It's been a really long time since I've posted anything about my monthly Birchbox, but I've still been chugging along the BB trail for almost 3 years now. It's the only box I subscribe to, and it's the points program that keeps me loyal. I have gotten lots of great things for free or very close to free over the years. Funds have been really tight so I almost had to suspend my yearly subscription, but luckily after my tax refund I had enough to continue for another year. Some boxes are great, quite a few are lackluster, but I really enjoyed this month's, so I thought I'd share a quick post about it!

Here's my box!

I'm not a big nail polish person but I really love the pearlescent baby blue shade I received. I'll be wearing it on my toes this spring and summer!

The Kind Healthy Grains Bar sounds positively self-punitive, but it was actually pretty yummy. I would buy these again, at the grocery store, maybe.

The shampoo was okay, nothing to write home about, but handy to keep in my travel bag.

Ah, now we come to The Balm, who send such stinking cute samples. I love how they're in these little book shapes, and inside this particular book is a pretty pink lip and cheek cream, and pictures of shirtless, rugged cowboy-type men, if that's your thing.

I also got an eyeliner from Sumita in Jamun, which looked more dark brown when I swatched it on my hand, but when I put it on it contrasted nicely with my green eyes and showed up more as a deep plum. It's still subtle enough that it translates as a neutral to me. This applies very smoothly and doesn't smudge on me all day. I really like this!

Here's a quick look I did using the liner and lip cream. I used Bare Escentuals shadow in Queen Tiffany on my lid and Dusty Rose from BFTE in my crease. 

All in all, a very good box! 
That's all for now, have an awesome day everyone!
I can't believe it's time to review my summer SA List box already! It barely even feels like spring, it was 75 and sunny last Sunday and I was all gung-ho for trying to plant things, and then, by Tuesday, it was cold, windy, and snowing. This weekend? Back in the 60's. I can't keep up! But that's Ohio for you. Anyway, Sweet Anthem says it's time for summer, and the scents in this box almost make me believe it!

In my box I got eau de parfum samples of two new summer scents that are marketed as masculine, but I find them perfectly unisex. These dashing fellows are Walden and Cooper. Also included in the box, instead of the 5 ml solid scent and additional perfume sample that I received in my Spring box, were samples of the new Honey + Jasmine candies and Lip Shimmer from their Flower + Sugar line.

The candies were in adorable jewel shapes and smelled very lightly of sweet honey with a touch of jasmine. The jasmine didn't really translate into the taste of the candy, the taste was just honey-ish. I'm not one to crave hard candies, so these were pleasant enough, but not something I really need more of. 

The lip shimmer experience, unfortunately, went a little wonky. It looks solid and creamy in the clam shell above, but when I pressed my finger down on it to pick some up, it began to seep a clear oil, and the violet part (which I assume are waxes) broke up into little chunks. It basically separated, as shown below:

I tried to mix it up and get it incorporated with my finger, but didn't have much luck. I couldn't smell much except an unpleasant waxy/oily smell. I had to smell it very hard to get even a hint of honey or jasmine, but it was totally overpowered by the base ingredients. Putting it on was a bit of a disaster, there's no swatch to show because once I got a tiny taste of it I immediately had to wash my mouth out. I have no idea what happened, maybe the weather affected it or I just got a bad batch. I've never had a lip product do that so I was at a loss. It was a bummer, but luckily the actual perfumes made up for any disappointment!

Heaven is under our feet and over our heads. Aquatic musks, vintage florals, and greenery everywhere.
This is Walden Pond. This is a walk down the woodland path on a cool summer morning before it starts to really heat up, a whisper of humidity licking at your heels but not slowing you down. It's lush, earthy, lacy tendrils of dewy ferns tickling your legs and arms as you pass. It's a nap on a bed of moss, a verdant daydream. I love this immensely. This has a similar feel to Solstice Scents' Devil's Millhopper, so if you enjoy such green scents, give this one a try.

What are all these magnificent trees? Nutty vetiver, smoky teak, coffee – black as midnight on a moonless night, and the transcendental Douglas Fir. 

This one brings to mind a lonely log cabin on water's edge, smoke puffing gently from a stone chimney, a lazy, hazy cup of coffee on a wooden porch swing, in the shade of towering conifers. It reminds me of slightly "weirder" scents like Darling Clandestine's Vardogr and Solstice Scents' Wail of the Banshee. Weird in the best possible way. The cold sniff is a little confusing, but after just a moment the notes start to unfold and set the scene perfectly. It's deeper and darker than Walden, but not heavy or too menacing. I enjoy them especially layered together where they complement each other and smooth out any rough edges. My only wish is that they lasted a little longer on my skin, which seems to veritably devour them. 

So, even with the lip shimmer fail, I am pleased with both new scents. They're a refreshing departure from the usual beachy summer scents (and don't get me wrong, I love those too), but these are a welcome, woodsy, green respite. These are different from most of the Sweet Anthem scents I've tried, and I think they were both very successful endeavors.  I had initially signed up for two seasons of the SA list just to make sure I'd like it, and I can say combined with the 10 dollar voucher you get each season, this program is a steal and I definitely want to extend my subscription.

Well, dear readers, that's all for today. Today is my 33rd birthday. I have to work so it will feel pretty much like any typical day. Not expecting co-workers to remember even though we have a handy-dandy sign in the breakroom listing our birthdays. They always forget but then sometimes notice it later, so I'm (mostly) past getting my feelings hurt. I have my vacation week coming up end of the month though, so I will celebrate then. Still trying to process the whole "33" thing. I definitely don't feel 33, whatever that is supposed to entail. I try to not "mourn" the years or moan about how old I'm getting, though I'm tempted sometimes. I figure every year lived means I'm doing at least one thing right, even if the rest is a mess, so that's worth celebrating! Have an awesome weekend all!

Today I bring you a wee spring haul from Haus of Gloi! It was even more exciting than most seasonal releases for me because it consisted of both a custom scent I worked really hard to design, and a scent that I inspired the Haus to create! They asked for input on Facebook last month on what kinds of scents we wanted to see for spring, and I suggested a blend of orange blossom, white tea, honey, and tonka. They had a butterbomb last year that included honey and orange blossom and I thought it would be awesome paired with a light, refreshing white tea and made creamy by tonka. I was so thrilled and totally geeked out when they posted the spring newsletter and saw my idea translated into their new scent, Honeybelle!

Britton's direction for Honeybelle veered away from mine a little as she was also inspired by the Honeybell oranges from Florida, where she grew up, so Honeybelle ended up being much orange-ier than I had envisioned it, but it was still really cool that they thought my idea was worth using. I bought a full size even though I always try to sample first. It would have felt weird to only get a sample of it, especially when they liked my idea enough to make it! They ended up writing me and telling me they refunded me for the bottle of Honeybelle, which I though was a very sweet gesture and honestly comes in handy because now I can get the Madcap Garden I've been wanting.

So, here is my order in its entirety:

I got a bubbling scrub in Odette on clearance, Honeybelle, Butterbombs in Moss and Rain and Chamomile and Lavender, and a custom scent comprised of Hyacinth, Pink Lotus, Rain, Clean Musk, and Dirt (they were kind enough to accommodate my request for a drop of the fifth note). I received Splendiferous as a free sample.

And my thoughts on the scents:

A blooming orange orchard, orange blossom honey, soft white tea and creamy white amber.

Like I said before, this was a lot more orange-y on cold sniff than I expected, even though the description clearly states that's what it's going to be. It was a little bitter too, which surprised me. With the dry down I found the orange note faded and became heavy on the amber, with just whispers of the honey and white tea. I actually enjoy the dry down even though it's not exactly what I had in mind. The amber makes the blend warmer/dustier than I had imagined it- I was leaning towards something lighter, softer on the base like perhaps the clean musk note along with the creamy tonka, and I had hoped for the really clean, bright honey note that I love in Madcap Garden, but I didn't really get that at all. It's interesting how easily notes are interpreted differently, and how they can evoke totally opposite things! 

Custom Blend 

I am so happy with this one. I really put a lot of effort into breaking this one down to create the atmosphere/image I wanted to convey. I was thinking of a cool, sun-sparkling pond, lily pads floating serenely on top, hyacinths growing nearby in wet, freshly turned earth. A floral water-musk, if you will. What I got smells pretty much spot-on, except the rain note is warm to me, not cool or damp at all. It does pair nicely with the clean musk, which, if you like Ploughman, is the note that creates the "light sheen of feral skin musk."  My scent smells somewhat like a floral Selkie, minus the wood and sage notes. There is almost a sweet/tart fruity element to it on cold sniff as well. The Pink Lotus? I picked that note even though I don't think I've ever smelled it before; it sounded like it would round out my vision and lend a touch of the exotic. Hyacinth is a pretty strongly scented flower, so even though I adore it, I didn't want it to overpower the other notes, so I asked it to be broken down thusly:
Hyacinth: 25%
Pink Lotus: 20%
Rain: 30%
Clean Musk: 25%
(plus a drop of Dirt)

I get little whiffs of the Hyacinth now and then, where it seems to float separate from the other notes unexpectedly. I could have bumped it up to maybe 30% and dialed down the rain to 25%, but I am still so pleased with it. It's a beautiful, refreshing spring scent!

White cake, lemon zest glaze and sugared violets.

I got this as a free sample. I didn't buy this one because I wasn't sure if it was necessary, as they hit the cake and lemon concept out of the park with one of my favorites, Beguiled. This one, even though I love the name, seemed superfluous. There is a fair amount of difference between them though. It's funny, but I can tell that Beguiled is lemon cake through and through, but Splendiferous is white cake with just a touch of lemon. I really like it on cold sniff, but the violets come through soon after which are too prevalent and powdery for my taste. I enjoy violet in small doses, such as in Spider Silk, but this one would have benefited from more cake, less violet. Despite that, I like this more than I expected, and will use the sample up.

The butterbombs smell exactly as their names suggest. Chamomile and Lavender has a wonderful calming, soft herbal scent. G wasn't feeling well the other day so I let him have this one, and he said it smelled great, though I don't know if he used it properly, he said he just "threw it in the tub." Gah. The Rain and Moss smells like it would make a great perfume, one of my male co-workers who I've gotten hooked on indie scents (wha-ha-ha) smelled it and asked if it came in other formats, so there you go. We were thinking about what moss note might have been used, and we felt it was a very soft, light, airy mossy note, not dark or heavy, so it might have been Spanish Moss? Either way, it's really nice. It pairs well with my custom scent too. They were both lovely presentation wise- swirled colors and lavender buds and all!

If you're interested in past reviews I've written for spring releases, please check out 2013's HERE and 2012's HERE

Did you try anything from the spring release? And I'm always curious to know about what custom scents you have made or are plotting! Today I'm going to attempt to plant a few herbs and veggies in containers, and see if I can get them to grow. Every year I try to grow things, and usually I kill them. Still, the dream lives! Have a great Sunday all! 

I need to get back in the swing of blogging, so I'm going to tackle a post I've been meaning to do forever but the idea has been just too daunting-my indie perfume and bath and body collection-the whole enchilada. Having been needing a pick-me-up, organizing and rediscovering all my preciouses really did the trick. I have found the absolutely most wonderful perfume bottle/sample storage solution, so I'm going to share that with you today as well.

(Picture Heavy)
In my middle school social studies class, we would spend the first few minutes of class doing "current events." We would read the day's local newspaper and choose a topic to talk about. For some reason I took that experience and applied it to my daily diary habit- ever the geek, I would often head a day's entry with "let's check in with our old friend, Mr. Current Events." At least one day each year even through high school I would try to describe the day in full, excruciating detail, from when I woke up, what I ate for breakfast, the order of the day's classes, who I talked to and what about, etc. Remembering was a very important thing for me, as if forgetting those minute details would somehow set me adrift in my life, and with no anchor, no tether, to who I had been, I would be utterly lost. I don't know why I carried that fear with me even at a young age, but I appreciate it because I have piles of diaries filled with thoughts, events, and people I know that I never would recall as vividly had I not been writing them down, cementing them in my memory. 

My first few years of college I moved from standard diaries to notebooks to which I would confess long, rambling streams of consciousness in between classes. Without the structure of year-long classes and more chances for peer interaction, I was lonely and often had only myself to talk to. So I people-watched, made observations, tried to entertain myself by making up stories about them. Then when I met G the first few years of that relationship entailed notebooks full of my thoughts about us, our struggles, our connection, my fears and insecurities and obsessions, of which I had plenty. Then as the veil of mystery lifted and we became more unified and authentic, I felt the urge to write in diaries less, perhaps because I then I had someone to remember with me, a fellow memory-keeper and traveler, someone who could fill in the gaps for me, and I for him. In theory this works and is something I try to never take for granted, but in practice, I admit I've felt a void. 

There are things I can't remember. Seasons and years that pass in a blur, so much faster than they used to, it seems, and I can't sense the growth, the evolution of myself, as keenly as I once did. It happened as I feared, I'm adrift. Perhaps because at heart I am a writer, and it is in writing that I maintain the link with who I truly am, not simply the person going through the motions of her life, the person in survival mode. G is sometimes frustrated with my seemingly stalwart, slavish dedication to my responsibilities and asks me what my dreams are. It's an overwhelming question, the universe rolled into a ball and dropped with a deafening thud at my feet. I can't answer, because it's been a long time since I've known. Since I've had time to really sit back and think it over, and be brave enough to chart a new path. There are too many unknowns that terrify me, too many practicalities to consider, that stop my dreams in their trembling tracks. I feel that if everyone worried about every possible variable or complication the way I do, the world would probably screech to a  paralyzed, grinding halt.

 There's a part of me that knows that I'm not made for these times. I can put on a good enough show to seem like I have it mostly together even if I've shirked the more "normal" societal expectations- marriage, children, the diverse financial portfolio, the white picket fence. But I'm a poorly patched together straw-person, and when things go wrong and I start to feel like I'm losing control in my life, all my stuffing threatens to come out. A silly analogy perhaps, but that's what it feels like. Like I can barely function well enough in my simple, relatively unhindered  life as it is that the idea of adding any more of those responsibilities would just be more than I could handle. How much is me truly not wanting those things, and how much is the fear that I couldn't hack them, and therefore don't deserve them? Cracks in the facade begin to show, and I don't have to energy to really face what's behind. So I patch it up as best I can and trudge forward, plodding along with no clear destination in mind, trying to erase the fear that there's nothing here worth writing about, anyway.

I didn't mean to stay away for so long, this was an unplanned hiatus. But I've been tired, and stressed, and that hasn't been conducive to positive, entertaining writing for you, dear reader. It's been a long, cold, dark winter. Money has been tight for a while, and it feels like most of my mental energy has been focused on saving as much of it as I can through couponing and such. Which is a good thing, and has helped immensely and in a lot of ways is something I enjoy on a good day, but the necessity behind it has worn me down. The stress and frustration has affected my relationship, and the stress from frequent clashing hasn't helped either. It's been a vicious cycle. Admitting that I'm worn down and needed a break is something I don't do easily. Admitting that it's not all sunshine and rainbows is hard, and makes me feel like a failure. Admitting my faults and weaknesses is not something I share very freely, because I've been rejected a lot in my life, and old habits die hard. 

So those are today's current events. The unfiltered truth, the same thing I would tell my diary if I still had one. I can guarantee my finger will hover for minutes on end over the "publish" button before I actually do it. I'll go back and forth-no, things aren't that bad, you're fine, don't bother putting this out there, what will people think? Yes, you need to present yourself as a whole, complex person and not sharing it would be lying by omission. And so on. But if you can read this, that means I'm a little stronger than I thought. So...things aren't awesome for me right now, but I'm trying really hard to get better. Going to put in a concerted effort to get my mojo back for blogging, for life, for everything. Taking a much-needed week off work at the end of April, so it's good to have something to look forward to. I'm going to get myself in a more positive place and share some good things that have made me happy. Someday I'll be able to look back here and remember how I felt right now, and hopefully I will be looking back from a healthier, more secure, more fulfilled place. And over time I'll be able to mend the tether that somehow along the way was broken, and move on secure in the knowledge of who I am,  who I am becoming, and also, who I was.
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