her person at one time. It just feels too delicate and fragile, so it must stay safely on my crammed perfume shelf. These would make lovely gifts though, this is the only bottle I have in this style and I think it's just so precious!

That's all for today folks! Thanks for reading!

Today I am happy to share with you a wonderful new rediscovery. So, in a sense, this is less a "First Impressions" post rather than a "First Impressions v. 2.0." That's because Lysa from The Morbid the Merrier has returned with a new shop on Etsy, Sugar and Spite Bathery! Now, I know the demise of The Morbid the Merrier last year was a bit of a shambolic disaster and there are probably some former customers not eager to give it another go. I probably wouldn't be either but when I saw that a year later Lysa made things right and paid customers with missing orders back, I was quite impressed. Of course, it never should have taken so long in the first place and people had every right to be angry about it. But coming back after all that time rather than just disappearing under a rock forever made me feel more confident that she was doing her best to start fresh and she was worthy of doing business with again. So far I have been very pleased!

 I decided to start with a small order, just to be prudent. I ordered a pack of 3 samples and a Halloween scent sampler. I got my package super fast too. I ordered on September 2nd, shipped on the 4th, received on the 6th. The presentation was, actually, quite like little presents! It has the same general "feel" that TMTM had...creepy and macabre, but kind of cute, too. Reminds me of that scene in 9 to 5 when Lily Tomlin fantasizes about killing her boss in a terrible, gruesome way, but does it so sweetly and daintily in her Snow White ensemble, surrounded by animated woodland creatures. Yeah, kind of like that!

 Even though I only ordered samples, I received several little neatly, securely wrapped parcels. Even candy and a spider ring was included!

There was a well-branded business card, and the Halloween samples came enclosed in a creepy little envelope, sealed with drippy red wax. Very cool! I love the attention to detail! It will feel comfortable and familiar to those who love the aesthetic of The Morbid the Merrier, but it's not exactly the same. The shop consists of perfumes, body product, and artwork including jewelry and adorably odd little collectible characters.

Here are the scents I ordered:

Something Wicked
*free sample of Sweet Alice

The sample vials were a little leaky, so I immediately wrapped them in tape to preserve the names at least. All of the scents have medium sillage on me and several hour-long  longevity.

A dour blend of black tea, honey, orange blossom and incense

I've been on a huge tea and orange blossom kick for a while now, and it hasn't begun to wane in the slightest. If anything, Seymour has brought it back with a vengeance! This one is sooooo good. Sweet, a little smokey, refined, a dark and moody tea party. Full size material for sure. In fact, I *may* have already ordered it *nonchalant whistling*

Melancholic, indeed! Worn leather, pumpkin flesh, dead leaves and moss. A dark, sweet blend, suitable for both men and women.

I initially get a sharp snap of leather with this one, along with something creamy/sweet, and then, something earthy and green towards the dry down. I don't know if I could have identified the pumpkin, leaves, and moss by name if I hadn't already known from the description, but the leather is really apparent. A very interesting combination!

Something Wicked
 Creamy pumpkin, plump apples, licorice whips, and a faint breeze carrying the scent of distant bonfires.

The cold sniff of this is pretty much the most glorious thing ever: autumn, liquefied.  Spicy pumpkin, bright and tart apple, smokey sweetness. It smells like country primitive shops, the ones with the little decorative saltbox houses, homespun fabrics, and candles in the shape of cinnamon rolls, if you know what I mean. Unfortunately the dry down gets a little too dried herbs and licorice-sweet smoke on me, and reminds me of a shop G and I have visited a few times on our way to Amish Country, which sells those homey things, but also sells smoked meats and cheeses. I can't quite keep the association out of mind to keep wearing this. I think I would love it as a home fragrance oil though!

Ripe apple pulp, tart mandarin, vanilla bean, and a fiendish ribbon of black amber.

This is buttery, fruity goodness! A lot of Sugar and Spite's scents (and TMTM previously) have a really buttery note to me, which almost strikes me as its olfactory calling card. It's got a dark vanilla tinge to it, which balances the fruitiness nicely. Love this one!

Le Carnival Noir! Black licorice whips, tea leaves, and incense smoke from darkened caravans.

Oh dear, this one I do not like. Loathe may be a more accurate term, but I'm trying to be kind. This one literally made me shudder. Please keep in mind that this is only my perception, and it seems to be very well liked on Etsy reviews. If you are a fan of licorice, you will love this. Oddly enough, I like eating licorice, especially Good N Plenty's,  but my relationship with the perfume note seems tenuous at best. I like it in very few scents.  And this is seriously, heavily licorice. Like a smack in the face with a thick, pitch-black, sharp, viscous rope of it. It burnses, hurts us!
The dry down is marginally more tolerable as the licorice begins to subside for the tea/smoke notes, but the cold sniff is so gloriously, 

Blackened honey kissed by night blooming flowers and a ghostly whisper of smoky vanilla

Sweet relief, here. I love Lysa's honey note, and this one is pretty, sweet, just slightly dark and mysterious honey and flowers, with a slight smattering of smoke. Honey is so tricky, it can so easily become the dreaded "pee" note, but hers never do. They're sweet but just miss crossing over into cloying treacle territory. I think it would be great as a layering product, so I've already ordered it as a lotion to pair with other perfumes.

Sweet Alice
Velvety red musk, black pepper, spice, and wood 

I was really happy to get this as a sample since I am really fond of red musk, and this one delivers it. It's not incredibly complex, but it is warm, woodsy, sexy and a touch powdery, without being overpowering or too heavy. Lovely!

So, there you have it. Let me know if you have or will try out Sugar and Spite, which I highly recommend because Lysa is quite talented and has some really unique offerings. I really am thrilled to have her back in the indie perfume world!

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