Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lush Life: Christmas Haul

So today i managed to talk my husband into getting out of the hotel & exploring the AEON mall. We walked all 3 floors & he treated me to some shopping at Lush! 

It's been over 2 years since I've been in Lush, and over a year since my sweet husband brought me Lush goodies back from a work trip to the states. I know I could order online.. but its not the same! As we approached the store, the glorious aroma of Lush hit my nose & I was hit with a rush of excitement! Lucky for me, shopping in Lush is a family event, since we all love the amazing products! We have sensitive skin, so Lush is perfect for us since all their products are Vegan & as an added bonus: they never test their products on animals!

Aside from listing their names in English, everything else is of course in Japanese. I have my favorites, but for new items I had to rely on my nose. I think this actually works in my favor, because I can't have an expectation of scents since I can't read the description. 

I walked away with a pretty nice haul. (I only spent 6700 Yen!). I even got to pick up a new catalog that came with a pretty rad Santa poster/calendar. The husband immediately pointed out that I can't read the catalog, but I reminded him I can look at all the pretty pictures! :)

I was mainly going after R&B (short for Revive & Balance) which is one of the most amazing hair products I have ever owned!! I swear by this stuff! I have curly hair and this manages to provide moisture without weighing my hair down. It's scented with orange blossom and jasmine... yumm!! I have hair past my shoulders & I only need a small amount the size of a dime to take care of all my hair, so this lasts me quite a while! I paid 3900 Yen for a 225g container. I don't see this size currently offered online, but they do sell 100g containers for $23 USD. 

Sea Vegetable Soap -- I love this soap! However, anytime it's in my house, my husband immediately swipes it & uses it all up in a flash! Made with seaweed & a crust of sea salt, this is a good exfoliating soap. It's scented with lime, lavendar & seaweed.. but it has a gentle masculine smell. While my husband loves to shower with this, I prefer to use it as an everyday hand soap in my kitchen.

Lord of Misrule Bath Bomb - new item! purchased for my Hubby who appreciates a luxurious bath just as much as I do! It has a nice masculine scent, I cant wait to see what it does!

description from Inspired by the ruler of the Pagan Feast of Feast of Fools, Lord of Misrule brings mischievous revelry to the tub with a spicy herbal blend of patchouli and black pepper oil. As it slowly froths in the water, hypnotic swirling silver luster is released and the deep green exterior soon gives way to a rich, wine-colored center. Just like at the Feast of Fools, when the wine begins flowing, the revelry really begins! Popping candies fizz and crackle, creating a world of magic and mischief right before your eyes.

Northern Lights Bath Bomb - new item! this was my bath bomb pick.. and with a name like Northern Lights, I am expecting some serious action!

I dont see this as a single item for sale online (its part of a package), but here is a description from the Lush blog -- The customer favorite jasmine-ylang ylang perfume of our best selling Christmas Eve Bubble Bar has been infused into our brand new Northern Lights Bath Bomb. This cylindrical-shaped bomb will swirl and fizz every which way in your tub, painting a gorgeous image of the vibrant aurora borealis against a shimmering indigo night sky. Its relaxing perfume, which has calmed many nerves on Christmas Eves past, will ease your mind and make your troubles feel as far away as the twinkling stars in the sky.

The Christmas Hedgehog Bubble Bar - new item! I have a kid who LOVES bubble baths, so I always try to keep a bubble bar or two on hand. This little guy was too cute to pass up! There were 2 choices, blue or white, but both seemed to smell the same. A little goes a long way with the bubble bars. I can usually get about 6 baths out of one bubble bar depending on their size. You can pinch a little off & drop it in the tub under the running water, but I prefer to hold in in my hand and smush as the water runs for optimal bubbling. (we take bubble baths serious in our house!) If the bubbles start running low and you're not done relaxing, use a cup & pour water to reactivate your bubbles.

Description from - If you're feeling a little prickly this festive season, hop in the tub with this indulgent floral bubbler! Made with softening shea and cocoa butters and a seriously relaxing blend of floral essential oils, this adorable hedgehog is sure to melt frosty winter moods. Crumble him under running water and sink into silky waters scented with soothing lavender, rose and ylang-ylang oils --the day's troubles will soon seem VERY far away!

I'm looking forward to trying my new goodies soon!
Are you a Lush fan? What new, or old standbys, have you used lately?


Friday, December 12, 2014

Review: Super Tarts - Anniversary Order

One of my guilty pleasures in life is wax melts. 

I love to have decadent aromas dispersing through my house. My very favorite scent would have to be anything involving cinnamon, and it has to be the 'in your face' cinnamon. Every year I patiently wait for fall in anticipation of it "being acceptable" to douse my house in this glorious odor. 
I began my love with wax melts with scentsy, but my bestie The Redolent Mermaid has been introducing me to the wonders of small business wax creations. Stalking her blog has become part of my nightly ritual, as I await the revealing of her latest waxy goodies. When I saw a review for Super Tarts, I knew I needed to get in on this vendor. 

Themed wax to make your favorite shows & books come alive?! 

(woooo!! geek girl moment!! <3 *ahem* back to the wax....)

There have been a few openings recently & I managed to place 2 orders! Ohhhh yeah!!! *fist pump!* The first was a custom order, which I am still waiting on. The second order was from the 1 year anniversary opening on October 28th. Since I'm in the middle of a big move, the turn around time didn't seem very long to me. I received my shipping notification on December 2nd & my package arrived on December 11th. My shipping length is a reflection upon the joys of overseas mail, but I believe most packages make it through the mail in 2-4 days.

My order arrived triple wrapped in priority flat rate bubble mailers with a scent list & free sample. One of my clam shells arrived broken, but I attribute that to the length of time it spent in the postal system, as well as the distance it had to travel.

I was extremely tempted by all the choices available, but finally settled on an even number of 6.

The following descriptions were provided courtesy of Super Tarts.

Tie Me Up - Vanilla Bean Champagne and Strawberries
Jaws - Sea Salt, Fresh Air, Sea Grass, Sliced Plum and Sweet Pear. This is an amazing spa blend!
White Walkers - Spearmint, Peppermint, Fresh Mint Leaf and VBN
Ravenclaw - Blue Raspberry and Lavender
Katniss - Eucalyptus & Lemon Curd
Beauty and the Beast - Sweet Blackberries and Magically Delicious

 I am waiting to move into our house for melting, but below are my impressions from first sniffs.

Tie Me Up - The mix of vanilla champagne and strawberry is sweet but enjoyable. I was a little worried picking this one because I tend to stay away from fake strawberry smells. However, the strawberry smells neither fake nor overpowering. Both scents come across well balanced.

Jaws - First, the blood splatter... LOVE IT!! it made my geek soul giggle when i first saw it. This is a deliciously relaxing scent. I could see melting this during "me time". It's a very interesting but pleasant combination. I'm curious to see how it changes when melted.

White Walkers - This was a pick for my husband who is in love with the Game of Thrones books/show. I am loving this combination of mint! However,it's not coming across as potent as i was expecting. It may be a personal thing, I've been leaning toward bold, in your face scents lately. The extra attention to detail with the crumbles is a fun choice. I'm hoping this has a strong throw when melting.

Ravenclaw - the blue raspberry is a little sweeter than i was anticipating. I was expecting more tartness & more lavendar. This is on the sweet side for me, but we'll see if it mellows with melting.

Katniss - oh my goodness, can i just bury myself in this for awhile?? strong, potent eucalyptus & lemony curd goodness that powers right through your sinuses! I am a big fan of eucalyptus... I can see this being a fantastic cure for the sniffles!

Beauty and the Beast- both my husband & I could smell this one upon opening the packaging... the super sweet smell was pretty potent. It's not a bad smell, but I'm not really feeling it. I'm not sure if the sweet blackberries adds to what I'm smelling, or if the magically delicious is just that strong.. but we'll give it a whirl in the warmer and see what happens!

Free Sample 
Vanilla Spearmint - upon sniffing my sample, it seemed mellow enough to melt in our small hotel room without overwhelming our senses. When i first sniffed, the vanilla seemed to barely be pushing through the spearmint. Once melted, it mellowed into a subtle note and mixed with the spearmint giving me the impression of a bubblegum. A fun scent, but not something that I would repurchase.

So there you have it.. my very first wax review! 
What favorite scents have you dropped in the warmer lately?


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Japan Eats: Curry & Ramen

We are just a few days shy of having been in Japan for an entire month.
What an amazing month it has been!!

One thing I love about the military community is how quickly people draw you into their circle of friends. We are so blessed to be joining another fabulous LRS/POL family! Our new friends have taken us off base for some sightseeing & shopping, helped us find a car, shown us a few local food joints, and even opened their homes so we could enjoy a home cooked Thanksgiving. So even though we are still living in the hotel, we are having a fabulous time!

In the short month we have been here, we are already falling in love with Japanese food! I was looking forward to sushi before getting here, but i'm pretty addicted to ramen at the moment. Oh, and also Melon Fanta... *sigh* fantaaaaaa..... but I'll save that for another post...

 As crazy as it may seem, my first Japanese Ramen experience was in a mall food court!

Eating in a Japanese mall food court was quite the experience. First, you have to tackle ordering. This is basically looking at the pictures & then pointing on the menu when they ask what you want. I'm sure as time goes on, I'll start figuring out which words mean what, but for now I'm ok with looking at pictures. :) Our food was served in nice dishes with broth spoons & reusable chopsticks, as the Japanese are very into recycling & protecting the environment.

My bowl of ramen (left) was topped with a piece of pork, sliced mushroom stems, green onions, & crunchy bean sprouts. David enjoyed a kids meal of dumplings & ramen with corn and bean sprouts.

Our next food adventure, was a family trip to CoCo's Curry House!

We had heard about how awesome CoCo's was from friends who had already lived here, so we were very excited to go enjoy some curry! CoCo's did not disappoint!!

Located next to Fussa Station, Coco's Curry House is a small but enjoyable food stop. The menu offered a selection of suggested curry combinations, as well as a "make your own". (with descriptions translated into English)

I enjoyed Seafood Curry (shrimp, clams, & cuddle fish) at a Spice Level 3.

The spice levels run from zero, regular, & then 1 - 10.
This was the best curry I have ever eaten! Hubby was laughing at me as the spiciness was causing my eyes to water & my lips to tingle, but it was a delicious burn!! (He only ordered a 2, by the way). I have plans to work my way up to a 10 before we leave, but for now the 3 will do.

Our next experience with authentic ramen took us to Arashi's!


It actually took us 3 attempts to find this place, but it was well worth it!
A unique feature of Arashi's is that the menu is vending machine style. You insert your yen, push the button with the picture of what you want, & the machine spits out a ticket which is given to your server. I was so excited that I forgot to take a picture. This was another adventure in picture ordering, which makes for a fun surprise when your food comes out! :)

I chose my dish because of the pretty swirly thing... and it was DELICIOUS!!
My meal came with pork, seaweed, green onions, sliced mushroom stems, half a boiled egg, & a pretty swirly (which I later learned is a fish cake). 

Hubby chose a meal that came with beef, sliced mushroom stems, bean sprouts, green onions, & a raw egg (which only cooked a little in the hot broth before he ate it).

We are loving experiencing a new culture, new foods & making new friends!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Japanese Jewels - Oriental Wall Fan

Our family has safely arrived in Japan & we are so excited for the adventures ahead!

This past weekend, I attended the Asian Bazaar hosted by the Yokota Officers' Spouses' Club.
There were over 60 vendors selling everything from handmade goods to antiques. 

As i browsed all the pretties... I came across this beauty & my heart was set!

A gorgeous oriental wall fan!!
The Cherry Blossom design had to come home with me!

It is approximately 30 inches tall when closed, and made of a heavily starched fabric & bamboo. I'm not actually sure how the image is put on the fan, I would originally say just the red & pink parts are painted & the main image is printed on the fabric, but after shopping & seeing hand painted pieces that look screen printed, I am left amazed at the talent of japanese artists!

When opened, it spans across a full size bed! 
(With my beloved potter quilt.. that travels with me... always! <3... nerd moment..*ahem*)

I love how the reds & pinks boldly pop off the delicate blue background!

I am (not so)  patiently waiting for a house to be ready for us so I can hang my new treasure!
My husband says he wants me to decorate rooms by theme, so they don't clash... but I assured him that all of our trinkets will find a way to blend together and reflect the beautiful story we are living!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Seattle Space Needle & Pike's Place Market

On our journey toward Japan, we made a short stop in Seattle to spend time with some friends. 
Brent & Tanya are some of our Florida friends, who now live in Washington... so they drove in with their girls to spend the weekend with us! Tanya & I met through a playgroup in Florida and it was so nice to catch up with them & let our kids hang out. They were kind enough to take us sight seeing in the local area.

Our first stop -- The Seattle Space Needle!!

We were blessed with a brisk, sunny day... a perfect day for a view from the top!
The crowd was pretty small, so we were able to buy tickets & then walk directly to the elevators.

At the top, there is a small cafe which serves Starbucks coffee.. and when in Seattle....
(the coffee actually turned out to be horrible... which will teach me to only buy Starbucks coffee from an actual Starbucks coffee shop.. but you live & learn!)

The Seattle Space Needle offers a free app which allows you to interact with these designs on the floor called Space Spots. They can be found on the floors around the top of the tower.

When you use the app, the Space Spots turn into photo prop spots!! They all have different surprises and our kids had a blast running from spot to spot to discover the hidden images & posing for fun photos! Oh who am I kidding.. Tanya & I had fun playing with them too! 

After a trip up the Space Needle.... it was on to Pike's Place Market!!!!

Isn't the view just gorgeous!?!

Pike's Place Market is home to the original Starbucks!
I just took a photo & moved on, as the line was ridiculously long & the store was packed.

 Inside the market we found craft vendors, food vendors, flower vendors, street performers... pretty much anything and everything you could think of!

Directly across the street from this entrance to the market is Starbucks at Pike's & 1st.
Stopping in Starbucks while at Pike's Place Market was an absolute must for me!!
It actually turned out to be a very quick and efficient shop... maybe a 10 minute wait in total. 
My drink of choice was the peppermint mocha.. my favorite!!
This was the best mocha ever!! just enough peppermint.. just enough mocha...

*deep sigh*

....incandescently happy...

Of course, no trip would be complete without a few goodies!

I picked up a fabulous canvas tote, a CD from The Tall Boys (street performers in picture above), and an exclusive mug & coffee roast from Starbucks at Pike's & 1st! The mug features the original mermaid logo & will be a fabulous addition to my collection!


Friday, November 7, 2014

Weekend Getaway: The War Hill Inn & Colonial Williamsburg

My husband pulled off a super sweet surprise for me and arranged a weekend getaway to a nearby B&B as a late anniversary gift! We took the 'scenic route' & drove up the Colonial Parkway. The view was beautiful, as the trees are being painted in the glorious colors of fall. Its been a few years since I've experienced the rich reds, majestic oranges, & glorious golds of fall... so this was an extra special treat!

We stayed at the amazing War Hill Inn, located in Williamsburg, Virginia. 

It is a quiet, family owned business with exceptional hosts: Bill, Shirley, Will & Cherie.  Each morning, we were served a fabulous home cooked breakfast as we dined with the other guests. Our hosts would also come out to chat with us & were incredibly knowledgeable about the history of their property. The naming of "War Hill" dates back to 1781, when a battle, involving Hessians, took place in the area. 

One of our hosts, Will, also spent some time chatting with us and enjoyed hearing about our travels. He gave me 2 book recommendations, which I am really excited to look into!

The first he described as a love story set in the Ottoman Empire in Turkey. 

The second, he said he had just started, but was set in 1800 Japan.

We enjoyed staying in The Jefferson Cottage.
There is one other cottage, The Washington Cottage, as well as rooms located in The Manor House.

Fun fact: both cottages and all rooms in the Manor House are named after Virginia-born Presidents.

One of my very favorite places to visit anytime we are in Colonial Williamsburg is The Cheese Shop located in Merchants Square. In addition to their large selection of cheeses, they also have a sandwich bar & a wine cellar. This is always on my 'must visit' list!

Our purchases at The Cheese Shop included:
Williamsburg Winery Plantation Blush 2013 - I enjoy sweet wines, but not overly sweet.. this was a perfect wine for me! I would definitely purchase again!

Smoked Gouda - a favorite of mine that I have enjoyed since I was a kid.

Euphoria, a goat cheese gouda - this was our 'try something new' purchase. I asked the girl behind the counter what her favorite cheese was. I would describe this as a creamy parmigiano reggiano. I was immediately in love!

Rosemary bread - fresh, scrumptious, fluffy.... this had to be the softest, most fragrant bread I have ever enjoyed! The loaves are cut right in front of you upon purchase... and then paired with cheese & wine???  *sigh* decadence..... 

A visit to Colonial Williamsburg would not be complete without spending a day roaming around historical sites & joining The Revolution! It was a super windy & cold day, but extrememely enjoyable. My history loving husband enjoyed reading every sign & touring the sites, while I enjoyed playing with my camera & interacting with the actors.... a perfect day for us!

One of the prettiest trees... the colors blended so beautifully.. ohh how i love fall!!


To escape from the cold & wind for a bit, we stopped to have lunch at the King's Arms Tavern.

We shared The Cheese Monger's Plate - fresh fruit, cheddar, gouda, brie, pimento spread, tomato conserve & snippets
As well as the Mob-Jack Bay Crab Cake Sandwich with house made chips.

I had never had tomato conserve... but O M G!!! I will be looking up recipes for this.. absolutely amazing!! tomatos, citrus, cloves... sooo yumm!!!

In the afternoon, we spent some time watching a reenactment in the streets and interacting with the period actors. There were lots of laughs, huzzahs, & a few protests as the stories played out. 

I love watching the canons being fired!
the smell... the smoke... the boom... LOVE IT!!

Celebrating 8 years of marriage to my best friend!

 All in all, and amazing weekend!! We are looking forward to repeating this trip in a few years!