Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!

Today's haul is my Winter 2015 order from Solstice Scents. A lot of these are new additions to the EDP line-up or returning scents, so if you want to see my reviews for previous years' scents please check out my posts HERE and HERE. I bought Lemon Ginger Creams ganache and a mini Snowshoe Pass EDP as gifts and my full size Snowmint Mallow oil is a scent I've tried before, so the reviews for those items are in old reviews (some of the things in those reviews aren't available anymore-sorry!)

Onto the new stuff!

I bought mini EDPs of Desert Thunderstorm, Estate Carnation, Manor Fire, and my free sample was Wolf Spirit. I somehow got an extra sample of Conjure Dark, which was a pleasant surprise.

Check out the gorgeous artwork of the Manor on Fire- it kind of makes me sad to see it go up in flames, and then I have to remind myself that it is a fictional place, after all-but there is a kind of perverse guilty pleasure in enjoying the scent of the poor place being destroyed. Feelings are weird.

Estate Carnation
Estate Vanilla, Sweet Opium Smoke, Carnation, Rose, Olibanum, Orris Root

When I think of carnation scents I tend to envision lightly spicy, kind of haunting, melancholy florals- think SS's Lace Draped Spectre and Riverside Hayride, Posset's Silver Carnations, Cocoa Pink's Fear of Cemeteries,  or dainty and mildly foodie like Winter Dove, that sort of thing. Estate Carnation is NOT like those scents. It's spicy carnation, but turned to 11, and bolstered by deep, resinous, sweet vanilla incense smoke (not gourmand) and rose. On cold sniff this reminds me just a little of Estee Lauder's Beautiful, and I mean that in a good way- when I first started getting into perfumes I really loved that one. I truthfully haven't tried many of the classic perfumes that may have inspired this one so Beautiful is the one my memory latched onto- it must be the rose/carnation combo, but Estate Carnation is much warmer and richer, to my nose. It's a very classic, strong, sexy scent- not as much as Edge of the Night, but it is potent and wafts quite a bit, so for me it's more of a night out or day off scent- I probably wouldn't wear it to work unless I had applied it well beforehand and it had already faded alot. It's not necessarily heavy, per se, but it does make its presence known. It's gorgeous and I love it.

Desert Thunderstorm
 Desert Sage, Pinyon Pine & Resin, Petrichor, Sweetgrass, Creosote Bush, Sand, Ponderosa Pine, Smoke

 I am a sucker for thunderstorm scents, and this is a unique one as it's got more of a woodsy and herbal element to it. Usually thunderstorm scents seem like they take place in a lush forest or on the ocean and are cool and watery, but this one clearly takes place in a dry, parched desert, and it creates that atmosphere vividly. I've never been in a desert but I can imagine this is a good representation of what it would be like. On cold sniff I am greeted by the familiar blast of dry sage that I got from High Desert, but this is lighter and smoother somehow, more palatable to me. It's very fresh, cleansing, and invigorating. It's got the memory of wetness- rain falling but immediately soaking into the cracked desert floor, leaving nary a trace. There is realistic ozone, but it's like heat lightning, not a typical thunderstorm. I will reach for this most probably in the spring and summer for actual wear, but it's nice to just steal a sniff every so often- it's invigorating but also kind of calming, too-much like real thunderstorms.

 Manor Fire 
Manor, Smoke, Charred Wood, Melted Beeswax, Wood Resin, Dry Wood, Burning Leaves, Worn Leather

This is the Manor I love, just charred a little around the edges. It's actually not as strong as I expected as far as the smokiness goes- it's not as smoky as Smoky Mountain Mallow but it does have a similar aura to it. I can pick up on a hint of leather and some creamy beeswax- I'm pleased this isn't acrid or jarring at all- it's quite smooth and wearable. I would love wearing this hiking in the woods- I bet it would mingle perfectly during the winter with cold air and real woodsmoke on the breeze. 

Wolf Spirit
Desert Sage, Pinyon Pine & Resin, Conifers, Cedar, Palo Santo, Soft Incense, Vetiver, Frankincense, Fur, Juniper

I knew this would be an iffy one- I have some Palo Santo essential oil from Eden Botanicals- and I don't like it at all. There is something terpenic about it-sharp, uber-fresh, bitterly citrus or like turpentine, it's a common element found in conifer-centric scents, and it's not very pleasant to me. So Wolf Spirit smells a lot like that Palo Santo on cold sniff, and it sticks in my throat, like it's a physical thing I'm trying to swallow. I wore this to bed- and while it's not my favorite SS scent by any means, I do appreciate that after a few minutes the Palo Santo recedes and mellows, and I'm left with a serviceable soft incensey, woodsy scent that I probably will use as a nighttime scent as it is sort of meditative after the first few minutes.

Conjure Dark
Amber, Frankincense, Sweet Incense Smoke, Dried Rose Petals, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Woods, Oud, Vanilla

Despite the name, this doesn't smell much like the original Conjure. The longer scent description mentions this, but I thought it worthwhile to reiterate. Whereas Manor Fire clearly has Manor interwoven with other notes, Conjure Dark is, I'd say, inspired by Conjure, but definitely not the same or merely layered upon. It's not overly dark to me either, but it's smokier than the original Conjure for sure. It is a deeper resinous incense blend with hints of agarwood and vanilla. Any sweetness is extremely muted.  It also has a churchy vibe to it with the frankincense- it makes me think of soft incense smoke, just a bit edgier. Nice!

Whew- posting this a few minutes past midnight so it's technically Christmas! Hope you all have a wonderful day :)

Today's Holiday Haul is from Sugar and Spite's Yule collection! First off, it's not a secret that I am a sucker for the branding and packaging- it's always so quirky and irreverent. All the Yule scents were throwbacks to classic films or stating uncomfortable truths about the holidays (you know, Santa is a bit of a creeper). So the artwork was kitschy and snarky and lots of fun. I really enjoyed it!

I got-

A perfume sampler including:
Gnome for the Holidays
It was an Ugly Tree Anyway
Dysfunctional Family Christmas
The Horseman Rides Again
Santa is a Creeper

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out sugar scrub and Bath Truffles (gifts)
Fruitcake for One Bath Truffles
Gnome for the Holidays Lotion
(Eat me Drink me bar soap-freebie)

Gnome for the Holidays
Mmmmmmm. Creeeaaaamy. Egyptian musk, four vanillas, and a smidge of bright white mint.

I picked this up as a lotion as I don't really have any minty, wintry lotions and I recently got a full size of Solstice Scents Snowmint Mallow perfume, so I figured they would layer well. And it makes me think of There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays by Perry Como, which I remember hearing a lot when I was little around Christmas and it made me nostalgic. Anyway, at first the perfume oil has a buttery note to it that I don't care for, but it does fade quickly into a more musky vanilla mint, in that order. It smells sort of like SS's Snowshoe Pass. I really like the lotion, it's a kind of neutral scent that layers well with a variety of other scents.

Dysfunctional Family Christmas
pumpkin, rosewood, vetiver, tea, nutmeg, clove

I don't really get pumpkin in this, it's mostly a lightly spicy tea scent with perhaps a touch of smokiness. It clings pretty close to the skin and I can't quite make out all the notes. It's pretty, I love Lysa's tea scents- this one is a little "same-y" to me though. I'll definitely use up the sample but it's not wowing me enough to require more after that.

Santa is a Creeper
 Lock your windows. A (quite possibly) felonious blend of incense, leather, amber, patchouli, licorice, clove and black tea. He sees you when you're sleeping.

This is pretty heavy on the licorice, but also a large amount of leather and then some incense. I think I can pick up some tea as well. This has a similar vibe to Solstice Scents Black Leather, Red Lace, with other notes added. It's a lot of licorice though so it's not my favorite, but if you like licorice and leather you're golden.

The Horseman Rides Again
 leather, leaves, fir, pumpkin, vanilla, incense, oud wood

I don't remember if I've sampled the original Horseman so I can't compare the versions- this one is nice though- leather is in the forefront-there is a sweetish vanilla woodsiness- if I sniff really intently I think I can make out the oud- it's actually quite nice. I've only tried this once or twice, I should spend more time with it. It's a good unisex scent-maybe I can get G to try it on.

It was an Ugly Tree Anyway

baking spices, a roaring hearth, sweet breads, faint cigar smoke, and the warm glow of a Christmas tree........ on fire.

The label and inspiration for this one cracks me up! This one was also my favorite, and I did order a full size of it. It's an interesting sweet baked goods/ fir tree scent with a faint smokiness. It sounds a little weird  but it works for me. I like the scent of this wafting around me more than huffing straight from my wrist, and I have gotten compliments from G on it, so it's G approved.

Everything else is intended as gifts- I did sniff the You'll Shoot Your Eye Out lotion- it's a straightforward delicious lemon cake. I don't smell any violets, but then again I didn't actually try it on. I'm not sure why A Christmas Story scent is lemon cake really- but it's well enough, considering the alternative would probably be Lifebuoy soap, boiled cabbage, and Ovaltine. I'll take the cake.

Have a great day everyone!

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Today I've got a First Impressions review for you! This is based solely on the scents offered by Arcana, as I didn't have any experience with their customer service. Arcana is one of the companies I've sort of avoided, not because their offerings don't sound awesome (they do!) but because they sell mostly through third party vendors, like The Rhinestone Housewife and Pretty Indulgent. They do sell some scents on Ebay as well. That's fine of course, but mostly I've avoided them because they don't do samples. That's their prerogative, and whatever helps them run smoothly is totally cool. But for me personally, samples are kind of imperative, especially when their full sizes are a little pricier than others in the 5 ml size range, around $18-$20, which is simply outside my budget for blind-buying from a new-to-me brand.

Recently a user on the IMAM subreddit, /u/worldwidethrowaway, was kind enough to host a general catalog decant circle for Arcana, and I thought it would be a perfect time to give them a shot and get a feel for their style. I've never done a decant circle before but everything went smoothly-it took about a month and a half, which was understandable as the response for this circle was overwhelming (I'm guessing I'm not the only one who laments the no-samples thing). The package I got was sealed perfectly, each vial was wrapped with plumber's tape, the vials were neatly labeled, and there were even a couple soap samples included. Everything was fine on that end and I'd feel comfortable doing another circle with that user in the future.

So, onto the scents! Since this was a GC circle, there is kind of a range of scents here-some I would gravitate more towards during the summer for sure, so even though I liked them a lot, I'm not as excited right now about them as I am the more fall/winter type scents. But check back with me later on that.

Leaves Falling Like Rain
In honor of our beloved Pacific Northwest and the best time of the year. A comforting base of brown sugar, caramel, gingersnaps and cappuccino is sparked off with hints of vintage patchouli, hyssop, mullein and white pepper.

Of course I will start with the one that has lately been discontinued due to a component issue. But, for posterity and if you find it available for swaps, I will still comment on it. On cold sniff it smells sweet, almost maple-y, but there is a bite of spicy ginger too- it's not sickening sweet. There is rich coffee and a fair amount of earthy patchouli grounding it. It smells like a toned-down version of Solstice Scents' Jack and the Devil to me, It's a very warm, cuddly, sweater-weather type scent. I am going to pretend that I don't like it at all. Blech. 

Vampire's Garden
For vampires and other dark souls addicted to topsoil, the sweetly herbaceous scent of freshly turned earth, blood oranges and staked tomato vines under a midnight sky

This is fresh and vivacious, oddly enough, considering it's named after the undead! This opens with a blast of juicy, astringent orange. It's almost cleaning product-ish but there is peppery,green tomato leaf and dirt notes too so it's not that simple. It's a little sharp and pervasive for my taste, but it's possible I will like it more in the spring.

The ancient Roman goddess of summer: Madagasgar vanilla, yellow cake, soft peach nectar, golden musk, black musk and a hint of patchouli.

I knew it was a long shot, but I ordered this hoping for more cake, vanilla, and musk. Nope, lots 'o' peach. Peach and I don't get along so well. It's a deeper, earthier, more grounded peach with a hint of sweetness, but still, peach. If you like scents like Haus of Gloi's Peach Mama or Solstice Scents Chantilly Cream (which I actually do like somewhat), you may gravitate towards this.

Filthy Viking
Between the sea voyages and the pillaging, it must have been difficult for Odin’s henchmen to stay fresh. Too bad they didn’t have this ferocious blend of scents from the Viking world: bracing Norwegian juniper, frigid Icelandic mint and the hardy wood of a longship 

One word sums this one up: bracing. Oh wait, that's already in the description. So I can't use it again. Argh. Okay. Um. Shivery. Biting. Almost-fruity juniper and evergreens. Icy mint. But it morphs rather dramatically after applying, when it suddenly becomes woodsy, like you're tucked deep in the lower levels of the longship, wrapped in some kind of toasty fur, surrounded by warm wood planks, a hint of slightly sooty smoke in the air.

Philtre Consumed
In its wake, this potion is said to leave a trail of ravenous longing and insatiable lust. Three gingers (fresh ginger, ginger extract, and gingerbread) are blended with a cheesecake accord, French cognac, butter co2 extract, caramel, black pepper, sugared milk, copaiba balsam, a pinch of ho wood, and a shameless slap of cassia

This is some deliciousness, right here. It's powerfully spicy ginger at first- more dry than sweet but still decidedly edible. It's tangy too- it IS like cheesecake. But a deep, mysterious, sexy, spicy gingerbread cheesecake. This is winner winner chicken dinner for me. 

Orange blossoms with beach coconut, skin musk, and warm sand

Talk to me about this one in about six months, as it's really lovely, I'm just not woo-hoo excited about it right now. The scent is reminiscent of Solstice Scents Coquina- lots of orange blossom (and I love orange blossom!), light coconut and ocean spray notes. It's fresh, airy, sweet and summery and so not on my radar right now. Soon though. Very soon.

The Sweet Trade
This laid-back tropical tangle celebrates the less black-hearted side of piracy. With heady notes of caramel, honey, orange blossoms, rich coconut cream and dark Indonesian patchouli.

This is Surf's older, sexier, edgier wild-child sister. It's Surf with the lights turned down lowwwww. Wear this on a hot, sultry summer night and watch the magic happen. It smells a lot like a Haus of Gloi custom scent I made with orange blossom, mahogany, coconut, and red musk, and it has always been my favorite one, The patchouli is not heavy here, don't worry about that. It's mostly rich, almost syrupy orange blossom and coconut. Very heady stuff, and quite swoonworthy.

Philtre: Adoration
An aphrodisiac believed to draw one's beloved to the greatest heights of receptivity and indulgence. Three vanillas, sweet cream, banana custard, white pepper, exotic amber, pearl musk, black pepper, and cardamom. 

Somewhat like Philtre: Consumed, but this has a kind of sharp,boozy banana thing going on. It's another blend that is foodie, but also musk and amber and spice, and keeps you guessing. Of the two I prefer Consumed, but this is quite delish as well.

Song of Songs: Comfort Me with Apples
Honey-sweetened cider, green apples, vanilla, buttermilk, amber resin, and a hint of cinnamon bark. 

This is definitely a tangy, lip-puckering green apple, and there's not a whole lot of spiciness to my nose and it's not particularly creamy or resinous either. Just a lot of apple. One second I think it smells really realistic, the next it's like a green apple Jolly Rancher. Not bad, but not over the moon about it either.

Apples Crave Vanilla
Wild apples and green apples with delicate vanilla, sensual musk, and white amber

This is a more subtle red apple, not too sweet and not spicy. It's a little lackluster on cold sniff, but enjoy the drydown when more muskiness and depth starts to peek out and it behaves more like a my-skin-but-better type scent.

Holy Terror
There are utterly somber and fearsome spirits which are known to haunt certain long-deserted chapels, monasteries and abbeys. An unsettling, austere blend of burning frankincense, sandalwood, deep myrrh, and dusty beeswax candles. 

Holy moly! I really love this one. I thought it would smell like Solstice Scents Basilica (ultimate church scent), but it stands on its own. This has a lot of dusty, creamy beeswax candles and the most gorgeous incense smoke, not too strong but just acrid enough to feel that old familiar Catholic guilt kicking in. Full size material.

Bonfires at Dusk
Woodsmoke, sweet beeswax, Oregon lavender, sandalwood, charred juniper, and the scent of swiftly appearing stars. 

This smells like smoky lavender- a very potent, sharp herbal and coniferous element at first, It does have an atmospheric, eerily quiet twilight feeling to it. The drydown is similar to Holy Terror to me with the smoke and beeswax, but I think I prefer Holy Terror as is.

Will I try Arcana again? Sure! Everything was well blended and interesting, Consumed and Holy Terror were definite full size candidates, and Surf and the Sweet Trade might start tickling my fancy more come spring. I have actually have purchased from Arcana again- I recently blind bought a full size from the Ebay store, Vanilla Craves Bread- because I adore bread scents and it just sounds fantastic, I couldn't resist. I'm glad I went ahead and gave Arcana a chance!

Alright, so I've been hauling pretty hot and heavy lately and I figured in order to get these reviews done in a somewhat timely manner, I'm going to have to be all official and festive about it- hence the "hap-hap-happiest" in the title, and all that jazz. Up to Christmas, I'm going to share as many hauls and other First Impressions reviews as I possibly can. Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol? 

So first up is my Haus of Gloi Reverie order- it's a little one, and mostly gifts. I got a His Sweater whipped soap and pumpkin butter for G, and bought 3 Gimme Mah Coffee scrubs (one is mine and is in the shower currently, the ones pictured are gifts). I got a Winter Divinity whipped soap and a Peppermint Vanilla lip balm for myself, and received a sample of Spiced Cocoa, I'd been wanting to try that one!

I feel a little evil reviewing some of these as they are mostly Reverie, and no guarantees as to whether they will ever return. But in case they do, here you go!

Gimme Mah Coffee
We'll let the ingredients speak for themselves! Rich coffee butter, shea butter, organic virgin coconut and olive oils are blended together with organic cane sugar and organic fair trade coffee grounds and aloe leaf powder. We lightly scented this decadent scrub with true coffee essential oil and the barest hint of lemon oil to round out and enhance the coffee notes. This will truly awaken you to whatever the day has in store for you!

This is one of those scents that make your eyes roll back in your head, it's so transcendent and realistic, and just utter heaven. It's not bitter, it's well rounded and rich, and very intense. It's chock full of coffee grounds so it is a little messy to use in the shower, but rinsing thoroughly gets rid of it easily enough. It is going to be painful giving these away, but the joy they are sure to elicit will bring its own reward. I wish this would become GC, for reals.

His Sweater
A well worn woolen sweater infused with brisk outdoor air, a hint of incense and clean skin musk. Accompanied by three woods and a root: western red cedar heartwood, hawthorn accord and Japanese hiba with a touch of calamus root.

Cozy Sweater worn by a hipster lumberjack- a little incense, a little plaid, some laced leather hiking boots with warm woolen socks, a shiver of winter air, and a little clean sweat, you know, from chopping down trees in an artful and elegantly graceful manner. I only cold sniffed this as it's a gift for G, but I am eager to smell it on him, as I like it a lot. 

Winter Divinity
Sugary white vanilla divinity with a surprising jolt of peppermint

This is pretty simple- vanilla and mint. It's refreshing and lightly sweet, it's pretty inoffensive and isn't too strong in the jar. I will see how minty it is in the shower, but on cold sniff it's mild and creamy.

Peppermint Vanilla Lip Balm

I adored the Peppermint Sugar Cookie lip balm last year, used it all up, and I got this hoping it would compare though it's missing the cookie element. I'm happy to say it does smell pretty much the same based on memory, maybe more peppermint than any "baked goods" kind of note, but it's a fair substitution.

Spiced Cocoa
Double the warmth, hot cuppa cocoa and mild wintery spices!

This smells a little like Vice minus coffee, and also kind of like Parkin. The chocolate is a bit fake smelling at first, but that's not a terrible thing, I still like this. Occasionally I'll smell it and get a really realistic hot cocoa/creamy marshmallow vibe too. It smells a little like Sixteen92's Mexican Hot Chocolate, but not as nutty smelling to my nose. I think I would like this more as a whipped soap, but I will still use my sample.

Alright, that's all for today! Hope your holiday season, however you choose to celebrate it, is going smoothly and...happily.

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So it's been about a gazillion years since I've done a LOTD. Not sure why that is, but honestly my makeup has been pretty neutral for a while now and not really remarkable, so it seemed silly to bother. But hey! I liked my Thanksgiving face so I remembered to take some pics along with the desserts I made, so here ya go! It's only taken me two weeks to get it posted. Progress?

I recently got my first order from Silk Naturals so most of this look features products I got- I'll do an actual First Impressions post soon.

On my face:

Maybelline Dream Wonder Foundation
Revlon Color Stay Concealer in Fair
Silk Naturals Crystal Perfecting Glow
Silk Naturals Sleep In a Jar Extra Light Peach concealer (undereye)
Silk Naturals Perfecting Powder
NYX Baked Blush in Wanderlust
Fyrinnae Meloncholy Lip Lustre

On my eyes:

Coastal Scents Step One Primer
Silk Naturals AKA shadow on lids
basic medium matte brown in crease (using Coastal Scents Revealed 2 pallette)
Silk Naturals Joyful duo (light highlight color)
Ulta Gel Eye Liner Pencil in Bronze
Stila Huge Extreme Mascara

I adore AKA from Silk Naturals! I've been wearing it pretty much every day since I got it- I selected that one for my initial order because it's said to be a dupe for Urban Decay's YDK (which I haven't tried), but I came across a blog comparing that shade to Inglot 154, which is one of my favorites and almost used up, so I decided to take a chance on it. It's not really the same (AKA seems darker, not as frosty/pearlescent with more pink/brown than gold/taupe) , but it's gorgeous. It's an awesome neutral for me, and it wears perfectly. A++

Another thing worth mentioning- I really like the Stila Huge Extreme Mascara, I think I got it in a Birchbox. It lengthens and thickens my lashes really well- but sadly it smears a lot during the day and I end up with smudges under my eyes. So that's the only thing keeping me from getting a full size of that one.

And finally for something a lot more fun to look at- my Thanksgiving desserts! I made a pumpkin pie from scratch (crust and all) using Smitten Kitchen's
recipe, and Deb never lets me down. This turned out really well-the trick is cooking the pumpkin on the stovetop before putting in the pie crust to deepen the flavors and get rid of that lingering raw taste. My crust got a little smushed as I used pie shields to keep it from browning too fast- oh well, it was still delish!

And because Deb never lets me down, I also made her Gingerbread Apple Upside Down Cake, 
and it also turned out yummy. It's a nice mash up of fall apple flavors and Christmasy gingerbread, then all caramelized and gooey. Good times!

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